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Gary Lucas - Improve The Shining Hour-Rare Lumière 1980-2000
Knitting Factory Records
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2002-01-21
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Artist: Gary Lucas (www.garylucas.com)
Title: Improve The Shining Hour-Rare Lumière 1980-2000
Label: Knitting Factory Records (www.knittingfactory.com)
Genre: Experimental Rock, Blues

Gary Lucas helped his name and reputation grow into celebrated status in the "Captain Beefheart Band." After playing a variety of venues and with several different acts he became Beefheart's (Don Van Vliet) most prized lead guitarist. This man was an accomplished guitar player long before he ever set foot onstage with the whimsical and off the wall Beefheart though.

"Improve The Shining Hour" is a terrific collection of various tracks that Lucas has cut over the years with an eclectic range of artists. His chops are as varied and startling as the people he collaborates with. 'Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles' is the one song Beefheart guests on. It's a good thing that Lucas can play that guitar, Beefheart's vocals are strained and coarse, nevertheless there is some magic happening between them and the song stands up well.' 'And The Ass Saw The Angel' is a lascivious and crude dissertation by Mr. Nick Cave. Cave sounds like he gobbled a handful of speed before he went on stage for that little ditty. I am sure you will be delighted when you hear it though. The former New York Dolls lead singer David Johansen (Buster Poindexter) steps in to take the lead vocal on 'Spider Web', a gnarly and bluesy track that keeps you trapped in its musical web. 'Dulce' is a flavorful spicy Latin tinged number thanks to the vocal style of Ms. Elli Medeiros. Lucas makes a home for the sexy singer to walk right into and hang her hat.

If you stop and think for a moment all the ground that Lucas covers in each song it's quite astonishing. The songs with the vocals are exceptional; the instrumentals are another matter entirely. When players like this pick up their six-string and make it talk and generate incredible sounds, the whole world stops and your attention becomes focused on every note. Lucas gives life and breathing room to every note he plays. 'Indian War Whoop' is a dazzling display of guitar virtuoso; he really smokes it on that instro gem. The closer 'Listen, You Who Dare/Improve The Shining Hour' is an eerie and hypnotic composition that launches you to never-never land. Be careful as you listen though, because you may not return. Some of this material is esoteric and beyond what anyone could possibly understand, yet it pulls you in and holds on tight regardless. This guy is in the upper stratosphere of guitar players. The great ones come few and far between. Gary Lucas has his own cloud to ride on. Just listen, you who dare…

1. Coming Clean (Lucas) - 3:36
2. And the Ass Saw the Angel (Cave/Lucas) - 3:58
3. Spider Web (Chertoff/Lucas/Merendino/Osborne/Palmaro) - 4:26
4. Dulce (Lucas/Medeiros) - 5:07
5. Flavor Bud Living (Van Vliet) - 1:36 - Instrumental
6. Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles (Captain Beefheart) - 3:10
7. In a Forest (Lucas) - 3:39
8. Judgement (Nelson) - 1:39
9. Judgement at Midnight Theme (Lucas/Saba/Winter) - 2:46
10. Oat Hate (Van Vliet) - 2:30 - Instrumental
11. Follow (Lucas) - 3:33
12. Astro Boy (Traditional) - 2:19
13. Indian War Whoop (Lucas) - 2:47 - Instrumental
14. She Was Showing Me (Haines/Lucas) - 2:28
15. Ted's Theme (Lucas/Saba/Winter) - 1:54
16. Golgotha (Lucas/Miller) - 5:26
17. Breath of Bones (Lucas) - 6:13
18. Listen, You Who Dare/Improve the Shining... (Fricke/Lucas) – 13:00- Instrumental


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