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The Roots – Phrenology (2002)

May 22, 2020

[Album 771/1001]

Have you ever seen Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show?

There’s a good recurring bit where Fallon, The Roots, and a musical guest play a song together using “classroom instruments” (kazoos, triangles, tambourines…).

I tend to argue that the best songs will still work with just vocals & guitar.

After seeing these “classroom instruments” performances, I may start arguing that the best musicians can still make a song work, regardless of the instruments being used!

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Smithers: Uh, sir, Phrenology was dismissed as quackery a hundred-sixty years ago.
Mr. Burns: Of course you’d say that, you have the brainpan of stage coach tilter.
– The Simpsons, S7, E8

Oddly, the fifth studio album by The Roots reminded me of an album from 1 + 60 years ago, Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Gershwin Songbook.

Ella? Nelson Riddle? Gershwins? Oh this is going to be great!

And…it was. But it was equal to the sum of its formidable parts, rather than a 2 + 2 = 5 scenario.

Similar story here.

I guess I was thinking, my goodness, they sound terrific when pressing record on a phone & using classroom instruments. Imagine how great they’ll sound with ‘real’ instruments & a recording studio.

And…it was solid. It just feels like I might have heard them do more with less.220px-PhrenologyMediumRes

Interestingly, the tune that jumped out the most, The Seed (2.0), likely featured the least amount of instrumentation. A less is more situation, sort of like how Sloan’s Deeper than Beauty jumps out of the Twice Removed running order, despite only having drums + rhythm guitar.

That’s just the impression that I get after a few spins.

Then again, perhaps I too have the brainpan of a stage coach tilter!

In any event, I don’t think many listeners (myself included) will be dismissing this Phrenology as quackery anytime soon.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

Mr. Burns, easily a Top 5 Simpsons character for me!

From → 2000s

7 Comments
  1. Some of those Fallon jams are pretty cool.
    Agreed Mr Burns is Top 5 in my book as well

  2. I like how you got CanCon in there!

  3. I am a simple man. I see Roots, I hit Like. YES.

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