Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gorillaz - P-Sides

Ideally, all of my collections will be more geared towards themes like this.  Though the concept of a thought-out "unreleased album" is arousing, I feel like it is a better tribute to artists and their progress as artists to focus more precisely.  A well available bootleg of The Beatle's White Album demos is a fine example of a well-themed and highly enjoyable album, but it also lets you as a listener experience a specific time in the respected musician's career.  In other words, it is educational.

Now, don't get me wrong, P-Sides is much more fantasy album than informative package.  After G-Sides (from Gorillaz) and the double disc D-Sides (from Demon Days), we all expected Plastic Beach to have a P-Sides.  Instead we got The Fall, which was good but did not have any "p-sides" on it (to my knowledge, at least).  So here we go, an album that spans from the end of the release of Demon Days to their breakup, AKA the Plastic Beach era.

P-Sides has many sources, which might be a bad thing, but not many outtakes have leaked in any fashion.  Primarily a handful of demos is all that is hard to find on this set.  But the way it is curated should make the experience more streamlined.  Overall, being a huge fan of Gorillaz, I find this set on par with The Fall.

Gorillaz - P-Sides

Side A:

1.  Electric Shock
(original demo for Rhinestone Eyes, with instrumental opening)
2.  Rhinestone Eyes
(live for iTunes exclusive EP)
3.  Sumthin Bout This Night
(collaboration with Snoop Dogg, available on Doggumentary)
4.  Crystalised
(cover of a song by The XX)
5.  Hillbilly Man
(available on The Fall)
6.  Benko
(from Albarn's band Rocket Juice and The Moon)
7.  Revolving Doors
(available on The Fall)
8.  The Parish of Space Dust 
(available on The Fall)

Side B:

9.  Glitter Freeze
(alternate version)
10.  Soldier Boy 
(collaboration with Martina Topley-Bird)
11.  Untitled (AKA Gorillaz Routine)
(a collaboration with Kid Koala, either slated for an upcoming album or never released)
12.  Poison
(from Albarn's band Rocket Juice and The Moon)
13.  Stylo
(early demo)
14.  California and The Slipping Sun
(available on The Fall)
15.  Pirate's Progress
(full length version of intro from Plastic Beach)
16.  DoYaThing
(collaborative single with James Murphy and Andre 3000)

If the album didn't contain officially released songs, it would only have 5 or so tracks.  This is merely an exercise in curating, and there is a likely chance I will need to remove this from the site.  But for now, this is all Gorillaz fans who are salivating for an official P-Sides will get.

The opening intro was released as a bonus track on Plastic Beach as "Three Hearts, Seven Seas, Twelve Moons" but left out the bit with Electric Shock, so classifying it as a demo is a little sketchy.  A befitting opening, nonetheless.  This cuts right into the iTunes Sessions version of the song that was "demoed."

Sumthin Like This Night is an excellent collaboration, with reggae-like horns and all the Gorillaz pop you'd be correct to expect.  Definitely among the best tracks on the album, this was one of the songs Albarn produced off of Doggumentary, Snoop's eleventh album.

Another gem is up next: the cover of Crystalise by The XX.  It's tenderness is comforting and reminiscent of Stop The Dams off D-Sides.  It definitely could pass as a ballad by Blur.  Much less digital influence, ironically transitioning to the first track utilized from The Fall, an album recorded on an iPad.

I highly contemplated removing Benko and Poison from this collection because it is kind of a stretch to pretend they are Gorillaz songs, but the timing was correct and I just kept them on.  Definitely the black sheep of the album.  Still rather interesting, with African beats and all that love.

The next two songs are probably my favorites from The Fall, ending side a with something a little familiar.

After the half-point mark, we get an awesome alternate take of Glitter Freeze, with a little more edge and intensity, this is definitely the version I prefer to Plastic Beach's rendition.  Relatively similar though so nothing too mind-boggling.

Soldier Boy holds probably the most interesting back story, as it was originally an outtake from Demon Days, never seeing any release.  Then Martina Topley-Bird took the instrumental to that song, originally titled Snakes & Ladders.

After this, probably my favorite track on the collection arises.  Not really sure how the collaboration went down, if Kid Koala and Damon Albarn got together or if it is just a remix/mash of older Gorillaz material.  Regardless, it is incredibly catchy and one of the longer tracks on P-Sides.

After another Rocket Juice and the Moon track, with Damon doing an emotional ballad, we are treated to the Stylo demo, which is exactly what you would imagine.  The song is pretty well developed at this point, just a little stripped down from the official release, though there is a bit at the beginning that I think was removed for the final take.  No lyrics.

The final track off of The Fall gets us slowed down a bit for the full-length version of the intro song from Plastic Beach, which is just very pretty orchestration.  Another actual outtake from Plastic Beach.  This brings us to the grand finale: the full 12-minute take of DoYaThing, which technically was a separate single, not a "p-side" but hell, it belongs on an album so here it is.

Obviously, an official P-Sides would look immensely different and would likely be loads better and more fulfilling, but enough people seemed interested in this mix, so I will give it to you because I love you so much.  Enjoy!

- blashco

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