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Gnarls Barkley
A little bit psychedelic, a little bit soul, a little bit of mystery ~ that’s what makes up the mega-massive summer hit of 2006 that no one saw coming ~ Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy. The Record stops grooving to the music long enough to bring you seven things you absolutely must know about this enigmatic act.

1. Gnarls Barkley started out as a complete mystery.
By now you’re probably familiar with the name of the phenomenon that is responsible for one of the biggest hits of the year. But just a few short months ago, no one knew who or what Gnarls Barkley was. The act made its debut quietly, on a website that only featured some obscure artwork and their first song Crazy. Stories went around that in the music world, Gnarls Barkley is always nearby yet impossible to find. Two names kept coming up when talking about Gnarls Barkley ~ that of Gorillaz producer Danger Mouse and soul singer Cee-Lo.

A cook in a restaurant near the South Carolina coast apparently said, “One night back in the year 2000 I saw Danger Mouse come in here. Cee-Lo was with him. And they had this other dude with them, dressed up like H.R. Pufnstuf. Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo ate big meals, but H.R. Pufnstuf only wanted hash browns. Then they left, Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo, but H.R. Pufnstuf stayed around for hours. He must’ve had twenty cups of coffee. I went in the bathroom, and when I came out, he was gone. But he left a $500 tip on the table. And he left a little note that said, ‘Compliments to the chef. Gnarls Barkley.’”

Eventually it was confirmed that Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo did indeed make up Gnarls Barkley. The name of the band apparently does not have a story behind it. Danger Mouse explained in an interview that it is not so much a Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse record as the two of them together being “something else, something other than just the obvious. So we gave it a name, and that's what it was.”

2. Producer Danger Mouse admits to having worked on the music.
Producer Danger Mouse, a.k.a Brian Burton, shot to fame with an experiment he conducted in his studio called The Grey Album ~ a mash-up of vocals from The Black Album by Jay-Z with music samples from The White Album by The Beatles.

He originally made 3,000 copies for friends just to showcase his skills. Soon, The Beatles’ record label EMI heard of the project and filed a Cease And Desist order because none of the samples that Danger Mouse used had been cleared. On February 24, 2004 (also known as Grey Tuesday) 170 websites put the Grey Album up online to protest the label's actions, and 100,000 copies were immediately downloaded. It was soon hailed as one of the most exciting records of the year. While EMI continued to protest the record, one of their own artists, Blur’s Damon Albarn, heard the album and was blown away. He contacted Mouse to work on the second album for his cult animated band Gorillaz. Demon Days, the album, garnered a Grammy nomination for Producer Of The Year for Mouse.

3. Singer Cee-Lo confirms that he has sung on the album.
The hypnotic voice behind Gnarls Barkley belongs to Cee-Lo Green, a.k.a Thomas Calloway, a solo artist and a member of Atlanta hip-hop outfit Goodie Mob. Gospel, blues, soul, funk and hip-hop all form a part of his standout style. About Gnarls Barkley he says, “Yes, I believe that I sang on at least some of the Gnarls Barkley record. But we are not the same person. I am Cee-Lo. I am a humble trumpet, and the wind of God blows through me. You might consider Gnarls the spit valve on the trumpet, were you inclined to consider him at all.”

Cee-Lo has become known for his hip-hop style but his artistic roots lie in the punk scene of the '70s. He states in an interview that he always wanted to be a punk-rocker before anything else. Aside from singing he also doubles up as songwriter for some big-name acts. His most recent massive hit on the charts was the Pussycat Dolls breakthrough song Don’t Cha.

You can read the rest of our feature on Gnarls Barkley in the June 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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