Gorillaz (album)

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Gorillaz
GorillazAlbum.jpg
Studio album by
Released26 March 2001 (2001-03-26)
RecordedDecember 1998 – October 2000
Studio
Genre
Length53:27
Label
Producer
Gorillaz album chronology
Gorillaz
(2001)
G Sides
(2001)
Damon Albarn chronology
Ordinary Decent Criminal
(2000)
Gorillaz
(2001)
G Sides
(2001)
Singles from Gorillaz
  1. "Clint Eastwood"
    Released: 5 March 2001
  2. "19-2000"
    Released: 25 June 2001
  3. "Rock the House"
    Released: 22 October 2001
  4. "Tomorrow Comes Today"
    Released: 27 November 2001

Gorillaz is the self-titled debut studio album by the British virtual band Gorillaz, released on 26 March 2001 by Parlophone Records internationally and by Virgin Records in the United States. It includes the singles "Clint Eastwood", "19-2000", "Rock the House" and "Tomorrow Comes Today". The album reached number three in the UK, and hit number 14 in the US going platinum, and has sold over seven million copies worldwide. It earned the group an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band.[1]

Background[edit]

Damon Albarn, co-creator of Gorillaz

Musician Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett met in 1990 when guitarist Graham Coxon, a fan of Hewlett's work, asked him to interview Blur, a band Albarn and Coxon had recently formed.[2] The interview was published in Deadline magazine, home of Hewlett's comic strip, Tank Girl. Hewlett initially thought Albarn was "arsey, a wanker"; despite becoming acquaintances with the band, they often did not get on, especially after Hewlett began seeing Coxon's ex-girlfriend Jane Olliver.[2] Despite this, Albarn and Hewlett started sharing a flat on Westbourne Grove in London in 1997.[3] Hewlett had recently broken up with Olliver and Albarn was at the end of his highly publicised relationship with Justine Frischmann of Elastica.[2]

The idea to create Gorillaz came about when Albarn and Hewlett were watching MTV. Hewlett said, "If you watch MTV for too long, it's a bit like hell – there's nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that."[4] The band originally identified themselves as "Gorilla" and the first song they recorded was "Ghost Train"[5] which was later released as a B-side on their single "Rock the House" and the B-side compilation G Sides. The musicians behind Gorillaz' first incarnation included Albarn, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala, who had previously worked together on the track "Time Keeps on Slipping" for Deltron 3030's eponymous debut album.[6]

Although not released under the Gorillaz name, Albarn has said that "one of the first ever Gorillaz tunes" was Blur's 1997 single "On Your Own", which was released for their fifth studio album Blur.[7]

Composition[edit]

Throughout the album, the band combines a variety of musical genres including hip hop,[8][9][10] alternative rock,[11][12] electronica, dub,[13][14] reggae,[14][15] trip hop,[16] rap rock,[17] art rock,[18] Britpop,[19] Latin,[15] psychedelia,[14] and punk rock.[10]

The album's first single "Clint Eastwood", is named after the famous movie actor. The theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly can be heard periodically throughout the song; this was one of several Sergio Leone-directed Italian westerns of the late 1960s in which Eastwood plays a character with no name. Years after the release of this album, it was revealed that the track "Starshine" has an alternative version, which features Luton-based rap group Phi Life Cypher. This version is not available on any releases, but it is available on the Phi Life Cypher SoundCloud channel and also on the video-sharing website YouTube.[20]

All editions of the Gorillaz album feature an enhanced section that included screen savers, wallpaper and an autoplay, featuring a short movie which opens the user's Internet browser to a special section of the Gorillaz website, which gives the user full access to Murdoc's Winnebago.[21]

Del the Funky Homosapien collaborated on two songs on the album, "Clint Eastwood" and "Rock the House", both of which became singles and videos and achieved chart success. Del was not originally slated to collaborate on these songs. By the time Del came onto the project, the album was already finished, and Phi Life Cypher had recorded verses for "Clint Eastwood"; but when Del finished making Deltron 3030 with Dan the Automator, Automator asked if he could stay in the studio a little longer to record new verses for the Gorillaz songs.[22] For the purposes of the music videos and the Gorillaz storyline canon, Del performed as Gorillaz character "Del the Ghost Rapper", who was said to be a spirit that was hiding from death within the band's drummer, Russel Hobbs. Del later commented in an interview on the success of "Clint Eastwood" by saying that he actually wrote the song with the book How to Write a Hit Song, a book that he bought with a coupon his mother gave him. After the song went platinum he gave the plaque to his mother.[23] As part of Russel Hobbs' back-story, the character of Del was one of Russel's friends that was gunned down in a drive-by shooting, whose ghost possessed Russel.[24]

In 2004, the album was packaged with 2002's Laika Come Home in a limited edition box set as part of EMI's "2CD Originals" collection. Other saw a release such as the reggae-dub "Dub Dumb", which features British-Jamaican artist Sweetie Irie; it is available on the PlayStation 2 game MTV Music Generator 2 rather than on G Sides or the album itself. Other tracks include "Gor Beaten", which was another track that didn't make the album; however, elements of the track's instrumental were once available on one of the Gorillaz member's computers in Kong Studios.[25]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic71/100[26]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[27]
Alternative Press8/10[28]
The Guardian4/5 stars[29]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[30]
NME6/10[31]
Pitchfork7/10[32]
Q4/5 stars[33]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[34]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[35]
Spin7/10[36]

Gorillaz received generally positive reviews from critics. It was ranked sixth in both Spin's and Kludge's end-of-year lists[37][38] and Q ranked it among the 50 best albums of the year.[39] The album was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Music Prize. (Gorillaz was bookmakers' favourite before the nomination was withdrawn at the band's request.)[40]

The album made a number of retrospective "best of" lists. Slant Magazine ranked the album no. 96 in its best of the 2000s,[41] Complex ranked it among the top 100 albums of the 2000s[42] and Gigwise included it in its 2013 best self-titled albums of all time.[43] The album was given an entry in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[44]

Singles[edit]

  • "Tomorrow Comes Today" was released as an EP before the album was released. A video for the single was also released.
  • "Clint Eastwood" was the first single from the album, debuting on 4 March 2001. The single peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart, number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.
  • "19-2000" was the second single from the album, released in June 2001. The single peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart and number 23 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.
  • "Rock the House" was the third single from the album, released in October 2001. The single peaked at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • "Tomorrow Comes Today" was the fourth and final single from the album, released almost a year after the album, in February 2002. It peaked at number 33 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • "5/4" was repeatedly considered for a single but was edged out by "19-2000" and "Rock the House". A video was considered for this, but never got past the storyboarding stage.

Track listing[edit]

All songs are written by Damon Albarn, except where noted.

GorillazStandard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Re-Hash" (featuring Miho Hatori) 3:37
2."5/4" 2:39
3."Tomorrow Comes Today" 3:12
4."New Genius (Brother)"Damon Albarn, Odetta Gordon3:57
5."Clint Eastwood" (featuring Del the Funky Homosapien)Albarn, Teren Jones5:39
6."Man Research (Clapper)" 4:32
7."Punk" 1:36
8."Sound Check (Gravity)" 4:40
9."Double Bass" 4:44
10."Rock the House" (featuring Del the Funky Homosapien)Albarn, Jones, Dan Nakamura, John Dankworth4:08
11."19-2000" (featuring Miho Hatori, Tina Weymouth & Chris Frantz) 3:27
12."Latin Simone (¿Qué Pasa Contigo?)" (featuring Ibrahim Ferrer)Albarn, Ibrahim Ferrer, Lázaro Villa3:36
13."Starshine" 3:31
14."Slow Country" 3:35
15."M1 A1"Albarn, John Harrison3:54
Total length:53:27
Bonus tracks
Bonus discs
Sample credits[49]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Gorillaz adapted from liner notes.[49]

Release history[edit]

Region Label Catalog Edition
United Kingdom Parlophone 7243 5 32093 0 original
7243 5 31138 0 3 re-issue
France 7243 5 34488 0 6 limited
United States Virgin 7243 5 33748 0 8 original
re-issue
Malaysia EMI 7243 5 38704 0 9 limited
USA Warner Bros. Records 337480-2PRL December 2013 reissue after the break-up of EMI

References[edit]

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External links[edit]