Format: 12" Single
Catalogue Number: 12FOOD31
Year of Release: 1991
A1 Bang (Extended) (4:23)
A2 Explain (2:42)
B1 Luminous (3:12)
B2 Uncle Love (2:28)
I actually had a dig around in a box of old cassettes the other day - over the years I've thrown away hundreds of tapes, but still seem to have loads - just to find my copy of Leisure. It was the first album I ever bought, on a trip with a friend to Manchester during the 1991 school holidays, at the tender age of 14.
I'm not sure what the first vinyl album I ever bought was, I'll have to try and remember.
I was surprised to find that I also shelled out, at some point probably not too far removed from buying Leisure, for the Food Xmas Party 1991 cassette, with demos and rarities from such luminaries as Whirlpool, Sensitize and Diesel Park West, as well as two Blur tunes. I put it on Ebay, but no one wanted it, not even for a penny.
Much like There's No Other Way, Bang - The Full Twelve Inch Version - has some extra instrumental stuff on it compared to album or seven inch single versions, which I'd guess is a function of Stephen Street justifying his fee more than anything else. The song itself was infamously written in fifteen minutes, and most people, the band included, didn't like it. According to Wikipedia:
"Its disappointing performance relative to previous single There's No Other Way marked the end of Blur's initial period of popularity, which would not be equalled until the release of Girls & Boys three years later."
Harsh but fair I suppose - at least when you look at chart positions - but then when was popular opinion ever a good judge of quality? That would mean Titanic was the best film ever, and (with apologies to Stewart Lee) the bit in Only Fools and Horses when Del Boy falls over in a wine bar is the single funniest thing in the history of creation. It's a good enough indie-pop-jingly-jangly song about love. Girls & Boys is no better or worse than Bang, it just came out at a different time. And besides, Popscene beats them all hands down.
As for the remaining tracks, Explain is the thematic opposite, whilst sounding much the same. The catchy chorus this time runs:
I can’t explain why/ And I don’t know when
I’m ever going to want to/ See her again
Luminous is more interesting, a track firmly back on the shoe-gazing side of things, a big wash of guitars and stoned-sounding quasi-cryptic lyrics. It sounds a lot like Slowdive's Catch the Breeze, except that you can make the words out. The lyrics for the last verse stop mid-sentence, bringing the song to a halt. Which you'll either like, or think is pretentious art-school posing.
Uncle Love is another Albarn character study, and nice enough musically in a simple uptempo garage-band kind of way, but it feels half-finished:
Uncle Love just got a message from God
That you are driving him crazy
Tomorrow he says the doctor comes
With a drink to make him lazy
Did you realise that Uncle Love's
Got an 8 ball in his hand
Everything sticks to you like glue
But it just makes you lazy
You should hear what they say
About you everyday
You should hear what they say
Uncle Love's going to get you
[repeat first verse]
By no means an essential purchase.