Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

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Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

Two nutty originals imagine the recording studio as playground

The online buzz regarding this collaboration between rapper/singer/Goodie Mob cofounder Cee-Lo and DJ/producer Danger Mouse (best known for his Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up The Grey Album) stretches back to late fall 2005, when a song called “Crazy” leaked months before word of an official release. Made available in early April as a download-only single, “Crazy” quickly became the first release of its kind to hit #1 in the U.K., and is the strongest track on St. Elsewhere, though not by much. It’s a difficult album to peg, moving between different tones, eras and styles. Cee-Lo barely raps, showcasing instead his deceptively powerful Al Green-channeling vocal wail. Classic soul is frequently referenced, but St. Elsewhere also makes room for a straight reading of The Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone,” a goofy stab at a horror novelty tune (“The Boogie Monster”) and a bit of warped zydeco (“Go-Go Gadget Gospel”). It’s all over the place in the best possible way.

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