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Tenacious D
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Performer Notes
  • Tenacious D: Kyle Gass (vocals, acoustic guitar); Jack Black (vocals, guitar).
  • Additional personnel includes: David Grohl (guitar, drums, background vocals); Warren Fitzgerald, Ken Andrews (guitar); Woody Jackson (sitar); Andrew Gross (strings); Page McConnell (keyboards); Steve McDonald (bass); Alfredo Ortiz (percussion); John King (echoplex).
  • Recorded at The Boat, Silverlake, California.
  • As anyone who witnessed their legendary shorts on HBO will attest, Tenacious D is indeed the greatest band on earth. Bad D is still better than the Beatles and good D is transcendent. Even so, Tenacious D's debut album will likely kick fans on their asses because the D is no longer just about JB and KG. They're even ready to be more than a power trio -- they're ready to be backed by a full band, complete with Dave Grohl on drums and the Dust Brothers behind the boards. After years of hearing them as an acoustic heavy metal duo, that's a real shock, but they've also overhauled their repertoire, reworking and retitling several songs and leaving many tunes behind. Most regrettably, there is no "History of Tenacious D," even if it is quoted in the liner notes, but there's also no "Rocketsauce," no "Kyle Took a Bullet for Me," no "Sasquatch," no "Cosmic Shame," no "Special Things," and no "Jesus Ranch." "You Broke the Rules" becomes "Karate," "Song of Exultant Joy" is "Kyle Quit the Band," "Sex Supreme" becomes "Double Team," "The Best Song in the World" becomes "Tribute," lacking many of the "Stairway to Heaven" allusions in this version, and so on and so forth (elements of their opening theme are incorporated into "Kielbasa," thankfully). Furthermore, the dynamic has shifted drastically because the group no longer sounds like maniacal misfits who've conquered the worlds in their own minds playing to an audience who just hasn't caught up yet. Here, they sound like victors who've had their delusions of grandeur come real (which is true when you think about it -- those shorts might not have done much on HBO, but videotapes passed through a lot of hands on the underground video railroad). This is a bigger change than you might think, and while the acoustic D sounds better, weirder, and purer, this still is a hell of a record, particularly because it rocks so damn hard. The worst thing about it are the sketches, which may be funny, but not nearly as funny as the plots that tied the shows together (nothing as funny as asides from the show, like "circle church," either) or the live routines; they tend to distract from the music. And the music is indeed what matters, since no matter how silly and gleefully profane this can be, Tenacious D rules because the music is terrific. The tunes have hooks, Kage and Jables harmonize well, and the cheerfully demented worldview is intoxicating, since their self-belief and self-referential world is delightfully absurd and warm (think about it -- the sex songs may be vulgar and may be about their prowess, but their prowess is about making those backstage Betties feel good). Sure, some listeners may chuckle because this all comes from two large, cute, 30-something slackers, but they're missing the inspirado behind this record -- Tenacious D certainly know they're funny, but that doesn't erase the fact that they rock so hard. They came to kick your ass and rock your socks off, and that is a very special thing. [A 12th Anniversary Edition was released on LP in 2014.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (10/11/01, p.94) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...An angel-dustrial bong-water brew of Styx, Rush and Triumph, with a dollop of Journey, Kansas, loads of Zep and Sabbath, and a pinch of Black Oak Arkansas...Not since Bob and Doug McKenzie have two jokers nailed the clod-metal aesthetic so accurately..."

Entertainment Weekly (9/28/01, p.74) - "Hilarious, but no mere comedy record...attacking acoustic guitars with a metal band's intensity...They're profane, bursting with rage and lust, and they deliver more laughs than anyone since Richard Pryor..." - Rating: A

CMJ (9/17/01, p.5) - "...Packed with big dopey guitars and lyrics that are so god-awful they're almost brilliant....rock cliches are in full effect..."
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