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15 Years Ago: Gorillaz Follow-Up Hit Debut With ‘G Sides’

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Even though, by the end of 2001, Gorillaz only had one album, an EP and a handful of singles to their name, co-creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, they had enough material for a “rarities” compilation that they first released in Japan on Dec. 12, 2001 as G Sides.

The 10 tracks,along with a couple of Gorillaz’ star-making videos on an enhanced CD, included the sprightly Soulchild remix of single “19-2000” along with non-album tracks like the dub reggae tune “Dracula” and the blues/violin mélange of “Left Hand Suzuki Method” (both features as bonus tracks on the U.S. edition of Gorillaz, but not anywhere else). One of the more interesting inclusions was an alternate rendition of mega-hit “Clint Eastwood,” which turned out to be the original version. Although it features the familiar chorus sung by Albarn (or, should we say, band member 2D), the verses are rapped not by Del the Funky Homosapien, but U.K. hip-hop trio Phi Life Cypher.

“There was a rap on there before done by some English guys… which was used for a B-side in the end,” Gorillaz engineer Tom Girling told Sound on Sound in 2001. “That’s the version that we do live, as well,” engineer Jason Cox added. “It’s a little bit more hardcore, in that English style.”

Conceived as a supplemental release, not Gorillaz’ next big studio work, G Sides arrived in Japan with Noodle, the group’s teenage Japanese guitar prodigy, front and center on the album cover. The collection did well enough that additional versions were released in February 2002 in the U.S. (with a revised tracklist that removed tracks featured on the Stateside edition of the debut) and in March in the U.K. (with content identical to the Japanese edition). Both of those later editions charted, hitting No. 84 in the States and No. 65 in Britain.

G Sides also started a pattern for Gorillaz releases. Since the b-sides collection, the band has consistently put out a major work (i.e. Demon Days or Plastic Beach) soon followed by a sort of tag-along project (such as b-sides/remix compilation D-Sides or the iPad-recorded The Fall). For a band with such a range of influences, the “extra” releases have broadened Gorillaz’ sound even further.

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