Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tenacious D - The Pick Of Destiny

When most people think Jack Black, they think Tenacious D. They don’t typically think King Kong, Orange County, or School of Rock, and they certainly don’t think Nacho Libre.
The Pick of Destiny, the new album from Jack Black and Kyle Gass (more affectionately known as “The D”), was recently released to coincide with a full length movie of the same title. A Rock Opera of sorts, this album comes out with guns blazing. The music on the disc is extremely catchy and well executed complete with face melting guitar solos and cranium-exploding vocals. The band also opted for a more electric approach this time around in contrast to the raw acoustic stylings of their first album. The same classic-rock meets metal sound is loud and clear, taking cue from the likes of Dio, Styx, Boston, and other legends of that era. Unfortunately, it seems that this is where the improvements from 2001’s self titled effort end.
The most disappointing aspect of this album is the fact that the story itself is so hard to follow. If someone has not seen the Pick of Destiny movie, then much of the plot will be lost on them. For example “Papagenu (He’s My Sassafrass)” comes out of nowhere, with an out of place Polyphonic Spree-esque 70’s pop throwback. Little do listeners know that at this point in the movie, Jack Black has stumbled upon some psychedelic mushrooms and is on a crazy drug trip with Sasquatch! Also, the second to last song “POD,” which explains about the pick of destiny should have been placed in the beginning to enlighten the listener of its importance to the plot. Last track “The Metal” is completely unrelated to anything else on the disk, and frankly just is not funny. Since this album was not at all billed as a soundtrack it should be able to stand alone, but without the movie it falls flat on its face. If a small explanation of the storyline was provided in the liner notes that might have eliminated some confusion, but alas, all that is found in the liner notes are photos from the movie.
The comedy throughout the album also leaves something to be desired. Gone are the gut-bursting skits and outrageous lyrics of the earlier self titled album. It seems that busy schedules kept Jack Black and Kyle Gass from spending as much time on this album as it deserved.
However the album is not completely devoid of great material. The best example of what Tenacious D can do is found in the song “Beelzeboss (The Final Battle). Here, “The D” find themselves faced with Satan, and challenge him to a rock-off. What ensues is nothing short of brilliant.
What I feel people forget is that Jack Black has become quite a desirable actor since Tenacious D’s 2001 debut. He has gone from bit parts in High Fidelity and Orange County to starring and supporting roles in King Kong and School Of Rock. We as listeners must understand the fact that Jack is a busy man these days, and that although we might like to think so, Tenacious D is not all that he does. After all, rock ‘n roll don’t pay the bills!



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