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MIKE KENEALLY

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Mike Keneally biography
Mike Keneally was born in 1961 in Long Island, New York. Influenced by THE BEATLES and FRANK ZAPPA, he learned to play the guitar and keyboards throughout the 70's, moved to San Diego and played in several local bands, the most important of them being DROP CONTROL, which was formed in 1985. In 1987 he joined FRANK ZAPPA on stage for his 1988 tour as the new "stunt guitarist", replacing STEVE VAI.

Since the early 90's Keneally participated in many projects and bands. He also began writing solo albums in 1992, but simultaneously he formed a permanent band called MIKE KENEALLY & BEER FOR DOLPHINS and toured with DWEEZIL ZAPPA, SHANKAR, STEVE VAI, ROBERT FRIPP, JAMES LA BRIE/MULLMUZZLER and some others as guitarist and keyboardist. He also teamed up with NICK D'VIRGILIO to back up KEVIN GILBERT with his concept album "The Shaming of the True", and in 2004 founded his a band aptly named "MIKE KENEALLY BAND" with NICK D'VIRGILIO, RICK MUSALLAM and BRYAN BELLER.



Why this band must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
His early solo work is heavily influenced by Zappa, but he developed his own unique style of Jazz-Fusion. Jazz plays a minor role here, most of his music is free form on a high musical level. Let me quote Robert Fripp, commenting on his performances with Keneally: "Mike Keneally was able to solo over [Soundscapes] in a way I have never been able to achieve for myself . he gave me answers to questions I had felt for myself, but never had the courage or capacity to find an answer".

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Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs written by Mike Keneally & Andy PartridgeWing Beat Fantastic: Songs written by Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge
Exowax Recordings 2012
Audio CD$16.59
$15.25 (used)
hat. (Expanded and Remastered)hat. (Expanded and Remastered)
Exowax Recordings 2007
Audio CD$14.39
$14.38 (used)
You Must Be This TallYou Must Be This Tall
Import
Exowax Recordings 2013
Audio CD$16.38
$12.50 (used)
Evidence of HumanityEvidence of Humanity
Dual Disc
Exowax Recordings 2010
Audio CD$19.67
$35.56 (used)
Wing Beat Elastic: Remixes, Demos & Unheard MusicWing Beat Elastic: Remixes, Demos & Unheard Music
Exowax Recordings 2013
Audio CD$16.67
$16.84 (used)
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MIKE KENEALLY discography


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MIKE KENEALLY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.29 | 22 ratings
Hat.
1992
4.34 | 18 ratings
Boil That Dust Speck
1994
4.00 | 14 ratings
Sluggo!
1997
4.00 | 8 ratings
Nonkertompf
1999
3.98 | 16 ratings
Dancing
2000
4.03 | 11 ratings
Wooden Smoke
2002
3.97 | 20 ratings
Dog
2004
4.65 | 18 ratings
The Universe Will Provide
2004
3.00 | 4 ratings
Vai Piano Reductions Vol. 1
2004
4.51 | 24 ratings
Scambot 1
2009
3.81 | 26 ratings
Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge
2012
3.72 | 9 ratings
You Must Be This Tall
2013

MIKE KENEALLY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 5 ratings
Half Alive In Hollywood
1996
3.17 | 5 ratings
Guitar Therapy Live
2006

MIKE KENEALLY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MIKE KENEALLY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 2 ratings
The Tar Tapes, Vol. 1
1997
3.10 | 2 ratings
The Tar Tapes, Vol. 2
1998
4.40 | 5 ratings
Wine and Pickles
2008
3.00 | 2 ratings
Wing Beat Elastic: Remixes, Demos & Unheard Music
2013

MIKE KENEALLY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.14 | 3 ratings
Pup
2004

MIKE KENEALLY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Universe Will Provide by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.65 | 18 ratings

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The Universe Will Provide
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Suedevanshoe

5 stars I had a plan for this one. I ordered it a week after it came out, and I listened to it for a day or two. Not being familiar with many records recorded with symphony orchestras, I wanted to get a feel for the sound of Keneally with the Metropole Orkest before I did research on how other acts sounded backed by an full size orchestra.

The reviews I read prior to listening to the Universe Will Provide were uniformly excellent. Perhaps glowing is a more appropriate term. The word "masterpiece" was thrown around liberally. Whenever I hear that, I'm skeptical because usually my tastes are disappointed. I liked Keneally's previous works, but not to the point I'm insane about him as I am FZ. Therefore, I followed through on my plan - give it casual listening over a lengthy period, get more experience with famous acts working with large orchestras, then dive in. I was not disappointed in the least.

Exciting and creative from cover to cover, The Universe Will Provide should be required listening for anyone interested in the synthesis of rock music with a symphonic and brass orchestra. Tasteful, elegant, succinct, immediate, graceful - there's a glutton of positive adjective I can use to describe my experience with this record. Some parts are loud and busy, some parts soft and reflective. The range of instruments gives the selections THE DYNAMIC many progressive rock bands seek their entire career without attaining - TRUE symphonic rock. Keneally may be Avant in his approach, but he's a genuine rock and roller in the same spirit as Frank Zappa. This jam session is one for the record books and all inclined parties should give it a spin. John Scofield has a very good record out with the Metropole Orkest as well. Count me as a fan.

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 You Must Be This Tall by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.72 | 9 ratings

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You Must Be This Tall
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Megaphone of Destiny

4 stars First things first: Mike Keneally doesn't know how to make bad music. Second things not important: HE'S one of the finest progrockers of this century for sure. His work is always provocative, timeless, engaging, puzzling, inovative, distinct, if there's anyone with a distinct ecletic voice that marvels on the endless possibilities of music, with all the intricate interplaying, beautiful melodies and gorgeous harmonies, the odd rhythms and surprises, the beautiful guitar playing, the unpredictability of the compositions, if there's a true descendent of dupree's paradise depths, if there's something really alive going on the music of this south side of the world, if there's life pumping on each lost chord, on each chord change, on each rhythm, if there's melodic invention and expressive clarity, then, i always recall Mike Keneally's world. It is not an easy ride, though. Mike's music asks for attention, asks for definitive hearing, while hoping to surprise us with humor and lyricism. After "Wing Beat Fantastic" i was expecting a second movement for Scambot story, but instead, Mike threw us "You Must Be This Tall". Mike says he was not writing this album, it came to him. And to me, that is the whole point. Mike can always find a way to give us what is his best at all times. It doesn't matter that the album process "is going on", or is "unthought of" what is interesting is that the careful and inspired compositions are maturating in his brain vaults until the right time. That's what we feel when such a beautiful song like "You Must Be This Tall" opens the record. We feel the careful layering, the erratic pace that turns into clear intention, the beautiful guitar solo, the wayne shorter like atmospheres in an amazing composition. Then "Cavanaugh", which is stranger. Keneally dives us all into forgotten realms or simply not yet discovered. The "cavanaugh" riff sinks on us like sand. Plum is a sad little interlude with enough gentle giant questions. Eat them. "Cornbread Crum" starts with a nice beat, Bryan Beller's bass moves us, the guitar solo melts into an intricate melody doubled by piano, voices fly in, the beat moves on. The atmosphere is relaxed but the angular melodies probe something on us - it is as if Mike is playing hide and seek, or giving us only hints of what he wants to say. It is a precise yet calm precision, a re-working of silence. We hear the solo, but it doesn't sound like a solo. It is poetry, it has a dreamlike quality to it. "Kidzapunk" wants to be a punk track, but the kind of track jello biafra would write if he played marimbas. Starts with an almost african rhtythm an prossegues to give us an intricate flowing of melodies and obsessive rhythmic ostinatos, the whole song revolves around the direct punk beat of drums played by Mike Keneally(!) Like that! Pitch Pipe reaches deep in our attention. A huge melodic idea played by bass, guitar, drums and organ with an astounding grandeur. In slow tempo voices move in until the descending bass towards the end... "The Rider" is simply beautiful. Gorgeous harmonic flow, amazing singing and melody. Mike is always such a sensitive musician, his music is not for all, i agree, but what a joy it is to hear these melodies growing in your head and heart. Those who don't like. Well, they're missing the ride to an amazing lyrical world - the poetry of a bending string. "B(rian En)olarius". - 0:43 "Popes" is a strange little tune, with a strange little melody and strange little coda. The rhythm is catchy, the acoustic guitar is perfectly played. Where are we? Andy Partridge features on "Indicator", an almost imperceptible song. An ad? "5th Street" confirms the idea that the record is falling into pieces. As if breaking apart. Different directions appear. Several are rejected. We end with minimal touch. Until - With "Glop" we have a glimpse of Scambot's way. The layered composition based on guitar improvisations(?) the absence of beat reminds us we're on the other side of the record that started so definitive with "You Must Be This Tall", it is an almost tour de force for us listeners. Mike doesn't give us clues, doesn't give us a paperwall background music, - is he reallly playing drums on this track? Wow! The record ends with an ironic move, in a nice latin beat, promising us more music and exploring. 4,4 stars! Later that night...

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 Scambot 1 by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.51 | 24 ratings

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Scambot 1
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

5 stars It's really something of a shame that Mike Keneally is so obscure at ProgArchives. For a site where so many people complain that modern prog rock is "not progressive enough", it makes me wonder why this wonderfully unique artist has less than two dozen reviews for each of his albums.

Gaining notice in 1988 as Frank Zappa's "stunt guitarist" on his final tour (a seat once filled by Adrian Belew and Steve Vai, to give you an idea of what that takes), Keneally, who grew up as a fan of classic prog rock, soon began releasing compact disks of his own material, beginning with the masterpieces "Hat" and "Boil That Dust Speck". Settling down a bit after that, his albums became more of a mix of his off-beat avant-prog and slightly more traditional pop tunes. Recent years have seen him branching out with acoustic, orchestral, and piano-heavy albums.

But here, Keneally went full prog. Released as a concept album, Scambot tells, in Keneally's extremely odd and somewhat incomprehensible style, the story of a strange creature, the Serial Consciousness Agent (Military Division) Bringer Of Truth. The liner notes give you the story, and I have to admit, I find them barely relevant to the music on the disk. But the story is hilarious.

Musically, this may be Keneally's finest work, using his anything goes style to create a wonder of off-the-wall pieces. While I love his own style, I have to applaud his use of Frank Zappa's style and phrasing in the piece, Chee, with tuned percussion and a blaring horn section that must be an homage to his former mentor.

The album keeps up all the way to the end, where Keneally chooses to bring things to a peaceful conclusion with a mostly acoustic track. A wonderful end to this great album.

My copy is the deluxe edition, that comes with another disk, "Songs and Stories Inspired by Scambot 1". This is a disk of alternate takes, experiments and songs not included on the Scambot 1 disk. While many times when listening to bonus disks included with an album, it is easy to understand why the tracks were left off of the final album, here we get more high quality work that just didn't fit on the single disk.

Easily a five star album.

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 Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 26 ratings

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Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Ajay

3 stars Transatlantic (the Neal Morse band) is the nearest comparison I can think of for Wing Beat Fantastic: low-to-moderately energetic songs, mainly guitar-based but with some low-key piano and sufficient harmonic and rhythmic surprises to keep the attentive listener interested. The inattentive listener will find a smooth, pleasant background for their party, housework, etc.

This album is my introduction to Mike Keneally, so I come to this review with but one preconception: my sister texted me from her local record shop with, "They played something that sounded kind of folky and proggy, so I got a copy for you, and one for myself." (I love my sister. Music industry accountants love her too.)

Andy Partridge I remember from XTC in the early-'80s. I've not heard any of his work since then, but I heard that XTC went pastoral. Since there's no lack of pastoral moments on Wing Beat Fantastic, I can putatively attribute those to Mr Partridge's influence.

The album flows well, with short instrumental segues between songs - with one notable exception. Both times I've played this CD, I've been in the flow of the music and then - silence. Both times i looked up to find the CD had finished playing. There's no gesture to close the album. It simply stops. it jars me out of the comfortable mood into which it lulled me.

It's a pleasant listen, and a couple of orders of magnitude more interesting than anything at the top of the commercial charts. It doesn't interest me enough, though, to plow through the accompanying booklet with its brown-on-brown, small-print credits to find out who did what with what. I'll play it again for background music when I have visitors or when I'm pottering around the house, but not for active listening.

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 Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 26 ratings

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Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by cemego

5 stars I can't believe how unpredictably talented Mike Keneally truly is. There is no music this man cannot beautify, and, in this case, extend to galactic proportions. If you are even remotely a fan of XTC, Andy Partridge, the Beatles or Mike Keneally, this album can be the happiest musical INFECTION you have had in years.

Moments in this album, I am thinking, "this is the XTC album I was waiting for...", then you start thinking, "this is XTC 2.0", followed by "my God, Mike Keneally loves XTC more than I do... is that possible?". You have to double check the credits to make sure Colin Moulding isn't singing in the background. The way Mike has recreated the XTC harmony/production values are incredible. A couple of times you think you are listening to the guitar and singing of Andy Partridge (he is responsible for the co-writing and a few drum loops-which, needless to say, are exquisite).

OF IMPORTANT NOTE! This album will NOT sink in with one listen. This is the most important part about listening to ANY Mike Keneally venture (except maybe "Dog"). The first reaction is that the first half of the album is the best and only part, HOWEVER a real serious uninterrupted focused listen to the latter half of the album reveals something so deep and lyrical it becomes more infectious than the first half. The second half of the album is like a musical dreamscape washed in a haze of atmosphere with hidden complex melodies that stick like glue.

In my opinion, this album makes up for the slightly spotty nature of Scambot 1. If that album left you a little cold, this one will make you fall in love with Keneally all over again.

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 Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 26 ratings

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Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs Written By Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Megaphone of Destiny

4 stars After Scambot 1, which revealed us a record where composition was mainly an extension of improvisations, Mike Keneally offers, this time, an album of what we usually understand as songs. We know in advance that this record is a collaboration with Andy Partridge, one that was schedule since 1988, back in the days of Frank Zappa's last tour. We can understand the fascination that XTC could have had on Mike's taste and more so the opportunity to work on that vein. Knowing the subsequent output of Mike's career, we sense that XTC melodic sensitivity is somewhat sprinkled across almost all of the albuns that Mike recorded, along with the snippets of prog-rock ranging from Gentle Giant and Frank Zappa to Soft Machine, or John Scofield's jazz-rock albuns or Radiohead's vocal work. Although we can somehow identify all this references, what is extraordinary and makes him one of the most original voices in music today (not only in rock, i would say) is the ability of Mike Keneally to transform all the music that he touches into something really important and profound. It is as if all music is instantly filtered and put into a universe where nothing is casual, where all vocals and guitars are carefully layered, and compositions are rarely what they appear at first audition. Just like what we normally expect from a true artist and not only a musician. Mike surely learnt surprise and eyebrows with Frank Zappa even if he is more and more sounding in the antipodes of the latter. Wing Beat Fantastic, the album, opens with one of the three instrumentals that Mike placed across the record and serve as chambers to the "actual" songs, but also as if he wanted to give us a hint at the relaxed and intimate atmospheres of "Wooden Smoke" - his "acoustic" record. Once established this sort of low profile, Mike can carry on to his main goal - the songs he crafted with Andy. "It's Raining Here Inside" is the more straight forward song of the record but already gives us an "inside" of things - a place where rain creeps in, a paradox that will be developed later. Exactly like in "Hallmark" from the last album, the song is simple, with an unusual choice of chords, the sort of thing that would never happen in a conventional pop musician, Mike gives us a beautifully played guitar and solo, with a nice arrangement of voices in the last verse that remembers of the lush harmonies that could come out of a XTC album. When we arrive at "Wing Beat Fantastic" we begin to enter in the paradox. A simple fantastic beat is dressed with a beautiful melody. Voices and guitars (acoustic and electric) weave a fabric with nice contrasts, it is an absolutely marvelous piece. One of my favorites. The main melody can put you singing all day. Segue the second instrumental, the second part of "The Ineffable Oomph of Everything". This one is shorter and shows us again his excellent playing. "You Kill Me" starts with a sort of Gentle Giant melody that will be re-enacted throughout the song with a Zappaesque sensitivity. The record develops now a more extrovert side. The music is still relaxed but the lyrics are more political and it is here that i find that Mike could have been more radical and go deeper, mainly in terms of interaction of the players. I miss Brian Beller's interactions and dynamics. "Friend of a Friend" is once again an instrumental that opens us the phase III of the record. It starts with "That's Why I Have No Name". A strange melody that extends the inside/outside lyrical dynamic. The musical adventure on this one seems to border Radiohead's open atmospheres, or is it Robert Wyatt's ambiguous universe creeping? "Your House" is simply beautiful. The more i hear the more i fall in love with the song. Once again, the in/out paradox is stated, but this time the song and melody is emptied out of any ambiguity, in line with the unequivocal "your house" repeated on the lyrics. The line "I've got the number from a friend of a friend of a friend" is simply gorgeous musically and lyrically. The voices perfectly recorded, the harmonies are built slowly and carefully. Somehow, i feel the same placid intensity of some Hammill records: "silent corner and empty stage" or "chameleon in the shadow of the night", even if the voice couldn't be more different. Phase III continues with "Miracle Woman and Man" - the paradox widens and becomes more complex. The man and woman theme mirrors the strange arrangement that seems to glide from genre to genre as if it was someone dressing and undressing strange clothes, unsure of his sexual inclination. (Sorry about this one MIke!) "Inglow" is and extended instrumental with Mike playing tablas beautifully. It is here that we get to feel the "Wooden Smoke" atmosphere that was presented to us on those initial tokens. Like "Your House", the ambiguity vanishes and we get a sense of the INside - as the title indicates. On "Bobeau" I have the same feeling as with "You Kill Me" in terms of dynamic. I miss Brian Beller's dynamics and interaction. Minneman's beautiful playing is sort of alone on the different, gorgeous an complex parts of the song. Think I will wait for the Live version on this one, but then i will miss the beautiful arrangement of the trombones. I think we can't have the cake and eat it too. As if to reinforce this feeling, Mike finishes the song with an inspired and (unfortunately) bobbing in and out of water short guitar solo. "Land" is simply amazing. Guitars and voices entwine as if the paradox could be resolved finally in this land. But i think we dare not say or think so. Mike will take us to a new voyage soon. All this said, I give this one a 4 star. It is a beautiful record, but i miss the interaction a bit and the lack of improvised stuff that Keneally normally gives us. Otherwise it is simply gorgeous in composition, arrangement and playing.

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 Scambot 1 by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.51 | 24 ratings

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Scambot 1
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by found

4 stars Dense, dynamic and diverse is Mike Keneally's 'Scambot 1.' The usual high standard of recording quality frames rhythmic, subtle fireworks that detonate in combination with melodic color and texture changes. Different instruments cue up unexpectedly, with beauty in the timing of their arrival: The entrance of the guitar during the drum solo on 'The Quiet Children' is just one example. 'Gita' is an instrumental that exemplifies all of the above. The scope of the singing is broad in style and range, with some keen harmonies. The actual compact disc resembles a relic from Angkor Wat, and is accompanied by a 20- page booklet relating the story of Ian McPlant (a.k.a. Scambot) in tandem with lyrics and individual song credits. The plot of this narrative is propelled by evil industrialist Boleous T. Ophunji's "passion to manipulate and control mass consciousness," and Scambot's hapless place as an unsuspecting victim. Chase scenes, dream sequences, betrayal and free drinks are elements of the tale. 'Scambot 1' is "dedicated to anyone who still listens to entire albums with their headphones on." Repeated listens with the volume up support this dedication/recommendation. I give it 4 stars.

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 Wooden Smoke by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.03 | 11 ratings

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Wooden Smoke
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars An album of lighter, mostly acoustic music from Mike Keneally? It sounds boring, doesn't it? Wrong!

This album is as good as any (mostly) acoustic I've heard. Keneally has a way of making just about any type of music echo his zany sense of humor, and Zappa-like sense of composition. It's a perfect album for listening to out on the back porch on a lazy summer night. Or just about any time for that matter.

If you can find a copy, look for the special edition version of the CD (unfortunately, it's not available at Keneally's web site these days). It has eighteen more track of Keneallified acousticment, all in a similar style of the standard version.

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 Sluggo! by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Sluggo!
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars Mike Keneally's third album is a step down from his first two albums. The music is still remarkable, and often reminiscent of the great Frank Zappa, but what is missing is that feeling of inspired insanity that permeated Hat and Boil That Dust Speck. That doesn't make it a bad album. It is still a Mike Keneally album, and therefore full of astounding music.

The first part of the album starts out schizophrenically, alternating between inventive guitar driven rock, Potato (a very funny song), Why Am I Your Guy? and Frozen Beef (Come With Me, and more off-the-wall Zappa-like songs, the great I, Drum Running, Am Clapboard Bound and Looking For Nina. The album then settles into a smoother set of songs, the quirky but fun Tranquillado, a strangely compelling Chatfield Manor (sort of giving directions to Keneally's friend's house, all the way to the best song on the album, the gloriously RIO Egg Zooming.

Strangely enough, the worst song on the album (but not really terrible, just out of place) is the final track, the title piece, Sluggo, a honky tonk piano solo. If you think ELP's honky tonk didn't fit their albums, you ain't heard nothin' yet.

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 Nonkertompf by KENEALLY, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.00 | 8 ratings

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Nonkertompf
Mike Keneally RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars Mike Keneally's fourth studio album is a true solo album. Keneally was responsible for every sound on the album. And what an album it is. Sporting thirty five tracks of instrumental brilliance, this album is the most RIO of any of Keneally's work.

The songs are mostly short pieces, based on ideas and experiments invented by Keneally and his producer, Scott Chatfield. Some of the music comes from Keneally's work on soundtracks for Court TV shows.

Musically, this is Keneally's most Zappa-like work. His compositional style shows a heavy influence from Frank's orchestral and instrumental works, while also giving way to Keneally's own whimsical style. Fan's of FZ should not miss this album.

My copy has the Nonkertalk bonus disk, where Keneally and Chatfield talk, track by track, about what this album is about, and how many of the songs were made.

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Thanks to MikeEnRegalia for the artist addition.

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