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Alternative & Indie - Released January 22, 2007 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions Stereophile: Face the Music
Around the turn of the millennium -- just after the release of Blur's moody sixth album, 13 -- Damon Albarn began to quietly back away from the very concept of fronting a rock band, turning his attention to a series of collaborative projects that soon overshadowed his main gig. First there was the electro-bubblegum group Gorillaz, which afforded Albarn the opportunity to masquerade behind a cartoon, a move that allowed him to let his music speak louder than his fame, a method that he found irresistible as he began to do several projects similar to this, including a voyage to Africa documented on Mali Music, along with other less-publicized forays into soundtracks. In this context, the post-Graham Coxon Blur albumThink Tank seemed less like a band effort than another conceptual project directed by Albarn instead of the work of a band, which is what all these new-millennium projects were at their core, including the Good, the Bad & the Queen, a quartet comprised of himself, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong, and Tony Allen, Fela Kuti's drummer, who was name-checked in Blur's "Music Is My Radar," and whose eponymous 2007 album is produced by Danger Mouse, who previously collaborated with Albarn on Gorillaz's second album, 2005's Demon Days. A flurry of pre-release activity compared The Good, the Bad & the Queen to Blur's 1994 masterpiece Parklife, as it represents a conscious return to Albarn writing songs specifically about London at a particular point in time. Thematically accurate though this may be, it is also misleading, suggesting that Albarn is also returning to the bright, colorful, clever guitar pop that made his reputation -- something akin to Coxon's reclamation of that sound on his excellent recent solo albums, Happiness in Magazines and Love Travels at Illegal Speeds. That couldn't be farther from the truth, as The Good, the Bad & the Queen is deliberately drained of color and mired in moodiness. If Parklife exuberantly captured the giddiness of the mid-'90s, as fashions and politics changed, ushering in New Labor, Britpop, and new lad culture, The Good, the Bad & the Queen captures how all that optimism has calcified into weary cynicism, as the endless opportunities of the '90s have given way to a warring world that seems to lack any center or certainty. So, in that sense, it is a cousin to Parklife in how it captures a national mood, but in sheer sonic terms, the closet antecedent of Albarn's is Demon Days, which traced out an apocalyptic vision despite its insistent pop hooks. Which isn't to say that The Good, the Bad & the Queen is a Gorillaz album in disguise, nor should Simonon's presence suggest that this is the second coming of London Calling; if anything, GBQ suggest the Specials at their most haunted, which is hardly uncharacteristic of Damon, who has always used "Ghost Town" as a blueprint whenever he's wanted to get spooky. Despite these echoes of the past -- and there are other echoes, too, arriving in Simonon's thundering dub bass, Tong's spectral guitars, Allen's nimble rhythms, and Albarn's vaudevillian piano and carnivalesque organ -- The Good, the Bad & the Queen is most certainly its own distinctive thing, the product of five iconoclastic musicians working a theme endlessly, relentlessly, and inventively, producing music that plays more like a movie than an album. Early on, as "History Song" eases into view on a circular acoustic guitar phrase, it establishes an alluring, dank, and artfully dour mood that the band continually expands and explores without ever letting the gloom lift. But for as dark as this is, GBQ never sounds despairing -- it's wearily resigned, as Albarn and his bandmates prefer to luxuriously wallow in the murk instead of finding a way out of it. There's a comfort in its melancholy, particularly in how the album glides from one elegantly doleful song to another, but at times the album almost sounds too samey, with no individual song emerging from the whole. Part of the reason for this is Danger Mouse's production: it's as subtle and clever as ever, but built largely in the post-production -- to the extent that he'll mix out Allen for large stretches of the album just for the aural effect. He's orchestrated a unified, dramatic album -- it's a tapestry of impeccable, sorrowful, yet sultry soundscapes -- but given the pedigree of this band, it's hard not to wish that the album offered more of the quartet just playing, gussied up with no effect. Nevertheless, as an album The Good, the Bad & the Queen is singularly effective, bringing the roiling melancholy undercurrent of Demon Days to the surface and creating a murky, mud-streaked impressionistic rock noir that's sinisterly seductive in its gloom. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 16, 2018 | Studio 13

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Like an Italian-American-French-Albanian co-production from the sixties, The Good, The Bad & The Queen flex their muscles with this five-star cast. Behind the great Damon Albarn (Blur and Gorillaz's frontman) is an army of ex-band members: Paul Simonon (ex-The Clash), Tony Allen (ex-Fela) and Simon Tong (ex-The Verve). When this supergroup was born in 2007 with an album simply called The Good, The Bad & The Queen, we were amazed by this almost Ennio Morricone-style soundtrack, with a little reggae, a little ‘80s, a little pop (in the way that The Kinks interpreted it) with the bitter-sweet feeling of wandering through a dreamlike London while feeling weighed down by the sorry state of the world... Eleven years later, this world isn’t getting any better. Always ready to speak out about the injustices of the world, Brexit seems to have inspired Damon Albarn more than ever. That’s one reason for the return of T.G.T.B.A.T.Q. with this Merrie Land album. On the album cover there’s a photo of actor Michael Redgrave in Alberto Cavalcanti's Le Mannequin du ventriloque, one of the sketches from the 1945 film Au cœur de la nuit (Dead of Night). It follows the story of an unstable ventriloquist who believes that his immoral doll is actually alive. Another allegory for T.G.T.B.A.T.Q? To produce this second episode, Tony Visconti replaced Danger Mouse for a somewhat pensive result that underlines the melancholy of the melodies and the causticity of the lyrics. With these disillusioned atmospheres and sarcastic words the brain behind Blur and Gorillaz once again goes very Ray Davies, his hero from The Kinks. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 16, 2018 | Studio 13

Like an Italian-American-French-Albanian co-production from the sixties, The Good, The Bad & The Queen flex their muscles with this five-star cast. Behind the great Damon Albarn (Blur and Gorillaz's frontman) is an army of ex-band members: Paul Simonon (ex-The Clash), Tony Allen (ex-Fela) and Simon Tong (ex-The Verve). When this supergroup was born in 2007 with an album simply called The Good, The Bad & The Queen, we were amazed by this almost Ennio Morricone-style soundtrack, with a little reggae, a little ‘80s, a little pop (in the way that The Kinks interpreted it) with the bitter-sweet feeling of wandering through a dreamlike London while feeling weighed down by the sorry state of the world... Eleven years later, this world isn’t getting any better. Always ready to speak out about the injustices of the world, Brexit seems to have inspired Damon Albarn more than ever. That’s one reason for the return of T.G.T.B.A.T.Q. with this Merrie Land album. On the album cover there’s a photo of actor Michael Redgrave in Alberto Cavalcanti's Le Mannequin du ventriloque, one of the sketches from the 1945 film Au cœur de la nuit (Dead of Night). It follows the story of an unstable ventriloquist who believes that his immoral doll is actually alive. Another allegory for T.G.T.B.A.T.Q? To produce this second episode, Tony Visconti replaced Danger Mouse for a somewhat pensive result that underlines the melancholy of the melodies and the causticity of the lyrics. With these disillusioned atmospheres and sarcastic words the brain behind Blur and Gorillaz once again goes very Ray Davies, his hero from The Kinks. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released November 5, 2018 | Studio 13

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 23, 2018 | Studio 13

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 27, 2006 | Parlophone UK

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The Good, The Bad & The Queen in the magazine
  • Disillusion
    Disillusion Like an Italian-American-French-Albanian co-production from the sixties, The Good, The Bad & The Queen flex their muscles with this five-star cast.