St. Elsewhere

St. Elsewhere

4.6 13
by Gnarls Barkley
     
 

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The name sounds more like a dog's than a band's, but then again, everything about Gnarls Barkley is a little odd. A collaboration between onetime Goodie Mob singer Cee-Lo Green and in-demand producer (and Gorillaz member) Danger Mouse, St. Elsewhere was recorded over the course of three years, withSee more details below

Overview

The name sounds more like a dog's than a band's, but then again, everything about Gnarls Barkley is a little odd. A collaboration between onetime Goodie Mob singer Cee-Lo Green and in-demand producer (and Gorillaz member) Danger Mouse, St. Elsewhere was recorded over the course of three years, with ideas traded via email and the post office. It is a record that defies categorization, not to mention logic and the normal rules of the music biz. But it is also insanely catchy, overflowing with ideas, and stocked with at least one left-field hit. Powered by a soaring, string-laden chorus, "Crazy" is one of those songs -- like Outkast's "Hey Ya" -- that everyone seems to like; it's invaded the pop culture zeitgeist like a force of nature. The rest of St. Elsewhere is all over the musical and lyrical map but no less entertaining. "Smiley Faces" bounces like classic Motown; "Boogie Monster" channels Screamin' Jay Hawkins; and a gonzo cover of the Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone" lives up to the hype. You also get the Dirty-South-at-a-bar-mitzvah that is "Go-Go Gadget Gospel," and "Feng Shui" would be perfect for any space-age bachelor pad cocktail party. Sometimes it seems like St. Elsewhere is an attempt at making an album that could be played at any party. St. Elsewhere may evince a multiple-personality disorder, but it's a misdiagnosis to say that Gnarls Barkley are suffering from it.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
Who is Gnarls Barkley, and how did he ascend to the top of the British charts with a song that brings an eerie clarity to the cloud of mental illness? (Hint: It wasn't just the fact that Britain began factoring download data into its chart equations.) If St. Elsewhere sounds like one of the best rap-based pop productions since the second Gorillaz album, then look no further than the common link, producer Danger Mouse. And if the vocal performances are twisted with the type of unbalanced wisdom not seen in pop music since Sly Stone (or at least OutKast), credit Cee-Lo Green, the former Goodie Mob seer/sage/freak. A pop album straight through, St. Elsewhere is as good as Danger Mouse's two earlier landmarks (Gorillaz's Demon Days and Danger Doom's The Mouse and the Mask), but not because of any inherent similarities in the three records. The reasons for greatness here include DM's uncommon facility for writing (or sampling) simple hooks that stick, his creation of productions that entertain but don't detract from the main action, and his ability to coax a parade of enticing vocal performances from Green. The hit "Crazy" and the title track are perfect examples. Over detached backings, Green croons, growls, scats, and generally delivers fine neo-soul vocals while Danger Mouse blankets the tracks with choruses of disembodied harmonies and a well-placed string section or crackling organ to conjure an appropriately minor chord atmosphere. The focus on instability doesn't end there -- paranoia, suicidal tendencies, and multiple personalities are all in the cards, and there's also "Necromancer": "She was cool when I met her, but I think I like her better dead." Then, just to make sure listeners understand this is a concept album and not a message from a mind playing tricks on itself, they drop "The Boogie Monster" (although even the lyrics here can give pause: "I used to wonder why he looked familiar, and then I realized it was a mirror"). With the help of Danger Mouse's platinum ear and intricate vocal productions, Green is revealed as a top-notch post-millennial soul singer. Even when he's floating another mass of wise, serene gibberish, DM simply drops another production trick to keep things tight. Much like DJ Shadow's Private Press, Danger Mouse relies on samples from the downcast end of obscure '60s pop -- prog, psych, and Italian soundtrack music (his most valuable lieutenant here, Daniele Luppi, has the requisite Italian connection). Although Gnarls Barkley topping the charts was a slight fluke, the excellence of St. Elsewhere could have been seen coming a mile away.
Rolling Stone - Peter Relic
1/2 The disco-proud album closer, "The Last Time," poses a question: "When was the last time you danced?" At which point you get up and do exactly that.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
How do you categorize an album that blends hefty soul shouting, swirly techno, and creepy-crawly hip-hop? Not easy, but that's the pleasure of this captivating collaboration.... A bumpy but mesmerizing ride. [Grade: A]
NME - Pat Long
You certainly won't hear much else at the moment as inventive as this: while Cee-Lo croons softly about suicide, heartbreak, schizophrenia and the various skeletons in his closet, Danger Mouse assembles a consistently astonishing array of backwards accordions, horror movie strings, pinball funk, turbo-speed gospel samples and melting Spanish guitars. [8 out of 10 ]
Los Angeles Times - Josh Kun
"Crazy" is a soaring piece of emotional pop that ingeniously blurs the lines between gospel, soul and hip-hop, is the year's best single so far. For the rest of "St. Elsewhere," Gnarls applies a visionary, no-limits formula to over a century's worth of black musical styles.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/09/2006
Label:
Downtown
UPC:
0878037000320
catalogNumber:
70003
Rank:
918

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gnarls Barkley   Primary Artist
Eric Bobo   Drums
Dave Pilch   Bass
Daniele Luppi   Synthesizer Bass,Mini Moog
Menta Malone   Background Vocals
Doctor President   Organ,Bass,Guitar
Tomika Walden   Background Vocals
Chris Tedesco   Trumpet
Eddie Reyes   Acoustic Guitar

Technical Credits

Willie Dixon   Composer
Kevin Peek   Composer
Barry Clarke   Arranger,Composer
David Costa   Arranger,Composer
Gordon Gano   Composer
Celia Humphris   Arranger,Composer
Gian Piero Reverberi   Composer
Angelo Francesco Lavagnino   Composer
Armando Trovaioli   Composer
Keith Mansfield   Composer
Nino Nardini   Composer
Kam Tang   Illustrations
Jeff Antebi   Management
Danger Mouse   Producer,Audio Production
Mike Lazer   Mastering
Daniele Luppi   Arranger,Orchestration,Synthesizer Orchestration,Organ Arrangement
Thomas Callaway   Composer
Gianfranco Reverberi   Composer
Brian Burton   Composer
Stephen Brown   Arranger
Mark "Exit" Goodchild   Engineer
Ian Langley   Composer
Nicholas Flagello   Composer

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