Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gorillaz' "Plastic Beach"

Because I'm not Matt Hickey, I don't know much about Damon Albarn -- he was in that '90s Britpop band with the "Woo, hoo" song, wasn't he? (Albarn, not Hickey) -- but this album has been near the top of my playlist for months and months as a download (it's HIO's album of the year, doncha know), and now that I have it on loverly 180-gram double vinyl (the Flaming Lips' packaging was better but the rekkids themselves were only 140-gram; c'mon, Wayne) I've been playing it as part of a nonstop every-waking-hour mix that also includes the aforementioned Lips' Embryonic, Antony & the Johnsons' Thank You For Your Love EP, and William DeVaughn's Be Thankful For What You Got.

At mi casa, we love vinyl for sonics and The Romance of the Artifact, digital for convenience. (My sweetie is prolly afraid I'll go all Shreevie on her if she scratches one of my precious platters -- without reason, I might add; I dig her more 'n all my rekkids put together.)

Methinks that double vinyl is the perfect format. It gives you enough to listen to (curiously, I was never that stoked on 80-minute CDs, probably because of all the high-frequency noise that's so fatiguing in every digital format, but a 40-minute LP often leaves you wanting more). Four 15-minute sides are just about enough. And it compartmentalizes the listening experience into more easily manageable chunks. (I'll admit that I've listened to sides three and four of the Gorillaz album, and side two of the Flaming Lips, more 'n the others.)

Side one of the Gorillaz juxtaposes orchestral pseudo-classicism with Snoop Doggy Dogg. Remember when he seemed like such a Menace 2 Society, back before he turned himself into an MTV cartoon character the way the Gorillaz always have been (although I'm willfully ign'ant of their origin story; I just like this rekkid a whole bunch)?

Side two was originally my favorite (when I was listening digitally), "Stylo" being the nominal "hit," featuring Bobby Womack -- who was a Valentino alongside Sam Cooke when they waxed the 'riginal "It's All Over Now," as well as making bank for Tommy LiPuma by penning "Breezin'" for a Gabor Szabo album a few years before George Benson essayed the toon -- alongside Mos Def. "Superfast Jellyfish," featuring my fellow Lawn Guylanders De La Soul, was my original fave track from this alb. Lotsa superstar cameos on this rec, my least fave being the one by ex-Clash musos Jones and Simonon on the title track, for my dollar the least interesting side on the album (if Joe Strummer was here, he'd be turning in his grave). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Side three opens with "Some Kind of Nature" featuring Lou Reed, which T. Horn avows is the worst track on the alb, but unlike your humble chronicler o' events, he's not an old Velvets fan and aficionado of Uncle Lou, who these days does exactly what he wants, whether it's resurrecting his underrated '73 masterwork Berlin in a Julian Schnabel-directed DVD that includes the services of every worthwhile collaborator he's ever had save Robert Quine (RIP) and John Cale, or making horrible goddamn noises with John Zorn and his squeeze Laurie Anderson. As it happens, my two fave tracks on this here alb involve no star turns whatsoever: "On Melancholy Hill" and especially "Broken" are just Albarn his own self, and resonate they sure do. Followed closely by "Cloud of Unknowing," which employs Womack as he was meant to be heard.

These guys are playing in Grand Priairie tomorrow night. The cheap seats are a bill and a half. Lotsa luck with that, fellas.


Blogger Grubbermeister said...

'Tis a good record, indeed. Should check out the first two albums ("Gorillaz" and "Demon Days") next.

10:25 PM  
Blogger The Stash Dauber said...

Yeah, T. Horn burned 'em for me. Now if I could just find them amid the piles of stuff around here...

4:53 AM  

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