Thursday, August 31, 2006

Charlie Gets His Groove On

From today's TV listings:

Charlie Rose
Music producer Brian "Danger Mouse'' Burton [left]; Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes.

Nice! I'll be tuning in for sure (the White Stripes segment, incidentally, is a repeat). Charlie Rose airs in Seattle weeknights at 12pm on KCTS. When I get the chance, I'll post a few excerpts from last week's Rolling Stone interview with Mr. Mouse and pal Cee-Lo. In the meantime, here are some pics of the man himself plus the cartoon character [above right] from whom he took his name. (Does this make Cee-Lo Penfold...?)

Note: Pictures from Google Images.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Why I love André 3000...
and the Hives

From an interview with André "3000" Benjamin (Outkast) in the 9/7/06 issue of Rolling Stone.

Austin Scaggs: Was there a show that changed your life?

André Benjamin: I wouldn't say it changed my life, but a while ago I flew to New York just to see the Hives. My flight was late, and I didn't get to see but the last twenty minutes, when they played every song I loved. At one point they were jamming so hard, and then right on cue they all stopped. They held their pose for at least a minute. Nobody moved, sweat was dripping and they were like statues. They didn't have to play shit, and the crowd was going crazy. When they cranked it back up, the show went to a whole different plateau. The crowd went nuts, nuts, nuts! I wouldn't have written "Hey Ya!" if it weren't for the Hives.

Austin Scaggs: Are you with me on this: "Hey Ya!" is the best song of the twenty-first century?

André Benjamin: Jesus. I don't know, man. That could be argued by a lot of people.

Austin Scaggs: Can you think of anything better?

André Benjamin: No.

[On the subject of punk, Benjamin adds, "I went crazy over the Ramones, the Buzzcocks and the New York Dolls. Bad Brains,
to me, is the best punk band in the world."]

Hey Ya

One two three!

My baby don't mess around
Because she loves me so
And this I know for sho'
But does she really want to?
But can't stand to see me
Walk out the door
Don't try to fight the feeling
'Cause the thought alone is killing me right now
Thank God for mom and dad
For sticking two together
'Cause we don't know how

Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... [8X]

You think you've got it
Oh you think you've got it!
But got it just don't get it
'Til there's nothing at
We get together, oh!
We get together
But separate's always better when there's feelings
If what they say is "Nothing is forever"
Then what makes?
Then what makes, then what makes, then what makes, HUH!!!!
Then what makes love the exception?
So why oh? Why oh? Why oh? Why oh?
Are we so in denial?
When we know we're not happy here?
Y'all don't want me here you just wanna dance

Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... [2X]
Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Don't want to meet your daddy, oh oh)
Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Just want you in my Caddy, oh oh)

Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Oh Oh, don't want to meet your mama, oh oh)
Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Just want to make you cumma, oh oh)
Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (I'm just being honest! oh oh) [2X]

Alright now fellas! (YEAH!)
What's cooler than being cool?
(ICE COLD!!!!) I can't hear you!
I say what's cooler than being cool??
(ICE COLD!!!!)
Alright, alright, alright [2X]
Alright ladies! (YEAH!!!)
We gon' break this thing down in just a few seconds!
Now don't have me break this thang down for nothing!
Now I wanna see y'all on y'all baddest behavior
Lend me some sugar! I am your neighbor, aaaah! Here we go!!!!
Shake it! Shake, shake it, shake it (Oh oh)
Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it, shake it (Oh oh)
Shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture, shake it, shake it
Shh- you got to, shake it, shh-shake it, shake it, got to shake it
(Shake it, Suga') Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Now all Beyonce's and Lucy Lui's
And Baby Dolls get on the floor!
(Get on the floor)
You know what to do! [3X]

Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Oh oh) [3X]
Heeyy Yaaaaaaaa... (Uh oh, hey ya)
Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Oh oh)
Heeyy Yaaaaaaaa... (Uh, uh, oh oh)
Heeeyyy Yaaaaaaa... (Oh oh) [twice to fade]

Endnote: Why does it still surprise me when a major hip-hop artist proclaims their affection for an alternative rock group (independent or otherwise)? Why should this seem so strange...and so cool? After all, I rarely blink when alt-rockers praise rappers (mainstream or otherwise). I guess it's because the love continues to flow more one way more than the other. Reminds me of the time my friend Glenn mentioned running into Q-Tip at a U2 concert; what can I say, I was surprised.

Speaking of which, one of the better "Hey Ya" covers is by Seattle's Supersuckers, while the Raconteurs have been covering Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" on tour. Granted, everyone and his brother is covering "Crazy" lately--and I wouldn't call the soulful track "hip-hop"--but every bit counts. Meanwhile, Outkast's Bryan Barber-directed musical, Idlewild, opened nationally on 8/25. Reviews have been mixed--Stephanie Zacharek loved it, Michael Atkinson liked it, Manohla Dargis hated it. (I liked it.) André image from the AMG, Idlewild images from the IMDb, lyrics from Lyrics007.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Three by Two / Two by Three

The Tyde, Three's Co. , Rough Trade (8/29/06 release date)

That isn't a typo. It's Three's Co., not Three's Company. The album is their third, following Once (2001) and Twice (2003). There are five people in the LA band, including three Rademakers: Darren (vocals, guitar), wife Ann (keyboards), and brother Brent (bass, backing vocals) from Beachwood Sparks. The quintet is rounded out by Ben Knight (guitar) and Ric Menck (drums). I would imagine they've heard a few Beach Boys and Zombies LPs in their time as Three's Co. is breezy pop with a psychedelic edge.

Mostly, the Tyde reminds me of the Jesus and Mary Chain, but without all the feedback (over the years, they've also been compared to Felt and Lloyd Cole & the Commotions). These 13 tunes are light, bouncy, and mid-tempo. Two of the best are remixes: James Figurine adds beats to "Glassbottom Lights," while Nobody lends "Don't Need a Leash" some much needed attitude. I tried to work up some enthusiasm for this record, I really did--"Ltd. Appeal" and the remixes came close--but I just couldn't do it. Three's Co. is pleasant, professional...and a little dull.

Thunderbirds Are Now!,
Make History, Frenchkiss (10/3/06 release date)

TAN! singer Ryan Allen [right] has occasionally been described as a girl--his singing, that is. Apparently, he doesn't mind. That's a good thing, as he doesn't sound particularly masculine on the band's third full-length. "Androgonous" is probably a better word; sometimes he sounds feminine, sometimes not. But his quartet isn't dishing out sexually ambiguous Antony and the Johnsons-type tunes--not that there's anything, well, you know--but rather angular, post-punky guitar stuff. They hail from Detroit, but don't sound like any other Motor City crews with which I'm familiar.

The group has also noted that if they were based in Brooklyn, they wouldn't be attracting as much attention. They've got a point. To quote the title of track six: "Sound Issues/Smart Ideas." (Or as the Saints once put it, "Know your product.") For New York--especially Williamsburg--Make History might not seem so original. For Detroit, it does. That said, it isn't a bad record. In fact, it's pretty good. Based on the press for Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief (2002) and Justamustache (2005), I was expecting something akin to Gang of Four-meets-Bloc Party, but there's a fair amount of power-pop here, and I hear more Cheap Trick than Go4. Worth a listen.

Endnote: Tyde buttons from their official website, TAN! images from Frenchkiss Records (Eric Emmons credited). Tyde trivia: "Brock Landers" features Conor Deasy from the Thrills, Rick Menck is a veteran of Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet, and Ann Do Rademaker also plays with Gwen Stefani's touring band.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Twin Infinitive: Part Five

"It is always better to be a coward and live to fight another day. The life of novelty groups is always limited. The twins returned to Norfolk and the obscurity from which they came."
-- Brian Aldiss, Brothers of the Head (1977)


The following AndMoreAgain exclusive was preceded by four siffblog entries. Former Seattleite Keith Fulton, along with filmmaking partner Louis Pepe, is the director of Brothers of the Head, which opened at the Varsity Theater on 8/11. I met with him this June during the Seattle International Film Festival.

To read parts one through four, please click here.


On Mockumentary, Documentary, and Casting

Fennessy: So, in terms of the approach that you used, which I'm sure that you're not thrilled that some people have described as mockumentary--which it obviously is not...

Fulton: Well, because it's not appropriate.

Fennessy: No, it's not appropriate. Other people have done it, and maybe gotten away with it more--gotten away from that word--because of their reputation. I think in Sweet and Lowdown, which is a very different film, but it's Woody Allen, who's done that before with Zelig, and maybe even other films...

Fulton: I don't think Zelig is completely documentary format, but I haven't seen Sweet and Lowdown.

Fennessy: It does the same thing, and it's actually a tragedy, as well, because it's about this guy [Sean Penn] who thinks he's one of the greatest guitar players in the world. What he [Allen] does that's so cool--he does what you guys do, but to a different effect--is that some of the people are real. He's got real jazz critics talking about this guy's playing and then he's got actors. If you don't know anything about jazz, you have no idea. If someone didn't know who Ken Russell was [below right, on the set of Tommy], I think they would assume he's an actor. I like that.

Fulton: We're only sensitive about that term--mockumentary--because it suggests comedy.

Fennessy: Which is in the film, but it's not a comedy.

Fulton: Yeah, I mean there are funny parts in the film, but if you say literally: What is a mockumentary? Well, it's a fake documentary. But I think now it's got the connotation of comedy--people think about Christopher Guest films. I really like those films a lot, actually, but it's a genre of its own, and we were trying to use more documentary techniques to make a stranger kind of fiction. You know, like this thing I was talking about with the unreliable narration. You can get something using that documentary style that you can't get out of a normal narrative. In a normal narrative, you might distrust a character, but you can't get the sense of a character controlling the story and you can't trust them. That's something you can get from a documentary. Like, I don't know if you ever saw Errol Morris's Thin Blue Line...

Fennessy: I've seen almost all of his films, but not that's on the top of my list. I love Errol Morris.

Fulton: It's all interview based, but you don't know the truth through most of the film--I don't think even by the end can you completely resolve the truth... And you don't trust all the people who are talking. It's a very interesting thing to play with.

[When I interviewed John Scheinfeld, director of the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson, he also mentioned this film.]

Fennessy: And he continues in that vein with The Fog of War...

Fulton: Yeah, that's a wonderful film.

Fennessy: Where this guy [former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara] appears to be incredibly forthcoming, but he's had all these years to find certain ways to say certain things...

[Scheinfeld and I talked about this film, too; he interviewed McNamara as a Dr. Strangelove DVD extra.]

Fulton: Right.

Fennessy: Because he knows he's responsible for many deaths all over the place. You can tell he's really trying to phrase things carefully, and it's fascinating to watch that process, and you end up kind of liking him, thinking, 'Yeah, that must have been a horrible thing to have made those decisions and then to have to live with them.' I thought he was brave to do the film, actually.

[Scheinfeld found him intimidating.]

Fennessy: So, did you get any pressure to cast people who were better known in the lead roles?

Fulton: No, none.

Fennessy: That's amazing.

Fulton: It was a gift, because Brothers of the Head is not a cheap film. It was a five-million dollar film. Well, you know, it was cheap by big-budget Hollywood standards, but it's not cheap on the independent scale of things. So, to have a film of that budget level with the complexity this had--I mean, it had lots of locations, it had lots of cast members--and not to have the pressure of having to use celebrities? It was incredible. I mean, it was a joy, because if you had celebrities in, it would have ruined the movie.

Fennessy: Yeah, and they might not have been able to do the things and look the way...

Fulton: You're watching this thing that was meant to have been shot in 1974, and it's meant to feel kind of gritty and real, and you've got Matt Damon in it, strapped to...Greg Kinnear!

[He's referring to the Farrelly Brothers comedy Stuck on You.]

Fennessy: And I like Matt Damon.

Fulton: I like him, too.

Fennessy: But in some movies--I hate to say it--but in The Brothers Grimm, I didn't like him. Is that something that you've thought about, as someone who's made documentaries about Terry Gilliam...? I've seen Lost in La Mancha, I haven't seen the film about Twelve Monkeys [The Hamster Factor], but I have the book Gilliam on Gilliam, where he talks about Twelve Monkeys, and he's really frank. He's like, I didn't want Bruce Willis and I didn't want Brad Pitt, and the studio said these are who we want you to use, and he says, the better I got to know Bruce Willis, the more I worked with him, I thought, you know what, this guy's gonna be fine--but this Brad Pitt is terrible.

Fulton: [Laughs]

Fennessy: And so, Brad Pitt the whole way is working with this coach, and he's getting better, and finally Terry says, this guy's working so hard and he's just about there, but he makes it clear: I didn't want these guys. And he says who he wanted, which I can't remember, but one of them was from The Fisher King--it was either Robin Williams or Jeff Bridges. And this happened again. I know it happened with The Brothers Grimm, as well.

[Gilliam wanted Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges for Twelve Monkeys and Samantha Morton for The Brothers Grimm.]

Fulton: We documented his work with that coach.

[Pitt received an Oscar nomination for his efforts; Willis did not.]

Fennessy: And in light of you guys having worked with Terry Gilliam, you must have felt this was pretty awesome--we're newer filmmakers and yet we can work with who we want. Is it because he's working with bigger budgets? You would think he'd have earned the right not to have to...

Fulton: No.

Fennessy: No?

Fulton: I don't think he ever earned that right, basically.

Fennessy: Even Martin Scorsese, I know, has pressure to cast certain people.

Fulton: Well, look at somebody like Steven Soderbergh, a filmmaker for whom I have a lot of respect. He's definitely a filmmaker who sort of does one for them [the studio] and does one for him. You look at a film like Bubble [right], which was made recently. It's not full of celebrities, and it was shot in a very humble fashion--you know, a very inexpensive film to make.

Fennessy: And even Schizopolis--Steven Soderbergh is the lead.

Fulton: Is he? I need to see it.

Fennessy: Yeah, and his wife--his ex-wife--is the female lead.

Fulton: He gets to make films that he wants by getting the pressure off of him. He's not gonna get to make a film like Ocean's 11, and cast whoever he wants. I think he makes those films to keep himself afloat, frankly--but he even does those well.

[Weird that both Damon and Pitt star in that series...]

Fennessy: He does.

Fulton: He does crass commercial things as well, I suppose, as really independent fare. But no, we were just plain lucky not to have that pressure.

Fennessy: And it's a good cast. Having seen 24 Hour Party People and Frozen, I really like Sean Harris [Nick Sidney]. I like him in everything I've seen him in, and he always looks quite different, too. So that was interesting--to see him being tortured Ian Curtis and then being a torturer. Interesting little switch there.

Fulton: Yes. [laughs]

Fennessy: So, you read Please Kill Me [Fulton mentioned this earlier in the interview]. Did you watch any particular films? I know you read about conjoined twins.

Fulton: We watched Gimme Shelter.

Fennessy: Which at least one reviewer has mentioned.

Fulton: I'd seen that when we were in grad school. Also, Cocksucker Blues, the film by Robert Frank.

Fennessy: It's funny, because I came across a review that mentioned Performance, Gimme Shelter, and Cocksucker Blues.

[Mick Jagger, left, is the link between the three.]

Fulton: Performance we hadn't watched. I watched Performance for the first time after we made Brothers of the Head, because people kept bringing it up.

Fennessy: It's kind of bad...and great at the same time. I walked out of a screening in college.

Fulton: It is bad! [laughs] And it's Nicolas Roeg, right? Who I like.

Fennessy: And Donald Cammell, who some people say is more responsible for the film than Nicolas Roeg. But what keeps it going--something that's also true of your film--is the dynamic between the two lead actors [Jagger and James Fox]. Everything around that is...interesting to look at, but it didn't make much sense to me. Cocksucker Blues, I haven't seen.

Fulton: Not many people have, it's kind of hard to track down.

Fennessy: I was in England when they did a Robert Frank restrospective [at the Tate Modern], and they showed all his films, because apparently you can show Cocksucker Blues in a museum context. I happened to miss it, but I saw his photographs and short films. That was a bummer that I couldn't actually see the movie. I've seen a lot of clips from it, because someone [Sarah "Buzzy" Jackson] did a presentation at the EMP Pop Conference about three years ago, and she showed clip after clip. Her point was that it's a boring movie. And I think she made her point.

Fulton: [Laughs]

Fennessy: I liked the music in the film and I thought you guys achieved what you were trying to, and yet I did read a couple of reviews... One person, on a site called DVD Verdict--and this is a good review, they liked the movie--said the music was "atrocious," which they thought was intentional. And then in the Variety review, the twins are described as "massively untalented."

Fulton: [Laughs]

Fennessy: And I kind of thought both reviewers missed the point, because they do start out as massively untalented, and then they become more talented, but these are both good reviews...

Fulton: Yes, but you can probably bet that both of the people who wrote those things don't like this type of music.

Fennessy: That's what I was thinking, because they liked the film.

Fulton: People who like this type of music invariably like it. I would hate to think I made a film with terrible music--that we got it wrong. I've talked to so many people who like this kind of music and loved the music, so I figured we got it right.

Fennessy: To me, they sounded like Magazine actually, and I saw in the press notes, somebody mentioned Magazine.

Fulton: That was one band. There were others...

Fennessy: So, it was not my imagination. Then, I guess, one last question. I came across another review that said: Imagine if Noel and Liam [Gallagher] from Oasis were joined together--this is what you'd end up with. I thought that was a pretty funny image, because these guys, these two brothers, have just been at each other in the press and in private for years. Were you thinking of any real-life musician brothers at all?

Fulton: Nope.

Fennessy: I think people in England will see a Liam-Noel thing.

Fulton: I don't even know Oasis. People kept mentioning them, I had never heard them.

Fennessy: If you like the Beatles...

Fulton: They're similar?

Fennessy: Yeah, with more kind of a Radiohead, '90s edge.

Fulton: Radiohead I know and like.

[The publicist came in to let us know our time was up.]

Fennessy: I do, too. Well, thank you so much for your time.

Fulton: Thank you. Now, I need to go and have a smoke! [laughs]


Come now, gentleman, your love is all I crave.
You'll still be in the circus when I'm laughing,
Laughing in my grave.

-- Jagger/Richards, "Memo from Turner" (1970)

Endnote: To my mind, there are few things more excruciating than transcribing interviews. In this case, however, Fulton's melodious voice made the task less painful than usual. Brothers of the Head ends its run at the Varsity this evening (4329 University Way N.E., 206-781-5755). And speaking of mockumentaries, Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration, a satire on awards shows, opens in Seattle on 11/17. Images from The Stranger, Wikipedia, The New York Times, NPR, and Flickhead.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's All Too Much

Too much information
running through my brain
Too much information
driving me insane.
--The Police, "Too
Much Information"


It's all too much for me to take.
-- The Beatles, "It's All Too Much"


I have too many CDs, DVDs, books, and magazines (mostly back issues of Vanity Fair and Sight & Sound). I don't have too many records, tapes, videos, and seven-inch singles. That's mostly because I don't buy the latter so much anymore.

As for the former, I purchase several forms of these media every month (and subscribe to several magazines). I also review a lot of stuff. If I'm writing about a title, I don't have to pay for it, which is great. Finding space for all the new arrivals is not so great.

Once upon a time, the space under my bookshelves was empty--a cat could easily hang out there (and did!). My kitchen counters, desk, and hallway also used to be free of clutter. No more. I've taken to piling books on one of the counters (and the bar that divides the kitchen from the rest of the apartment), new CDs next to my computer, and old magazines near the front door.

I'm a neatnik, so it's not as bad as it sounds, but sometimes I wish most of it was gone. My square footage is modest. (To say the least.) The more stuff I aquire, the more "modest" it becomes. A few years ago, I sold all the stuff I thought I could possibly part with, mostly singles and CDs I never listened to. It felt good. But once I was finished, I was finished. There was nothing else I could imagine selling.

So, I'm left with a lot of stuff, a lot of great stuff I'm always willing to loan to friends. But there aren't many titles I actually re-visit myself. I mean, I have so much new material to explore each month that I don't have time to re-watch favorite movies or re-read favorite books. Yet I can't part with any of them, because I know they're good, and I like knowing they're there.

In theory, though, it's pretty weird. I can understand having a sentimental attachment to a few items, like a childhood toy or photograph or piece of jewelry, but hundreds of compact discs? Hundreds of digital video discs? It seems ridiculous, and yet I know there's nothing unique about my predicament: I have too much stuff, I don't have enough space. It's the American Way.

It could be worse. I could have nothing, I could have no space at all. No space for me, the cats, the clothes, and all the other detritus that surrounds me. And defines me. And comforts me. And crowds me. I'm thankful for everything I have. I really am. But whenever I can't find a space in which to store some new acquisition...I wish I weren't so damned sentimental.


It's too much.....It's too much.
-- The Beatles (driving the point home)

Endnote: Lyrics from Sing365, Andy Warhol images from Easy Art. Lola, as in the Kinks song, looks a little like 1956's "Untitled (Green Cat)," except she is not, well, green. Naturally, I own a copy of Cats, Cats, Cats. I purchased it from The WarholStore.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Five Random Observations
...or Five Signs of the Apocalypse?
You decide.

Either everything I like
is going mainstream
or the world just got a
whole lot cooler.


1. The first thing I heard when I walked into Anthropologie
last weekend? "Bat Macumba" by Os Mutantes [above left].

2. Then, while strolling past Barneys New York,
I spotted a [Serge] Gainsbourg T-shirt in the window.

3. Five minutes into Miami Vice, the Felix da Housecat "Heavenly House" mix of "Sinnerman" hits the screen. Sure, David R. Ellis (2004's Cellular) beat Michael Mann to it, but it's still Nina Simone. (Then he has to ruin the effect with those godawful Audioslave tracks.)

4. Belle and Sebastian, the New Pornographers, and Cat Power
are now part of the in-house soundtrack at Nordstrom.

5. A model is reading Camille Paglia's Break, Blow, Burn
in the latest Anthropologie catalog.

Endnote: Yes, I mentioned Anthropologie twice. What can I say? I love that store. Number five, incidentally, isn't meant as an endorsement of Paglia. I haven't read any of her books, just her articles--especially those concerning Madonna. I also recently caught Ellen Forney's live version of "My Date With Camille Paglia," which both reads/plays a bit like Waiting for Godot. But funnier. As for that Gainsbourg T-shirt, I had to have it, so went in search of my size. Barneys was out, so they ordered one from another branch... Images from Light in the Attic and Wikipedia.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Alone Again (Or)

Arthur Lee, one of the finest singer/songwriters of the psychedelic--or any--era lost his battle with leukemia on 8/3/06. There isn't anything I can say about Lee that hasn't already been said. More importantly, his songs speak for themselves: "My Little Red Book,"* "Signed D.C," "Seven & Seven Is," "AndMoreAgain," etc. So here's something Robyn Hitchcock wrote about the man. The composition appears on his 1993 album, Respect.


The Wreck of the Arthur Lee

The wreck of the Arthur Lee
Will never return again
Never return again

The captain and all his men
Went up and jumped overboard
"Jesus is Lord," they cried

Believe in love!
Believe in love
And I'll believe in you

The missing Avenger planes
Will never return to base-
don't you wait up for them

How often have you boys said
"I ain't gonna bump no more."
"We ain't gonna bump no more."

Believe in love!
Believe in love!
And I'll believe if you'll believe in me
I got home
There was nobody there
Just the phone
let it ring in the air
But it's home


The wreck of the Arthur Lee
Will never return again
Never return again


Okay, I realize the title is a tad misleading, since "wreck" usually implies "waste," and that the words work better when set to music, but they're the first ones that came to mind when I heard about Lee's passing. For me, the key part is [trumpets]. Few musicians, Miles Davis aside, knew how to hip-ify that humble brass instrument quite like Mr. Arthur Lee.

Ironically, it was band member Bryan MacLean (1947-1998) who penned the mighty "Alone Again Or," which has come to be seen as Love's signature number. Lee was involved with its creation, of course, but I would hate to see anyone deprive MacLean of this crucial credit. (Please click here for the full details.)

Endnote: "My Little Red Book," one of Love's biggest hits, was written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Then again, Harry Nilsson's highest chart-toppers, "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'," were also written by others. The pop marketplace is a funny thing. Lee image from The Love Society (Tom Sheehan credited), band image from the AMG. Arthur Lee was 61.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Smiley Faces Sometimes

The gent to the left is a Barkley. He isn't the Barkley in question. So yeah, "Gnarls" is a horrible name--Charles is classier--but what can ya do. To quote the Bard, "What's in a name? To quote Gnarls Barkley, "Who cares?"

Last week, I forwarded the following video to almost everyone I know. On the off-chance you haven't seen it yet, here 'tis. It's basically the history of pop music with Dennis Hopper, who appears on the Danger Mouse-produced Demon Days, and fellow former child actor Dean Stockwell as "hosts." In a nice bit of synchronicity, both starred together in Blue Velvet [above].

The Gnarled Ones, meanwhile, play a couple of Zelig-meets-Forrest Gump-type characters, always there whenever anything of note is going on in the world of pop. My favorite bits? The Gnarlston! And the Groovy Purple Dirigible! I could go on...

Granted, I haven't seen many videos this year, but "Smiley Faces" must surely be among the best. It's also one of my favorite tracks off my favorite record of 2006: St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley.

I thought everyone knew about this dynamic duo and their chart-busting debut--number five, last I checked--but my friend Mark recently set me straight. He's been busy doing the grad school thing and had no idea who these guys were or what they're about.

For anyone else out of the loop, Gnarls Barkley is Danger Mouse (The Grey Album, The Mouse and the Mask) and Cee-lo Green (Goodie Mob, Dungeon Family). St. Elsewhere is their first full-length. Since its release, they've been touring like crazy and have made several late night TV appearances (I caught two; both great).

The duo has different outfits for each gig--robes and shower caps, scrubs and stethoscopes, etc. They also dress as characters from The Wizard of Oz, A Clockwork Orange, and Napoleon Dynamite. It's too soon to say whether their funk-fueled vehicle is built to last. For now, they're having fun. And the fun is infectious.


I want to leap whenever I see you smiling
Because its easily one of the hardest things to do
Your worries and fears become your friends
And they end up smiling at you.
-- Gnarls Barkley, "Smiley Faces"

Endnote: Charles Barkley image from Yahoo!, Blue Velvet image from New Video Film, and video from YouTube. If it won't play, please give the official Gnarls Barkley website or their MySpace page a try. As usual, I had little luck adding images, so finally had to throw in the towel on including any photos of Danger Mouse and Cee-lo in all their finery. If this keeps up, I'm gonna start posting sans pics. Thanks to Bill for the tip about this fine video.