Ten years ago, Gorillaz hit the scene. This was the era in which writeable CDs were a fresh idea. A fresh idea that was subsequently exploited by every teenage music obsessive the world over. This led to a lot of people listening to a host of music that would not normally be their first choice; such was the convenience (a convenience that has since grown dramatically with the common adoption of mp3 technology).
So it was in this manner that I picked up Gorillaz self-titled debut album, released in 2001, from a recommending friend. Like the plethora of tastes a music fan could inadvertently pick up back then, the album was a mish-mash of styles. From the trip-hop of early singles Tomorrow Comes Today and Clint Eastwood, to the scratchy kookiness of the more radio friendly offerings 19-200 and Rock The House, the album also straddled punk and baggy Madchester sounds.
Fast forward four years and the animated enigma surrounding the group had been shattered revealing the creative centre points of Blur’s Damon Albarn and visual artist Jamie Hewlett. Demon Days was released in 2005, and although propelling Gorillaz to mainstream acclaim, it was a far more straightforward affair than 2001’s genre hopping debut. Attention was thrust upon the album’s guest appearances (De La Soul and Danger Mouse being notable examples on singles Feel Good Inc. and Dirty Harry), and the simplistically synthy disco dancer of the Shaun Ryder helmed Dare still proves to be one of the duo’s weakest singles.
2010’s Plastic Beach was released to a minimum of fanfare considering the acclaim that second album had wrought upon itself. It retained the forward-thinking momentum of Demon Days, and the now standard guest spots (Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Mark E. Smith etc.), but managed to recapture a legion of Gorillaz fans thanks to moments of outlandish, inspired genius, and genuinely catchy songs. On Melancholy Hill may be the band’s most outspoken, understated greatest single to date.
All of the aforementioned singles are included on this fifteen track compilation, including a couple of career spanning remixes taken from various ‘G’ and ‘D’ side compilations over the years. It’s all laid out very chronologically, which by proxy makes the mid section of the album the weakest and eschews variety, but it is a consistent package. Fans of Gorillaz who already have all of the albums need not particularly bother (most of Gorillaz wired intellect is to be found away from the lead singles anyway), but for curios new to the group, or people who just want a decent compilation detailing the lifespan of Damon Albarn’s best band since Blur, it definitely wouldn’t do any harm to pick this up. Definitely a strong compilation.
Words > Alex Nelson.