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Adrian Belew

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Adrian Belew Side One album cover
3.48 | 59 ratings | 7 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ampersand (4:23)
2. Writing On The Wall (3:53)
3. Matchless Man (2:32)
4. Madness (6:54)
5. Walk Around The World (4:58)
6. Beat Box Guitar (5:08)
7. Under The Radar (1:39)
8. Elephants (2:15)
9. Pause (1:20)

Total Time 33:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Adrian Belew / vocals and instruments, producer

- Les Claypool / bass guitar (1-3)
- Danny Carey / drums (1,2), tabla (3)
- Peter Hyrka / violin (4,9)
- Gary Tussing / cello (4)
- Ian Wallace / voice of BBC

Releases information

Artwork: Adrian Belew

CD Sanctuary Records ‎- 06076-84738-2R (2004, US)

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Sanctuary Records 2008
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ADRIAN BELEW Side One ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ADRIAN BELEW Side One reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a way to come back from a 6 year break is what this album is. Adrian Belew decided this time to come out with a three part concept titled "Side One", "Side Two", and "Side Three". Side One was released in early 2005, Side Two was released in early July of 2005, and Side Three will be released later this year. Anyway, back to the review. At Belew's side for the first three or four songs are two excellent musicians, Danny Carey (Tool) on drums and tabla, and Les Claypool (Primus) on the bass guitar. Combine those with the off the wall guitar stylings of Belew and you got yourself a supergroup.

From the opening track of this album, you get the picture that one thing is clear, that you're going on a wild ride. Ampersand enters with a buzzing saw noise, and quickly becomes the main riff for the song. When Claypool and Carey kick in, the instrumental intro begins. With a very catchy chorus, and some very noodly guitar work, this is among the best songs on the album. Writing on the Wall is a one lyric song that gets slightly repetetive, but is none the less fun to listen to. Matchless Man feels like a slightly acoustic affair at the beginning, but it evolves within the 2:30 minute mainframe. Madness is a wicked instrumental of Krimson proportions. This is where Belew's work from them becomes utterly clear and it is one of the better songs on the album. Now, the rest of the album is up to par with the first one is intensity, it's just that I don't listen to it that much. The good songs from that selection are Beat Box guitar and Elephants. Elephants features a distorted vocal line from Belew and some earthly sound effects in the background.

Overall, this release is among the best of Belew's repetoir. The follow up, Side Two, is even better, however. This is a solid starter (especially with the Supergroup), and so I give it a 4/5.

Review by TheProgtologist
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is Adrian Belew's first solo album since 1996's Op Zop Too Wah.The album is a little over 33 minutes long and features Danny Carey(Tool)on drums and Les Claypool(Primus) on bass for the first 3 tracks and not surprisingly they are the best tracks on the album.This is the first of three planned solo albums,the next being Side 2 and Side 3.Says Belew of this album,"There are 3 different attitudes that I've recently discovered in my writing,and this album is a representation of the first one.Side One deals with the concept of the " power trio" and writing in that headspace.As the guitar player in that equation,you're only as good as you're rhythm section,and I can't imagine a better rhythm section in a power trio than Danny Carey and Les Claypool".And I very much agree.The songs with the Belew,Carey,Claypool line-up fuses propulsive percussion with an array of rubbery bass patterns and variegated guitar grooves.The rest of songs feature mainly Belew on all instruments and he combines various electronic-based treatments with wily guitar licks,generally executed atop booming rhythmic patterns.A very good solo effort,my only complaint was the length,33 minutes is too short after such a long wait.4 stars
Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Belew lives up to his reputation and delivers an acrobatic mix of mad-capped guitar stylings, rock melodies, experimental textures and very weird lyrics in an all-around solid package. His playing easily matches his finest moments in King Crimson, and the dynamic guest-rhythm section frames his sound in an entirely fresh way, making for some very cool instrumental passages. Fans of Tool's Danny Carey will enjoy hearing the outstanding drummer in new setting. Belew's singing is still a little hit-and-miss, but this is more often than not good throughout. A necessary purchase for fans of Belew (obviously), but also for those seeking some eclectic and electric guitar.

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 4 Lyrics/Vocals 3 Style/Emotion/Replay 3

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars One sided

Inevitably, since Belew has been such a long time stalwart of King Crimson, his solo work can often reflect the music of that band. This album is the first of a trio of connected albums (no prizes for guessing the titles of the other two) released in 2005 after a lengthy break from solo work.

Overall, there is a looseness to the music here, which is rooted in the improvisation and jazz of later KC albums. Repetition is used as a regular tool, especially vocally, with piercing lead guitar and crashing drums. Occasionally, we find a more subdued style, such as on "Matchless man", but even here, the vocal repetition is rather overused.

The instrumental "Madness" harks back to an earlier King Crimson period, with monotonous muddled sounds and an almost complete absence of defined melody.

Overall, I cannot help but feel the music here is rather one dimensional. It relies too much on repeating simple phrases and patterns to compensate for a shortage of genuinely interesting material. Those who appreciate the later works of King Crimson should be reasonably impressed with this release, but others should approach with caution.

Review by Wicket
4 stars King Crimson meets The Mars Volta.

It's a pretty simple combination, really. You take Belew's experience from King Crimson's 80's days with electronic beats, soundscapes and good lyrical composition with the frantic panic of TMV's angst-filled prog punk. It makes perfect sense when you hear it.

Take "Ampersand". You can already hear TMV influences from the massive feedback intro to the breakbeat drumming that accompanies the steady chords, yet Belew manages to make it a good listen by providing us with wonderful harmonies and great compositional skills. Now, it's probably not a catchy chorus that you'll be singing all day in your office cuticle, but it can easily get stuck in your head as a simple head bobber, until the very end, where the frantic drumming and loud guitar screams are completely evidence of TMV's influence on this particular record. I, as a drummer, could not even fathom how exhausted Danney Carey must've been once that song was over.

"Writing On The Wall" almost starts in a similar TMV fashion, but the bass is more evident, almost like Les Claypool from Primus infamy is slapping the bass on here (oh wait, he is!). That obviously contributes to the more funky side of this particular track, but the particular drum patterns here emphasize the hi-hat to extreme use, while Belew continues to showcase his fuzzbox-ish guitar sounds, but the similar playing of TMV's Omar Rodriguez- Lopez keeps coming to mind on this track. More similarites? Maybe.

"Matchless Man" is an absolutely wonderful piece. I remember finding this disc 4 years ago, listened to it for a good year, then sort of fell to the wayside, but once I picked it back up again, it was love at first listen...again. The opening chords sends chills down the spine as Carey shows off again, this time with the infamous Indian tablas. This is also where Belew's King Crimson days kick in, where the songwriting of those "popular" tracks kicks in. More than that, though, it almost seems his voice is absolutely perfect for the mood created in this track, almost a hypnotic, intoxicating environment, also evidenced by the addition of Gary Lee Tussing's cello.

"Madness" has a creepy intro similar to TMV's creepy outros. Even the atonal chords from Belew's guitar resemble TMV's...atonal...chords. Little bit of resemblence? Maybe, but Claypool seems to attempt a funky rescue mission that ends in vain. If you focus on Belew, the song really goes nowhere (so it seems), but if you focus on Claypool, you can pick up a funky melody (a trait he does so well in Primus, even though I personally don't like that band). Of course, that pretty much goes on like that for the rest of the track.

Quick interruption from the review; Out of the three "Side" albums Belew has recorded, "One" is obviously my favorite. I personally love King Crimson and TMV, so this a perfect mix of prog and accessibility thanks to Belew's experience with King Crimson's 80's records which tended to appeal to radio listeners more than prog fanatics. "Two" is a comparitively heavier release with even more electronic influence, almost like a Nine Inch Nails record, while "Three" is almost a combination of both "One" and "Two". Obviously the experimentation is there from "Two" ("The Red Bull...", "Cinemusic", "Incompetence Indifference"), and the funk is still there ("Troubles", "Whatever") along with the atmospheric tunes ("Drive", "Water Turns To Wine") and a potential Coldplay killer? (Men In Helicopters V 4.0)

However, it continues to be the diversity of tracks on "One" that, while they are a bit experimental, the melodies are still there and they keep get me coming back to these tracks. "Walk Around The World" is no exception. The 2 second intro is a bit TMV-ish, but the funk comes back, the beat is ever prevelant, and hell, sometimes I just get up and dance to the beat! No, it's not a club beat, but it gets you moving. Yet you can hear it easily; the experimentation mixing with melody, catchy verses/chorus as well as Belew's easily accessible voice. "Beat Box Guitar" is another good beat (perhaps evidenced by the name). It's not necessarily a fast beat, but it's another funky beat that can get you moving around, and while these tracks are pretty easily listenable (in my opinion), it's the few tracks after that may get a bit complicated.

"Under The Radar" sort of begins where "Beat Box Guitar" ends, and it's a sharp contrast from the former, as it's a mostly acoustic guitar-laden track with atmospheric sounds and Belew's voice, once again, bathing the air with solace and serenity. It seems to be a good track to just soak in a spa, until the weird car honking-esque noises piss you off. "Elephants" starts off with some BBC broadcast, then goes into a seven beat chord progression and Belew's hardcore heavy guitar playing (more Buckethead-esque if you ask me) behind what sounds like a jet engine starting up along with some weird guy talking in the background about elephants getting exterminated and eradicated or something like that. And of course, such disc ends with "Pause" starting off with the sound of burning fire, taiko drums, weird clicking noises, somber cello and of course, the sound of death itself (that omnious sound that reminds you of a dark howling wind, except you know something bad is going to happen, like what happens in horror movies; nothing good happens in horror movies).

In all, King Crimson fans of all shapes and sizes should give this disc a listen (along with "Op Zop Too Wah" and "Side Three"). This disc pretty much gives you that "radio-listening" ability 80's King Crimson discs (80's records period) provided along with experimentation of King Crimson old and of course, Belew's guitar playing himself. There's really nothing here that should catch any long-time fans off guard, so any good fan of eclectic prog will be delighted with a purchase of this disc.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This solid album by the second longest member of the legendary Crimson is on the more normal side of experimental. About half of the album is interesting, electric rockers. The other half is full of cool musical experiments. The former (Ampersand, Writing on the Wall, Walk Around the World, Beat ... (read more)

Report this review (#119187) | Posted by Shakespeare | Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Warning, if you don't like modern or discipline era Crimson, you won't like this. I love this CD, probably the best cd of the year. Belew is backed by Danny Carey on drums and Les Claypool on bass. Every track has thought put behind it and every track is essential. Short songs for co-front man ... (read more)

Report this review (#68352) | Posted by Slntpsych1 | Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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