To even the most ardent of Adrian Belew fan, his membership in the little-known group the Bears is but a footnote. As a member of this band, Belew released two albums in the 80’s for the short-lived Primitive Man Recording Company (PMRC, get it?) label, which was a subsidiary of IRS Records.

Truth be told, this band had it all: soaring pop hooks, stellar musicianship, and the ability to play it straight (“Aches And Pains”) or weird (“Robobo’s Beef” and “Highway 2”).

Jam-packed with pop hooks and angular riffs, but receiving little promotion from the label, this cool record, and the self-titled effort that came before it in 1987, soon disappeared without a trace. Belew, who had signed a solo deal with Atlantic, was soon riding a wave of success brought on the song “Oh Daddy”, a single from 1989’s Mr. Music Head that featured vocals by his young daughter, Audie.

By then, of course, the Bears had been put out to pasture. Even years later, it is enjoyable to dive into this record solely for Belew’s guitar work. But most rewarding is the interplay between band members and ease with which this band crafts deceptively sublime pop melodies. With repeated listens, subtle nuances reveal themselves, as do idiosyncratic in-jokes (give “Highway 2” a listen and you’ll see what I mean).

Mp3’s of all tracks are now available to DONATE TO CHARITY SLICE subscribers.

1. Aches And Pains
2. Save Me
3. Robobo’s Beef
4. Not Worlds Apart
5. Nobody’s Fool
6. Highway 2
7. Little Blue River
8. Rabbit Manor
9. Holy Mack
10. Complicated Potatoes
11. You Can Buy Friends
12. The Best Laid Plans
13. Old Fat Cadillac
14. Girl With Clouds
15. Man Behind The Curtain (revised version)
16. Figure It Out (new mix)