Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1: Tenacious D, "Tenacious D"

Artist: Tenacious D
Album: Tenacious D
Year: 2001
Label: Epic

The drummer from Nirvana and the piano player from Phish walk into a's sounds like a great opening to a joke. There was a time when Jack Black was largely regarded as the funniest man on Earth. Combine these two things together, add in a man by the name of "KG," and you have all the ingredients you need for non-stop rocking and rocket sauce. Though written off by many as simply a "comedy record," the self titled debut from Tenacious D is funny and odd, but at the same time, it's a darn good rock record.

Tenacious D started their career with a series of shows on HBO. Their quirky humor garnered them a cult following, and they finally found their way into a studio and recorded this amazing record. From the onset, Tenacious D lets the listener know JUST how good they are, referring to themselves as "The Greatest Band On Earth." A combination of funny, yet smart, skits and songs, Tenacious D is far more than a silly novelty record. As if their songs and guest musicians aren't odd enough, Tenacious D enlisted the services of techno/trance legends, The Dust Brothers, to produce the record. The fact is, while the lyrics are consistently funny, if the music was not up to snuff, the record would simply "fall over." The reality is, in Tenacious D, there is an undeniably solid musical performance, which takes the record from a "comedy record" to a "rock album."

Relying primarily on the dual guitars of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the overall sound of "The D" is rather simple, leaving room for their clever, hilarious lyrics to shine. While their HBO work was mostly an electric affair, the shift to a more organic sound does nothing but help the band. Tenacious D is one of a very limited number of acoustic-based albums that truly rock. The mood that The D create on the record makes it clear that, in their minds, they've already conquered the world, and this album is a gift to the universe. Somehow, the lightning-fast drumwork of Grohl fits in perfectly with the band. The piano and organ fills from Page McConnell give the music more depth, and the overall sound on the record is perfect, whether with the full instrumentation, or just Black and Gass with their guitars.

In his first life, Jack Black is a comedian, so it's no surprise that a majority of the songs on Tenacious D are smart, witty, insanely quotable tunes. Yes, most of the songs are humorous in nature, the lyrics were carefully written and somehow rise beyond the label of "immature." Though some fans may find disappointment in the lack of a number of songs from the HBO series (most notably, "Sasquatch," "Rocketsauce," and "The History Of Tenacious D"), the songs that have taken their places are equally superb. From tales of slaying beasts with their music ("Tribute") to songs of fighting "The Man," ("City Hall") to the outright silly, ("Kilbasa"), Tenacious D is a masterpiece of comedic music. Even when singing about these amusing themes, most of the songs have amazingly catchy hooks and a bevy of quotable lines. The fact that these songs are still heavily quoted and respected nearly a decade later is further proof that Tenacious D is far more than "just a comedy record."

Tenacious D are truly an anomaly as they are one of the few comedic acts that are able to make a smooth transition to another format, and yet keep their style of humor intact. Ditching the visual aspects of their comedy, "The D" are able to create just as much hilarity on record as they brought to their HBO series. Breaking the mold of simply making a "comedy record," Tenacious D recorded nothing short of a brilliant rock album, and the musical skill found therein proves that they are more than a "flash in the pan." Tenacious D understands their place and mission and, as the band puts it, "...we only came here to rock your socks off..." With Tenacious D, Jack Black and Kyle Gass succeed in their mission without a shadow of a doubt, and this record is an absolute essential for every music collection.

Standout tracks: "Tribute," "Rock Your Socks," and "City Hall."

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