Belew, Adrian

Band members               Related acts

- Adrian Belew (aka Robert Steven Belew) - vocals, guitar,

- Chris Bley - vocals, keyboards

- WiIliam Janssen - vocals, sax, clarinet

- Larrie London - drums

- J. Cliff Mayhugh - vocals, bass




- The Bears

- King Crimson

- Sweetheart



Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Twang Bar King

Company: Island

Catalog: 90108-1

Year: 1983

Country/State: Covington, Kentucky

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4504

Price: $6.00

Cost: $66.00


I guess I've always found guitarist Adrian Belew intriguing due to the fact the guy's such a musical dichotomy.  On one hand he's made a name for himself working with some of rock's bigger innovators and cutting edge names - David Bowie, David Byrne and the Talking Heads, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, etc.  At the same time he's created a large and impressive solo career that's notable for it's surprisingly commercial and accessible leanings.


Belew's self-produced sophomore solo effort "Twang Bar King" showcases another unique blend of commercial pop and outright quirky experimentation.  The album certainly starts out unexpectedly - a surprisingly rote cover of The Beatles' 'I'm Down'.  From there the collection returns to more typical Belew material.  Asides Belew's instantly recognizable MIDI aided guitar, a couple of things strike me as interesting on this set.  The first is how much of influence David Byrne and company seem to have had on Belew (or more likely, how much of an influence Belew had on them).  Anyone doubting that comment need only check out tracks such as ' I Wonder', 'Sexy Rhino' and 'Fish Head'.  All three would have easily fit onto one of The Heads mid-1980s albums.  Mind you, there's nothing here as instantly impressive as on "Lone Rhino" and at times some of songs actually have a warmed over feel.  Still, the positives outweigh the negatives and on the whole it makes for another album worth checking out ('specially if you can find a nice copy cheap - hint, hint).  Besides, how often will you hear an album that includes an elegy to trains ('The Rail Song')? 


Amazingly the album actually charted in the States, eventually peaking at # 146.


"Twang Bar King" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I'm Down  (John Lenon - Paul McCartney) - 2:56

2.) I Wonder   (Adrian Belew) - 4:40

3.) Life without a Cage   (Adrian Belew) - 3:20

4.) Sexy Rhino   (Adrian Belew) - 0:37

5.) Twang Bar King   (Adrian Belew) - 1:26

6.) Another Time   (Adrian Belew) - 3:05

7.) The Rail Song   (Adrian Belew) - 5:41


(side 2)

1.) Paint the Road (instrumental)   (Adrian Belew) - 3:20 

2.) She Is Not Dead   (Adrian Belew) - 4:42

3.) Fish Head   (Adrian Belew) - 4:31

4.) The Ideal Woman   (Adrian Belew) - 4:12

5.) Ballet for a Blue Whale (instrumental)    (Adrian Belew) - 4:44





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