Damon Albarn doesn’t deserve our love. We want Blur and he gives us … anything but. Sure, Blur is doing a handful of reunion shows in Europe this summer (the total cost to attend if you are a fan living in America? Something in the five-digit range), but a world tour is reportedly out of the question. And a new album? Well, in a recent issue of NME, William Orbit admitted that he had been recording with the band, but Albarn killed those sessions; as Orbit tweeted: “Blur could have been good. But Damon, brilliant and talented tho he is, is kinda a shit to the rest of Blur.”
If you were taking bets in 1997 or so, Albarn would hardly have been considered the most likely member of the Britpop legends to emerge as one of popular music’s most adventurous and exciting artists circa 2012. (The smart money would probably have been on guitarist Graham Coxon.) But over the last decade or so, Albarn has been just that. Along with creating the Honest Jon’s record label — which has released compilations of indigenous soul and folk music from Africa, Latin America, England and the Caribbean — he has collaborated with an insane variety and amount of artists in numerous media. He has also worked on a lot of projects that are not Blur — he now has released work with more non-Blur projects than total Blur albums, including three already THIS YEAR to go along with the Blur “reunion.”
So it’s high time to put these projects into context — by comparing them to one another, ranking them from worst to best. These rankings are not meant to be comprehensive — they leave out (among other things) Albarn’s excellent work on the new Bobby Womack album and last year’s Kinshasa One Two. But these are the projects at which Albarn is the center, or near the center. That’s what we care most about, right? Because even though he doesn’t deserve our love, we love him anyway.
Here for you, is our rundown of Damon’s non-Blur projects, from best to worst — starting with the worst.