Buckethead – Giant Robot

Experimental Rock, Guitar Virtuoso, Progressive Metal

★★★

Giant Robot features several hallmarks of Buckethead lore: the Bucketheadland theme park, wacky voice samples, movie themes, and genres as diverse as heavy metal, funk, and acoustic balladry. While eclectic, it feels in many ways like a re-record of the Bucketheadland debut record: it even features several redone tunes from that one (“Welcome to Bucketheadland,” “I Love My Parents,” “Pure Imagination”).

The record is also flawed in other ways; some songs go on way too long (“I Come in Peace,” “Buckethead’s Toy Store”), the copious voice samples render replayability rather low, and did we really need the minute-long beatbox number “Chicken?”

On the plus side, though, the creativity is admirable, and the performances are great. Giant Robot is thus recommended, but you likely won’t give it more than a few spins. Because of its variety and relative cohesiveness, this one is, along with Monsters and Robots, a good record for Buckethead beginners.

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Buckethead – Monsters and Robots

Alternative Metal, Experimental Rock, Guitar Virtuoso

★★★

Monsters and Robots is Buckethead’s best-selling record, and contains one of his few songs to receive a music video (“The Ballad of Buckethead,” which features Les Claypool on vocals atop distinctly non-ballad instrumentation). Furthermore, a couple of tracks from Giant Robot NTT have been re-recorded, sans their ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ voice clips (“Jowls,” “Scapula”).

Elsewhere, there are blistering guitar solos (“Jump Man,” “Nun Chuka Kata”) and funky numbers (“The Shape Vs Buckethead,” “Stun Operator”). “Who Me?” features a gorgeous acoustic riff, but it is interspersed with groaning and moaning noises and only lasts two minutes.

Overall, Monsters and Robots is a good place for Buckethead beginners, as there is a wide variety of material and it’s mostly solid, but the majority of his most incisive material is found elsewhere.

Buckethead – The Day of the Robot

Atmospheric Drum and Bass, Experimental Rock

★★★½

Buckethead’s perennially underrated third record features his shred-tastic playing atop synth bass-heavy, jungle drum-laden techno beats. It’s a far cry from his previous two outings of abusement park extravaganza, but The Day of the Robot‘s unique combination of metal shred guitar and drum ‘n’ bass backing (courtesy of the UK-based DJ Ninj) really works. “Destroyer” is particularly good, shifting from crushing heavy chords to atmospheric dub à la early Praxis.

Buckethead – Shadows Between the Sky

Acoustic Rock

★★★

In the vein of ColmaShadows Between the Sky is an all-clean record, featuring beautiful melodies (“Cookies for Santa”) and technically astounding playing (the title track). Some of the material gets lost in the shuffle (“Centrum”), but this is mostly good stuff that Buckethead fan and non-fan alike should be able to appreciate.

Buckethead – A Real Diamond in the Rough

Progressive Rock

★★★½

This one’s a mostly mellow release. There are nice textures (“Squid Ink”), plenty of tender moments (“Big D’s Touch”), and one of Buckethead’s best rock tracks (“Separate Sky”). There are too many interludes, and the second half could use another uptempo song, but A Real Diamond in the Rough is one of Buckethead’s better post-ISOT releases.

Buckethead – Six String Giant

Experimental Rock

★★★½

A Buckethead bootleg containing two live sets: one at The Palace in Japan, from 1992, and one at New York’s Electric Church, from 2000.

The Palace set, despite poor recording quality, is absolutely fascinating for a fan of early Buckethead. Movie themes (including ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Terminator’) are featured, as well as some stuff off Bucketheadland (“Skids Looking Where,” “Nosin”).

The Electric Church set is slightly better quality-wise, and is a more typical, but still entertaining, affair (“Jowls,” “Jump Man”). Big B fans would do well to scour the web for this one; the playing is astounding.