The Bears


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1985-89 and 2001-06)

- Chris Arduser -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Adrian Belew -- vocals, guitar

- Rob Fetters -- vocals, guitar

- Bob Nyswonger -- bass, backing vocals

 

  supporting musicians (1985)

- Bill Janssen - sax

 

 

 

- Chris Arduser  (solo efforts)

- Adrian Belew (solo efforts)

- The Crimson ProjeKct (Adrian Belew)

- Rob Fetters (solo efforts) Adrian Belew)

- The Graveblankets (Chris Arduser)

- The Human Experiemente

- King Crimson (Adrian Belew)

- ProjeKct Two (Adrian Belew)

- ProjeKct Six (Adrian Belew)

- The Psychodots (Chris Arduser, Rob Fetters and Bob Nyswonger)

- The Raisins (Rob Fetters and Bob Nyswonger)

- Tom Tom Club (Adrian Belew)

- Ultimate Zeros (Adrian Belew)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  The Bears

Company: I.R.S.

Catalog: IRS-42011
Year:
 1985

Country/State: Cincinnati, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut lower right corner

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1529

Price: $15.00

 

Another band that should have enjoyed massive popular success, but somehow got lost in the flood of mid-'80s new wave bands ...

 

The Bears actually grew out of Cincinnati's The Raisins, which featured the talents of singer/guitarist  Rob Fetters, bassist Bob Nyswonger, keyboardist Rik Nihisel, and drummer Bam Powell.   With King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew producing, the band recorded a decent 1983 album and an entertaining single for the small Based-based Strugglebaby Recording Company label.

 

"The Raisins" catalog number SBLP 3228

 

By 1985 The Raisins were history with Belew having recruited Fetters and Nyswonger, along with former Raisins drummer Chris Arduser for The Bears.  Benefiting from Belew's name and an intense touring schedule (the group literally spent the next three years on the road), The Bears were eventually signed by Primitive Man Recording Company which was affiliated with Miles Copeland's I.R.S. label.  With I.R.S. backing they recording their self-titled debut at Wisconsin's Royal Studios.  Produced by Belew, 1985's "The Bears" was an album that placed the listener into one of two diametrically opposed corners.  If you were a fan of Belew's King Crimson catalog and were looking for a jolt of progressive material, you were liable to find this album simple horrible.   On the other hand, if you enjoyed Belew's two earlier solo albums (1982's "Lone Rhino" and 1983's "Twang Bar King"), which were quirky, but had a pop underbelly, chances were this set's surprisingly commercial pop sheen wasn't going to put you off.   With all four members contributing to the songwriting chores, the collection was one of those rarities in that the four members seemed to be having a blast recording these ten tunes.  Sporting two talented lead singers in Belew and  Fetters, packed with some wonderfully and slightly twisted  pop melodies, and showcasing Belew's always edgy lead guitar, it was hard not to smile through this album.  There really wasn't a bad song on the album so picking favorites is a challenge - if forced to pick a top three I'd go with the opening rocker 'None of the Above', the single 'Trust' and 'Superboy'.

 

"The Bears" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) None of the Above   (Chris Arduser - Arian Belew -  Rob Fetters - Bob Nyswonge) - 2:56

Anyone who'd heard Belew's work with King Crimson and his solo output was liable to marvel at how commercial 'None of the Above' was.  With a hysterical lyric (ah the pulling power a rock star has when it comes to the ladies), a new wave-ish edge, and Belew's bizarro guitar solo, the opener was quite radio friendly with one of those melodies that you couldn't shake out of your head.  Yeah they were a little older, but YouTube has a full concert from a 2004 performance at Pittsburgh's Club Cafe and the first song was 'None of the Above':  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugwhHxUhnBU    rating: **** stars
2.) Fear Is Never Boring   (
Rob Fetters) - 4:00

With Belew producing, The Raisins wrote and recorded it first.  They also released it as an instantly obscure 1983 single.  A reflection of the times, the original version was a bit raw and new-waveish.  The backward tape opening section supposedly "translated" as "my whole life flashed before I crashed".  The accompanying video added a certain low budget charm to the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsFTi1DuZ8U    In contrast The Bears version sounded considerably more polished and not quite as dated with a radio-ready sheen that would have sounded great on FM radio.  If Squeeze could have a hit, you had to wonder how these guys got overlooked .  I actually love both of them.   If you want to compare, YouTube has 2007 Bears performance of the tune at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-6CbGbheCY    rating: **** stars  
3.) Honey Bee   (Adrian Belew) - 3:17

Imagine a Midwestern version of Dave Edmunds and Rockpile and you'd get a feel for what the rocker 'Honey Bee' sounded like.  I'm a big Rockpile fan so this was a personal favorite.   rating: **** stars
4.) Man Behind the Curtain   (
Arian Belew -  Rob Fetters - Bob Nyswonge) - 

Nice, almost AOR-ish tune with a bit of mid-Eastern flavor to it.   Belew always managed to get the coolest sounds out of his guitar and 'Man Behind the Curtain' was a great example of his unique playing and sound.   rating: *** stars
5.) Wavelength   (Adrian Belew) - 2:45

And you didn't think Belew and company could pull of a straightforward and commercial ballad ?  Well check out the beautiful, laidback, acoustic 'Wavelength'.  rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) 
Trust   (Bob Nyswonge) - 3:43

Probably the album's most overtly commercial track, 'Trust' showcased Belew and Fetters wonderful vocals and an irresistible melody.  A remixed version of the tune was tapped as a single and the band recorded a video in support of the track:

 

- 1985's 'Trust' (remixed version) b/w 'Save Me' (I.R.S. catalog number IRS 53199)   YouTube has the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlvW7DnySqw   rating: **** stars
2.) Raining   (
Arian Belew -  Rob Fetters - Bob Nyswonge) - 3:12

Via Belew's weird guitar effects, 'Raining' found the band adding a touch of psych to their pop sound.  Fascinating and catchy at the same time.   rating: **** stars
3.) Superboy   (
Arian Belew -  Rob Fetters) - 3:21

Supposedly the first tune Belew and Fetters collaborated on, 'Superboy' started out as a ballad before blowing up into a full-tilt rocker..  YouTube has a nice 2002 performance of the tune at Chicago's Martyr's Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOc0Wcyee0g   rating: **** stars
4.) Meet Me In The Dark   (
Arian Belew ) - 3:00

Sheer pop brilliance.   rating: **** stars
5.) Figure It Out
   (Chris Arduser - Arian Belew -  Rob Fetters - Bob Nyswonge) - 3:40

'Figure It Out' has always reminded me a bit of Belew's earlier solo catalog - bolstered by the title refrain, quite commercial, but still kind of quirky.  Another 2002 concert clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrW3VCaf2-Y   rating: **** stars

 

And yes, the Mort Drucker artwork made for a classic album cover and for anyone interested, the band has an informative website at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugwhHxUhnBU

 

 

 

 

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