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Skeleton At the Feast

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Album Review

Skeleton at the Feast, Gary Lucas' debut album, is a solo guitar tour de force. Some tunes, like "Robert's Johnson" and "Hugh's Graveyard Stomp," are truly solo, performed on a national steel guitar. Others, though technically solo in the sense that Lucas plays by himself, sound anything but, as the guitar signal is sent through more effects boxes than you can shake a pick at. This allows Lucas to layer the sound, creating drones and melodies to accompany himself, and also allows him to draw on an extremely wide variety of tones and textures. As a player, one gets the sense that Lucas is always going for it — taking chances and playing at the edge of his own considerable abilities. This is a well-done live recording, and there is a real sense of immediacy that can be lacking in more polished productions. The last part of the album has Lucas collaborating with keyboard player Walter Horn for a score of the 1921 silent film The Golem. The general tone of this material is a bit darker than the rest of the album, as might be expected for the music to a 1920s German expressionist film, but the playing is no less remarkable. Skeleton at the Feast is an incredible showcase for Gary Lucas' guitar playing. Future releases would have much more of a pop/rock flavor, featuring lyrics and songs in addition to composing and playing, but the focus here is decidedly on guitar. Highly recommended, especially to guitar nuts.


Born: 1952 in Syracuse, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

When Gary Lucas was nine, his dad suggested he take up playing the guitar. Although he followed his dad's suggestion, Lucas focused more on the French horn that he played for his elementary-school band, and continued to play that instrument until getting kicked out of his high-school band. Lucas then focused wholly on the guitar, and played in various groups throughout the '60s. As a campus station music director during his second year at Yale, Lucas saw Captain Beefheart in concert and immediately...
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Skeleton At the Feast, Gary Lucas
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