Adrian Belew

Lone Rhino/Twang Bar King

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Great Britain's BGO imprint (an acronym for "Beat Goes On") is one of the reissue labels to beat. They pick consistently interesting titles -- and in some cases cover an artist's entire discography -- 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.

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