Reissued in 2002 on CD for the first time by Terminus Records, Col. Bruce Hampton's Outside Looking Out was digitally remastered and repackaged with a bonus track. Though Hampton's entire body of work can be considered a bit bizarre by any standard, this one just might take the cake. The music, executed by top-drawer players, is all over the map: a little rock & roll, various forms of jazz, even a bit of salsa. The highly varied instrumentation and way-beyond-peculiar lyrics are what really set this one apart. It's got oboe, tabla, vibes, and everything in between. Lyrics encompass snippets of interviews discussing fashion and haircuts, the rantings of an irate chef, musings on what became of the "Roebuck" in Sears & Roebuck, and a whole lot of stuff not even the most hardcore Hampton devotee could dissect -- which is exactly what Hampton likely intended. You have to love a guy who did as he pleased with the wacky clutter that was rambling around in his head, knowing full well none of it would ever see the light of day on commercial radio -- and surely being grateful for it.
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AllMusic Review by Ann Wickstrom