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after the Beatles, part one

Here (Caroline)

Adrian Belew

Whether playing as a sideman with the Talking Heads, David Bowie and King Crimson, or going it alone, Adrian Belew usually stirs things up a bit with his mercurial guitar and eclectic, exploratory approach.

But on his last solo outing, the Kentucky native pulled together a perfect marriage between his keen pop instincts and his urge to poke into new sonic terrain. Here homes in on the Beatles influences that surfaced only occasionally on that album. How much you enjoy the result will depend on your enthusiasm for this approach.

Me? I dig it. Belew's voice is an eerie cross-pollination of Lennon's and McCartney's. Imagine Jeff Lynne with the bombast stripped away, and you'll have the idea. The dozen tunes here wed crystalline production and fab song structures to lyrics that are by turns trippy and impressionistic.

There's the "Norwegian Wood" spareness of "May 1, 1990," the bracing George Harrison riffing and McCartney/Lennon vocal schizophrenia of "I See You," the Sgt. Pepper buzz of "Survival in the Wild," the magical mystery tour of "Fly," the White Album moodiness of "Never Enough" (exactly what Cheap Trick has been aiming for all these years), the near-larceny of "Peace On Earth" (with its "all the broken people" refrain) -- you get the picture.

Still, if Belew is parading his influences, it's grand theft indeed. With the exception of a couple lyrical lapses (notably the cliche-laden "Brave New World,") the dozen songs on Here comprise a dazzling tip of the hat to the mop tops who changed the face of popular music, and a giddy, if guilty, pleasure.

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