"Adrian Belew is a multi-talented guitar genius/ instrumentalist/ songwriter extraordinaire with a creative energy most artists can only dream of. Whether working as a session man for some of the best musicians of the last quarter century, functioning as a member of both The Bears and King Crimson, or pursuing his own vision with a stunning succession of solo albums, Belew seems unfettered by popular taste or opinion. When he is at his worst (which isn't very often, thankfully), Belew's guitar work is unfocused, his songwriting becomes preachy and his voice registers into an irritating whine. However, "Mr. Music Head" has none of these characteristics and is far and away Belew's best solo recording. Every song is a gem within itself; if the Beatles had remained together for another 20 years, their music would sound similar to this. As always, Belew plays all of the instruments himself, crafting intelligent pop hooks through multi-track recording. The songwriting is creative and playful, without the burden of environmental concern or condescension that plagues some of his later work. The opening track, "Oh Daddy", qualifies as a duet with his young daughter Audie, and teasingly addresses Belew's inability to find a wider audience, which given the quality of his material, is a shame. A later track, "1967", showcases all of Belew's strengths as an artist and is quite possibly his crowning achievement as a songwriter; it is a pure slice of musical perfection in a scant five minutes and 23 seconds. Recorded not long before the advent of grunge and the embrace of moody despair, one cannot imagine such a friendly, positive recording being made today; in fact, Belew's subsequent recordings would become increasingly fueled by pessimism, personal pain and environmental critique. "Mr. Music Head" is the best, most focused and most enjoyable recording of Belew's career and should not be overlooked. Personal Favorites: the piano-driven rhythm of "House of Cards", the wonderful wordplay of "Bird in a Box" and the eloquent strokes of genius in "1967". Representative Lyrics: "Oh daddy, what are you going to buy your little girl?/ I'm gonna get you Disney World!/ Oh daddy, you can hit the jack-pot yet!/ Like I told you now, don't hold your breath!" ("Oh Daddy"); "Is there a Groucho Marxist doctrine in the house calls about a lost set of keystone cops out the same way you came in through the bathroom wind-oh look! a rock 'n' roller skate and all skate slowly" ("Bird in a Box")"
Quirky Beatlesque Album is a Classic
Daniel A. Cooper | New York, NY USA | 04/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Adrian Belew is a master of sound manipulation. From his banana Strat and sea of effects pedals he can conjure practically any sound imaginable: who else could write pop songs such as Elephant Talk, Big Electric Cat, and Lone Rhinoserous?. Throughout his long career supporting enigmatic artists such as Talking Heads, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Laurie Anderson, and 20 years as the front man for progressive rock icon King Crimson, Adrian has always displayed his considerable musical talents, his not-quite-in-the-mainstream pop sensibility, and above all his love of music.All of these characteristics are on full display here. "Oh Daddy" was a minor hit for Belew, and features his daughter Audie's vocals. This catchy tune is a wry comment on the music industry, and Belew's modest position within it. Elsewhere, he creates images of perfect summer days, imperfect relationships with happy endings and Peaceable Kingdoms, where animals roam free unhindered by humans. Belew has clearly been influenced by John Lennon and the Beatles, and here he even attempts a sound collage, a la Revolution #9. However, Belew even makes this sound more joyful than sinister. Naturally, Belew decorates his songs beautifully: he plays all the instruments on this album, but that is mainly piano, percussion, and guitar synth. But he creates quirky solo lines, atmospheric backgrounds, and even a clarinet solo from that palatte.Anyone who's ever seen Belew perform live will recognize his pure joy at being on stage and making music, and that joy comes through vividly on this wonderful disc. This is a wonderful accompaniment to a breezy spring afternoon or a summer drive to the country. Buy this CD!"
Not Belew's best but a strong album nonetheless
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you could make your guitar make any sound in the world what would it be? In the case of Adrian Belew, he can make it sound like every animal from Jumanji and quite a few you can't imagine. Unlike a lot of musicians, that's not just his focus. Belew loves melodic pop songs. He loves the Beatles. He loves much of the music of the 60's and 70's. He doesn't focus or dwell on the past but emblishes on it using it as a foundation to build new music not retro music.Mr. Music Head was Belew's break through album. His minor hit Oh Daddy actually reached a mainstream audience (that's also true of the songs he wrote with Fripp, Levin and Brufford for the 80's incarnation of King Crimson). His adorable daughter Audie sings on the track and it isn't corny. Unlike his earlier albums Lone Rhino and Twang Bar King (both out of print and never committed to CD. You can hear the highlights on his compilation CD), the jokes are more subdued and downplayed in favor of more serious material and stronger songs. That's just as well as well because his joke material is fine to listen to but doesn't leave much of an impression compared to his better songs.The material ranges from sublime (One of These Days) to silly (Oh Daddy). Mr. Music Head, like Here and Inner Revolution shows Belew at the top of his form. I'd also recommend his work with King Crimson-- Discipline, Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair, Thrak and Live in Argentina. The Acoustic Adrian Belew is also worth picking up. The Talking Heads albums you should pick up that features his distinctive vocals and guitar work include Remain in Light and The Name of This Band is Talking Heads (available only in vinyl and long out print but I have a copy transferred to CDR. I'd recommend doing the same thing).Enjoy the music of the Lone Rhino."
Funny, brilliant, hard-rocking, nearly perfect
Wayne Klein | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Adrian Belew is a sheer delight. For those who have never heard him it's a real shame that there aren't any links here to sound files. Let me try to describe him for you. Imagine David Byrne if his voice had an almost operatic range and golden-smooth timbre, funnier and more complex lyrics, and several times the compositional creativity. That's sort of Adrian Belew. It's a terrible shame Belew's album Twang Bar King is out of print, although Rhino King contains a lot of the great songs from Twang Bar. I think you need Twang Bar OR Rhino King PLUS Mr. Music Head PLUS King Crimson's album Discipline to get a full sense of the guy's talents.
My one complaint about Mr. Music Head is that Belew's voice is kind of buried by the terrific instrumentation. What's with that vocal mix?? For those of us who know his voice really well we can mentally "fill in" its sound at full volume. But for a novitiate, I might recommend beginning with Rhino King to familiarize yourself with his voice before moving on to Music Head. Other than the muted vocals, the quality of the recording on Music Head is terrific."