Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Music Head

updated 08/14/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/14/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Adrian Belew

This rock guitarist has had a wonderfully varied career, both as a band member with King Crimson and the Bears and as a sideman for a list of artists including the Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Jean-Michel Jarre and David Bowie. This, his fourth solo album, contains his best work to date.

Mr. Music Head is a charmed and charming collection, all the more impressive in that it's essentially a one-man production. Belew begins the beguiling album with "Oh Daddy," a bopping little pop song in which a young girl, her head full of lurid MTV images, asks her rock musician father such logical questions as "Daddy, when you gonna put on some stretch pants?" Apparently, Belew spends a lot of time with his three children. His daughter Audie, 11, handles the offspring's parts on "Oh Daddy," and "Hot Zoo" sounds as if he was inspired to write it while watching "Pee-wee's Playhouse" with Ernie, 9, and Iris, 3. The writing, music and production throughout display a light touch that is both inviting and inventive. "Motor Bungalow" and other songs show off Belew's guitar. His crazy backward solos slide, slip and slither into your eardrums and set them to vibrating. The record's most sustained achievement is "1967," which suggests the Beatles of the title's vintage. Like the Fab Four's "A Day in the Life," this song is a rock micro-opera in which a series of melodic vignettes are cobbled together. Certainly "1967" puts to shame anything to be found on Paul McCartney's latest record. As long as Belew creates glittering baubles like that, he won't be needing to squeeze into those stretch pants. (Atlantic)

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