The comicbook elusive Buckethead's rise from the chicken coop to partying with Axl Rose has been an odd one, no doubt. Odd enough to amass fans who would otherwise never have heard of Bill Laswell or Jonas Hellborg, and heavy-metal-parking-lot-charismatic enough to turn off many others. He was first noticed outside the west coast in 1992, playing with Laswell and P-Funkers Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell in the group Praxis, appearing on the back cover of their first disc looking just wrong. Bucketheadland, two discs worth of getting-stoned-in-mom's-basement with Bootsy Collins (released on John Zorn's Avant), soon followed. Those who shelled out the Japanese import price learned two things: he's as stoopid as they thought, and his freak show might not be worth the price of admission.
Mr. Head went on to do good and bad records with and without Laswell, and to successfully - questionably laudably - bridge the gap between hair metal and the avant garde. With his personal mythology (hideously ugly, raised by chickens) and his cartoon mystique (white death mask, KFC bucket), he's made himself an emigma. Like Kiss, the Residents or Carlton the doorman - there's nothing quite like not showing your face to make people want to see you.
Bucketheadland 2 trades on that faux mysterioso. It's a return to form, even if there wasn't really any form in the first place. The album envisions the deathly amusement park imagined on the previous disc. With something of a storyline - not really much more than an outline - it holds together better than the previous -land, or better than most of Bucket's records for that matter. There aren't quite tunes but instead a series of crunchy metal riffs interspersed with official announcements ("Bucketheadland would like to apologize for the whole escaped-Ferris-wheel fiasco. We're doing everything within our power to stop it from rolling.") and the accounts of satisfied park goers. It doesn't have the saccharine and perhaps sincere covers of the first Bucketheadland, wherein he does a nice solo reading of a Willy Wonka tune. But on occasion there are brief songs of sorts, children singing about playing with dead bodies and such, that actually rise (slightly) above the level of demented ditty.
Bootsy's presence here shouldn't sell the record. He and three others provide vocals, but it is the Bucketheadlandshow after all. And it's also the rare sequel that surpasses the original.
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