The new Tenacious D album is flat out bad.

Vince Maskeeper

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Okay, I've held my opinions in check for over a week, hoping that my initial impressions were simply misguided and that the truth of the studio D would slowly wash over me. No such luck, this album, not to put too fine a point on it, sucks.
And boy am I sad to have to say that, after all it is the D we're talking about here.
Let me lay some groundwork. I am a big D fan- I have burned discs of almost all their live shows and have made CDs of music from the TV shows for myself and for friends. I even have a copy of their original 4 song demo they recorded years ago.
I fell in love with the D from the promos for their (then "upcoming") series on HBO. I watched one episode and realized that this was the comedy and music genious I had search for years, which to this point had gone unsatisified.
But the D, boy oh boy, I was quenched.
After the series was pretty much lost by HBO, I set out on the net to find the tunes, which I did. As I mentioned before, I made CDs of D material from the show and from Demos, and from their sparce live performances.
When I read last fall that D was hitting the studio to record a full album- with Dave Grohl on drums no less, I was moist with anticipation. There were a few small D riffs which featured drums & electric guitars used on the header/footer for the HBO series, and they rocked with the full balls of a winged demon. The idea of the D, adding the rock of Grohl, well all I could think was "hope my brain doesn't explode".
I have waited a full year to hear the output of the magical collaboration.
And it sucked.
First off, the drum parts offered very little to the songs as a whole. Many feel tacked on, and most are lacking with any real fury- feeling like something recorded completely seperate and layed in for effect. I would guess that all the drums were tracked completely seperate, on a different day and maybe in a different state... they just seem detatched and never help complete the picture- rather add just another layer of stuff.
Of course, half the humor of the D came from the fact that they were 2 fat guys with acoustic guitars singing about how much they rock. And the funny part is, even with the "handicap" of no drummer and no amps- they did rock! Their songs were flat out great- uptempo and straight to the jugular. Singalong at it's best- passionate in a funny way, and shamelessly hooky like Elton John of the 70's and Ben Folds Five of the 90's.
Adding Drums has really not done anything for the level of ROCK per se, rather it just added another layer of sound without adding to the songs in any serious way (aside from Rock Your Socks Off, which did seems to benefit SLIGHTLY from the drum addition and slight tempo change).
It's almost as if drums reduced the average level of rock for the D (since the D was already at ROCK MAX, Rock max divided by 2 guys seems more impressive than rock max divided by 3... if you know what I mean-- there just isn't enough room for all to effectively work).
Now, even if the drums would have come out better and mated more accurately with the songs as a whole - this would not take away from the worst issue of this album- the lead guitar parts.
UGH.
This is some of the most pedestrian wanky guitar playing committed to tape (or probably digital) in many years. The parts simply don't fit, add little, and are cheesy like velveta. In addition, the producers/mix engineer seemed to enjoy the novelty of the wank so much that they chose to mix lead guitar WAAAAAAY out front on many songs. The porno wah-wah that pops up from time to time overshadows even the vocals- and not to any added effect, rather it detracts from the songs as a whole- and drastically.
Furthermore, the vocals seem really held back for the studio version- maybe because Jack feared pushing his voice too far and hitting bad notes. But live some of the humor from just how serious the band seems is completely lost on this record. The imflections and gutteral push Jack added made the D all the more fun because he was really GOING FOR IT on stage, and it was hard not to take it seriously. Many of the great harmonies are mixed in such a way as to make them flacid. Much of the "umph" of the vocal style is just gone.
To make matters worse, many of the better songs, musically speaking, were omitted from the album. Sasquatch and Special Things come immediately to mind... Jesus Ranch and Bowie are also great tunes that were left off. Most importantly, where was Tenacious D Time and The History of D-- these songs seemed like a natural intro to the record (and have been intros to the live shows) but were left off. Instead we get comedy shorts like "cock push-ups"? No thanks. Jesus christ, did we really need 3 minutes for the Drive- In sketch where basically the joke is Jack orders food with Kyle's money? God that's not even funny the first time, let alone after repeat listens...
Overall it really sounds like the Dust Bros completely missed the things that made the D fun, funny and wonderful. Instead they tried to CREATE a new D in the studio rather than simply use the studio as a tool to capture what made them rule in the first place. The studio creation can't hold a candle to what the D does when simply set loose on the world.
In the end, this album really presents the D NOT as the funny and furious rock mega-power they really are-- rather they sound a whole lot like a vanilla college rock band. Reminds me of demos from a garage band who wants to sound like the bare naked ladies (and is doing a poor job). The jokes fall flat, the greatness of 2 fat guys with acoustics rocking your balls is lost completely.
You are left with wanky guitar leads that don't fit (being added after the fact), drums that sound soul-less and flat (also feeling tacked on), vocals that are held back and a selection of songs that are less interesting than others not included. If this album came from anyone other than the D (who had a built in following and are seen as a comedy act not a musical act)- I doubt Epic would have ever released it. It's just not a good album.
I would suggest to anyone interested in the D, look around online for their stuff from the TV series (hint: fugitivealien.com and sidehatch.com)-- that stuff shows the D as they really are their best- 2 fat guys with nothing more than acoustic guitars rocking your sock clean off!
-Vince
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[Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 06, 2001 at 11:41 AM]
 

Roland G

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May 10, 2000
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The songs from the D are really great. In my opinion it is good to hear a studio version of all their great hits...i mean we still have our videos and live recordings so why bother?
 

James D S

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Nov 14, 2000
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No Vince! Say it ain't so!
I too was looking forward to this - I'm still going to check it out, though - and this is bad news indeed.
 

Shawn C

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May 15, 2001
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Let's kick it.
I'll say kick it, and you'll just kick it with a tasty groove, ok?
1-2-3 kick it. Kick it.
Come on, god dammit, GOD, KYLE, could you one time kick it, WTF?
 

Nathan A

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Mar 3, 2001
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Shawn, that may just be my favorite D line of all time.
And I happened to really enjoy the new album. Most the time it is kind of cool to hear new versions of old songs with drums (Vince, if you don't want to hear the drums, then listen to the versions you already have....). I guess you could've hoped for a little more out of the drums, but I'm satisfied (I mean, c'mon- it's David Grohl- not Portnoy or Donati or Sasquach. Grohl = not one of today's better drummers).
As for the new stuff on the album- it's awesome. It's got a couple of skits and a couple of songs you probably haven't heard. "One Note Song" and "Inward Singing" are worth the price alone. They made me cry. Plus, Bob Odenkirk wrote a little skit. "Wonderboy" is pretty unique compared to the D's stuff, and I love it. "City Hall" isn't as different, but it's excellent, too.
All in all, I'm pleased with the album. You've really got to hear it to know what I'm talking about, and I say that if you're a fan of the D this one's a no brainer. Even if you end up being a little disappointed, I'm sure you'll still think you got your money's worth.
 

Vince Maskeeper

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Really, what it boils down to is that the D has thrown out any degree of subtlety that was, in my opinion, the best reason to listen to them. Replaced, instead, is humor and music levels aimed at breaking sales records for frat boys. Nothing wrong with that, I guess- I mean the guys have got to eat... but I think it will put-off a good portion of the people who latched onto the D in the first place.
"Rock and roll is bogus, right KG?"
I guess you could've hoped for a little more out of the drums, but I'm satisfied (I mean, c'mon- it's David Grohl- not Portnoy or Donati or Sasquach. Grohl = not one of today's better drummers).
Funny- I feel the opposite. As far as great pocket, rock power drummers- really few people hold a candle to Dave in the mainstream. If I had to pick a "rock drummer" to play simple parts to drive home a basic rock song- I would put Dave right at the top of the list. He's got power and fury and can still hit the pocket and play TASTEFUL (a concept 90% of drummers have lost all concept of).
That's why the record was especially disappointing-- it's just overproduced-- not so much in a recording sense, rather in a cerebral sense. All passion and heart of the humor of D has been sapped by addition of needless instrumentation, and by drum tracks that didn't fit and worse were recorded completely seperate from the rest of the record.
Maybe I just latched onto an element of the D that others missed, but this album is really practically anti the whole reason the D was enjoyable in the first place. The joke was 2 fat guys with acoustic guitars rocking your socks off and taking themselves so seriously. The tounge in cheek rock... writing funny and catchy songs which rocked.
The TV version of the D was funny in a subtle, Mr. Show sort of way-- satire more than slapstick. The album version is trying to be funny in a club you over the head Adam Sandler sort of way.
I don't know about you, but in my opinion that's a big loss.
-Vince
PS: If anyone is interested in checking out the album, my copy is for sale (with the original cover, which I believe was recalled).
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TonyD

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so was this cd re-issued or is this not available at all?
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Darren Davis

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Oct 9, 2001
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Vince,
I totally understand what you mean about the new album. I, too, am a huge D fan but I definitely noticed the lack of energy. I've seen them live and that's where the energy is. Even with this album, their live performance is still one of the greatest I've ever seen! I still can't hate the album, though. I already have all of their other songs from live performances and it's kind of nice to hear them taking it in a new direction. In a recent MTV interview they were asked what was the hardest part about making the album and they said it was trying to commercialize their songs and capture the D on CD to make them more viewer friendly...or something to that effect. I still would love a professionally produced live album.
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John Thomas

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Mar 23, 2000
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Better late than never...this turned up to be the most recent thread on D, so...
For the initiates out here, could someone (Vince?) give a summary of their career? Basically their work and how it's available; is this new album their only one with other songs performed on their HBO show, etc?
Thanks!
Btw: I kinda dig Kielbasa.
 

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