Evolving from their flowery debut album Leisure (1991), Blur became one of the forefathers of Brit-pop, turning their backs on the grunge scene to feed off the hooks of '60s legends The Kinks and Small Faces. Chirpy, brash and unmistakeably English, Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993) inspired a new generation of UK guitar bands and Parklife (1994) became one of the defining albums of the era. Bouncy indie hits Girls & Boys, Parklife and End Of A Century teed up a bitter showdown with rivals Oasis climaxing, in a mass of media hype, in a race for No 1 between Blur's Country House and Oasis' Roll With It. Blur won and their album The Great Escape (1996) also topped the charts, though Oasis became the people's champions. Abandoning cockney caricatures, they embraced American garage rock on Blur (1997) before Albarn chronicled his break-up with Elastica's Justine Frishman on the gospel-tinged 13 (1999). They split in 2003, but reunited triumphantly in 2009.

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