Review Summary: Substantiality and quantity determine the worth of a box set collection, and Blur 21 is so fulfilling that it will without a doubt exceed the standard of catering to the desires of any type of Blur fan, whether they be the die-hard or the casual listener.
Box sets and greatest hits albums are only the same in that they are comprised of an artist's past works. Aside from that core similarity that they share, they are quite different from each other and should be considered as such. While greatest hits albums are compilations of an artists material, box sets are simply collections of the material in it’s original state. The possible issues that a greatest hits album can face such as what songs are featured in the compilation, how those songs are arranged in the compilation, and how many songs are featured on the compilation, do not threaten the value of a box set. What matters above all else is that a Box Set has as much content variety as possible for the listener to select from, and on this front Blur 21 absolutely delivers.
With the ultimate version containing all 7 of the band's studio albums in pristine remastered quality, with a disc of bonus material for each album, followed by 4 discs worth of rarities from every era throughout the bands career, 3 DVDs, and concluding with a 7" vinyl of a live performance of one of the bands earliest songs “Superman” when they went by the name Seymour, Blur 21 is a gargantuan total of 22 discs spanning the entire catalog of one of the britpop genre's most prominent and important bands in the 21 years since their debut album Leisure was released.
This is a pretty hefty load even by box set standards, and one is obviously not expected to listen to a box set of this magnitude in one sitting, so Blur 21 is intended to provide listener’s with every option imaginable for venturing into any point of Blur’s career. Some of Blur’s arguably weaker material that is found on the box set does not affect it as a whole as listener’s can simply choose to not pay that era any mind, literally containing something for any kind of Blur fan with its extensive variety. New listeners will find the box set’s accessibility welcoming, and be taken back in awe by the plethora of material to choose from, while completist’s will rejoice at possessing an organized and complete Blur library with a satisfyingly extraordinary level of content.
What Blur 21 does right as a box set is acting more than just a discography assembly, the bonus discs of material for each album within the set’s contents do more than just accessorize, all of the demos, remixes, and unreleased songs immerse the listener in the world of the specific eras of each album. This makes for a remarkably investing experience that conveys the band's history to the point where it transports listeners into the time of these records, and documents the band throughout their existence with impeccable detail.
Blur 21 is the type of box set that shows the difference between what a box set is, and what a collection of records under a specific name is. Blur 21 is not only a celebration of the 21 years since their debut, it's a celebration of every memory and milestone of their life as a band. An experience not concerned with quality, but one that proudly embraces and showcases every high and low and projects it as a journey of life.