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TWANG BAR KING

Adrian Belew

Eclectic Prog


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Adrian Belew Twang Bar King album cover
3.08 | 29 ratings | 3 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1983

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I'm Down (2:54)
2. I Wonder (4:39)
3. Life Without A Cage (3:20)
4. Sexy Rhino (0:37)
5. Twang Bar King (1:26)
6. Another Time (3:02)
7. The Rail Song (5:39)
8. Paint The Road (3:19)
9. She Is Not Dead (4:41)
10. Fish Head (4:30)
11. The Ideal Woman (4:08)
12. Ballet For A Blue Whale (4:44)

Total time 42:59

Line-up / Musicians

- Adrian Belew / guitar, percussion, lead vocals, arranger & producer

With:
- Christy Bley / piano, vocals
- William Janssen / sax, bass clarinet, vocals
- Gary Platt / bass trombone
- J. Clifton Mayhugh / bass, vocals
- Larrie Londin / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Mike Getz

LP Island Records ‎- 90108-1 (1983, US)

CD Island Records ‎- UICY-9238 (2002, Japan)

Thanks to Cygnus X-2 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy ADRIAN BELEW Twang Bar King Music


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ADRIAN BELEW Twang Bar King ratings distribution


3.08
(29 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
7%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(21%)
21%
Good, but non-essential (62%)
62%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ADRIAN BELEW Twang Bar King reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From the stellar debut to the sophomore slump, this album has likable qualities, but it doesn't keep up to par with Lone Rhino. Beginning with a Beatles song, from the start people can get a clue that Adrian is trying to add his flare to some ofhis favorite songs. Overall, the album has a very similar feel to Lone Rhino, which is why I cannot rate it higher, it simply doesn't have enough difference. Sure there are good songs (Ballad of the Blue Whale/Twang Bar King), but they are all so similar in sound and craft to Lone Rhino.

The Beatles song that I mentioned is in fact Help! B-Side "I'm Down". Adrian puts a very emotional vocal forward and tries to keep it up beat, but all in all it doesn't really compare to the original. It feels a bit too cheesy, with back-up singers and some very simplistic playing from everyone. The next song, though, makes up for that. I Wonder has some meaty chords and some great guitar frills and runs, and some great sax to back it up. It certainly still has the atmosphere from I'm Down, up-beat to the maximum. Life without a Cage features some great riffing and structure, some great vocals and an awesome saxophone line that's up there with the rest of them. Other tracks worth mentioning are Twang Bar King, which features some great lyrics and vocals from Belew, some wild guitar work, and a very overall fun atmosphere. Ballad for a Blue Whale is an all guitar instrumental, which features some great synth textures and some great work from the guitar.

Overall, this is a good album in it's own right, but it is more of a sequel to Lone Rhino than another original work. While his approach to the music is original, the material isn't. 3/5

Review by Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Lone Rhino", the set of the former work, and the method of risk and the overall catching might be suitable for this album. The idea that he cultivated with David Bowie and Talking Heads is satisfactorily demonstrated with his initial work. Of course, his creation is not few the fan that feels puzzled in the directionality of KC in the 80's because it was brought in to KC with a few ideas either.

However, the sense of Belew might already have been established by his character, knowledge, and technology. His existence worked to some degree in the band of Zappa. And, those flows are guessed to have expanded the width of the creation in the Solo album because it is digested surely. His personal creativity and the music character appeared remarkably in the work at this time. However, the idea of Talking Heads and the influence in KC might be able to be found a little.

The drum player is put out, and it is accompanied and he has put out the form of the band to belonging exclusively forward further in this album in "Lone Rhino" of the former work though he played the drum. This produced album makes almost the same musician as the former work participate and if directionality and the composition are considered, might be a work that should think as a pair.

As for "I Wonder" and "Another Time", etc. with an active impression his taste is satisfactorily demonstrated. And, the idea from which the melody of "The Man In Moon" of the former work is invented by reversely rotating the tape is adopted and the idea shown in "She Is Not Dead" is finished up in a new tune.

It will be able to know depth and the challenge of his music by listening to an initial work if it knows the root of his character and music in the upcoming album though the work of Inst is adopted.

Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Twang Bar King' is the second solo album by Adrian Belew, and was released in 1983. It was recorded while Belew was a member of King Crimson in between the release of 'Beat' and 'Three of a Perfect Pair' by KC. However, this album uses Belew's band 'GaGa' that he had when he recorded his first solo album 'Lone Rhino' plus the inclusion of drummer Larrie Londin, who was in Elvis Presley's band. All of the songs are written by Belew, except for the opening track which is the only cover.

It starts out with 'I'm Down' which is a cover of a B-side originally recorded by The Beatles. Belew uses a similar treatment of the original rock n roll classic, but adds his unique voice and squealing guitar on the instrumental breaks as he approaches an experimental sound. His vocals, towards the end, strive to go over the top. 'I Wonder' puts Belew back into his element with his signature styles and sounds. The beat is straightforward, but the guitar sounds are that quirky, slightly odd playing that helped get his guitar legend status and that works so well with Robert Fripp's own quirkiness.

'Life Without a Cage' is more mellow with a slight funky backbeat. Belew utilizes the brass instruments quite effectively though the album and even allows them to venture into avant-garde territory, but still keeping things barely on the sane side of normalcy. There is a cool instrumental break in the end where brass and guitar play off of each other. 'Sexy Rhino' is a silly short track that seems to lampoon Barry White with interesting effects that tie into his debut album. 'Twang Bar King' ventures into punk-ish territory with crazy instrumental effects.

'Another Time' goes back to a more accessible feel and could have been used as a single as it has a radio friendly feel to it. 'The Rail Song' is Belew's homage to trains and their continuing disappearance. The first minute is all train sounds and effects. Then a mid tempo beat comes in while Belew's guitar echoes the sound of a train before he sings an endearing and emotional lyrics. This is not a groundbreaking song, or even progressive by any means, but it is not necessarily a straightforward song pattern either but the song is definitely heartfelt. 'Paint the Road' is an instrumental that utilizes Belew's MIDI guitar with a breakneck and psychotic pace. There is also a sax that plays a quirky melody as it tries to outdo the crazy pace. This one really shows off Belew's abilities.

'She is Not Dead' is a strange one in that the music is a backward version of 'Hot Sun' from 'Lone Rhino' while Belew sings a different song lamenting the loss of a loved one over the top of it. He matches the melody to the backward melody that is created and it actually works, but just sounds a little odd. But then, Belew's music can be a little odd and that's why we love him. 'Fish Head' is an upbeat song with a catchy feel. There are several other vocalists (Christy Bley and William Janssen, both part of the band) included in this one as it comes across as a story of sorts. 'The Ideal Woman' also includes members of the band, this time talking about what the ideal woman is throughout the song, while Belew sings about her. Except for the nice guitar effects, this one is a weaker track. The last track is 'Ballet for a Blue Whale'. It features whale sound effects underlying differing guitar styles in a pensive and melodic instrumental.

This album, like 'Lone Rhino', show off Belew's versatility and unique guitar styles. In my opinion, he does best when he is not trying so hard to be commercial. There are a few commercial tracks here, but they are also the weakest tracks. When he lets his ingenuity go to work however, he proves that he is an innovative musician. There is enough versatility here that everyone will probably find something they like a lot, but it might be harder to find anyone that will love the entire album. But it does prove that Belew is an amazing musician, and his credentials he has had through his career playing in King Crimson, Frank Zappa's and David Bowie's bands and Talking Heads only prove this. It's a good album with some excellent tracks and some mediocre tracks, but if you loved 'Lone Rhino', you will probably love this one too.

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