Mike Keneally is one of those artists that has the ability to play almost anything and not bat an eye. His stint as Frank Zappa’s “stunt guitarist” on the legendary 1988 tour, his guitarist/keyboard duties on tour with Steve Vai, and his support role on the G3 tour all prove that. In his latest offering, Dancing, Keneally and his band Beer for Dolphins weave an amazing tapestry of musical styles, great playing, and infectious songwriting. Sounding at times like Radiohead, Stone Temple Pilots, John Coltrane, Frank Zappa, John Cage, and Steely Dan, this album is a sonic treat.
At nearly 80 minutes, Dancing provides a full menu of musical treats. The opening number, “Live In Japan,” is an uptempo pop tune that rivals anything on the “pop” radar. “Ankle Bracelet” is a wall-of-guitar love song. “I Was Not Ready For You” is a tribute to the late, great Kevin Gilbert that could have come off the latest Steely Dan album (backup guitarist Rick Musallum’s tone is just exquisite). “Selfish Otter” is a freeform jazz/rock tune with an un-earthly mini-moog solo by keyboardist Marc Zeigenhagan. The closing tune, “Kedgeree” is a powerful, driving tune that leaves you wrung out.
The only problem is that at 80 minutes, Dancing is tough to digest in one sitting. Considering how prolific Keneally is, you get the feeling that there is a lot more material that could have made the album but didn’t due to the CD’s space limitations! This is one of the best albums of 2000, bar none. It’s a shame that the independant artist doesn’t get the recognition they should. Despite this, Dancing hit the Billboard Top 200 at 162 the week it was released. Dancing is a “must listen.”
Written by Jon Neill.