|Tenacious D - The Complete Masterworks|
|DVD TV Shows|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 04 November 2003|
Most people probably know Jack Black from his surprise smash hit film “School of Rock” and the recent Farrelly Brothers picture “Shallow Hal,” but before Black was a Hollywood leading man, he was, and still is, the voice behind the self-dubbed “greatest band in the world” Tenacious D, consisting of Black and Kyle Gass. With a short-lived HBO series, a handful of television and movie appearances including “Bio-Dome” and “Saturday Night Live,” to name just a few, Tenacious D, known to many fans as simply “The D,” garnered a huge underground buzz in the late ‘90s. Their irreverent brand of acoustic folk rock fused with a warped sense of humor sent record company executives scrambling to sign this truly brilliant comedy duo. Epic Records landed the deal and have been ultra-supportive of the band, letting them bring in big-time producers (The Dust Brothers) and giving them big budgets to create music videos with directors such as Spike Jones. The album did well enough, and the band has amassed such a wealth of video clips, documentaries and assorted television appearances that a DVD release by the band was seemingly inevitable. Titled “Tenacious D - The Complete Masterworks,” this double DVD set is absolutely genius from beginning to end.
Even though the D have achieved underground cult comedy hero status and Black has shot into the world of A-list Hollywood actors, they didn’t forget their fans. Besides the full-length concert and all of the episodes from the HBO series, this double disc set includes second disc titled “For the twisted fans.” When they say twisted, they ain’t kidding. The pinnacle of this entire set, for those of you who can handle something a little off color and bizarre, are three short films created by the D specifically for this release. Without going into too much detail, get ready to see Black as a male prostitute on the streets of Hollywood, Gass giving birth to Tenacious D’s love child and the band selling bottles of their own freshly squeezed “rock star essence” at a garage sale. If you only know Tenacious D from the song “Wonderboy” on MTV, then you probably don’t know the levels of twisted that they can reach.
Many musicians and artists are big fans of the D, none bigger than the Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl. Grohl played drums on much of Tenacious D’s self-titled album and he makes an appearance as the Devil on the video for the song “Tribute.” We get to see behind-the-scenes footage for the entire video-making process on the bonus documentary titled “The Making of Tribute Video.” Grohl in a devil suit with red makeup, horns and horse legs talking on his cell phone is quite a funny sight.
The making of the “Lord of the Rings”-style epic video “Wonderboy” by Spike Jonze is an interesting look at filmmaking by this young, talented director who has made films such as “Being John Malkovich,” as well as several groundbreaking videos for Fatboy Slim.
The real meat and potatoes of the disc is the full-length performance by Tenacious D at the Brixton Academy in England. I have been lucky enough to see Tenacious D at small venues including Largo and the slightly larger House of Blues in West Hollywood, and I can say that aside from a few big stage tricks, the live show that they perfected in the small clubs works in this large venue. Black even custom-tailors the show to play on the Brits’ sense of humor. If all you know of the group is their highly polished full-length album with full rock band instrumentation, you do not know that almost all of their songs were originally meant to be performed with just two acoustic guitars. Somehow, Black and Gass are able to cover so much musical ground with just their guitars and voices that they transcend being two guys on stage with guitars and become a full-on two-member rock group. It’s as much about attitude, enthusiasm and humor as it is about musical ability, and the band has all of that in abundance.
The bonus disc features all six of the HBO fifteen-minute shorts that have become cult classics amongst comedy lovers. The format of the skits begins with the D playing at a local open mike night, performing a song that sets up the storyline of the skit. After some hilarious goings-on, the D ultimately ends up back at the club for a grand finale song for each episode. The pacing works well because, although all of the plots aren’t stellar, the band gets back into a funny song before you know it. One of the biggest problems that sketch comedy shows face is how to end some of the bits, but Tenacious D has that well covered with the show’s format and pacing. Occasionally, Gass and Black come out in front of a red curtain and do some Laurel and Hardy type comedy bits that are also very funny.
Black will continue to get big-dollar starring roles in comedies and occasionally Gass will make a guest appearance, but it’s quite obvious that Tenacious D will continue to flourish for a long time. Black loves being a rock star more than a movie star (except for the paychecks, no doubt), and Tenacious D is his venue for expressing his inner rock star. A full-length movie is in the works, and there will surely be a new Tenacious D album in the not so distant future (perhaps the soundtrack to the upcoming film) but in the meantime, you can get your fill of the D on this incredibly in-depth double DVD set.