What's it called?: 
21 - Box Set
What does it sound like?: 
Everything really, and in that sense, the true heirs to the Beatles. The breadth of material here is draw dropping, from the woozy boozy swirl of the 'Leisure' material, through to the bright colours of the 'Parklife' and 'Great Escape' material, the White Album perfection of the gorgeous 'Beetlebum' right through to the white noise Afrobeat of 'Music Is My Radar', a band that only repeated itself once and had a record out every 18 months. The B-sides and rarer material fill in the gaps and shows the band in all of its experimental glory, with Graham Coxon providing vivid textures that ensured they always sounded unique and wildly original but counterbalanced by Damon's superlative songwriting that always locks it to a wonderful melody. The range of styles is mind boggling but what is more fascinating is how much still sounds completely new and untethered to any influence at all. The band sound completely free to experiment whilst always anchored to top notch tunes. Sound familiar?
What does it all *mean*?: 
It's interesting to listen to 'The Great Escape' anew - like 'Sergeant Pepper', it's a record that, if you want a guitar album, will disappoint you. If you can free yourself from that and enjoy the arrangements and instrumentation you'll be surprised
Goes well with …: 
A Bank Holiday. There's 18 discs and three DVDs (sadly not including 'Star Shaped'). You need to really lose yourself in this and follow the bands trajectory through the eight years from 'Leisure' to '13' and fully appreciate this incredible band.
Might suit people who like …: 
Top drawer song-writing, noise, melody, harmony, imagination, experimentation, masterful arrangements, diverse instrumentation and brutal chaos.


I bought this album about three weeks ago from a record fair in a tiny hall for about £2.50. It is a truly tremendous album, don't know why I didn't get it at the time. Probably because "I didn't get it" and wanted a guitar album. It certainly stacks up with the rest of their albums. Think I shall be asking Santa for the box set.

But as it was bank holiday-I treated myself to the vinyl reissue of Modern Life Is Rubbish today-it's well worth it-nice thick vinyl (2 discs too) nice glossy sleeve and it sounds great too. May have to wait til Xmas til I get any more!

Absolutely ace box set.
I have the Singles & B-sides box set that they released back in 1999, so a lot of 21 is duplicated from that....but, it's great to have an excuse to listen to it all again and add some new tracks to the roster.

The 4 'rarities' discs are a real treat, and hearing some of tracks as works-in-progress is a really privileged insight into a band that never stood still and always strived for new sounds and influence.

The DVD's are also superb, and thoroughly enjoyed trying (and ultimately failing) to pick myself out in the crowd at the 1999 'Singles Night' gig.

For those who are interested and/or were there, the recent Hyde Park gig is available as download and CD from the website (titled Parklive), and will be available on DVD also in November.

I'm so glad I finally got to hear the Andy Partridge MLIR sessions. Apparently, they also laid down a cover of Video Killed The Radio Star with Partridge but alas, this is omitted.
Mind you, they were never that great at cover versions as their pedestrian takes on Oliver's Army and Substitute will testify.

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