FOR IMPROVE THE SHINING HOUR:
"3 AND A HALF STARS...THIS 20-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE EMPHASIZES THE DAZZLING
DIVERSITY OF LUCAS' MUSIC, INCLUDING BLISSFULLY FAST AND FLUENT ACOUSTIC
SOLOS, GRITTY ART-ROCK WITH HIS GODS AND MONSTERS BAND, JEWISH THEMES AND
MAJESTIC INSTRUMENTALS. WITH DARK HUMOR AND SPIRITUALITY AS RECURRING
"TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2000...THE 20 YEARS' WORTH OF SONGS AND INSTRUMENTALS
THAT LUCAS WROTE AND PLAYED ON READ LIKE A SUBTERRANEAN HISTORY OF ROCK
AND CUTTING EDGE MUSIC. What unites it all is Lucas' sensibility, in
which his guitar is just a tool at best or an excuse at worst for the
genius to play music."
|THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE, 12/00|
"GARY LUCAS PERFORMS THE MUSICAL EQUIVALENT OF A HIGH-WIRE ACT, LENDING
HIS BRAVE, INNOVATIVE GUITAR WORK TO AN ECLECTIC SLATE OF
PROJECTS...throughout, Lucas has shown a dogged determination to never
repeat himself...listening to this collection, one can almost hear him
reinventing himself on each cut. Whether working acoustic or electric,
the Yale English Lit grad shows an uncanny ability to conjure and
embellish new musical languages. Fully half the cuts here were recorded
live, an environment in which Lucas's invention and luminous drive truly
come into their own."
|Amazon.com, editorial review, 10/00|
"SPECIAL, SPECTRAL AND GLORIOUSLY UNIQUE...Gary Lucas opens his showcase
of divers musical treats with Nick Cave, Mary Margaret O'Hara, the
spirit of Harry Smith and old boss Don Van Vliet being just some of the
special musical guests."
"THE BEST WAY TO APPREHEND GARY 'SKYWALKER' LUCAS' WORK...George Lucas would have made a Jedi knight of him...Indeed, Gary Lucas handles guitars like others do light sabers. The six-string man's delicacy is revealed at every measure, in turns bluesy or airy. Far from any pyrotechnical exhibition which is always to be feared on guitar players' records, 'Improve the Shining Hour' actually is a gathering of unlikely collaborations and a survey of 20 years of musical activism."
"AN EXCELLENT WAY OF EXPLORING AMERICAN MUSIC IN DETAIL, from its more exhibited parts to its more mysterious hidden sides...Gary Lucas is slowly coming out of the mists that kept him hidden. Engaged in countless adventures, always on the move, never short of curiosity or kinetic energy, Lucas is a chameleon who never forgets to affirm his colors: a guitar sound investing every note, an inspired use of pedals, and above all, writing and playing at multiple levels of understanding."
|LES INROCKUPTIBLES (France), 8/00|
"THIS IS ONE HELL OF A DIVERSE BUT REWARDING COLLECTION FROM A TRUE MUSICIAN'S MUSICAN!...The plaintive beauty of 'Follow', along with a slew of exotic instrumentals that range from the dazzling, solo slide piece 'Indian War Whoop', to the ambient electronics of 'Ted's Theme', through to the majestic nuances of the far-reaching 'Listen, You Who Dare/Improve the Shining Hour' (which features Lucas's lush, sweeping textures and tones) add to the mix."
"A BEAUTIFUL INTRODUCTION TO A VERY SPECIAL MUSICIAN...there is plenty of great music to be found on this collection of live recordings, home tapes, film scores and assorted freakery. Lucas owns a very interesting address book...Lucas plays slide guitar like the best pre-war blues guitarist, but finds himself equally at home in electronic soundscapes. Evidently 'Man can play guitar' in many many ways."
"4 STARS...MISS IT AT YOUR PERIL. Odds and ends from a brilliant avant
guitarist. Gary Lucas' reputation could linger forever on the basis of
'Flavor Bud Living' alone. But there's more. Lot's more. A literally
astonishing, powerful duet with Eric Mingus; an improvised duo with DJ
Spooky, and lots of other treasures, too."
"HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- Gary Lucas spent five years at Captain Beefheart's. Let us say one century for every normally constituted guitarist. The retrospective of the Magic Band's ultimate soloist is launched, well launched. Lucas' guitar is malicious and inventive, using genres for perverting them better. A historical and touching connotation to a record sweeping twenty years of multi-directional works."
|VIBRATIONS (France/Switzerland), 7/00|
"GREAT DELICACY AND BEAUTY THAT COULD GO ON FOREVER...the ambitious new
compilation tries to encapsulate Lucas' weird, impressive career on a
single disc, and for the most part succeeds. Nowhere is it quite as
surprising or welcome as it is during a haunting take on the theme from
"EXCELLENT...New York guitar maestro's 'Improve the Shining Hour'."
|TORONTO NOW MAGAZINE, 5/00|
"HIS MUSICAL PALETTE HAS MORE SHADES THAN MONET...Gary Lucas lights up
his new album with virtuoso guitar playing. Whoever Lucas plays with, he
is rarely outshone, and even on his own he has something special to
offer. 'What's a nice Jewish boy like me doing in a place like this?' he
wonders. Making music, Gary -- we should all be grateful."
|JEWISH CHRONICLE (UK), 6/00|
"THIS COLLECTION OF RARITIES OF ONE OF THE GREATEST GUITARISTS YOU
PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF ONLY SERVES TO BRING HIS LEGEND TO THE FOREFRONT.
Throughout the disc, Lucas' playing is extraordinary, he makes people
like John McLaughlin look like simple jazz/blues noodlers by comparison.
In fact, there really is no other guitarist to compare Lucas to, he's A
TRUE ORIGINAL IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD."
"THIS IS ONE HELL OF A DIVERSE BUT REWARDING COLLECTION FROM A TRUE
MUSICIAN'S MUSICAN! Lush, sweeping textures and tones add to the
mix...from the plaintive beauty of 'Follow' to a slew of exotic
instrumentals that range from the dazzling solo slide piece 'Indian War
Whoop' to the ambient electronics of 'Ted's Theme,' through to the
majestic nuances of the far-reaching 'Listen, You Who Dare/Improve the
"8 OUT OF 10...RARELY DOES A GUITARIST PLAY SUCH IMPOSSIBLE AND INNOVATIVE PARTS WITH SO MUCH GENUINE EMOTION...he's equally impressive playing his acoustic guitar as when he creates electrical storms. You get your money's worth here...the album helps you understand what it is that makes so many musicians and singers ask for his help."
|POP AND ROCK (Greece), 6/00|
"A MUCH NEEDED OVERVIEW OF AN ALWAYS SEARCHING GUITAR POET WHOSE SOUND IS LIKE NO ONE ELSE."
"ONE THING IS CLEAR - GARY LUCAS IS ONE OF THE MOST ORIGINAL GUITARISTS OF OUR TIME. This is an occasion to celebrate, a spotlight on dark corners - a very sensitively arranged selection of choice and rare moments from his career. It's a trip through a fifth of a century that commemorates immeasurable energy, craziness, and genius. Gary Lucas is a great inventor of melodies - in every transition from one theme to the next one can hear a motif worthy of being made into a symphony. Gary Lucas is a magician, a possessed person who has himself become the guitar. Also, his singing has improved enormously in the last year. Gary Lucas is a disciple of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who with his enchanting playing takes power over the listener. The spectrum ranges from driving blues, juicy folk songs, lyrical bluegrass fantasies to tight jazz numbers and ambient pieces. One unfortunate thing is that the album was supposed to feature a track with Jeff Buckley, whom none other than Gary Lucas opened the way up for, but it was not allowed, because one more time business took precedence over art. Hopefully the tapes of this extraordinary collaboration which really bring tears to the eyes will one day find their way to the public. Still, even without this track, Improve the Shining Hour is not just a jewel, it's a collection of jewels."
|JAZZTHETIK (Germany), 5/00|
"5 STARS...GARY LUCAS IS A SECRET GENIUS OF AMERICAN MUSIC: a gifted guitarist, songwriter, bandleader and eclectic spirit...a tilt-a-whirl rush of acoustic blues, pop tunes, poetics, drum 'n' bass, heavenly textural explorations on electric guitar and Lucas' own lyrical folk-pop numbers. It's all knit together by Lucas' unerring sense of melody and soul...cut-for-cut, a thoroughly winning musical biography."
"4 STARS...20 YEARS OF THIS NYC-BASED GUITARIST'S VERSATILE GENIUS
PRESSED INTO 18 TRACKS...from the Beefheartian weirdness that first got
Lucas recognized to his hit collaboration with Joan Osborne. That wide
embrace is what makes Lucas so exceptional. Not only can he navigate the
oft-murky waters of textural music and improvisation, he can write a damn
solid pop tune, too. There's plenty to be charmed by...Lucas' unerring
sense of melody and soul see to it that he's never overshadowed by his
Voted one of the Best Albums of 2000 in Critics' Poll, Jazziz Magazine