OUTSIDE OF GEEKY progressive rock forums, Kentucky-born guitarist Adrian Belew is far from a household name. Still, his highly stylized electric sorcery helped define the best musical moments of the '70s and '80s. I can recall connecting the dots between some of my favorite records of the early '80s and realizing that most of the snaky, effects-doused guitar lines I found so hypnotic were all being produced by the same man So, in a move that is bound to get me a bottle of liquor from Mr. Belew's publicist (note: I'm partial to tequila) let's do a resume checklist:
•Have you ever slipped on the Talking Heads' future funk masterpiece, Remain in Light and wondered where those squiggly melodic nets were coming from? That, my friends, is Mr. Adrian Belew.
•You know that song "Genius of Love" by the Tom Tom Club that everyone who's not busy sampling it is busy dancing to? Adrian Belew.
•Do you like that David Bowie record Lodger, the middle installment of his super-svelte "Berlin Trilogy"? Yeah, that's Adrian.
•Did I mention that he's been the singer and co-guitarist for 25 years in the granddaddy of all progressive rock bands, King Crimson? Have I told you that he was Frank Zappa's right-hand man in the late '70s? How about his stunning guitar work on the new William Shatner record? Well... that's just kind of weird, actually.
Even with a track record this impressive, I approached listening to this multi-tasking guitarist's new release, Side Three, with some trepidation. (After all, the man is 56 years old, right?) But, it's dense, satisfying art-rock on par with the best of the other 15 odd solo albums he's somehow managed to find the time to write and record. So, whether you've ever realized it or not, Adrian Belew's music has already spoken to you. Okay, I'm ready for that tequila now.