Young Buckethead, Vol. 1 (DVD)
Avabella Productions, 2006
REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/20/2008
Though most widely known for his involvement with the oft-delayed Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy, virtuoso guitarist Buckethead had in fact been touring and recording for over a decade before hitting the road with Axl Rose in 2002. This DVD, volume one of a two-volume set released in 2006, captures Buckethead in the earliest stage of his career.
Bringing together an assortment of grainy 8mm footage from 1990-1991, the centerpiece of this collection is a trio of complete live shows with The Deli Creeps -- a kooky, outlandish act fronted by Maximum Bob, with drummer Pinchface and bassist, Tony Black, and, of course, Buckethead on guitar. For the unacquainted listener, try to imagine a group that blends the twisted humor of Primus with the sinister vibe of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Spice things up with some jaw-dropping guitar playing and lyrics about dead bodies, and you have a blueprint for the band's sound: gritty, bizarre, and freakishly fun.
Volume one of Young Buckethead kicks off with a Deli Creeps show at the Cactus Club. While the quality is a bit rough, and the performance not as polished as those on Volume two, it's still a treat to watch. Long-time fans of Buckethead will be struck by how much more active, mobile, and theatrical the guitarist is compared to his time with G n' R, or in his recent solo performances. Buckethead's trademark modified white Les Paul is nowhere to be seen, and at some points, he doesn't even wear the Bucket. His playing is fantastic -- especially impressive given that Buckethead was in his late teens at the time these videos were recorded. A real source of fun is to spot all the licks and phrases that Bucket would later refine and make part of his inventory of signature guitar parts as his solo career progressed.
The extras include a soundcheck featuring an unmasked Buckethead with his face blurred out, and a wacky keyboard performance in a basement, where Buckethead plays a variety of atmospheric, theatrical lines to the tune of a rambling, improvised monologue by Guitar Player editor Jas Obrecht.
Of particular interest for guitar aficionados is a 15-minute solo performed by Buckethead at a family reunion in 1991. He goes through his whole bag of tricks, whipping out all the stops for a dazzling performance. One can't help but be impressed at the variety of sounds and technique that he had down at such a young age, from funk, to complex tapping compositions, to chicken pickin'.
Young Buckethead volume one is a well-rounded collection. While the sound is a bit rough for the Cactus Club show, the concert is still a good centerpiece to the DVD. The extras, such as the soundcheck and guitar solo, are also superior to those offered in volume two. I'm not sure how many repeated viewings one will get out of "Buckethead in the Basement" -- a clip that perhaps exemplifies the bizarre and largely inaccessible side of Buckethead's work -- but fans will be happy with it nonetheless.