14 Songs, 37 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Gnarls Barkley gained immediate notice as their single “Crazy” ascended the British charts on the strength of an overwhelming download frenzy. Its digital distribution showed the music industry where its future lies. The music, however, is schooled in a traditional past. Producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, The Grey Album) and former Goodie Mob singer Cee-Lo Green may use futuristic tools to attain their sound, slicing up beats and juxtaposing contrasting samples with freeform glee, but their main appeal lies in the neo-soul that roots these songs in a Sly Stone-Curtis Mayfield-Gamble and Huff tradition. “Crazy” is the obvious touchstone, but “Smiley Faces” is a close runner-up, sporting a vivid cinematic vibe. “Just a Thought” sounds as if it was taken straight out of the late-60s and earl ’70s and remixed to modern effect. The Violent Femmes cover “Gone Daddy Gone” is an odd and seemingly random detour here, further evidence of the duo’s eclectic tendencies. Better are the goofy, monster mashes – “The Boogie Monster,” “Necromancer” – where it’s as if Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“I Put a Spell On You”) was being rocketed into the future.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Gnarls Barkley gained immediate notice as their single “Crazy” ascended the British charts on the strength of an overwhelming download frenzy. Its digital distribution showed the music industry where its future lies. The music, however, is schooled in a traditional past. Producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, The Grey Album) and former Goodie Mob singer Cee-Lo Green may use futuristic tools to attain their sound, slicing up beats and juxtaposing contrasting samples with freeform glee, but their main appeal lies in the neo-soul that roots these songs in a Sly Stone-Curtis Mayfield-Gamble and Huff tradition. “Crazy” is the obvious touchstone, but “Smiley Faces” is a close runner-up, sporting a vivid cinematic vibe. “Just a Thought” sounds as if it was taken straight out of the late-60s and earl ’70s and remixed to modern effect. The Violent Femmes cover “Gone Daddy Gone” is an odd and seemingly random detour here, further evidence of the duo’s eclectic tendencies. Better are the goofy, monster mashes – “The Boogie Monster,” “Necromancer” – where it’s as if Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“I Put a Spell On You”) was being rocketed into the future.

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2:57
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2:28
3:05
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1:26
3:42
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1:48
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3:25

About Gnarls Barkley

The Gnarls Barkley collaboration didn't bring producer Danger Mouse to the top of the British charts for the first time, but it did mark his debut as the pilot of a hit record. Mouse, born Brian Burton, first gained the ears of discriminating listeners when he concocted The Grey Album, a bootleg that mashed the vocals from The Black Album by Jay-Z with music samples courtesy of The White Album by EMI flagship the Beatles. Although the label posted a cease-and-desist order, one of their employees, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, was one of the impressed, and he hired Burton to create the beats for the second Gorillaz album, Demon Days.

Just one year later, Danger Mouse was back in the charts with another collaboration project, Gnarls Barkley, with singer Cee-Lo Green (a solo artist and former member of Atlanta's Goodie Mob). The pair had met in Atlanta in the late '90s, and began recording together around the time of a 2003 DM record titled Ghetto Pop Life. A few recordings were passed around and played by many associated with the pair, and eventually one of the leaked tracks, "Crazy," became a hot property for the download market. It became the first single vaulted to the top of the British charts by digital distribution, and the resulting album, St. Elsewhere, peaked at number one on the album charts. A follow-up was not long in coming; The Odd Couple dropped in early 2008. ~ John Bush

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