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Gary Lucas Releases ‘The Essential Gary Lucas,’ ft. Jeff Buckley, David Johansen, and More

Legendary guitarist Gary Lucas retrospective The Essential Gary Lucas via Knitting Factory Records offers ample evidence of this maverick artist’s trailblazing and unique career, from his early work on stage and record with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band to his landmark work with Jeff Buckley and his one-of-a-kind psychedelic jazz-rock band Gods and Monsters, though his extraordinary and extensive multi-genre solo catalog – a truly epic body of work that spans psychedelic rock, film music, classical, electronica, jazz, blues, avant-garde, and world music excursions through 1930s Chinese pop, Hungarian folk, raga, and more, all unified by Lucas’s virtuosic guitar and ceaselessly questing spirit. The album originally scheduled for the Spring of 2020 is now out today.

Photo courtesy of Jim Merlis

A long-overdue survey of a truly prodigious career, The Essential Gary Lucas collects the artist’s own favorite work for the first time ever, including a range of rare and never-before-released tracks. Boasting nearly 160 minutes of music, the double album includes a first CD devoted to songs recorded with Gods and Monsters while the second CD compiles solo, rarities and collaborations. Special guests throughout include Jeff Buckley, Alan Vega (Suicide), David Johansen (New York Dolls), Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers), Billy Ficca (Television), Nona Hendryx (Labelle), avant-legend Mary Margaret O’Hara, GRAMMY® Award-winning Cuban dance heroes Los Van Van, UK dub master Adrian Sherwood, Rolo McGinty (The Woodentops), mainland Chinese vocalist/erhu virtuoso Feifei Yang, French diva Elli Medeiros, Cuban legends Haydee and Suylen Milanés, Hungarian folk star Enikö Szabó, Indian shamaness Najma Akhtar, and others. Consistently compelling, endlessly inventive, and always impossible to pigeonhole, this collection affirms Gary Lucas among the most singular musicians and artists of this or any era.

 Born and raised in Syracuse, NY Gary Lucas began playing guitar at the age of 9. While a student at Yale University in 1971 he witnessed Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band perform their first-ever show in New York City, an experience that changed his life. Before the decade was through, Lucas’ individualistic virtuosity had in return caught the Captain’s attention, and the young guitarist was unleashed as a featured soloist and later, full Magic Band member, on the final two Beefheart albums, 1980’s  Doc At The Radar Station and 1982’s Ice Cream For Crow.

Lucas established himself as an unparalleled accompanist in the years following Beefheart’s (Don Van Vliet) retirement from music, performing as a special guest on albums by Adrian Sherwood, Matthew Sweet, and The Woodentops, while also earning applause for his solo concerts at NYC’s Knitting Factory, a haven for avant-garde and alternative music. 1990 saw the long-awaited release of Lucas’s first solo album, Skeleton At The Feast, earning immediate critical acclaim (including a 5-starred rave in Q Magazine). Lucas simultaneously founded his one-of-a-kind avant-jazz-rock group Gods and Monsters, which included among its many members a rising young artist named Jeff Buckley, with whom he co-wrote and performed such now-classic anthems as “Grace” and “Mojo Pin,” both of course found on Buckley’s milestone 1994 debut, Grace.

 Lucas has since gone on to release over 30 acclaimed albums in his own right, performing on 50 more. An inveterate traveler, he has performed live in more than 40 countries thus far, spanning China, Russia, India, Australia, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and more. Indeed, Lucas remains among the most in-demand artists and accompanists in modern music, his ever-expanding CV boasting collaborations with legends like Leonard Bernstein and Chris Cornell to Los Van Van and Lou Reed, composing and performing more than a dozen live film scores, and playing his guitar before the General Assembly of the United Nations on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017. Amongst his many honors, Lucas has received the U.S. Consul General’s Award for Cultural Diplomacy, Italy’s prestigious Premio Ciampi Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, and was recently named Artist in Residence at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in the UK.


Fata Morgana – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Evangeline – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Coming Clean – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Chime On – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Climb The Highest Mountain – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Let’s Go Swimming (Live at the Mercury Lounge NYC 1993) – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Swamp T’ing – Vocal by Gary Lucas

One Man’s Meat – Vocal by David Johansen

Poison Tree – Vocal by Mary Margaret O’Hara

Follow – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Skin The Rabbit – Vocal by Rolo McGinty

Grace – Vocal by Jeff Buckley

Lady of Shallot – Vocal by Gary Lucas

Skin Diving – Vocal by Elli Medeiros

After Strange Gods – Vocal by Dina Emerson

Whip Named Lash – Vocal by Rolo McGinty

King Strong (Instrumental)


All Along The Watchtower – Vocal by Feifei Yang

The Wall – Vocal by Gisburg

The Moon Represents My Heart – Vocal by Haydée and Suylén Milanés w/ Los Van Van

Out From Under – sung by Haydee and Suylen Milanes w/Los Van Van

Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles – Vocal by Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas – Flavor Bud Living (Live at the Beacon Theatre NYC 1980) – Instrumental

Evening Bell (w/Metropole Orkest) (From The World of Captain Beefheart, Live at the Paradiso Amsterdam 2013) – Instrumental

Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro (Live at the Knitting Factory NYC 1990) – Instrumental

Fool’s Cap – Instrumental

Janacek’s “On An Overgrown Path” No. 15 Allegro (Live at the United Nations NYC 2017) – Instrumental

Two Roads – Vocal by Eniko Szabo

Will ‘O The Wisp – Instrumental

Rishte – Vocal by Najma Akhtar

Life Kills – Vocal by Alan Vega

Story Without Words (w/Metropole Orkest) (Vocal by Jolene Grunberg) (From The Music of Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas, Live at the Paradiso Amsterdam 2012)

Music For “The Golem” (Main Title/Rabbi Loew Consults The Stars/The Decree) (Live at the Museum of the Moving Image Astoria NY 1989) – Instrumental

Dream of a Russian Princess – Instrumental

Gary Lucas & Adrian Sherwood – Guanguancó – Instrumental

“Largo” From Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (The New World) (Live at the Czech Embassy Washington DC 2003) – Instrumental

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