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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Why Graham is at the heart of Blur

By Julian Marshall
Newsbeat Online Editor

Blur
Blur have confirmed plans to reform next summer

There are four people in the popular rock band Blur.

It might sound like a simple enough statement.

But with the announcement the original quartet - Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree - will reunite next summer to play a gig at London's Hyde Park, it exhibits just how important each individual piece of the whole Blur puzzle really is.

Truth is, despite the fact Blur are 'reforming' to play this show, they never really split up.

Graham Coxon departed in a storm during the sessions for Blur's last studio album, 2003's Think Tank.

That record, a mishmash of ideas and exotic influences, partly recorded in Morocco and partly produced by Fatboy Slim, saw the band's relations at breaking point.

Inevitable hangover

Ten years in the limelight, a creative battle between the members and the inevitable hangover from Britpop had finally taken its toll.

Think Tank was completed without Graham and released to positive reviews.

But, looking back at that record now, there is a sense of missed opportunity.

The songs which have aged well, like album closer Battery In Your Leg, were one of only a handful which featured Coxon's signature guitar.

Those which have aged badly, like the Fatboy Slim produced Crazy Beat, sound like novelty hits.

Fizzing out

With the key component of Coxon absent, Blur continued playing live dates to support the record, before fizzing out.

For those who had seen the group at their mid 90s peak it was obvious, without Coxon, they didn't function as well at all.

In contrast to the ever evolving line-up of mid 90s rivals Oasis, Blur at their best are the chemical explosion when four very different personalities, childhood friends in fact, lock horns.

Blur
Blur in the BBC Radio 1 studios back in 1995
But for years it looked like it would never happen again.

Coxon went off and made some excellent solo records which, at their best, sounded like Blur with all the edges torn off.

Bassist Alex James turned lecturer, TV music pundit, author and cheese maker and generally looked a bit like a stoat.

Drummer Dave Rowntree went into politics, flew planes and got heavily involved in a mission to land a spacecraft on Mars.

Damon Albarn, well, you probably know what he's been up to.

Those four individuals together make insane music which, as the more indulgent moments on Think Tank prove, need Graham Coxon's punk attitude and (you suspect) ability to stand up to Damon, to fully shine.

Once again, there are four people in Blur. And that is reason for a bit of early Christmas cheer.

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