Review: The Essential Gary Lucas

Utterly peerless, there’s no finer pedigree in the world of creative music than Gary Lucas’s and this double CD showcases the remarkable breadth of his work over the years.

From the discipline and ambidexterity of 'difficult’ music by Janacek or Beefheart to dancing nimble-fingered like dandelion seeds in the wind on Will o’ the Wisp, you can’t catch Mr Lucas. He’s ever-evolving and forever creating. A perpetual motion machine.
Even in lockdown, there’s no rest – more productive and more live than Fripp and Toyah’s Sunday Lunch, more wholly engaging, regaling delightful tales of sound and vision in between his vast catalogue of songs.

And what a catalogue. A culture junky and man of exquisite taste, this emerges in this compendium of favourites, rarities and alternative versions.

Extraordinary guitar playing with not a cliched lick in sight. An album not only for every axe victim, at any level, but also for anyone who’d appreciate a cast list including Buckley, Beefheart, Dvorak, 30s Chinese pop, American blues, European folk, film soundtracks and guitar-shredding rock.
Disc one introduces us to Lucas’s own compositions with his band of gipsies, Gods And Monsters, featuring his subtle guitar wizardry and his downbeat vocals. Disc two shows just a soupcon of these many staggering collaborations along with some live / alt versions of his own oeuvre, spanning over 30 albums.

Highlights: King Strong, Lady Of Shallot, The Wall, The Golem, Largo.

Essential indeed.  ***** 5 stars out of 5.

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