Today at Aetix an American musician, songwriter and record producer. A multi-instrumentalist primarily known as a guitarist, Belew is perhaps best known for his work as a member of the progressive rock group King Crimson (which he fronted from 1981 to 2009) and for his unusual, impressionistic approach to guitar playing which frequently involves sounds more akin to animals and machines than to standard instrumental tones. He is widely considered to be a master of the tremolo arm (whammy bar), something which he humorously referred to in his song "Twang Bar King" (which itself features a particularly demented whammy-bar solo). Widely recognized as an "incredibly versatile player", Belew has released nearly twenty solo albums for Island Records and Atlantic Records which blend Beatles-inspired pop-rock with more experimental fare. . .....N'Joy
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Although Adrian Belew has played with some of rock's biggest names over the years (Frank Zappa, David Bowie, the Talking Heads, King Crimson, etc.), he remains one of the most underrated and woefully overlooked guitarists of recent times. Like all great guitarists, Belew has his own recognizable style/sound (one that admittedly tends to be quirky and off-the-wall at times), and is an incredibly versatile player, as he's always found a way to make his signature style fit into a wide variety of musical genres: hard rock, funk, new wave, experimental, Beatlesque pop, and more. Born Robert Steven Belew on December 23, 1949, in Covington, KY, Belew's first instrument of interest was the drums, as he soon kept the backbeat in his high school's marching band. But not long after his discovery of the Beatles, Belew picked up the guitar, teaching himself how to play and to write original songs.
Spending the remainder of the '60s and early '70s honing his skills, Belew opted to change his first name to Adrian in 1975 (for the simple reason that it was a name he'd always admired), as he joined a Nashville, TN-based cover band, Sweetheart, the same year. The group performed in '40s-era suits and became a popular local attraction -- resulting in Frank Zappa checking out a show in 1977. With an opening for a guitarist in his touring band, Zappa invited Belew on the spot to come and audition for his band, which Belew eventually landed. It was during Zappa's lengthy 1978 U.S. tour (documented in the concert movie Baby Snakes) that David Bowie came to see a performance, which resulted in Belew being invited to join Bowie's touring band when the Zappa tour wrapped up. Once more, Belew accepted, touring the world alongside Bowie and appearing on his 1978 live recording, Stage, and 1979 studio effort, Lodger.
Once more, just as Belew's latest gig was about to wind down, he received an offer he couldn't refuse from another artist. Through guitarist Robert Fripp, Belew met renowned producer Brian Eno, who in turn introduced the guitarist to the Talking Heads, who were in the middle of recording their classic 1980 release Remain in Light. Belew was invited to lay down guitar for the songs, which led to his participation on the album's supporting tour (which a portion of the live compilation The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads showcased). Belew also contributed to the Talking Heads' offshoot project, the Tom Tom Club, appearing on their self-titled 1981 debut album, as well as their hit single "Genius of Love" (although he wasn't given a songwriting credit originally, it became known years later that Belew helped co-pen the tune with the others). It was during The Tom Tom Club recording sessions (in the Bahamas) that Belew also began work on his first solo album, issued in 1982 as Lone Rhino.
Predictably, it wasn't long before Belew was offered his next gig, this time with a newly reconstructed King Crimson. Belew, who handled lead vocal duties in addition to guitar, was joined by Crimson vets Robert Fripp (guitar) and Bill Bruford (drums), in addition to session ace Tony Levin (bass). With the group eschewing their previous prog rock leanings in favor of a more "modern" sound (akin to the Talking Heads), the '80s version of Crimson issued three outstanding albums: 1981's Discipline, 1982's Beat, and 1984's Three of a Perfect Pair (during which time Belew found the time to issue a second solo release, 1983's Twang Bar King). With Crimson on hiatus once more by the mid-'80s, Belew focused on further solo work (1986's Desire Caught by the Tail, 1989's Mr. Music Head), session work (most notably, Paul Simon's mega-hit Graceland), and also served as a member/producer of a new group, the Bears (1987's The Bears and 1988's Rise and Shine).
The '90s continued to see Belew keep a busy schedule, as he hooked up once more with his old pal David Bowie, who named the guitarist musical director for his massive 1990 Sound and Vision tour. Also during the decade, Belew issued several more solo releases (including 1990's Young Lions, 1992's Inner Revolution, 1994's Here, and 1996's Op Zop Too Wah, the latter two of which Belew played all the instruments), in addition to guesting on other artist's recordings (Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral and The Fragile), and producing others (Jars of Clay). After a near-ten-year hiatus, King Crimson reunited, resulting in the 1995 album THRAK and supporting tour. Belew has shown little signs of slowing down in the 21st century, as he continued to tour and record with Crimson (2000's ConstruKction of Light, 2003's The Power to Believe), issued a third recording with the Bears (2001's Car Caught Fire), and is hard at work on compiling an extensive box set of rarities from throughout his career, to be titled Dust. 2004 saw rehearsals with the newest King Crimson lineup, additional recordings by the Bears and the completion of 3 (!) solo albums to be released in 2005. The first and third of these (Side One and Side Three) have Primus bassist Les Claypool and Tool drummer Danny Carey lending a hand while Side Two is more of a completely solo affair, with just a couple guest spots.
In April and May 2006, Adrian toured Australia with local musicians John Prior from Matt Finish playing drums and Al Slavik playing bass guitar and Stick (as well as singing backing vocals). In August 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia, he performed on The Acoustic Planet Tour with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones and Umphrey's McGee. Later in 2006, Belew formed a new long-term trio which his fans rapidly christened "The Adrian Belew Power Trio", featuring former Paul Green School of Rock students Eric Slick on drums and Julie Slick on bass. This band featured on the 2007 live recording Side Four and the 2009 download-only (Live Overseas). In June 2009, the band released an all-new studio record titled simply e., featuring a five-part long-form Belew instrumental composition.
Also in June 2009, Belew released A Cup Of Coffee And A Slice of Time, an album credited to "Clay & Belew". This was an album of improvised classical-based interpretations of Belew songs (both solo and from King Crimson) mostly performed by pianist Michael Clay, with addition guitar, cello and music concrete contributions from Belew. Belew currently divides his time between the Power Trio and an intermittently active King Crimson. The latter were last active between March and August 2008, when they played an 11-show tour of four cities in August. In the same year, Belew played at the Adelaide Guitar Festival.
On February 25, 2013, Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails, named Belew as the new touring guitarist of Nine Inch Nails. Belew was going to perform with the band on a new Nine Inch Nails tour from Summer 2013 into 2014. On June 7, 2013, Adrian posted an update on Facebook stating that "it didn't work." Despite this, Adrian was credited as a session musician on the 2013 NIN album entitled Hesitation Marks.
Belew uses a wide variety of heavily synthesized and electronically altered guitar tones. Over the years he has become known for playing various guitars processed through an immense array of electronic effects devices ("I'm surrounded by guitar pedals though, I can't step out the ring I'm surrounded in without stepping on a pedal," he told Adelaide.now in 2008.) He has also stated that he composes specifically for certain amps and effects. Belew is a pioneer of guitar synthesizers, having been one of the first players to bring them to (and consistently use them in) popular music. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was a user of the Roland GR300 (alongside Andy Summers, Pat Metheny and Robert Fripp). In the late 1980s and the 1990s, he used the Roland GR1. He now favours the Line 6 Variax digital modelling system. In the early 1980s, Belew was notable for owning and using a rare Roland GR505 fretless guitar synthesizer.
As a singer, Belew is noted for the distinct, nasal, sometimes manic feel of his vocals. His singing voice is often compared to that of David Byrne, singer with Talking Heads, with whom Belew worked between 1979 and 1981. In addition to his singing and guitar playing talents Belew is an accomplished drummer and percussionist, and also plays bass guitar, keyboards, and cello. Belew is well regarded for his contributions, particularly on guitar, to various other artists' recordings.
In the 1980s, following his work with Talking Heads, he became a much in-demand session player. Among the albums he contributed to during this period were Ryuichi Sakamoto's Left-handed Dream (1981), Joan Armatrading's The Key (1983), Peter Wolf's Lights Out and Jean Michel Jarre's Zoolook (both 1984), Cyndi Lauper's True Colors (1986), Mike Oldfield's Earth Moving (1989) and Paul Simon's landmark Graceland (1986). During the mid-1980s he frequently worked with Laurie Anderson, appearing on 1983's Mister Heartbreak album and her subsequent concert film Home of the Brave.
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remaster the material impeccably, and provide fine historical liner notes by a variety of critics. It is also a basic tenet of theirs, unlike other labels, that whenever possible, they package two albums on a single disc. Their double discs exist simply because they have to, not necessarily by choice. This package assembles guitarist Adrian Belew's first two solo records for Island Records on a single disc with excellent notes by Daryl Easlea. At the time of this writing in 2009, neither title is available in North America or in Great Britain except in this package. 1982's Lone Rhino was recorded after Belew had played on three of the most important recordings of the era after punk: David Bowie's Lodger (the third part of his Berlin trilogy), the Talking Heads' Remain in Light, and Discipline, the debut offering from the re-formed King Crimson. While the set's material is generally lighter and breezier, there is plenty of experimentation in both technique and production. It includes terrific, if quirky songs such as the ubiquitous robotic funk of "Big Electric Cat," the jittery roots rock of "Momur," the ambient "Hot Sun," and the spacious socio-political pop of "The Lone Rhinoceros." Twang Bar King, issued in 1983 between King Crimson's Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair albums, is even more schizophrenically ambitious in its approach. It features a killer adrenaline-fuelled cover of the Beatles' "I'm Down," the urbane and droll disillusioned pop song "I Wonder," with some delightfully -- if subtly nuanced -- funk undertones, and the gorgeous, experimental ambient ballad "Ballet for a Blue Whale." The sound is superb, and the music is well worth considering for those curious about Belew; but essential for fans who haven't been able to obtain this material on CD.
Adrian Belew - Lone Rhino/Twang Bar King (flac 546mb)
01 Big Electric Cat 4:51
02 The Momur 3:45
03 Stop It 2:44
04 The Man In The Moon 3:46
05 Naive Guitar 3:57
06 Hot Sun 1:29
07 The Lone Rhinoceros 3:57
08 Swingline 3:25
09 Adidas In Heat 2:44
10 Animal Grace 3:58
11 The Final Rhino 1:21
12 I'm Down 2:54
13 I Wonder 4:39
14 Life Without A Cage 3:20
15 Sexy Rhino 0:37
16 Twang Bar King 1:26
17 Another Time 3:02
18 The Rail Song 5:39
19 Paint The Road 3:19
20 She Is Not Dead 4:41
21 Fish Head 4:30
22 The Ideal Woman 4:08
23 Ballet For A Blue Whale 4:44
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Adrian Belew used his third release to blatantly demonstrate his love and talent for avant-garde guitar work, but many of the tracks on Desire Caught By the Tail take his passion for boisterous distortion, warped notes, thick sound, and highly experimental playing methods into absurdity. But those who appreciate the many facilities that an electric guitar can perform, musical or otherwise, will feel right at home with Desire's eight tracks. There's no question that Belew is a master at what he does, and even though cuts like "Laughing Man," "Z," and "The Gypsy Zurna" are indeed unorthodox, there's a certain attraction to the way he creates music out of, well, non-music. There is a method to Belew's madness, and there are moments on the album when his phrasing and note control create some fascinating effects and textures, but a whole album's worth may be a little much for even a die-hard guitar fan. The laboratory-styled essence of "Guernica," "Portrait of Margaret," and "Beach Creatures" are Desire's most favorable pieces, since it's here that Belew seems to put a bit more universal appeal into his experimentation. Both Lone Rhino and Twang Bar King offer a bit of his off-the-wall guitar work, but only in moderate doses and not so much for true sonic effect than for musical decoration.
Adrian Belew - Desire Caught By The Tail (flac 161mb)
01 Tango Zebra 7:30
02 Laughing Man 5:28
03 The Gypsy Zurna 3:03
04 Portrait Of Margaret 4:00
05 Beach Creatures Dancing Like Cranes 3:28
06 At The Seaside Café 1:50
07 Guernica 2:00
08 "Z" 5:40
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Young Lions is as solid an album as Adrian Belew had put out in some time, including his work with the Bears. Apparently, the relative chart success he had with his last effort fueled the desire for another single, and no less a luminary than former employer David Bowie was brought in to write and duet with Belew on "Pretty Pink Rose" (they even did a video to support it). While that song and "Gunman" (the pair's second collaboration on the album) are little more than a reprise of Bowie's work with Tin Machine, they clearly relieve Belew from having to scrap together all the material himself. Leaning on a not-too-distant King Crimson standard, "Heartbeat," and the Traveling Wilburys' "Not Alone Anymore" leaves Belew holding the bag for an even half-dozen originals, which reduces the filler ratio that plagued some of his earlier efforts. From the energetic opener, "Young Lions," to the Motown-inspired "Looking for a U.F.O.," Belew comes up with some off-center pop/rock songs that hold up under inspection. His work with the Bears had smoothed out the guitarist's rough edges, but on his own, Belew is more nimble and quirky, as "Men in Helicopters" and "Small World" demonstrate. Like Mr. Music Head before it, Young Lions presents Belew's assets in a very palatable package. Despite the lack of a real standout single, Belew's one-man performance on Young Lions is worth hearing.
Adrian Belew - Young Lions (flac 255mb)
01 Young Lions 3:42
02 Pretty Pink Rose (Voc David Bowie) 4:43
03 Heartbeat 3:59
04 Looking For A U.F.O 3:36
05 I Am What I Am 4:11
06 Not Alone Anymore 3:13
07 Men In Helicopters 3:17
08 Small World 3:45
09 Phone Call From The Moon 3:38
10 Gunman (Voc David Bowie) 3:51
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