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The Good, the Bad and the Queen

The Good, the Bad and the Queen

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Be warned, happy-go-lucky fans of Gorillaz and Blur. This latest project from Damon Albarn doesn't have a "Feel Good Inc." on it. Instead, an all-star lineup -- including former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, former the Verve guitarist Simon Tong, former Fela Kuti/Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen and producer Danger Mouse -- helps play his dark, slightly paranoid tunes. It's kind of like Steven Soderbergh using George Clooney to make Solaris. Far from a true collaboration, these ace musicians simply flesh out Albarn's tough and miserable songs, and only Simonon seemingly revels in revisiting his "Guns of Brixton" days of dystopian bass drops. A few of the tracks, particularly "Herculean" and "Nature Springs," are haunting slices of life in London during wartime. Still, when Albarn sings "Kingdom of Doom" -- "drink all day because the country's at war" goes a typical lyric -- you'll almost reflexively wait for Tony Allen to kick off a funky Afrobeat in double-time, and be slightly disappointed when he doesn't. 3 stars

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