FOR BUSY BEING BORN:
"A GUITARIST'S GUITARIST...a fixture on the downtown New York scene for years. He essays traditional folk tunes and synagogue sing-alongs on a variety of electric, acoustic and National steel guitars, putting a virtuosic spin on his heritage as well as adding a healthy dose of humor. The highlight is Lucas' haunting rendition of the psalm 'Hinay Ma Tov.'"
BILLBOARD, 4/98 (lead Pop Album review with a star)|
"THE YEAR'S BEST NEW TREND the Jewish Alternative Music essayed by
guitar God Gary Lucas' playful tweaking of tradition on 'Busy Being Born' (Tzadik)."
HITS, 12/98 (chosen as one of the outstanding albums of 1998)|
"LUCAS REALLY SHINES on such fleet fingered instrumentals as 'Shekinah'
and lovely tributes to the Marx Brothers and Fiddler On The
Roof...downtown guitar squall and irreverent takes on Hebrew prayers and
Jewish movie music commingle on this eclectic mix."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, Fall 1998|
(Best Recent Discs, On Campus Issue)
"A DAZZLING MIXTURE OF ACOUSTIC RENDITIONS OF HEBREW PRAYERS, alongside tunes associated with Groucho Marx, Betty Boop and Popeye, a rewritten 'Hundred Pounds of Clay' and several originals...a meditation on growing up Jewish. Lucas incorporates cultural irreverence into his music, but at other times he's deadly serious."
"LUCAS DIPS DEEP INTO HIS OWN MUSICAL PAST...on the Tzadik label, home of 'radical Jewish culture'. Radical is a relative word, especially on this gentle ride of a project that emphasizes Lucas' angular, John Fahey-esque fingerpicking on acoustic guitar, with occasional snorts of electric-guitar noise-making."
"VIGOROUS JOY...CALL IT OLD SCHUL OR SEMITIC-SONIC...Lucas reinterprets Jewish melodies ancient and modern with an array of musical strategies...resourceful, energetic playing and scrappy vocals, Lucas will knock you upside the keppy. At once devout and irreverent, experimental and traditional, 'Busy' is TRULY A MITZVAH."
"FIVE STARS...HUMOR, FEAR AND VIRTUOSITY...A BLAZING SONIC RIP...in theory it's a children's album, but some of these 17 pieces will give little bastards nightmares but it'll thrill anyone who loves inspired guitar virtuosity in the service of wildly creative compositions especially 'Sandman,' which progresses from a prettily charming figure to a deep, dark din...some of the more charming tunes blend Jewish folklore with memories from Lucas' own childhood...there's also a streak of Delta blues running through the album; it surfaces most dramatically in the ravishing 'Shekhinah,' an instrumental that unites the sound of deep Mississippi and the female spiritual energy of the Kabala...Lucas' unrestricted, intelligent command of acoustic, National steel and electric guitars demands constant attention."
TOWER PULSE/BOSTON PHOENIX, 8/98|
"4 STARS...revered experimental guitarist...formidable talent. A master
electric, slide and 12 string guitar, he is clearly capable of blowing the
competition off the stage...gorgeous and/or dazzling guitar work. Lucas
never approaches anything without total enthusiasm. Even the most
forgettable pieces on this CD will give you a taste of Lucas' incredible
guitar work, and if you're troubled by the lack of high seriousness,
maybe you're on the wrong side of Dylan's equation ('he not busy being
born is busy dying')."
"HALF GUITAR HERO, HALF SCREWBALL COMEDIAN, Gary Lucas offers an antic meditation on Jewishness, childhood, and his Jewish childhood. Highlight: 'Sandman,' an anti-lullaby proceeding from the excellent assumption that kids sometimes love getting scared witless."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, 6/98|
"IF NEW YORK MAKES A FITTING CRADLE FOR THE AVANT-GARDE INFANT, GARY
LUCAS HAS RECORDED IT'S BEDTIME STORYBOOK...Lucas here leavens deft
guitar play with traditional Jewish songs and melodies...the achingly
gorgeous 'Sunrise Sunset' is what won me over. The whole, wildly eclectic
outing is united by the sheer force of Lucas's personality, his exemplary
musicianship, and the fine support from a handful of guests, including
Zorn, all anchored together by former Swan Jonathan Kane and the superb Greg Cohen on drums and bass respectively."
"WITHOUT A DOUBT HIS MOST PERSONAL RECORD, AND FOR THAT REASON THE MOST
ACCOMPLISHED...a great success. 'Busy Being Born' is a record which is
both uninhibited and ardent, engaged and amused. The music is fitting,
graceful, of a jubilant intelligence, profound and immediate, often
audacious and always understandable; it is made in the image of a man who
has known how to trace his own personal path far from both nostalgic
aberrations and the sirens of modernity...a formidable coherence."
|LES INROCKUPTIBLES (France), 5/98|
"GREAT FUN, AND JUST LIKE LEVY'S RYE BREAD, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH
TO ENJOY IT...formidable guitar chops and droll, inventive arangements.
Two highlights are 'Fleischerei', a dazzling medley of tunes frm Popeye
and Betty Boop cartoons, and an exquisite arrangement of Ernest Gold's
theme from 'Exodus'."
"RICH JEW MUSIC WITH SOMETHIN' FOR EVERYBODY. LUCAS IS A TRUE TALENT."