Review Summary: Even a clutch of cheap remixed cash-ins tacked on to these lost tracks can't hide the originality and maudlin charm of Gorillaz
B-sides compilations, so long consigned to the grimy-brown depths of your local dodgy underground record shop, are lost in the cobwebs for good reason. Even hardcore fans of the artist/s in question tend to recognise that they're usually collections of half-baked ideas or disorganised, experimental pap that wanders all over the place. The pleasant surprise with G Sides
is the realisation that Gorillaz material always seemed rather half-baked and disorganised anyway.
It's just a shame they ruined it by bulking it out with dire remixes of past singles; 'Clint Eastwood (Phil Life Cypher version)'
is an obnoxiously heavy-going effort that takes the desolation from the immense original and adds squeaky electro and a flurry of rapping that overdoes it, to say the least. '19-2000 (Soul Child remix)'
takes the plodding feel away and injects 150ccs of bubblegum into the track, guaranteeing it a place on UK advertisement campaigns and sacrificing the sardonically bitter tone of the original. 'Rock The House' (Radio edit)
also shows up here; how this uber-cheesy track ever made it as a single is beyond me, and the chorus does nothing to help: "Tap your toes and clap your hands!/C'mon trace the blow then shake your ass!"
Fortunately, the 'g-sides' are quite good; indeed, some would have easily been more worthy additions to Demon Days
than certain tracks that weighed down that brilliant but flawed album. For instance, 'Faust'
is a hypnotic waterfall of cascading synths and ambient female Japanese patter, while 'Ghost Train'
is the raucous highlight of the album, all rollicking rhythm and shuddering express train effects, with a hearty undertone of funk and a screamalong chorus to boot. 'The Sounder'
mixes bouncy hip-hop with Indian-style strings plucking away insistently, while 'Hip Albatross'
, obviously inspired by the Fleetwood Mac song of nearly the same name, presents you with a similarly lilting guitar effect, only it comes with warped, eerie radio effects and cliched Jamaican samples, "Hey mon, just soakin' up som sunshine, how's that?"
has a melancholy mood, a pensive moan from 2D (Albarn) here and there, with rather funny vocals from the Count himself, "Rest is gooooood for de bloooood!"
. 'Left Hand Suzuki Method'
begins with the sound of a lighter followed by bubbling that's either: a drink being poured (kids version) or...well, use your own judgement for that (surely not, 2D!), before turning into a stomping beat and offering yet more of Noodle's vocal doodlings. A remarkable track is '12D3'
, in which a lethargic guitar twangs away all the way through a track of ominous moans, mmnnhhs, pianos and harmonies of "12D3...12D3"
; it has that certain something
, a quality that made Gorillaz such an intriguing 'group'.
One for completionists only? Not quite. The rank remixes chucked in don't defer from the b-sides that, on the whole, are 100% Gorillaz tracks, many better than some lesser album tracks; whether that's attractive or not is up to you. It doesn't seem likely that Damon Albarn will approach this 'side project' anytime soon, if ever again; for people who appreciated the warped musical stylings of Demon Days
, and wanted just that little bit more, G Sides
would do very nicely indeed. The bulk may be of a rather more plodding pace than the likes of 'Dirty Harry'
or 'Feel Good Inc.'
, the album is short, and the remixes are awful, but there's still some creativity and intrigue left. It's at least better than your average b-sides compilation. Noodle would be proud.