Mike Keneally

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Hat , 6/10
Boil That Dust Speck , 6/10
Half Alive In Hollywood , 6/10
Sluggo! , 7/10
Mistakes , 6/10
Nonkertompf , 6/10

New York guitarist Mike Keneally moved to California and joined Frank Zappa's band in 1987 He retained some of the master's dirty sarcasm and surreal genius for his solo albums, that usually display his multi-instrumentalist talent and feature one or two friends: Hat (Immune, 1994), with Rosemary Girl, the first version of Uglytown and the 14-minute tour de force Lightnin' Roy; the 30-song Boil That Dust Speck (Immune, 1995), with cute miniatures like Natty Trousers; the double-disc Half Alive In Hollywood (Immune, 1996), that reprises (live in the studio) some of his old material, including lengthy versions of Power To Love and Uglytown.

Sluggo! (Immune, 1997) is a compromise between all these styles. On one hand, Keneally crafts the poppy dutties Potato, Tranquillado, and Why Am I Your Guy. On the other hand, he indulges in the longer, more refined dynamics of Cardboard Dog, Chatfield Manor, Egg Zooming, Own. His playing is on display in the instrumental I Drum-Running Am Clapboard Bound.

Notable in his discography is Mistakes (Immune, 1995), a collaboration with experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser, former Todd Rundgren drummer Prairie Prince and former Dixie Dreggs bassist Andy West. The album contains 20 songs for a total of 73 minutes. Put the Bass In The Middle Of My Head is Henry Kaiser's show, but then Keneally's odd melodic world takes over and the quartet indulges in the catchy jams of Aye-Aye Monster, Career Politicians and Waiting on Williams. The three partners add substance to Keneally's ditties (if nothing else, they triple the length of the songs).

The all-instrumental 35-song Nonkertompf (Exowax, 1999), all played by himself, gave keyboards a larger role. The Beer For Dolphins have become an eight-piece orchestra on Dancing (Exowax, 2000). These are works that switch mood, presenting a new Keneally, less a Zappa freak than an avantgarde composer.

His art is difficult to categorize, but generally belongs to the same semi-serious progressive genre as Adrian Belew's and Gary Lucas' music (both former Zappa's sidemen). His songs tend to sound like sprightly fragments of rock operas.

Keneally proved to be one of the most eclectic musicians in business with the ever-changing albums of the next decade. Dancing (Exowax, 2000) was the typical sprawling Keneally album of demented ditties. Wooden Smoke (Exowax, 2001) was a mostly acoustic work, coupled with Wooden Smoke Asleep, a CD of leftovers and assorted atrocities. Dog (Exowax, 2004), a hard-rock album by the newly-formed Mike Keneally Band (Rick Musallam on guitar, Bryan Beller on bass, Nick D'Virgilio on drums). The Universe Will Provide (Favored Nations, 2004) was a symphonic work performed by a 52-piece orchestra. the Mike Keneally Band returned to jazz-rock fusion with Guitar Therapy Live (Exowax, 2006).

Wine and Pickles (2008) compiles leftovers from the previous albums.

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