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Gnarls Barkley's New Album: Funky Soul, Psych Rock and a Dark Ballad

January 23, 2008 12:29 PM ET

The new Gnarls Barkley disc won't be released until April, but we got the chance to hear a few new cuts early. The verdict: Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse have produced another album of super-catchy tunes that veer between retro-soul shakedowns, tricked-out psychedelic rock and trunk-rattling hip-hop. While nothing sounds as indelible as "Crazy," the first two tracks that the pair are considering for a lead single are pretty ace: one is a funked-up organ groove complemented by French horns, a chorus of "la la la"s and Cee-Lo crooning in his throaty rasp, "Here it comes/Say it loud!" The other track, which we're told is the duo's favorite, is drastically different: a sinister ballad featuring intricately strummed acoustic guitar chords. Cee-Lo's mood turns dark as he repeats over and over, "Who's gonna save my soul?/I know I'm out of control." It's a stylish, spooky take on Robert Johnson's delta blues — and even that suits them just fine."

Related Stories:
Cee-Lo on the Future of Hip-Hop and the Music Business
New Gnarls Barkley Vid Marries Kafka, the Screech Sex Tape
Gnarls Barkley: Hit-Making Hornballs?

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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