Monday, February 12, 2007

the Largeness of Gnarls Barkley

Was I the only one that didn't know the real identity of this guy???....

As most of you probably watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, there were many epiphanies and such (the Police getting older was one of them...), but the one that hit me the heaviest was the realization that Gnarls Barkley was actually a creation of a former member of rap music's Goodie Mob...

The one and only Cee-Lo.

Yes that is correct...One of Atlanta's Dirty South finest...
the same potently strain of rappers that gave you Outkast.

During his musical search / tenure with Goodie Mob, Cee-Lo had the air of being not afraid to change and grow, releasing a few solo albums under different monikers during his Dirty South period of music.


I first heard Cee-Lo at a gas station a few years ago, and I asked the attendant what the music was that I heard coming out of her boombox.

"That's Cee-Lo...have you never heard of him???"

My answer was yes, of course, and I usually am up on a lot of things musically, but this was a new discovery, and I was taken by the real soul coming from this voice, in the midst of the usual rap sonicscape.
The stories were down and dirty, but respectful. And that voice, well let's say I didn' t forget it.

Fast forward to about a year ago during a return trip from the coast, and I had the usual stash of CD's with me to peruse in the player.
Gnarls Barkley's "St. Elsewhere" was one of them, and a recent trip to the store put that gem in my cosmos.
Not afraid of many different looks and sonic landscapes within the "Neo-Soul" (thank the Brits for that one) umbrella of genres, this album delighted both my friend and I as we traveled through the Coast range on the way back from Lincoln City.

At times fast techno beats mashed up with compressed sledgehammer drums, while filtering that through that varied soul music landscape. Gospel-ish choruses of vocals jumping and surrounding you with their piquant, Bacchanalian atmosphere.
An orgasm of sound, if you will. It was different, but familiar...
A little Al Green-ish, a little Motown-ish, throw some Billy Stewart in there, and the aforementioned bunches of soul.

If you should find yourself curious about Cee-Lo and his past recordings, there is a really comprehensive MySpace page for him under his name.

If you are a You Tube fan, there are many titles up there under Gnarls Barkley, and the scope of them is amazing. I found myself laughing out loud to the video for "Gone, Daddy Gone", which was very innovative and humorous to boot.
Lots of live clips to be had, and of course, the You Tube flavor of total strangers making fools/aquitting themselves quite well with their heart felt tributes to GB.

Hopefully someone soon will put last evening's performance from the Grammys, which was a slower, march tempoed, more epic version of "Crazy" that brought back memories of Burt Bacharach's thick and lush wall of sound he got with his musical arrangements.

I was beaming ear to ear, watching another of Cee-Lo's chameleonic performances, as he was dressed in a pilot's uniform with a flight case at his feet, and his producer Danger Mouse playing piano to the solo vocal of GB. With his big 1000-watt smile illuminating the whole stage, the song took a new meaning with the slower tempo.
The two started in the middle of the audience on a platform, GB sung a verse, then slowly walked a catwalk to the stage, and was then engulfed by a large "orchestra", all dressed in the flight/airline motif for the balance of the tune.

It was innovative, fresh, and heartfelt, and I felt lifted for a few moments.

If you want some new music to take you out of your track, then please check it out, and big congratulations to Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse for their grammy recognition last evening.

Sometimes things just slip past me, even with all of the music I do.

I thought the guy was British, or something....



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