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The Good, the Bad & the Queen

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 January, 2007, 12:00am

The Good, the Bad & the Queen


The Good, the Bad & the Queen


(Parlophone)


It's funny now to think that when Britpop was at the height of its hype, Damon Albarn and Blur were considered lesser artists than Oasis.


Who would have thought, years later, that - through his output with the Gorillaz and now this - Albarn would stamp himself as one of the more accomplished and progressive artists plying their trade on the world music scene. Perhaps he always had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.


The Good, the Bad & the Queen gathers a British supergroup of sorts - the Clash's bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen - and hands the production duties to Danger Mouse.


The results are a moody mixture of dub and rock, with even a little nod to the harmonies of the Beach Boys thrown in for good measure.


History Song kicks it off, with Simonon in fine nick and setting a slightly dour tone, before giving way to the weirdly engaging doo-wop of 80's Life. The cinematic Northern Whale drifts in and out, with its echoes of the more experimental side of Sandinista, a feeling repeated later with dreamy vocals on The Bunting Song.


By the time the haunting Herculean lurches into view, Albarn's focus has turned a decidedly dark shade. 'There is no warning,' he sings. And from there he speaks of a world at war, and of very personal feelings of disenchantment with what he sees going on around him.


The days of gimmick pop seem, thankfully, a long way away.


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