Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy 25 Years

for some reason I woke up this morning musing over
the music from desire caught by the tail.

my third solo record.
the first record on which I played all the instruments.
my first all instrumental record.
the record which cost me my record deal,
the record label (island) hated it so much.
and so the record was unceremoniously dumped.
many fans didn't even know about it.

one fan (sic) hated it enough to break the vinyl
record into pieces and send it back to me!

but frank zappa after hearing desire was quoted
as saying "adrian has re-invented the electric guitar".
thanks frankie.

so I went to the kitchen computer and played the first
piece, the seven and a half-minute tango zebra.
it brought back a flash of memories of fiddling with
the earliest guitar synthesizer, of playing the steel-
bodied dobro with the daddad open tuning,
of playing on the back of the dobro
with rubber mallets to create drum sounds.
of riding my bike to the closet-size studio each day,
thinking of myself as some kind of "artiste".

and as I reeled from the sensory overload I realized:

this is desire caught by the tail's 25th birthday!

to this day it remains undiscovered by many people
who like my music and that's a shame.
the japanese re-issue CD we sell at the online store
is so perfectly re-mastered that the quality sounds
as fresh as though it were made yesterday.

...25 years ago...


  1. Happy Birthday, Desire! This evening you shall be caught by the tail and given a vigorous listening-to for certain.

    I hadn't known that about Island pressing the eject button due to this album. I do remember it being particularly hard to locate. What crumbs. Someone should stuff a wad of dead chrysanthemums in their mailbox.

  2. Thanks for reminding me about Desire. I found my original Island CD and will be listening to it all weekend!

  3. Happy Anniversary, aDe-sire! It's always been one of my favorites. I wore it out when I first got it, thank you again for it, and remind you that you are indeed still a great artiste, no matter the size of your studio.

  4. One of my all-time favorites. Still a desert island recording for me. Thank you for recording it.

  5. I picked this up on CD in London, somewhere in the mid 90s, and still have it. I'm particularly fond of "At the Seaside Café" - very short & very sweet. 8)

  6. I didn't realize I was THAT old. Bought the vinyl back in '87 or maybe '88. Loved it. After listening to it again, still do.

  7. I bought the Japanese CD edition from the webstore, and I LOVE it! It indeed seems to stand alone in the Belew canon of music, but that's put of the appeal for me. I'm glad you made this album, and I'm glad you acknowledged its 25th birthday. You should be proud of both the album, and this achievement.

  8. I love DCBTT. I whistle it a lot, well as much as I can & usually from the 1st 3 tunes... I don't have my CD copy anymore, left it on someone elses desk at work. Haven't seen it since. I guess I'll celebrate it's 25th by buying it again!!

  9. Hi Adrian, I've ever loved DCBTT, its strong, hypnotic, unique, and highly melodic experimental sound.
    It'd my desert Island (endless shame on them!) record since I bought it on vinyl back in the '80's.

  10. Hi Ade :D
    Love this piece - thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.....
    We LOVE Desire Caught by the Tail! It is on heavy rotation at home, and in the car - as are ALL your albums... Brilliant masterpieces one & all!
    On our recent 20 hour road trip to Winnipeg to enjoy the latest ABPT 'e'-treats, we listened to Adrian Belew material ONLY the whole trip! We never listened to the same track twice - and needless to say we were well and truly primed by the time you hit the stage and Belew'd us all away with your masterful prowess!
    Your huge discography is unmistakeable evidence to Island's ignorance and distinct lack of forsight to have allowed the world's pre-eminent singer, songwriter, guitarist and beautiful human-being, to slip through their fingers.
    But their loss is our windfall.... If you had of stayed with them, we might never have been able to experience and enjoy such an amazingly diverse range of material as we have had so lovingly and painstakingly presented to us over the past 30 years! We rejoice in the parting of the record company ways, and thank you for sharing your brilliance with us all....
    If I had only one wish granted by a genie, it would be that you would receive the recognition you so deserve, and that the whole world be blessed with the music of Adrian Belew - because I certainly feel that I have been given a beautiful gift that I can enjoy day after day after day..... such is the gift of Adrian Belew. We will always treasure you Ade....
    P.S. Ade, did the "Stone Fish" carving make it home to Mt. Juliet intact? And did you find a place for it? Now a photo 'for posterity's sake' would be just awesome :)
    Vive le Belew!
    Love to all at Casa Belew.
    Wendy (Belewhale) & Brent,
    Thompson, Manitoba (The Great White North)

  11. A singular collection that to this day inspires my own voice. I can't say enough about how much Desire means to me.

  12. Desire is among my all time favorites in music, and I am priming the next generation to love it, too. I listened to it endlessly with friends over dinner prep years ago, and my kids and I have listened to it once or twice lately. A love of this fine disk will doubtlessly get passed on as genearations go forward. We all caught you at Noho lately and visited with you, Julie and Eric afterwards. We simply love you guys,


  13. Desire Caught By The Tail, only 25? Shoot, in 75+ years it will probably be like listening to Bartok or something. Fabulous Vino Rosso. It doesn't sound any better than a delicious mint vinyl copy. Thanks Mr. Belew for everything.

    Never posted before but have followed elephant blog forever now. Being the kinda guy I am, (have parties for my drums birthdays like my ludwig supraphonic (oct, 20 1970) etc. Ilistened to it tonight and it will be played at vinyl night (Tuesdays) for all.)

    Was glad to finally see you Dallas a few years ago and meet and get pics with you. Please get back in the Dallas area soon!

  14. Wow,
    I didn't know that they dumped you for that record. I bought that one when it came out. I played it often enough to know the whole thing. That is an excellent record. Who broke it and sent it back? A Bon Jovi fan? Wow.
    I love that record to this day. I still have a copy of it on my "Belew catalog" mp3 disc.

  15. Happy Birthday to Desire !! I have to say that as an homage to Picasso, which I believe was your intention, Desire works so beautifully on so many levels. It sounds like his images, and it feels like cubism. Tango Zebra is one of my forever favorites. No regrets, those that were supposed to discover this little gem...did.
    So nice to have you blogging again, missed your words . xo Peace

  16. Hi Ade,

    This is a great example of how art can re-wire your brain. At a time when I was so bored with music, Desire Caught By The Tail was such an inspiration to me. This was what I was hearing inside my head. It never get's old. Just a timeless piece of work. Thank you!

  17. Thanks for encouraging me to go back and dig up my copy of this album.

    It was like seeing and old friend after many years. Lots of great memories, and surprises. I didn't realize you had stolen from yourself! (parts of tango became peace on earth, why?) (are there other thieveries I've missed over the years?).

    And speaking of thievery, I must confess that the copy I own says "Lent for promotional use only..." on the cover, do I owe you money?

    thanks again for making me smile,

  18. Wow, I was just in NY Met museum Sunday looking at all the amazing paintings by artists with familiar names like Joan Miro and Picasso, thinking of those great tunes!
    What an unfortunate reward for a masterpiece of a solo recording. Sounds almost like a Rites of Spring reception as well!
    Congratulations and THANK YOU!

  19. hi Adrian

    just wanted to let you know that its one of the best albums I've ever heard. I'm 37 now and first heard it when I was 16 - it was one of the most original things I'd heard then and still is. Very powerful and evocative. Hope to see you in the uk some time.


  20. It's an original record, it's fresh, the sound
    is good and there's a lot of humor.
    The only problem is to find the right time and the right location to listen this record.
    Sometimes it brings joy and sometimes makes me nervous after 5 minutes.
    The better album for me is twang bar king. The melodies and the chords lines are perfect.
    Wait for the next european tour with the 2 kids ( don't forget Switerland )

  21. Much like Jim above me, this album encapsulated the sounds I was hearing in my head.

  22. I am listening now, its funny but this album is one of the first that got me really into you Belew. I was also a fan of Big Electric cat soon as I heard it. This amazing style of guitar and music reminds me of a more technical Snakefinger or the Residents. Snakefinger and Belew being among the most influential guitar players to me.

    Amazing album, its great that you made this album! May have caused some trouble, but it landed you where you are today and we are all thankful!

    Im Laughing Man... Thanks for the inspiration and helping me create who I am!

  23. What a delightful record. Though I'm still wrapping my mind around the whole 25 years old thing! Records like "Desire" helped teach me about the infinite possibilities that lie within music. Especially when you choose to kick the Top 40 drivel to the curb.

    In January, I start a communications class as I renew my pursuit of my degree. We already have a homework assignment: a two or three page essay on a life-altering event. This may sound like shameless sucking up, but my paper is on the July day in 1985 when I was introduced to this band called King Crimson, and a song called Three of a Perfect Pair. Little did I know that as my musical world was being altered forever, this band had already ceased to exist!

    No matter. I never looked at music -- or life, for that matter -- the same way again. My mind was completely opened, and that has helped shaped me into the person I have become. I thank you for that, Adrian, because I am surrounded by the alternative.

    Since nobody else is asking, I'll put it upon myself, though it is a touch off-topic: would you care to offer your opinion on the Beatles re-masters? I know you've heard them all by now!

  24. Times they are changing. but good music ist still good music and everything is changed but nothing is changed....happy birthday desire, happy birthday