IRSD-42011 The Bears
Produced by Adrian Belew
Released on 1987
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
IRSD-42011 cover  

A fter an album of undistinguished instrumental music (Desire Caught By the Tail), Adrian Belew re-teamed with his old bar band, The Raisins, and returned to writing skewed pop music as the re-christened Bears. Some critics found the band a revelation, citing the audible influence of The Beatles and XTC, two names that shouldn’t be invoked lightly. While the band does improve on Belew’s own approach to pop music in a few spots -- smoothing out his vocals, harnessing his guitar work for good rather than evil, playing up his cuteness quotient -- the end result is ultimately light on character. As the Mort Drucker cover (he of MAD Magazine fame) suggests, these are four average guys who just want to write pop music -- not a bad goal, to be sure, but not exactly a recipe for greatness either. There are a few moments on the album where The Bears’ pop smarts really pay off -- “Wavelength,” “Man Behind the Curtain,” “Figure It Out,” “Meet Me in the Dark.” But a number of songs feel like the lesser-inspired moments of latter-day Cheap Trick, taking mediocre melodies and packing them with production gloss but little personality. Guitarist/vocalist Rob Fetters and Belew are the primary movers here, and together they arrive at a likeable vocal mix that takes the edge of obnoxiousness from Adrian’s voice. Although it predates David Bowie’s Tin Machine experiment by a couple of years, The Bears is the pop equivalent to that group in some ways, with an established star (Belew versus Bowie) commiting themselves to an “ordinary” band but struggling to rise above the mundane. The Bears is still a successful experiment, superior to Belew’s last two albums at any rate, but a name change to Adrian Blowfish might be in order.

IRSD-42011 booklet back cover
IRSD-42011 booklet back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. NONE OF THE ABOVE
  2. FEAR IS NEVER BORING
  3. HONEY BEE
  4. MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
  5. WAVELENGTH
  6. TRUST
  7. RAINING
  8. SUPERBOY
  9. MEET ME IN THE DARK
  10. FIGURE IT OUT

    All songs arranged by The Bears

CREDITS

CHRIS ARDUSER -- drums
ADRIAN BELEW -- guitar and vocals
ROB FETTERS -- guitar and vocals
BOB NYSWONGER -- bass
Bill Janssen -- saxophones
Rich Denhart -- engineer
Mort Drucker -- cover art
Philip Foster -- layout, design
Stan Hertzman, Ron Fajerstein, Bob Brigham -- executive producers

return to THE BEARS discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1987 I.R.S. LP/CD/CS IRS/IRSD/IRSC-42011  
UK 1987 Primitive Man LP MIRF-1026 picture sleeve

 

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