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A Beginner's Guide To Buckethead

Buckethead has one of the biggest discographies in music. His solo work alone comprises over 65 albums, and he has over 100 others with various bands and lurker appearances. This plethora of material can often be intimidating for an uninitiated Bucketbot to sort through. I haven't listened to all of his material, but I have heard (and reviewed) a fair amount of it. With that in mind, I present to you: the beginner's guide to Buckethead. It consists of 13 albums (13 is the obvious number to choose for Buckethead, as you will understand after perusing and listening to his discography) you should start with, and then an additional 6 for further listening should you like what you heard. So, without further ado, here's your ticket... welcome to Bucketheadland.
Giant Robot

Buckethead's 2nd solo release is the perfect place to start. It introduces you to the lore of Bucketheadland and has a sampling of virtually all of his various sides- you have your metal riffs, ballads, funky stuff, etc. etc.

Check out "Colma" next, which is widely regarded as one of Big B's best releases. Written for his mother while she was in the hospital, the album has some of Buckethead's most beautiful tracks and shows off his acoustic playing. I think I read somewhere that Paul McCartney is a fan of this album. As far as I'm concerned, that's all the more reason to listen to it.
The Elephant Man's Alarm Clock

Next, go to "The Elephant Man's Alarm Clock." This is considered by many to be one of, if not the, best Buckethead album ever released. It's got the four part Lurker at the Threshold series. Final Wars. Droid Assembly. Bird with a Hole in the Stomach. Space bass solos. Tapping. Killswitch. Insanity. Beautiful balladry. Riffs so heavy they make you want to punch a kid. Amazing production. Bootsy Collins. In other words... everything you could possibly want in a Buckethead album.
Population Override

A blues jam album with Travis Dickerson, Pinchface, and Choptop, "Population Override" is one of Buckethead's mellower and more chilled out releases overall. This doesn't mean it has any less impact than his heavier stuff, though; indeed, "Population Override" contains some of the most gorgeous melodies Big B has ever played. This album shows yet another side of Buckethead.
5Giant Robot
Giant Robot (NTT)

Giant Robot (yes, the same name as the album) is a side-project of Bucekthead's which has to date released only one album. However, it is considered by many fans to be the holy grail of all Buckethead albums, and with good reason: it encompasses everything from lightning fast guitar shredding to Jimi Hendrix-esque funk breakdowns to country jamborees, and does all well. Also prevalent are voice samples from movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Clockwork Orange. The only disappointment on here is the pointless 'Idle Hands', a track that barely tops the one minute mark and doesn't contribute to the album in any significant way. The other pieces on here are almost all great, though; particularly the slightly funky 'Scraps', wacky experimental rocker 'Binge Buddies', and the beautiful 'Mrs. Beasley.' You can download this one for free (and legally) online. Many of these songs would be re-recorded for "Monsters and Robots," Buckethead's best-selling solo album. I consider this to be the superior release, however, and thus recommend checking it out over that one.
The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell

This is the album where Buckethead lets his metal side really shine. All 17 of the songs here are heavy, loud, and awesome. If you love metal music but don't like the screaming vocals often associated with it, this is the album for you- it's all instrumental. A must-listen.
Electric Tears

Basically the polar opposite of the last record, "Electric Tears" is Buckethead's softest album. It ebbs and flows throughout, providing a serene experience featuring many of Buckethead's most gorgeous songs ever. It is different than Colma, though- it features no percussion and is more ambient than that record. Even people who can't stand Big B's other stuff tend to love "Electric Tears"- my Dad once asked me what that beautiful music I was playing was, and when I told him Buckethead, he couldn't believe it.
Bermuda Triangle

This choice might seem slightly out of left field for some fans, but hear me out. "Bermuda Triangle" is an important record for getting a complete picture of Buckethead because it is perhaps his most accomplished electronic/funk record. Also, it has 'Sea of Expanding Shapes' on it, which is one of his most underrated songs ever.
Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis)

The first album Buckethead ever played on, and also one of my personal favourites, Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) is a wild ride from beginning to end. The multi-faceted compositions on here jump from genre to genre effortlessly, and every moment on here (aside from the overlong organ outro on the last song) is precise and perfectly placed. Packed with detail, this is an album which requires multiple listens to fully appreciate, but once you do, look out: you may have a new favourite.
Crime Slunk Scene

The infamous "record of two halves," Crime Slunk Scene shows Buckethead at his best in both. Not only is Soothsayer on here, which is one his most well known songs, but a wealth of other amazing tracks are too, and it all adds up to one of Big B's greatest releases.

Thanatopsis is one of the most accomplished of Buckethead's numerous side projects. "Axiology" is essentially a smooth jazz album, with a very clean sound and fantastic production. This record represents yet another side to Buckethead, and is so well done I can't not put it here.
Bucketheadland 2

I recommend listening to Bucketheadland 2, but be warned: it isn't for everybody. It has some of Buckethead's heaviest material ever, but it also contains numerous skits, voice samples, and freaky acoustic tracks from 'Albert.' Though it may be polarizing, this record is a landmark in the lore of Buckethead and therefore a must-listen.
The Shores of Molokai

Buckethead's newest album series is called Buckethead Pikes. He's currently releasing them, and doing so at such a rapid rate I can't keep up. From the ones I have heard, though, this is the best. Of all Buckethead's recent releases, this is the one to check out. Sound-wise, it features a nice mix of styles, though it's all rooted in the instrumental progressive experimental guitar virtuoso rock he's so known for.

Like the 13 above? Here is some further listening...
Inbred Mountain

A perennial fan favourite, "Inbred Mountain" encompasses a lot of what makes Buckethead such a unique composer: radical genre jumps mid-song, bizarre and atonal guitar effects, insanely fast shredding, beautiful melodies... they're all there.

Buckethead's debut record might sound rough around the edges to some, but it is one of my personal favourites and features a lot of Buckethead hallmarks (sampling, shredding, etc.). Some of the material is similar, or was even re-recorded for, "Giant Robot." This is pretty hard to find, but is well worth a listen if you can get a copy.
17Death Cube K

Death Cube K is an anagram of Buckethead, and it is the moniker he uses to release ambient material. Listen to "Dreamatorium" for a good taste of this side of the masked guitarist.
Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot

Darker and more experimental than many of Buckethead's solo outings, Decoding the Tomb of Bansheebot is without a doubt one of the most consistent releases from Big B. From opener "Materializing the Disembodied" all the way to "Sail on Soothsayer", a heartfelt tribute to Aunt Suzie (probably a relative, though we don't know for certain whether that is a nickname or not), Buckethead pours his soul out and, luckily, we are all here to witness it.
19Deli Creeps
Dawn of the Deli Creeps

Deli Creeps were the first band that Buckethead played with. They released a demo tape in 1991, split up, released another in 1996, split up again, and then finally released their first record in 2007. This is not an instrumental record- Maximum Bob provides vocals here. A schizophrenic, insane listen from a band Mike Patton called "so good they piss me off."
20 Buckethead
In Search of The...

Okay, so I cheated here. "In Search of The..." is actually a 13-CD set of all new music released by Buckethead in 2007. Though this may seem like a lot to take in, and it is, the set has a lot of excellent material and is well worth the effort invested in listening to it.
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