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. Four of the tracks, "Laughing Man," "The Gypsy Zurna," "Portrait of Margaret," and "Guernica," can be found on Desire of the Rhino King, which takes the better tracks from his first three albums and combines them on one CD.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne