It is not very often that we are afforded the opportunity to review an album on The Comedy Journal. It wouldn’t take much market research for a music exec to decide against any budding musical comedy acts standing hopefully before them in a lofty London office. The only apparent route to success in the genre is to push your music out alongside a TV series; like Flight of the Conchords would do. Nearly a decade earlier Tenacious D were stars of their own HBO show, The Greatest Band of Earth featuring many of the songs that form their seminal self-titled debut and follow up The Pick of Destiny.
Pick of Destiny was very much a skeleton in the closet for Tenacious D; the film had “bombed” in Jack Black’s words and the album had sparked similar criticism. Thirty seconds in, Rize of the Fenix had thrust the closet doors wide open:
When The Pick of Destiny was released it was a bomb,
And all the critics said that the D was done.
The sun had set and the chapter had closed,
But one thing no one thought about,
Was the D would rise again.
Just like the phoenix,
We’ll fucking rise again!
That’s right the phoenix,
We’ll rise again!
But the bad reviews have clearly affected Black and Kyle Gass (or indeed, their label) deeper, and the skits have all but disappeared in Rize of the Fenix. Whilst this suits the music critics much more, it goes against any comedy review, for it was the woven stories in Tenacious D that made it such an incredibly funny listen. Without ‘One Note Song’, ‘Drive-Thru’ and ‘Friendship Test’, the album wouldn’t have had half as many listens on my iPod.
Rize of the Fenix is a good listen, but it lacks the required punch to really make it a comedy great; the videos made alongside the album, like ‘Roadie’ above, are far more funny. ‘The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and The Rage Kage’ and ‘Rize of the Fenix’ go some way towards making up the gap in the musical tracks, and ‘Classic Teacher’ stands up as one of their better skits, but ultimately the most the daring thing about Rize of the Fenix is the spelling in the title.