Blur’s ‘The Ballad Of Darren’ Debuts At No. 1 On UK Albums Chart
The Official Albums Chart has reveled that Blur have scored their seventh No 1 album in the UK with The Ballad of Darren. The ninth studio album from the Britpop icons debuted with 44,000 chart units, including just shy of 90% on physical formats.
Their previous Number 1s are Parklife (1994), The Great Escape (1995), Blur (1997), 13 (1999), Think Tank (2003) and The Magic Whip (2015). Their first two albums, 1991’s Leisure and 1993’s Modern Life is Rubbish, reached Number 7 and Number 15 respectively.
The Ballad of Darren also tops the Official Vinyl Albums Chart, and is the most purchased album in the UK’s independent record shops as it debuts atop the Official Record Store Chart.
Blur – Damon Albarn, Grahan Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree – now stand in line with peers Elton John, George Michael, Paul McCartney and Barbra Streisand, who also have seven Number 1 albums apiece.
The Ballad of Darren also marks Damon Albarn’s second Number 1 album of 2023, following his and Jamie Hewlett’s success in March with Gorillaz’s Cracker Island. Albarn joins an exclusive list of acts including ABBA, Taylor Swift, The Beatles, Diana Ross and Robbie Williams who have also earned two chart-toppers in a calendar year.
Earlier in the week, Blur thrilled fans at their show at Hammersmith Apollo, London, by encoring with a short set of rarities, including the live debut of Theme From An Imaginary Film, originally released as a B-side on the Parklife single in August 1994.
The surprise set followed the only live performance of The Ballad Of Darren in full. The show was live streamed. The triumphant show also saw the band dust off Pyonyang from 2015’s The Magic Whip, Clover Over Dover from 1994’s Parklife (which had only ever been played at 2019’s Africa Express reunion), Mr Briggs (B-side of There’s No Other Way, 1991) and All Your Life, which was the B-side of the 1997 single Beetlebum.