ADRIAN BELEW – “LONE RHINO” (1982)
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 ProgArchives.com, 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.