Good The Bad And The Queen 8 ( 2007 ) History Song / 80s Life / Northern Whale / Kingdom Of Doom / Herculean / Behind The Sun / The Bunting Song / Nature Springs / A Soldier's Tale / Three Changes / Green Fields / The Good, The Bad And The Queen
Damon Albarn doesn't want to be known as Damon Albarn, the britpop goon remembered cheifly for that video to 'Country House'. He doesn't want to be remembered as Gorillaz, a cartoon band where he's hiding away from himself and before enough people knew he was the band, they'd already had several smash hits. So onto this latest project. 'The Good The Bad And The Queen' apparently isn't the name of the band, rather the album. Which makes life slightly complicated of course, but nevermind. To all intents and purposes this is a band but it's also the post-blur 'solo' career or Mr Albarn. He's going about it all in a clever way, if you ask me. What, you didn't ask me? Well, tough. I've told you anyway. So, we've got Clash bass player Paul Simonon providing the gentle dub lines. For even further cultural melting, we've Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. What does he do? Well, he drums. Stepping into lead-guitar duties is Simon Tong, britpop session man and attempted replacement guitarist in The Verve when they all fell out with each other. This isn't really a guitar album, though. Damon's musical presence is keenly felt with his synths, organ and piano. Paul Simonon and Damon have created some very atmospheric, stirring musical backdrops upon which Tong and Allen's contributions are welcome, yet never showy. Oh, the album is also a spiritual and emotional follow-up and comedown from Blur's 'Parklife' LP. It's the best album Damon has been involved in since Blur existed in their proper form.
It's a funny album in terms of structure. The best two songs open the album, yet neither are singles ( at the time of writing ). Songs four and five have been released as singles. The title track arrives last of all, some kind of free-form jam. The dub lines run throughout the LP whilst Damon reaches back to his Kinks/Music Hall influences but mixes in a lot of melancholy. 'The Good, The Bad & The Queen' are the clear opposites of Gorillaz. No immediately catchy songs and outside of '80s Song' I probably wouldn't recommend anything else was aimed at the pop charts. So? Well, listen up, this is an album in the old fashioned sense of the word. It's been fashioned and sequences to have an effect. Upon first listens, the shock of the new renders everything unlistenable. Three listens later, certain songs have popped out. A further three listens down the line, the album is bordering on classic status. I love it when that happens!
'80s Song' then? Well, it's a joy to behold. It's up there with 'Beetlebum', 'To The End' and whatever your favourite Albarn penned tune happens to be. It sounds like Joe Meek producing The Beatles in space. Gorgeous harmonies float in and the song adds additional 'bum bum bum...' harmonies too, one guy has a really low voice! It's cool, the entire song sends shivers through me. Believe. We've then a couple of tunes aimed at Gorillaz fans presumably, although the windswept streets of London in the 21st century replaces Hollywood, stadom and cartoon characters. 'Herculean', pretty out there for a single release. It sounds stupendously modern, but without sounding like any single other song released in the past three years, or so. 'The Bunting Song', 'Nature Springs' and 'Green Fields' all mourn something lost, a nostalgia for places and times that have passed. 'Green Fields' is particularly special, another tune to rank alongside the mans finest work. It's a dream, indeed. Green fields turn to stone. The sweetness the ending of 'Behind The Sun' provides us, Pepperesque strings floating briefly through. Conclusions? Haven't got any. Well, other than the fact this album should stick around with you awhile this year.