The Good, the Bad & the Queen (The Good, the Bad & the Queen, 2007)

A fascinating cul-de-sac in Damon Albarn’s musical journey (that is not meant patronisingly – Albarn’s commitment to trying new things is wholly admirable, even if, or perhaps because, the results are variable), this self-titled standalone album brought together one of his most exciting ever lineups. The result is a rich patchwork of styles and dynamics interestingly packaged in a hip-hop aesthetic by producer Danger Mouse. That production decision sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but the real head-scratcher here is in recruiting Tony Allen, one of the best drummers in the world, and then barely using him. He doesn’t even play on half the tracks. When he does appear, you both hear how extraordinary he is (he hits about two drums on “History Song” and is the most melodic thing on the track) and how under-used – so often he’s not even there, and when he is he mostly potters around being little more than a metronome. As good as the record is, it feels like an opportunity only half taken.


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