Adrian Belew

Young Lions

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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.

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