Musically, for me, he 1980′s were less about Bowie than about the musicians he introduced me to. Adrian Belew is a former drummer who took up the guitar in his sick bed and tried to emulate certain sounds produced by Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. He had no idea that those sounds were actually created by reverse tape effects, sometimes confused with backmasking (or backwards masking). Undaunted he learned how to make the guitar produce all kinds of sounds (Girls Laughing, Whales, Dinosaurs, Seagulls, Bag Pipes and Rhinos). He first came to my attention on the Stage tour. I loved his subsequent work with Talking Heads (Brian Eno Producer) and the reformed King Crimson (my favorite band of all time). So when he released his first solo L.P. in 1982, I am one of the few artistic souls who bought one. I still love it today.
Ted Mills’ reviewed this album at AllMusic:
“The first solo album from monster alternative guitarist Belew comes in the middle of Robert Fripp’s early-’80s reformulation of King Crimson, so it’s no surprise that many a Crimson-esque herky-jerky guitar run and melody line pops up among Belew’s other trademark sound, that of the animal-turned-guitar wail. Songs similarly explore Belew’s fascination with raw animal nature: ‘Big Electric Cat’(the album’s obvious single) is exactly that, howling five-stringed felines over a propulsive Afro-funk beat.”
Big Electric Cat is about how a woman moves and captivates as she does. It could have been written for the Runway.
She arrives like a limo
smooth and moving
on the prowl through the crowd
to the beat of the city
she glows in the dark
wherever she parks
concrete crumbles and the night rumbles
Big electric cat
The title track is about life seen through the eyes of a caged rhinoceros.
I’m a lone rhinoceros
there ain’t one hell of a lots of us
left in this world
I know the zoos protect my species
they give me food, collect my feces
but I can’t help it, I miss the past
I’ll never again see my good old mudbath
Musically Belew is all over the map. He has recorded with Tori Amos, Laurie Anderson, Joan Armatrading, David Bowie, David Byrne, Caifanes, Crash Test Dummies, Jerry Harrison, Sara Hickman, Jars of Clay, Michael Clay, Jaguares, Jean Michel Jarre, Cyndi Lauper, Man on Fire, Kevin Max, Mike Oldfield, Nine Inch Nails, Paul Simon, Porcupine Tree, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Santa Sabina, William Shatner, Talking Heads, The TOM TOM Club Peter Wolf, and Frank Zappa. In 2006 and 2007 Belew contributed to two Pink Floyd tribute albums: Back Against The Wall, and Return to the Dark Side of the Moon. He is also a visual artist. The Drawing on Twang Bar King (below) is his own work. Adrian’s first 2 solo L.P.s, long unavailable in their entirety, have finally been re-issued on 1 cd!
I strongly recommend it.