"Island apparently lost the masters for his early albums _Twang Bar King_ and _Lone Rhino_, both of which are irreplaceable and criminally overlooked early-80s experimental pop gems. They may never be released on CD again. The good news is, the absolute cream of the crop is here, remastered and collected on this outstanding CD. Although some of the early stuff veered off into forgettable Zappa-esque silliness without the vulgarity - "Fishhead" and "The Ideal Woman" come to mind - there is some absolutely stunning work here that shouldn't be ignored by anyone who is a fan of Belew's work in Crimson or his solo efforts. "Hot Sun" is one of the earliest examples of his "guitar as orchestra" concept - an eerie sound landscape made entirely of various different things hitting the guitar. The wistful "Rail Song" off of _Twang_ has the distinction of being the only song in rock history, I am certain, which has a train solo. (You have to hear the song to understand). There's "Paint the Road" which has Belew's screaming guitar battling it out with an alto sax, and the gorgeous and eerie "She Is Not Dead" which features some amazing percussive work and the melody to one of his early masterpieces "Man In the Moon", played backwards. That song, btw, was written for Belew's father, who passed away during the recording of _Lone Rhino_ - its a definite tearjerker. Finally _Desire Caught By The Tail_ is also represented here, an album which probably polarizes Belew's already miniscule cult following to this day. I think the surreal sound landscapes are bold, definitely the strangest and most inacessible stuff he has ever recorded, and the silly song titles are just that, not pretentious and self-indulgent as other people have suggested. Essential for Belew archaeologists and fans alike, its a great way to get acquainted with some of his early, less-polished stuff and see a side of Adrian that is not often displayed in his later works."
Far more interesting than meets the ear...
Plattski | Walnut Creek, California | 07/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unknown to almost everyone except Adrian, this album represents a collection of "second" mixes that were used instead of the real mixes that appear on Lone Rhino. At the time this record was produced, the company had lost the original master tape to Lone Rhino, however, later the Lone Rhino and Twang Bar King albums were found by JVC, in their vault in Japan, and this past year they were re-released with the original mixes on Island - Japan. How on Earth would I KNOW that? Well, I'm the guy who mixed Lone Rhino, Twang Bar, and Here. The moment I heard Desire of the Rhino King, I immediately realized these mixes were out-takes, or "second mixes". The original masters are slightly different , but this record is fun to listen to because if you are a true Belew fan, you can compare these mixes against the re-released Lone Rhino original mixes and hear the differences. My personal favorite Belew song has never been released, it is called "Buy That Face" that we recorded for Atlantic in 1982.
It was certainly fun for me to listen to my mix outakes, realizing that the real mixes were better after all these years. . By the way, Adrian Belew truly is the musical genius you've heard about. Consider it confirmed by someone who would know...By the way, the Train Song music and mix was fully finished without lyrics - Adrian wrote them at his hotel in about an hour, came to the studio, sang them - bang! done. (I played ping pong with the assistant engineer while he wrote them.) Might be the first record fully mixed prior to a vocal - ha ha ha! Posted by Gary Platt (Plattski) engineer/mixer for Lone Rhino, Twang Bar King, Here, and various compilations."
I'd buy it just for Big Electric Cat
joe_n_bloe | Ester AK USA | 05/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation of early Adrian Belew albums features the quintessential Belew anthem, Big Electric Cat. A solo guitar squeals over steady marching-band-inspired percussion and Belew performs what others have called his "trademark paranoid vocals" while reversed reverb, vocals, and drums add a spooky note. You have got to love it. Lone Rhino is by far my favorite of the three albums represented in this compilation, but all of the material has merit. If you like this album, you've got to check out The Bears (Belew's late 80s group effort)."
Review of the Rhino King
Lunatic Muse | El Paso, TX | 03/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Adarian Belew is an artist of multiple talent and ceaseless ambition; his signature guitar sound and journeyman nature has led him to collaborate with such luminaries as Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel. "Desire of the Rhino King" is a compilation CD that covers his first three solo albums, "The Lone Rhino" (1981), "Twang Bar King"(1983) and "Desire Caught By The Tail" (1984). The first two of these are practically interchangeable; it's the sound of pop experimentalism at its finest, with Belew taking on a variety of instruments (a characteristic true of all his music) and creating songs that are often frenetic, sometimes bittersweet and always exciting to hear. His guitar wizardry takes center stage and his lyrics at times seem most influenced by Zappa, however the first sixteen tracks on "Rhino King" are wonderful examples of what Belew does best. His third album, the solo instrumental "Desire Caught By The Tail", comes as a shock of cold water on the recording; the unity that ties the first two albums together is broken by a string of experiments gone awry. Belew claims in the liner notes that he was attempting to "make paintings in the air", but the result is less than appealing. Rather, it's the sound of an ego let loose in a control booth with no guiding song structure to rein him in, and the overall effect is disastrous, personified by the aptly-titled "Joan Miro's Procession Through The Insides Of A Purple Antelope Across A Sea Of Tuna Fish". Even so, "Desire of the Rhino King" is an excellent introduction to early Adrian Belew and the first sixteen tracks offer the multi-instrumentalist at his creative best. Personal Favorites: the hard-rocking look at PMS found in "The Momur"; the touching eulogy to Belew's father on "Man in the Moon"; the sloganeering of "Adidas In Heat" and the hilarious, over-the-top narrative of "Fish Head". Representative Lyrics: "She was a Momur/ And it was just like I told you/ She said you'd better watch out!/ I might bite a big hole in you!" ("The Momur"); "I stand alone in my concrete cell/ Where people stare and toss me coke cans/ I guess it's better than being poached/But I'd give my horn just to see my mother" ("The Lone Rhinoceros")"
A taste of the first three Belew albums
Plattski | 07/30/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the summary suggests this collection of tracks from Belew's first three solo albums offers an enjoyable view of his various pop and avant-pop stylings. Belew's maturation is right on this disk. You hear the effect working with the Talking Head's had in Belew's vocal delivery on many of the initial tracks, also there are some refreshing tracks that have a Zappaeque sense of humor and skilled performance. Most impressive are the selections culled from "Desire Caught By The Tail." The instrumental music brings components of his continuing stint with King Crimson. A pleasant collection of album tracks that desered more than the obscurity they met."