Saturday, June 6, 2009

Adrian Belew is Cooler Than You

Thanks to Matt Jordan at You Ain't No Picasso, I've been re-introducing myself to the brilliance of Adrian Belew. The two commercials below are odd mostly because of the weird looks on Belew's face - like he can't believe he's doing it, can't believe he's getting paid for it, or maybe just wants to laugh but isn't allowed.

It's not so surprising Belew was commisssioned to show off his animal sound mimicry: Belew has released about a thousand critter-related songs such as Young Lions, The Lone Rhinoceros, Big Electric Cat, Animal Grace, Tango Zebra, Cruelty to Animals, Monkey With a Bow and Drum, Sexy Rhino, Fish get the picture. The guy's creature-obsessed.

But like the monkey covering his ears in that second commercial, a lot of people have somehow failed to realize the man's versatility. Aside from lengthy sideman roles for Zappa, Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Nine Inch Nails, Belew has played on records by Paul Simon, Tori Amos, Crash Test Dummies, Michael Oldfield, Cyndi Lauper, and even William Shatner (!), among others. He's also released umpteen solo records showcasing his guitar virtuosity, unique worldview, vocal dexterity, offbeat sense of humour, multi-faceted approach to songcraft - the guy can do just about anything. He also really liked the Beatles, check out his version of I'm Down:

Belew's love for the Fab Four has shined through a fair amount on Belew's under-appreciated power pop band The Bears:

Another from The Bears - Trust:

Belew also managed to bring a pop sensibility to that most proggy of bands, King Crimson. Is it possible to make progressive music accessible to non-musicians like Scruffy the Yak? Yes, if you're A.B.

Even the somewhat challenging, eccentric side of King Crimson slowly became necessary listening thanks to Scruffy's brother Clean-cut Yak:

For a brief overview of Adrian's career in his own words, check out this video
Adrian's Life in a Nutshell:

For further info go to Belew's site, he'll even give you some free downloads if you go here.


Albert Bannatyne said...

Saw the Adrian Belew Power Trio last summer --- he is fantastic live and really worked hard for the audience. Towards the very end of his show he started going nuts with the solos, playing from a crouching position so he could twiddle the knobs on his effects pedals. Funny to look at, but great to listen to.

If you ever get the chance, his is a show to see.

PS the videos for Pretty Pink Rose and Young Lions are usually floating around, too.

chris yackoboski said...

I've always loved Albert Street, Bannatyne not so much. Are you still using Gord Tanner's photo?

Albert Bannatyne said...

Who is this "Gord Tanner" of which you speak? I know of no Gord Tanner or his photo!