First off, I must admit to being a late-comer to the world of Tenacious D, the acoustic-rock duo consisting of comedians Jack Black (recognizable from films such as High Fidelity, Saving Silverman and Mars Attacks) and Kyle Gass. I've never witnessed any of their much-heralded live shows and I only recently saw a number of episodes of their short-lived HBO comedy series.
A fair-weather fan one might call me, but I must object. My brief introduction to The D, as they're affectionately called, hooked me.
Here were two slightly overweight dudes, much like myself, ripping it up on acoustic guitars with hilarious songs about Satan, sex, rock n' roll and then topped off with more Satan. Between the songs was very smart, self-deprecating sketch comedy centered around crushes on girls, the frustrations of songwriting, and other odd ball tangents.
I felt like I knew them.
They looked and sounded like guys that you might have bought dope off of in college. Guys that you'd see at your local watering hole, cracking everyone up.
That is the appeal of The D. They may be the self-proclaimed "greatest band in the world," but they have an approachable everyman quality that makes their comedy and music extremely endearing. The D makes their audience feel as if they too could be up there on stage someday.
But only as an opening act.
Then came their debut album, the appropriately self-titled, Tenacious D.
I was initially perplexed upon hearing the album. Expecting an entire set of acoustic numbers, instead what I heard was Tenacious D backed by a full band on the majority of tracks. And the presentation works surprisingly well.
Produced by The Dust Brothers, the masterminds behind past Beck and Beastie Boys albums, and featuring Dave Grohl from The Foo Fighters on drums and guitar, Page McConnell from Phish on keyboards, Steve McDonald from Redd Kross on bass and Warren Fitzgerald from The Vandals on lead guitar, the album sounds fully realized and complete. The songs have a force behind them that is both triumphant and ridiculous at the same time. Imagine Led Zeppelin and Journey backing a funnier Gene and Dean Ween and you have Tenacious D.
One half of stand-up comedy lies in its physical presentation. Facial expressions and audience interaction are vital parts of any comic's routine. The absence of such elements could hinder Tenacious D's debut album, but fortunately do not. The duo successfully bridges the gap between stage and CD without missing a step.
They are able to do this with the strength of their songwriting abilities, both musically and lyrically. The songs are the comedic stars on this effort, ranging from the lush ballad "Fuck Her Gently," to the hard hitting, "Rock Your Socks." The titles by themselves invoke laughter.
Non-stop name-checking that could make any hard MC drop to his knees and enough "muthafuckas" to earn a giant PMRC arrest warrant are a few of the delights contained within these songs. While a few lyrical one-liners do get lost in the mix occasionally, the overall delivery and execution is flawless.
The D does not limit the album solely to the music. Half of the tracks are comedy sketches interjected between the musical numbers. These sketches are not random bits of comedy thrown in for their own sake though. Each sketch is related to or introduces a song on the album, staying true to the nature of Tenacious D's stage routine. Make no mistake; this is a very funny album.
And it WILL make you laugh. And it WILL rock you. Rarely does a group produce an album that is able to do both. Sidesplitting humor and hard riffs are a lethal combination.
Give it up for The D.