Forgotten Anthology 1995-2002

~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Some people would argue that madness and genius are inseparable. If any of these people were looking to prove their point with modern musicians, there's no finer example than the man who wields a guitar that is shaped like a bumblebee. A bumblebee that looks like a human foot. His very name is enough to strike terror into the hearts of all who hear it. Or confusion, in any case. Bumblefoot is a guitarist and singer who crafts the most absurdly original and inventive songs that all fans of music need to listen to. That's my personal bias speaking, but it's a respectably intelligent bias, and you ought to follow its advice.

Forgotten Anthology is kind of like a Bumblefoot greatest hits album. And it's a really good one, too, with tracks representing four eras of his music: depressing grunge, quirky rock/metal songs, modernized 70's lounge music, and er... the most recent era. Which happens to be quite a remarkable era, if largely unclassifiable. "This is all well and good," you may be thinking, "but what's so special about a greatest hits CD?" Forgotten Anthology is defined by the fact that its songs were (mostly) never before released. And it isn't some attempt to make easy cash off outdated material: the songs are all excellent, and any one of them could have easily fit onto Bumblefoot's albums (in fact, tracks 8-12 were on the French release of Uncool).

The first four songs chronicle Bumblefoot's unrealized attempt at sullen grunge. The tracks are rather serious, and Bumblefoot's emotive vocals and zany guitar antics give them a highly unique and powerful quality. Tracks 5-7 might have made a follow-up to Hands, and they continue that album's tradition of warping alternative rock styles. Songs 8-15 would feel right at home on Uncool, and they feature similarly wacky lounge meets metal stylings. "A Way Out" and "Wasted Away" take the CD back to its more serious direction. "Wasted Away", in particular, is a very expressive song with a downcast main theme and appropriately lethargic and depressed singing. The final track is "Mafalda", an imaginative instrumental and scary fretless guitar workout that will convince aspiring guitar students to give up guitar and invest in a recorder.

When I say Bumblefoot is top-shelf material, I mean it literally. His CDs are on my exalted top shelf, and I listen to them all far more than any mental health professional would consider healthy. Forgotten Anthology lives up to Bumblefoot's usual high standards, and all fans of insane, honest, and wacky music need to give it a listen. It continues to amaze me that Bumblefoot can communicate as well with his voice as his guitar, and the combination of the two is unbelievable. Guitar fans can listen just to marvel at the amazing sounds Bumblefoot squeezes from his guitar, but anyone else can appreciate the innovative melodies, catchy choruses, and solid songwriting. Head to http://www.bumblefoot.com/ or http://artists.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/Bumblefoot/ to listen!