Gorillaz | D-Sides (Virgin)

cd_gorillaz.jpgD-Sides caters almost perfectly to hardcore Gorillaz fans. The kinds who follow the cartoon mythology and buy the collectibles, or those who are drawn to pick up a Roland or Casio after hearing "Dirty Harry" on the radio.

 

 

 

 

For being a cartoon rock band that samples, loops and hangs out with mostly underground rappers, Gorillaz have attracted a diverse and fairly devoted fan base. D-Sides, however, finds them at their weirdest and clubbiest. Not only has the band gathered up demos and unreleased takes, but they’ve offered up tracks from the spectacular Demon Days for remix, just like they did with their first album for G-Sides years ago.

With some of these tracks, it’s clear why they weren’t on the master pressing. "People," an early version of "Dare," sounds more like a lost Blur track than the standout it became, while "Hongkongaton" plays like a mix between a great Gorillaz track and the band goofing around. While these songs aren’t album-ready, they’re more than enough for an outtakes record. Especially "Rockit," which isn’t exactly the Herbie Hancock cover it sounds like. Instead, it’s an insight into the already established weird side of a strange, semi-fictitious group.

But rejected songs don’t make a great album-supplement. To make this a true bonus, the band includes a disc of remixes. So, what happens when Gorillaz’ friends get a hold of the group’s basic tracks? Well, nothing quite as spectacular as what happens on the original album, but quality nonetheless. Even when very little is changed, the result is still great. That’s the case with the Junior Sanchez remix of "Dare." Really, it’s just rocked up, with a guitar replacing some of the ’80s-tastic keyboards. That guitar, though, is the difference between head-bopping and headbanging.

In other cases, songs are almost completely re-imagined, Damon’s verses are removed, guests’ appearances are looped, and instrumental tracks get completely changed. With some dance or electronic bands, remixes provide an open invitation to create impossibly long club tracks, but the tracks here are choice enough to keep non-dancers happy.

At two discs, this is a lengthy collection. But cutting it down to one would ruin its purpose. Why bother compiling outtakes and soliciting remixes if they’ll just end up getting shelved (again)? So, while D-Sides is enjoyable, it’s not worth much more than a couple of listens for casual fans. Collections like this aren’t meant for casual fans, though. D-Sides caters almost perfectly to hardcore Gorillaz fans. The kinds who follow the cartoon mythology and buy the collectibles, or those who are drawn to pick up a Roland or Casio after hearing "Dirty Harry" on the radio. Probably, the most devoted of fans are both. That’s where the double-album format comes in. The first disc is meant for collectors while the second disc is meant for creators. B- | Gabe Bullard

RIYL: Gorillaz, Danger Mouse’s various projects

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