Adrian Belew

I've been meaning to jot down a few thoughts on Adrian Belew for some time now. Seeing him briefly in the Alex Winter Zappa doc, Zappa, reminded me, and now here we are, listening to Adrian Belew.

His career is long, winding, storied, and much ink could be spilled covering it. However, there is a thread that runs through the two sides of his work—solo work and collaborative work—that makes dipping a toe into his ocean not particularly daunting. On the solo side, he tended towards sweeter, more musical arrangements and techniques, oftentimes giving the impression he was the off-kilter foil to infamous George Harrison disciple Jeff Lynne.


Before he began putting out solo LPs, he was a hired gun, a whip-cracker guitarist from Kentucky who had found unorthodox ways to sound different, like cajoling out of his axe "car horns, animal noises, or industrial sounds." Eventually, he caught Zappa's ear, and, eventually, he joined his band. He toured, then played on Sheik Yerbouti, Zappa's first independently-released long-player, then split. From there, he found his way to Bowie, and a similar story unfolded: touring, participation in an album (the exceptional Lodger), departure. All this added up to enough cachet to get him a record deal, and the Adrian-on-his-own music began. Then Robert Fripp and King Crimson arrived, and his attention was once again directed towards others' endeavors.

Sadly, his choicest 80s material isn't on Spotify, and it's his output from that time that I enjoy most. Search and you shall find. Off you go!

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