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Mike Keneally - Dancing CD (album) cover

DANCING

Mike Keneally

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Most people reading this will probably be asking themselves exactly who Mike Keneally is. The multi-instrumentalist composer found his roots touring with Frank Zappa on his epic '88 tour as the "stunt guitarist" replacing Steve Vai (who he'd later collaborate with). In the 90s, Keneally found his own niche of the modern avant-garde scene and hasn't looked back since with many solid releases over the past 15 years. This album, a collaboration with the backing band known as Beer For Dolphins (even though most of the band had previously worked with Keneally), is the premiere outing for Keneally and his twisted brand of rock music.

Now, from the get go, strong songwriting takes the foray. Songs like Live in Japan and Ankle Bracelet have some more mainstream fringes to them, but there's some creative use of horns, percussion, and synthesizers in the background giving the pieces a more Frank Zappa-esque feeling to them musically (although they aren't nearly as complex as Zappa would get). But these two songs are only in the beginning of the album, which has 20 songs ranging from vocal ramblings (Poo-Tee-Weet?) to all-out guitar solo spotlights (Kedgeree). The best thing about this album is even though it's long (nearly 80 minutes), is that the quality never lets down and every song continues and expands upon the others creating an even stronger work as a whole (even though it doesn't segue and isn't conceptual). This album is an aural journey that leaves the listener gasping for breath and wanting to hear more from this incredibly creative ensemble.

Fans of Frank Zappa will be right at home with nearly any Mike Keneally album, as the man nearly owes his career to Zappa. However, it's not as avant-garde as other Mike Keneally albums, making it more accessible to fans who aren't as receptive to Frank Zappa's crazier works. There's a lot to like about this album, and it's not the only one to be released by this group (the others being Sluggo! and Half Alive in Hollywood). If you're just getting into Keneally or have an interest in what he sounds like, I'd say this is the best album to start with. If you like it, you'll probably become interested in his other works and then you won't be sorry, for you've found another incredible artist deserving of recognition. Dancing is a masterpiece of modern avant-garde music and shouldn't go unnoticed.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#118100)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars While this is not a masterpiece like his first two albums, this Mike Keneally release certainly provides enough entertainment at many levels to make it worth hunting down.

Keneally has honed his style down, creating an album that, while more coherent (his early releases jumped maniacally from genre to genre, sometimes at lightning speed), manages to touch enough different styles, and include enough Zappa references, to satisfy this hungry progger.

Some of the high points to me are Pretty Enough For Girls, Taster and Brown Triangles, all with their share of the Zappa sound (Frank himself might have played the guitar solo on Taster, it's so good). But the best song is the frenzied Lhai Sal. A worthy song for any prog fan.

There are a few stinkers on this album. The opener, Live In Japan, based on a weak pun, is too mainstream, and Joe and Only Mondays, are just too light. And often, Keneally's free-form melodic style makes too many songs sound the same.

My copy has the bonus disk, Dancing With Myself, a live recording, two thirds of it has Keneally playing mostly songs from Dancing on solo guitar or piano, and the last third is the full band playing, with Keneally on a mostly effect-free guitar. It's nice, but I wouldn't say essential.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#279515)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink

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