Even though guitarist Adrian Belew was a part of, diabetes and pregnancy at various times, drugs the Talking Heads and David Bowie live ensembles from the late ’70s and early ’80s — I still hadn’t caught his established “classic” solo album from around the same time until very recently.

The track that tipped me off to this album’s whopping greatness was “Big Electric Cat”, apoplectic used to hilarious effect in the gonzo 1983 comedy Get Crazy directed by Allan Arkush (Rock and Roll High School). This track anchors this excellent album of sharply executed all-over-the-placeness. James Lee, one of the many reviewers on, sez:

Few debut solo albums show this much range and sophistication. Belew pulls out everything (for the time being) from his bag of guitar tricks, as well as showcasing his under-appreciated songwriting skills and distinctive vocal style. Of course, he was no newcomer- anyone who’d followed him from Zappa to Bowie to Talking Heads knew that this likeable virtuoso had plenty to offer.

“Big Electric Cat” opens the album with a driving cybernetic grind laced with screaming fuzz leads, very comparable to Bowie’s Fripp-heavy “Scary Monsters”. “The Momur”, “Stop It”, “Adidas in Heat” and “Swingline” reflect a definite Zappa sensibility- often less acidic and more playfully quirky, but with just as much attention to musicianship and stylistic left turns. The more serious songs (“Man in the Moon” and “Animal Grace”) provide an additional layer of emotion to the album- he really sounds like he’s singing his heart out at times. And in-between there is the title track (well, close enough) which veers from goofy to melodramatic, but with a surprisingly earnest pathos.

There are very few negatives about this album; I suppose if you’re turned off by the more experimental end of 80s pop, you’ll be hard-pressed at times…and while his vocals are distinctive and evocative, they may be something of an acquired taste. However, there are hooks aplenty and more than enough texture to reward further listening.

Adrian Belew – “Lone Rhino” LP (ZIP file)

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181 Responses to ADRIAN BELEW

  1. tankboy says:

    Young Lions. Get Young Lions. Best Belew solo disc, hands down.

  2. iZen says:

    I played this lp to death when it came out. I literally wore out the grooves.

    I first became aware of Adrien Belew when I heard “Elephant Talk” by King Crimson in 1981…the same year “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts” came out. Between Adrian’s new and amazing guitar sounds and Byrne/Eno’s incredible sampling our minds were spinning with wonder and amazement at the possibility of a new musical future.

    Anyway, I realized A.B. had been quietly adding guitar touches to some of my favorite lp’s by Bowie, Talking Heads and Zappa and I began to watch for anything he lent his hand to. There was a local band where I grew up called The Raisins which A.B. teamed up with to form The Bears. If your on a Belew kick you may check them out as well.


  3. Matt says:

    A welcome replacement for my creaky, squeeky and dusty cassette copy. Big Large thanks!

  4. Shoegeezer says:

    I downloaded this, played it a few times then went and bought it on cd (packaged with the follow up album), great stuff.

  5. magus sana says:

    i love his singing of “frame by frame” on ki. crimson’s “discipline”
    fun to watch him play too
    “bush of ghosts” has become a “classic” – who’da thought at the time it came out?

  6. Peleg Daniel says:

    Wow !! I have this as a real vinyl LP somewhere, you just took me back to these times, I used to hear that all the time! THANKS…

  7. tom appleton says:

    yeah, nice!

    your comment was a bit too short, go back and try again. I’ve never come across THAT before! YAY!!