July 31, 2021

Gary Lucas Review: The Essential Gary Lucas



Many artists sometimes live that indescribable moment in which the general public notices their existence. It does not matter if one has been in the business for just a few months or more than 40 years, from then on the worth of that humble guy who before nobody paid the slightest attention will be recognized and interest will grow with the virulence of those fleeting fashions that first they hit very hard and then they are forgotten just as quickly as they came. And to think that since we were little we were taught to value that culture of effort that actually goes against the majority tendencies of society.

Good old Gary Lucas, those highly placed in music history, may remember him for his career in mythical combos such as Captain Beefheart or Gods and Monsters, a versatile project that he founded in the late eighties to unleash an eclecticism that it could hardly fit into any conventional group. Thanks to this initiative he would meet the ill-fated Jeff Buckley, an undervalued genius in his time but who with the passage of time would acquire the status of a fallen myth at the height of Kurt Cobain or any other cursed member of the 27 club. His version is still considered. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as one of the best revisions of all time, surpassing even the original.

Well, here is a decent enough compilation to fully soak up the material that a restless ass has accumulated for more than four decades that has played jazz, psychedelia, garage, Chinese pop and most imaginable styles, apart from a special section dedicated to the soundtracks, a prolific work in which almost as many works as official records. And it does not have exactly few, up to more than thirty can be counted.

Entering this vast universe can be a bit overwhelming for neophytes, but they make the task easier for us by dedicating an album to his career with Gods and Monsters and another to rarities and collaborations, which he also possesses, as it could not be otherwise. . Thus, in the first CD we would highlight the jazzy outbursts of “Fata Morgana” or “Evangeline”, the nocturnal rocky dregs of “Swamp T’ing” or that sonic gale with David Johansen (New York Dolls) called “One Man’s Meat” , the most attractive for electricity lovers. But the demo of the famous “Grace” by Jeff Buckley, the foray into British folklore of “The Lady of Shalott”, inspired by a popular poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson, or “Skin Diving”, a delight, also has its point for mythomaniacs. with the Portuguese woman with a sensual voice, Elli Medeiros.

Regarding the second volume of this colossal release, it begins with a curious and highly successful Mandarin Chinese version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” by oriental diva Feifei Yang. And it would not be convenient to drop the great and overwhelming collaboration with Alan Vega from Suicide on “Life Kills” or “Story Without Words”, rescued testimony of the creative symbiosis between Lucas and Buckley with the voice of the Dutch Jolene Grunberg. And on the side of the picturesque, of those encounters that one would not expect, we have that “Out From Under” with fragments in Spanish with the sisters Haydée and Suylan Milanés, daughters of the Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés.

Of course, its cinematographic side has not been neglected with the sidereal atmosphere of “The Golem”, which is almost like a gateway to another dimension, nor the unapologetic approaches to electronics by Adrian Sherwood in “Guanguanco ”Or one of his classics in his live broadcasts,“ Largo ”, from the so-called New World Symphony by the Czech post-romantic Antonín Dvořák. Here is plenty of material to rave about.

If you’re one of those few unapologetic people who don’t care what style a song is as long as it’s good, then you should immediately head to the galaxy of this indefatigable creator for whom labels don’t make any sense. Free yourself from prejudices and other sterile thoughts that chain us to the ground and take flight towards the sun regardless of the consequences. Only for daring spirits.

Alfredo Villaescusa
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