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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Democrazy – Damon Albarn (2003)

I pulled this one out whilst looking through my 10” singles and realized that it was now 10 years old. It’s hardly a lost classic though, but it is notable for the fact that one of the tracks – I Need a Gun, became the Gorillaz song Dirty Harry. Democrazy is a bunch of demos recorded by Albarn on the Blur tour of the U.S. after the release of the awesome Think Tank (2003) album. Released on Albarn’s own Honest Jons (sic) label, it’s a bit of a vanity project but in hindsight it can be seen as a record store day release years before the concept was born. Only 5000 copies were made of this double 10” coloured vinyl record – total RSD fodder.

All the tracks are totally low-fi and sound like they were recorded late at night in hotel rooms after Albarn retired from the bar. I Need a Gun is Gorillaz style Casio funk – you can hear why it developed into Dirty Harry. Reedz is an atmospheric keyboard instrumental. Half a Song is one of the most fully formed tracks, with plaintive double tracked vocals over acoustic guitar. Five Star Life is a meditation on the pressures of modern pop life complete with a doorbell rhythm and funky bass line.

The rest of the album follows the same path – short woozy demos using minimal instrumentation. Albarn gets his harmonium out for Sub Species, in which he sings “Drunken in the evening, running during the day.” It sounds like it! The last track – End of Democrazy, has saucepan like percussion sounds as he laments “I stay up every night singing when I should be sleeping.”  There are a few of these lyrical insights into Albarn’s on tour state of mind. No doubt he was still sad about the departure of Graham Coxon, making Democrazy a kind of sketchy and frazzled tour diary. If you think of it like that then it makes more sense, otherwise the album comes across as a little self – indulgent.

I don’t believe that Albarn had meant to make some great artistic statement with Democrazy. It comes across as a deliberately made collectable curio that gives some insight into the creative process and Blur/Albarn fans something to lust after. The packaging is really something, with a cutout cover that folds around from the back. The artwork looks like it’s by Albarn's own hand. Inside he references the great Fela Kuti – “Democrazy is a Fela Kuti concept,” which makes me think that the album title is a play on the word democracy. Housed inside are the two 10” records, one white vinyl and the other a picture-disc featuring a peace dinosaur. Makes sense to me. If you want one of these then you can still buy it on Amazon for about 45 pounds. I’m sure there’s some on E-bay, but I can’t look – I’ve banned myself due to the risk of spending too much money!

You can listen to the entire album here.


  1. Hey Jeremy! Do you know these guys? If not, you should :)let me know you think

  2. Hi Colleen - no I didn't, but I like the sound of them. Listened to Pass it on - very classy.

  3. Oh brill, I thought you might like them. They're from NZ, she has such an amazing voice!