Friday, December 21, 2018

“How ‘bout the power… To move you?”

7. TENACIOUS D "Wonderboy" (2002)
From the album “Tenacious D”

Oh dear; here’s another band I was unfairly humourless about back in the day.  Bit of a theme in this part of the chart, it would seem; perhaps I’m making up for lost time!

So back in That Day, they had these things called print magazines – “gimme two ‘zines for a bee”, you’d say to the manager of your local general store – and one of the ones I read was called ‘Bizarre’.  It started as a combination of lurid shock-and-gore and well-researched pieces on cult media, and eventually wound up as softcore porn and gawping at alternative lifestyles – but during the a transitional period where it was doing all four, seemingly up to four thousand pages a month and in danger of breaking most newsagents’ top shelves, I spotted a little boxout about a band called Tenacious D.

It explained that said band featured one Jack Black, and I immediately smelled a rubbish vanity project.  Black is an actor who I took against somewhat unfairly based on reputation and trailers alone; at that stage I’m not sure I’d seen any of his films in totality, yet I carried such enmity towards him you’d have thought he’d kicked my cat.  Since then I’ve definitely softened my stance towards his acting, and feel a little bit unfair for my previous position – an emerging theme in this little series.

Oddly enough, the very next day, BBC Radio One’s Evening Session (or, if cancelled, whatever had replaced it by mid-2002) played their song “Tribute”, and my housemates at the time loved it.  Their debut album became an unofficial soundtrack for the house, along with such luminaries as The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of The Stone Age and (ahem) Sugababes.  And this led me to reassess my somewhat blinkered original opinion.

You see, this is a comedy band, and comedy is naturally hit and miss; certainly some of the sketches that pad out that debut album can test one’s patience.  But where it excels, oddly enough, in its reference for the source material: classic rock.  The track “Tribute” itself, whilst definitely wearing its humour on its sleeve, shows superior musicianship (helped along by one D. Grohl) and a good understanding of how such a song should be structured.  So it’s a big ol’ muso thumbs up from me, there.

But this track, for me, is the stand out of the album.  Epic, slightly melancholy, extremely silly; it’s got the lot.  It must take a heart of stone not to feel a rush of sheer joy when they describe the titular superhero as having “the power to kill a yak…  From two hundred yards away…  WITH MIND BULLETS!!!”  And it takes me back to Python Express, and that unforgettable fifteen months of the first flush of adulthood – epic, slightly melancholy, extremely silly.

Next time: get out your “Bellbottoms” and dig that “Ditch”, as we check in with a “Blues X Man”!

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