Blur choose picture of swimming pool near Glasgow for first album in nearly a decade

This will be Blur’s first album in eight years - and they chose the outdoor pool near Glasgow for the cover!
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Blur is set to make a grand return this summer after nearly eight years since their last album - and they announced that an outdoor pool near Glasgow will feature as the album cover.

Gourock Outdoor Pool has the honour of donning the front of the new album by the legendary English Britpop band. The new album is set to be called ‘The Ballad of Darren.’

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The Gourock pool was chosen due to the band’s affinity with the town - having visited Gourock while they were waiting for a ferry to Dunoon to play at Queen’s Hall as part of a tour of ‘odd seaside towns’.

A famous image of the pool exists, and it was this that was chosen to represent the latest album.

It’s a picture of a single swimmer in the outdoor saltwater pool - a young and unaware Ian Galt, who only realised he had been papped when he saw the image on exhibition in Glasgow years later.

British photographer Martin Parr got wide acclaim for his eye in snapping the picture back in 2004 - with the image even being used to represent Scotland at Heathrow Airport in London and JFK Airport in New York.

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Speaking of the decision by Blur to use the picture, Provost of Inverclyde, Drew McKenzie, said: “It’s great that all the people, so many people, are now talking about Gourock Pool thanks to Blur. Of course, the beauty and allure of the pool comes as no great surprise to Inverclyde residents present and past as it is such an iconic attraction for the area.

“But the stir caused by Blur can only help springboard Gourock Pool and indeed Inverclyde as a whole to a much wider, global audience and that can only be a good thing because we want more people to discover the many wonderful things we have to offer.

“And our door is always open should Messrs Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree ever fancy a dip in the pool or indeed make a welcome return to perform in Inverclyde to promote their new album.”

Ian Galt has been swimming in the pool since childhood, over 40 years, and it’s been a constant activity he returns to throughout his life - particularly after he was seriously injured in a car crash in 1995.

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In a statement the swimmer wrote: “I was in intensive care for two months and told I might never walk again. But I managed to get down to the pool on my crutches – and for the first time I was able to move without them.

“It was a blissful moment. I thought to myself ‘I’ll never let an opportunity pass me by again’. If I’d lost the ability to swim, what would I have given for just one day in the pool?”

Mr Galt, now a dentist, said he had swum exactly 32 lengths almost every day during the summer when the pool is open.

Gourock Outdoor Pool is much-loved and incredibly commonly used community staple. It’s also one of the few outdoor pools in Scotland.(Pic: Inverclyde Council)Gourock Outdoor Pool is much-loved and incredibly commonly used community staple. It’s also one of the few outdoor pools in Scotland.(Pic: Inverclyde Council)
Gourock Outdoor Pool is much-loved and incredibly commonly used community staple. It’s also one of the few outdoor pools in Scotland.(Pic: Inverclyde Council)

He continued: “I have my own swimming pool in Cape Town, where I spend the winter – but even that can’t quite compare to swimming here. It’s great therapy.

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“I’m a dentist. All that time spent leaning over patients leaves me looking like a question mark by the end of the day.

“The pool straightens me out, it soothes my cares and troubles.

“I like the lapping of the water, the silence, and the seagulls – though people do occasionally get bombed by seagull poo, especially while they’re eating their sandwiches.”

The photo, taken by Martin Parr, toured Scotland in an exhibition called ‘Think of Scotland’ back in 2014 - which showcased 30 years worth of photographing Scotland from the perspective of an English photographer.

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Speaking of Scotland, the photographer said: “Firstly, it’s a very beautiful country, and second the people are great – very friendly, the social scene is very interesting.

“It’s different from where I live in Bristol, it’s rougher and more engaging and quite dramatic. That difference really appeals to me.”

It’s understandable why Blur would use the picture for their album cover - it’s very slice of life which is what Blur’s Britpop was all about.

It’s in keeping with their previous album covers - particularly ‘Parklife’, which saw a picture of Greyhound’s racing, a very common pass-time of the working-class British public in the 90s.

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Use of the image has already created quite the stir in the West-coast town near Greenock.

One resident said: “Who would have thought?! Blur & Britpop were a huge part of my teenage years in Gourock. Surreal!”

We only found out the album was coming out yesterday, May 18 - after frontman Damon Albarn made the shock announcement on social media.

Just an hour ago, at the time of writing, Albarn also announced the immediate release of a single from the new album - called ‘Narcissist’ - which showcases a much more mature, synth-heavy sound for the band. No doubt inspired by the frontmans time on his other collaborative music project, Gorillaz.

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Speaking of the record, Damon said:“This is an aftershock record, reflection and comment on where we find ourselves now.”

The new album will be released this summer, July 21.

Bassist, Alex James, added: “For any long term relationship to last with any meaning you have to be able to surprise each other somehow and somehow we all continue to do that.”

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