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Think tank album cover

Think Tank, Blur's fifth consecutive No. 1 album.

Think Tank is the seventh studio album by Blur, released on 5 May 2003 in the United Kingdom via Parlophone. It represented a major musical change for the group with experimental and World Music elements being added to the usual Britpop palette. It also gave them their highest charting album in the United States. The album cover was stenciled by the graffiti artist Banksy. The album's cover art sold at auction in 2007 for £75,000. NME ranked the album number 20 on its Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade list.

Recording historyEdit

The recording for Think Tank started in November 2001 at 13 Studio in London and was finished a year later in a barn on National Trust land in Devon. Recording also took place in Morocco where the band equipped an old barn with a studio. The sessions in Morocco produced "Crazy Beat", "Gene By Gene" and "Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club". The band approached many producers including The Neptunes, The Dust Brothers and William Orbit to work on the album in July 2002. The final record was produced by Blur and Ben Hillier with various other producers including Orbit and Norman Cook (better known by his recording alias Fatboy Slim). Cook contributed to two tracks ("Crazy Beat" and "Gene by Gene"); supposedly his presence as producer was a contributing factor in Graham Coxon's departure from the group.[citation needed] Coxon only contributed to four tracks for the Think Tank sessions, "Battery in Your Leg", "The Outsider", "Morricone" and "Some Glad Morning" with his only significant appearance on the final record being a guitar line on the last track, "Battery in Your Leg". Coxon's absence also bolstered the role of Alex James and Dave Rowntree who provided backing vocals throughout the album. Rowntree also played the electric guitar on "On The Way To The Club" and provided a rap on a demo version of "Sweet Song". A Morrocan orchestra is featured in the lead single, "Out of Time". Whilst on the tour promoting the album Damon Albarn recorded a demo album entitled Democrazy which contained the demo "I Need a Gun", which was used by Albarn's animated-cartoon group Gorillaz on their track "Dirty Harry"

Musical styleEdit

Jettisoning the Britpop sound of Blur's early career as well as the lo-fi indie rock of Blur (1997), Think Tank continued the jam-based studio constructions of 13 (1999). The album expanded on the use of sampled rhythm loops and brooding, heavy electronic sounds. Influences from dance music, hip hop, dub, jazz and African music permeated the recording sessions, an indication of Damon Albarn's expanding musical interests and his control over the group's creative direction. Albarn also cited The Clash as an inspiration. Given what Albarn has delivered since, Think Tank is nearer to the sound and feel of a Gorillaz album, than a Blur project. Founding member Graham Coxon quit the band early in the recording of the album, resulting in little of his electric guitar work familiar from Blur's earlier albums. Almost entirely written by Albarn, Think Tank placed more emphasis on lush backing vocals, simple acoustic guitar, drums, bass guitar and a variety of other instruments. According to Uncut magazine "Sweet Song" was written by Albarn about the fallout between Coxon and the rest of the band.

Like Blur's breakthrough album Parklife, Think Tank is a loose concept album; its songs deal with similar themes without a definite story arc or continuous characters. Some of the songs are concerned with a sense of paranoia and alienation in British club culture. Other lyrics, and the album's artwork and videos, alluded to the state of the world. Think Tank was recorded during 2002, a year in which the United States and the United Kingdom governments began to threaten Iraq with possible invasion, which would later take place in March 2003. Several critics saw the album as timely, in part due to its being recorded in the Arab world where US and UK policies were unpopular. Albarn was involved in the anti-war movement and participated in marches during this time.

There is a hidden track, "Me, White Noise" in the pregap before track 1 on most CD copies. The song guest features Phil Daniels on vocals. Japanese versions of the album feature the song at track 30, after silent tracks at index points 15-29.

Think Tank is the only Blur album to get the Parental Advisory logo, because "Brothers and Sisters" contains many drug references. Also, the hidden track "Me, White Noise" is one of the few Blur songs to contain an expletive.

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [9]
Drowned in Sound (10/10)[10]
Entertainment Weekly (C+)[11]
NME (8/10)[12]
Pitchfork Media (9.0/10)[13]
PopMatters (8/10)[14]
Spin (9/10)[15]
Stylus (A-)[16]
Rolling Stone [17]
Uncut [18]

Think Tank was well received critically, with a score of 83 on Metacritic, which equates to a tag of "Universal Acclaim". The album was nominated for Best British Album at the 2004 Brit Awards, and won the Q Album of the Year award. It entered the UK Albums Chart at #1. Think Tank is largely seen as one of the greatest of the 2000s decade and has received accolades over the years. According to Acclaimed Music, the album is the 613th most critically acclaimed of all time.

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Eye Weekly Canada Albums of the Year 2003 23
PopMatters US Albums of the Year 2003 7
Rolling Stone US Albums of the Year 2003 *
Slant Magazine US Top 250 Albums of the 2000s 2010 145
Spin US Albums of the Year 2003 16
Delusions of Adequacy US Top 100 Albums of the 2000s 2010 100
BBC UK Albums of the Year 2003 *
Drowned in Sound UK Albums of the Year 2003 43
Mojo UK Albums of the Year 2003 3
NME UK Albums of the Year 2003 21
Top 100 Albums of the 2000s 2009 20
Playlouder UK Albums of the Year 2003 18
Q UK Albums of the Year 2003 2
Top 100 Albums of the 2000s 2009 59
Rough Trade UK Albums of the Year 2003 86
Uncut UK Albums of the Year 2003 62
Top 150 Albums of the 2000s 2009 22
The Observer UK Albums of the Year 2003 1
Fnac France The 1000 Best Albums of All Time 2008 799
Les Inrockuptibles France The 100 Albums of the 2000s 2010 7
Rolling Stone France The 20 Albums of the 2000s 2010 *

Track listingEdit

All lyrics by Damon Albarn. All music by Albarn, Alex James, Dave Rowntree unless otherwise stated.

  1. "Me, White Noise" (pregap hidden track) – 6:48
  2. "Ambulance" – 5:09
  3. "Out of Time" – 3:52
  4. "Crazy Beat" – 3:15
  5. "Good Song" – 3:09
  6. "On the Way to the Club" (Albarn, James Dring, James, Rowntree) – 3:48
  7. "Brothers and Sisters" – 3:47
  8. "Caravan" – 4:36
  9. "We've Got a File on You" – 1:03
  10. "Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club" – 3:03
  11. "Sweet Song" – 4:01
  12. "Jets" (Albarn, James, Rowntree, Mike Smith) – 6:25
  13. "Gene by Gene" – 3:49
  14. "Battery in Your Leg" (Albarn, Graham Coxon, James, Rowntree) – 3:20

At the end of "Caravan" is a 10-second talking pregap interlude. At the end of "Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club" is a 11-second talking pregap interlude.

PersonnelEdit

BlurEdit

Additional musicians and productionEdit

Release detailsEdit

Region Date Label Format Catalog Notes
United Kingdom 5 May 2003 Parlophone CD 5829972
Enhanced CD 5829970 Special edition book sleeve. Also contains four live videos in enhanced section
Double LP 5829971
March 2003 CD sampler THINK 1 Alternate version of hidden track "Me, White Noise" featuring vocals by Damon Albarn
April 2003 12" vinyl sampler THINK 3 4-track sampler featuring "Crazy Beat", "Brothers and Sisters", "Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club" and "Gene by Gene"
China Universal CD HDCD-050
Japan 21 April 2003 Toshiba CD TOCP-66153 Includes bonus track "The Outsider"
Korea CD EKPD-1055
Malaysia EMI Malaysia Cassette/CD 583434-4
Taiwan CD 724358343427
United States 6 May 2003 Virgin Records CD 724358424201
724358424300 Clean version
724358424409 Ltd. edition version
Worldwide 2005 Digital Download
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