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St. Elsewhere Import
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Gnarls Barkley is the highly anticipated collaboration from Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo. Danger Mouse is one of the most important artist/producers in music today. "Demon Days" sold over 5 million worldwide and Dangerdoom's "The Mouse And The Mask" sold over 100,000 units. Accolades include GQ's "Men Of The Year" honor; Spin's "Eccentric Genius Of The Year", NME's "Hottest Hip-Hop Producer In The World", Entertainment Weekly's "Album Of The Year", Grammy nomination for Producer Of The Year, and more. Cee-Lo is a Grammy-nominated, founding member of Goodie Mob. He wrote and produced the Pussycat Dolls #1 smash hit "Don't Cha", and his two solo albums for Arista scanned over 500,000 units combined. He also wrote hit singles for Ludacris, Common, P Diddy, Trick Daddy, and others. "Goodie Mob" has sold over two million albums worldwide. "Crazy", from this release, is all over UK's Radio One.
In 2006, Danger Mouse is King Midas of the music world. He has an uncanny knack for creating jagged, dense, frenzied beats and odd, eerie, vivid soundscapes that never compromise the music's natural flow. Meanwhile, rapper and singer Cee-Lo, a veteran of Atlanta's Dirty South scene, has never been one to be constrained by hip-hop conventions, and is a willing partner in adventure. The result is an intrepid psychedelic blend of pop, hip-hop, soul, and rock that consistently challenges and delights. It's no wonder that "Crazy," with its modest riff, irresistible hook, and disarming opening line ("I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind") became a worldwide Internet sensation a full six months before the official release of St. Elsewhere. But that relatively simple soul-pop gem is the tamest track on this wide-ranging, often dark and introspective collaboration. (In fact, the duo considers Gnarls Barkley to be a wholly new creation, as opposed to a collaboration of existing artists.) "Everybody is somebody, but nobody wants to be themselves," Cee-Lo croons on "Who Cares?" He and Danger Mouse try very hard not to be their old selves as they creatively and confidently break down boundaries, but the brilliant cores of their musical personae--Cee-Lo's eccentric spiritual soul man and Danger's bold sonic explorer--remain. --Marc Greilsamer
Top customer reviews
This is one of two albums that CeeLo Green made under the name Gnarls Barkley. The music is generally gospel in style, but there are attributes of other genres like rap, electronic, and jazz mixed in. The theme of the album is generally silly, and on the surface suggests a fun, wild party, but if you listen to the lyrics closely, there are serious, dark, and sad elements mixed in. I would say the best songs are Crazy, Gone Daddy Gone, and Smiley Faces, but all of the songs are pretty good. There aren't any duds on here.
Though the music is essentially gospel, there are elements of other genres here. The lyrics are rich and fast enough sometimes to make it rap-like. There are a lot of different instruments, though one gets the impression that most of them are artificially generated. Brass instruments, drums, strings, guitars, and others are represented. The material covered in the lyrics is silly in some cases, but it is also serious in others, covering subject matter such as drug use, relationship issues, depression, and loss of loved ones. Highlights that I personally like are the trombone riffs in Storm Coming and the quirky lyrics like "Basically I'm complicated" and "It's deep how you can be so shallow" in Who Cares? and "The production is progressive, but the reason is retro..." on Necromancer. The heavy instrumental accompaniment and the desperate sounding questioning of the lyrics in Smiley Faces really conveys the anguish of losing the trust needed to support a relationship in ways that really captivate me. That contrasts starkly with the really silly songs like Go-Go Gadget Gospel and Transformer.
Finally, in a world where Pop music is very formulaic and homogeneous, it is really amazing and encouraging that Gospel music with a lead male singer made it to the top of the charts. CeeLo's *Crazy* voice, which is high pitched, bright, sometimes smooth and sometimes rough, and sometimes wavering helps to make this album and its artist memorable.
If you are looking for the famous pop songs from CeeLo Green, go for Crazy and Gone Daddy Gone. If you are looking for the sleeper on this album that should have been a huge hit, go for Smiley Faces. Finally, if you want to enjoy this as a full album, you won't be disappointed. There is nice variety in the music, there aren't any duds, and there are some interesting brass, vocal, and sound effect things going on across the different songs.
It's a hoary cliché to say something was "the soundtrack to my summer," but this cliché rings true for this album, for my 2006 was very manic-depressive. I lost a good job and a bad one, then found one that was both. I was desperately poor but often incredibly happy; I spent many unemployed afternoons at the neighborhood coffeeshop hammering away at what I hoped would be the Great American Screenplay, and I gave serious thought to moving to Los Angeles with a U-Haul and my ego to try and sell it. I was in love with the cute 19-year-old barista, and I'd take smoke breaks with her and hang out with mutual friends at night, and we'd put on "St. Elsewhere" back-to-back, and I'd sip sober sodas while my friends got drunk and did crazy things. And usually I had no desire to live that life again, but every once in a while, that level of insanity looked fun.
Vaguely I knew my own decisions and attitudes were none too wise. But fortunately there was an album that felt as crazy as I did.
"Crazy" of course, ended up being this album's anthem. And it is a true classic, a song for the ages, and it has earned its rightful place on the eternal-DJ-wedding-playlist, somewhere after "Baby's Got Back" and "Billie Jean." So I'll probably be dancing to it in my eighties, shaking my moneymaker and saying "I remember when I lost my mind" until I do, literally, lose my mind. But I must admit, "Crazy" almost drove me mad, because it distracted people from an album that is every bit as solid as its most famous song.
Most great albums get that way by having a reasonably consistent feel. This one lacks one; it careens across the sonic landscape like a dune-buggy being driven by an over-caffeinated ferret. There are glorious Gospel-tinged melodies, heavenly and happy and reasonably wholesome, and there are also dark and sinister songs like "Monster" and "Online." And then there's "Necromancer." I'm tempted to say it's as outrageous a black comedy as anything since Guns n' Roses' "I Used to Love Her (But I had to Kill Her)"--but that would be unfair, because this is a much better song. In it, Cee-Lo raps about (and to) a beautiful corpse-bride. "Did you hear what I said? With this ring I thee wed," he says, then comments: "She was cool when I met her, but I think I like her better dead."
There are times when the wordplay isn't quite as brilliant, but a lot of the less crafty lyrics are at least (for most of us!) easier to relate to. And best of all, Danger Mouse's beats are consistently compelling. "It's clearly the theory of less is more," Cee-Lo says on "Feng Shui," but here more is more; the album's so sonically schizophrenic that you can--and you will--listen to it back-to-back without feeling like it's boring you. And that's quite a feat. With a lot of other artists, even excellent ones, I will lose interest somewhere around the fifty-minute mark, look around for something different, and come back to their work whenever I get around to it. But back in 2006, it seemed like every third or fourth time I'd put something on, it was "St. Elsewhere."
Anyway, now it is 2008, and rather than being a relatively irresponsible late-twentysomething, I'm a relatively responsible thirtysomething. The coffeeshop has become a Mediterranean eatery, the barista is gone from my life--but not my cell phone--and I've gone through any number of other crazy infatuations since then. California remains the golden dream while I while away the days in snowy Chicago, waiting tables and writing the Great American Novel and waiting for the day I can sell it. And Gnarls Barkley have a new album, and I don't think it's destined for immortality, but at least I can still seek intercession from "St. Elsewhere." It blew me away in 2006, and I can still listen to it twice without giving the matter a second thought, and I have the feeling it'll be just as good in 2016, or 2056.
discovery and risk-taking pioneering in modern music!
I have long tired of the refried-regurgitated
hip-hop/R&B/Pop sampling and re-sampling of
the samples trend that has kept urban pop and R&B
in a state of arrested development
for the past 15 yrs now!
This album is like much needed water
after a drought, and I hope it will inspire
others, no matter what type of music they create,
to be daring & original and to plant a
flag (creatively!) for the 21st Century!