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Adrian Belew

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Adrian Belew Desire Caught By The Tail album cover
3.40 | 34 ratings | 6 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tango Zebra (7:30)
2. Laughing Man (5:28)
3. The Gypsy Zurna (3:03)
4. Portrait Of Margaret (4:00)
5. Beach Creatures Dancing Like Cranes (3:28)
6. At The Seaside Cafe (1:50)
7. Guernica (2:00)
8. "Z" (5:40)

Total time 32:59

Line-up / Musicians

- Adrian Belew / guitar, guitar synth, percussion, arranger & producer

Releases information

Artwork: Margaret Belew

LP Island Records ‎- 90551-1 (1986, US)

CD Island Records ‎- 422-842 843-2 (1986, US)
CD Island Records ‎- UICY-9239 (2002, Japan) Remastered (?)

Thanks to Cygnus X-2 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ADRIAN BELEW Desire Caught By The Tail ratings distribution

(34 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ADRIAN BELEW Desire Caught By The Tail reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog-jester
2 stars Belew is Belew!

Nothing completely wrong here - you'll get everything you want and awaited for. Weird sounds (guitar synths), screams and laughter, odd melodies (are there ones?) and rhythmical lines. Take KING CRIMSON circa 81-84 and throw away Fripp - that's it. Nice and unusual music, but certainly not for everyday listenings. I ain't 80s KC-hater but you won't get much from that album. Recommended if you're Belew/KC fan.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This was the Adrian Belew album I was waiting for. Lone Rhino was okay, it had a few songs I liked, but nothing that I loved. Twang Bar King was jut too... normal. There was nothing there to show he earned the crown he proclaimed was his.

But here was the record that showed why so many truly creative artists (Zappa, Eno, Fripp, Laurie Anderson to name a few) were looking to hire Belew's talents. This album is not pop songs. It's not rock. It's a collection of songs, albeit very short even by vinyl record standards at the time, that defies description.

While I presume that most of the sounds came from Belew's guitar synth, very few of the sounds are easily identifiable as coming from a guitar.

I know this barely describes the music itself. But really, this is indescribable music.

Sorry, Ade you lose a star for only have 32 minutes of music here.

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars Sound exactly. Performance that only oneself manipulates method. The concept to the music of Adrian Belew might have a very original, strong part in a variety of guitar players. The music that man who competes and performed with various musicians expresses might be splendidly absorbed by the element with his originality and be expressed though was also the part where some influences were received by competing. And, his music might have influenced other musicians oppositely by the music character.

His original experimental simple element and idea without ending. And, the part of the music that he cultivated becomes a music character that Adrian Belew exactly thinks about and is expressed in this album. He is challenging the composition of the tune in which this album doesn't have the song. And, all almost musical instruments are manipulated and it is performed. It is an experimental part as the impression of the overall from the element of Rock. And, the composition of the tune including the element of ethnical might be offering the listener the area of the width of his music character. Getting rid of from the form coexists with some King Crimson though his Solo before this album had appointed the form of the band. Or, the idea is revolutionized. Or, the part of what should be of the maintenance of the band of Solo that he thinks about will be able to be guessed.

The activity after he has already announced two Solo albums at this time is a well-known fact. And, it is partial for the passage to this album. It gets rid of some markets to it. And, the point that became pursuit of the music that he should do alone. And, it is partial tried for the expression of the self based on the music character to which various elements are taken. These become private parts and are reflected in the tune strongly.

The style of the performance is refined further and is a part with the whole volume musical instruments by which he was about to express this album. It might be able to catch this album as existence of his own orchestra.

Element of various music and experimental part. And, the tune might be expressed with own root and the part of unique though the element of ethnical is given. His Solo album might be multiplied from the first stage to middle term and such an element be consistent to some degree. And, his own methodology is always carried out though the situation and music revolutionize.

The sound and the melody of the guitar of "Tango Zebra" and "Laughing Man" might be really unique. And, the processing of the phrase in "Laughing Man" might have processed the idea of the melody of "The Man In The Moon". Part of ethnical of "The Gypsy Zurna" and "Portrait Of Margaret". And, "Beach Creatures Dancing Like Cranes" will be reminiscent of the flow of some King Crimson.

His music character in the 80's and the direction were time when his root and idea were exactly sent without reserve. It changes into the music refined in the 90 further's.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Sometimes I wonder if we try to measure Adrain Belew up to the levels of the output he had while with King Crimson, when you really look at his career, it was quite variable. He has been involved with many different artists, from Frank Zappa to Talking Heads to Celine Dion to Nine Inch Nails. So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that his solo discography varies so much. Way back to the first of his solo efforts, his first two albums were considered art-pop, somewhat accessible, but with an edge of ingenuity to them, but always with his unique style of guitar and vocals. His third album, however, shows his experimental side.

"Desire Caught By the Tail" is the name of the album and it features only Belew playing all of the instruments. It also takes his avant-garde, experimental guitar work to the extremes, but like his KC partner Robert Fripp, he uses certain albums to show off his unique way of creating effects and textures from electric guitar and guitar synths. Unlike Fripp on his more experimental albums, however, Belew relies more on melodic music to display his experimental side. This is also the album that Belew claims cost him his major label contract, because it was so uncommercial. But, there is no doubt that the man can create some interesting effects, and from the history he has had playing with such instrumental greats, you know he is talented even if you go on his credits alone. I guess that is one of the things that intrigues me about him.

Right off the bat, "Tango Zebra" takes us off into some unique sounding territory, where he can make his guitar sound almost like a violin with a brass undertone. He layers different sounding guitars together, and they create some odd counterpunctual lines. But all the while doing this, he also remains tied to the main theme of the song, basing his counter melodies on that. No doubt, you hear some harsh textures and metallic noises that are appealing, yet can also make you cringe, but that is the texture he is shooting for, and you would definitely find it difficult to locate someone that can create those textures as well as he can. Meanwhile, during his experimental explorations, he can still fit some technically difficult standard playing in there just to prove that he has the talent. But, just listen to this track, and you will be amazed that all of this is done with guitars (except for the percussion). Sure, some of it is created by accessing the manipulating power of the synthesizer, but still, it's pretty amazing.

"Laughing Man" is a bit more accessible as it follows a waltz-style beat and a strong melodic line. But again, just listen to those layers of guitars, creating a band of their own. He can even create an authentic calliope sound while he's at it. The middle of the track loses the beat and meanders around a bit, but you still get interesting sounds there, and you would almost think you are listening to a string quartet, except for the obvious synth sound that accompanies it all. "The Gypsy Zuma" takes on a Romanian style, venturing into a more psychedelic sound. Belew uses his trademark elephant improvisation at times here.

"Portrait of Margaret" has a catchy beat, and a lot of cool effects, but the brassy playing is a bit too harsh for it all to be accessible. If you listen to his more art-pop albums and even the Discipline-era KC albums, you will hear some of the effects and textures that he uses to a more restrained effect, and they are much easier to take in these smaller doses, but an album full of tracks that use these to excess is a bit much. After this, Belew moves into a more meandering mood with some short tracks that sound more like he is just messing around with sounds that rely less on melody and more on texture. The album finishes off with "Z". This is probably the most experimental of all, being more ambient and loose feeling, at least in the first half, but it suddenly catches a beat part way through. Novelty laugh boxes start to sound off and layers of sustained guitars start to drone along to the beat as voices talk and laugh. This all turns a bit chaotic as it goes on.

This is definitely not one for the masses, but it is a bit shallow and harsh even for those that appreciate experimental music. This is its biggest down fall, not so much the experimental side as the sometimes annoying harshness of it all. Still, I like to listen to it once in a while, because even among the hair-raising sounds, it has some interesting and appealing textures. It comes out quite even when all is said and done, the first half being a bit more accessible than the 2nd half, but only because the 1st half seems to be built more around melodic structure while the 2nd half tends to meander around. It's not really what you would call essential because it didn't end up having a lot of influence on music, and it is a bit weak, so its not excellent either, but I can call it good at least.

Latest members reviews

5 stars In my opinion, this is one of the best experimental guitar albums ever recorded and Belew's double threat voice and guitar make him one of the most talented artists out there. I believe this is his all time masterpiece and anybody with a serious interest in experimental guitar needs to dig in d ... (read more)

Report this review (#2022301) | Posted by WFV | Wednesday, September 5, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a very fine collection. Adrian Belew has a great voice, refreshing vocal style, and excellent lyrical sense; however, here he has chosen to put together instrumental pieces. They are really good. These are much more experimental and significantly different than his other offerings. So ... (read more)

Report this review (#118326) | Posted by convocation | Friday, April 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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