Adrian Belew

Side Three

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Adrian Belew's flurry of solo material continues with Side Three, the third and final installment in the series. On both Side One and Side Two, Belew seemed completely liberated from any concept of pop aspirations and was free to indulge in his more experimental side. Side Three is no different. Aside from "Incompetence Indifference," the album is pretty sparse lyrically (as with the others), but that will be a plus as far as some fans are concerned, because it means the music takes center stage. Belew again handles almost all the instrumentation, getting just a bit of help from his friends Robert Fripp and Mel Collins (whose sax solo on "Beat Box Car" is a highlight) on a handful of tunes. The rhythm section of Danny Carey and Les Claypool is also back on board for a couple tracks, and they really light it up on "Whatever." Again, Belew has really done a great job of incorporating electronics and loops into his musical palette, to the point that "Water Turns to Wine" is little else besides an acoustic guitar strum, a tiny bit of bass, and Fripp's "flute guitar" contribution. "Cinemusic" is even more avant-garde, with odd sound effects, wafting music boxes, and electronic flotsam. "The Red Bull Rides a Boomerang Across the Blue Constellation" is similarly out there, looking back to "Hot Sun" from Lone Rhino or some of the more experimental tracks on Desire Caught by the Tail. "Incompetence Indifference" is almost "Indiscipline" revisited 20-plus years later, except instead of being accosted by young toughs on the streets of New York, Belew's sensibilities are accosted by a less-than-courteous woman by the pool, an unscrupulous electrician, and an automated phone message. Throughout it all, Belew shows that he's still one of the most wonderfully whacked-out guitarists on the planet and a serious tone-meister. If Side Three's release hadn't been postponed, Adrian Belew would have pulled the amazing hat trick of releasing three great albums within the span of a year. Call it a trilogy or call it a three-sided album; either way it ranks with Belew's best.

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