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“The Good, The Bad & The Queen” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Continually looking to its musical patriarch for advice and acceptance through the better part of the 90’s North America continually scoured incoming news from England as to what was to be considered musically abrasive, shiny, dormant or even the next big thing. For instance, Canada’s music video mainstay, Much Music, had a love affair with Brit Pop though it often criticized the movement and downplayed its various lifelines. For a nation of innocent listeners, the music was as quickly glorified as it was dismissed, leaving many confused and unsure as to whether the flag of Blur fandom was something that should be waved proudly, or hidden securely underneath one’s bed. Damon Albarn, then notorious for internationally for the commercial success of The Great Escape, Parklife and Blur’s 1997 self titled release, was as quickly famous as he was suggested to be amongst the scene’s casualties. Oh, British music, you are but a complicated mistress.

With the group’s focus narrowly escaping its origins, Blur began straying musically with 13 and the group’s last album, 2003’s Think Tank, which boasted such electronic-laced tracks as the commercially popular “Crazy Beat.” What was one to then think of the group who by that time had been shunned by the machine that had made it once relevant to the masses? And there within lies the essence of what makes Albarn’s The Good, The Bad & The Queen a success without having ever needed to play a single note, it’s a collective unity based on historic critical bipolarism.

The group is a collective of members that has, through time, become devoid of popularity only to have been reconstructed in the public’s ever watching eye. Included in this thought are Albarn, who has been pushed and rejected with Blur, only to have been acclaimed again with Gorillaz and Paul Simonon who has battled the backlash that followed his uncommercial artistic endeavors following The Clash. Also in the band is Simon Tong, once apart of what could have been the successor to the Brit Pop throne, The Verve, who fell out of music altogether following the band’s break-up. Tony Allen is in the group too, but it can most likely be assumed that he is so not because of overt critical dismissal, but rather because he is simply a tremendous musician…

A historical map of each member’s musical path would suggest that The Queen would be a loud boozy shaker, toasting each day as a success for simply arriving. Rather, the music is far from expected. It is a gentle sway that courses softly through London’s once-seedy underbelly, lightly scraping itself on its surroundings as a seed that thrives and sprouts through the medley within. So chimes Albarn in “The Good, The Bad and The Queen,”

“Movin’ uptown but I know it’s the place I should be.
The streets are all quiet and no one saying nothing at all.
Then the sun came out of the clouds and charged up the satellites.
We all got our energy back and started talking again.
It’s a blessed routine for the good, the bad and the queen.
Walking out of dreams with no physical wounds at all.”

Whether or not the song’s implication sums up a body of musician that has been drained by its fan, its critic and itself only to reemerge as something strong and beautiful again is up for debate. Whether it paints each member as something many assumed they weren’t is not however. The Good, The Bad & The Queen illuminates modern rock without recourse, cockily shining its own tale in the face of those content, all the while toasting it’s own predictable celebrity.