Connecting with yesterday’s Handsome Boy Modeling School’s pairing, Dan the Automator was also the producer behind this quirky first single by the oddball virtual band created by Blur’s Damon Albarn and the cartoonist Jamie Hewlett who created all the visuals. The band idea was conceived as a virtual ‘hell” world of MTV videos, and the characters are in the style of Japanese anime with 2D (lead vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar, vocals), Noodle (guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). Albarn has been the only consistent member as 2D, and despite Niccals resembling Blur’s Alex James, the real bassist in 2001 was Junior Dan (later replaced by various others including The Clash’s Paul Simonon), plus Simon Katz (lead guitar), William Lyonell (rhythm guitar), Cass Browne on drums and Mike Smith on keyboards, plus many other lineups since, and guest vocalists on later material, including Mark E Smith, Lou Reed, De La Soul, Bobby Womack and Snoop Dogg.
Alongside Albarn’s high, ghostly vocals, the key performer on Clint Eastwood is the rapper Del The Funky Homosapien (aka Teren Delvon Jones). Why the title and what does it all mean? The film star reference comes with a nod to the music of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone in which Eastwood took the lead, and alongside the mix of dub, hip-hop, trip-hop and electronica, the lyrics mix a sea of references to drugs, virtual worlds, paranoia and ego trips. “I ain't happy, I'm feeling glad, I got sunshine in a bag, I’m useless but not for long, The future is coming on” sung by 2D, may refer to “sunshine LSD”, while the rap is full of references to, anger, frustration, being trapped, warped reality and of course working alongside the rhythms Russel, the virtual drummer. The fusion of styles in this self-referential anime world is certainly innovative, edgy and original, with this as the breakthrough example.
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