Gnarls Barkley was the perfect collision for the mid-aughts. Rotund futuristic soul man Ceelo Green joined forces with underground beat smith Danger Mouse and the result was magical, serving as a vehicle that increased the commercial and critical capital of both artists. They only released two projects together (a third has been discussed for years but has not materialized as of this writing), and the first of those two-2006’s St. Elsewhere-opened with the statement of purpose “Go-Go Gadget Gospel”.
“Gadget” is two minutes and twenty seconds of inspired chaos. It features a horn section straight out of the psychedelic ’60s, a stuttering beat that sounds like a copy machine on the fritz, and Ceelo making like Al Green mid-exorcism. “I’m free! Look at me!”, he wails passionately, shouting to be heard above the noise. Did Ceelo take a decade of frustration from being the “just under the radar” guy and pour it into one song? Sure sounds like it.
It doesn’t hurt that “Go-Go Gadget Gospel” serves as the lead in to Gnarls Barkley’s breakthrough smash “Crazy”, one of the defining singles of the 21st century (so far). What an amazing one-two punch to open an album!