Gary Lucas wrote in with news of a splendid review of his new 12″ vinyl leftfield dance single ‘Purple Somersault’. The record is released under the name Wild Rumpus and also features DJ Cosmo. Kris Needs, writing at DMC Update.com described the track as: “….. a funked groove set up then sand-blasted by Gary’s guitar, which manages to recall anyone from Link Wray to the Misunderstood with a melody recalling Hendrix’s ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ ….. some of the most devastatingly-effective guitar pyrotechnics heard all year ….. the Beefheart connection rears in club-world and it is indeed magical.” Gary told me a little about
Trout Mask Replica promo pack These poems by Don Van Vliet are from a Trout Mask Replica promo pack which was recently auctioned at eBay. I am uncertain whether there was originally a poem for John French as well, but as he was famously uncredited on the album this seems unlikely. Thanks to Gary L. for alerting me to these. Uncut manipulation Uncut magazine for November 2007 has a five page article about, “the men who made Trout Mask Replica and survived. Just…” John French, Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Gary Marker were interviewed by David Cavanagh who paints a lurid picture of the making of
An exhibition entitled ‘Don Van Vliet Works On Paper‘ runs 27 October 2007 – 1 December 2007 at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Michael Werner Gallery and includes Van Vliet works from the mid-1980s to the early 90s. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, October 27th from 6 to 9 pm. Further information can be found at David Kordansky Gallery’s website. David Kordansky Gallery, 510 Bernard Street, Los Angeles, CA. 90012 Tel. 323-222-1482 Fax. 323-227-7933
In June of 2007 I read a plug for “I Wanna Find Me A Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go” in Kyle Gann’s blog. The composer Art Jarvinen had used Don Van Vliet’s composition to illustrate an article which he had written about metametrics. This aroused my interest because it didn’t strike me that Captain Beefheart was a normal point of reference in the contemporary new classical music or conservatoire world. My feeling was, that in that milieu, Beefheart was more of a footnote than an example. If he was used as an example, wouldn’t he exemplify a particular professor’s
Scary Go Round, John Allison’s long-running internet comic strip, has this week turned its attention to The Captain Beefheart Story. A warning caption states that this is a difficult and complex yarn and is not for weak minds. How true this is. The notorious deal made between Don, Frank Zappa and the cat-starved Arabs is described in more detail than I have ever encountered, while the quotations from Captain Beefheart’s lyrics can only have been sourced from previously unheard out-takes in the Zappa vaults. All that being as it might or might not be, this is a compelling account of a story which all too
According to Gary Lucas in a 1996 interview for Seconds magazine, Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet’s last meeting was embarassing and distressing. Frank owned the rights to Bat Chain Puller, tracks from which Don wanted to use on Ice Cream for Crow. After some fruitless negotiation Don and Gary decided to confront Zappa face-to-face and ask for the use of the material. Zappa refused, saying, “Unless you buy all the masters back from me, it’s not worth it for me to split up the set. It won’t be worth that much out there in Beefheart-land.” Frank Zappa is generally acknowledged to have been a
Paris Hilton & Captain Beefheart, a new record by Knights of Infinite Resignation was released this week on the Next Best Records label. The record was inspired by this picture of Paris Hilton holding a copy of Trout Mask Replica which you may remember we mentioned about a year ago. Since that time the image has been reproduced at countless websites and blogs. Screenshots of some of these reproductions were even used in a video. The photograph has been a source of much wonder and speculation, astonishment and disbelief, and not least mirth and dismay. Could Paris Hilton, icon of everything shallow, really appreciate the
A number of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa albums and CDs have been donated for a charity raffle and signed by some of the musicians who recorded them. The raffle is in aid of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). Kitty Tripp, organiser of the raffle, says that among those who have donated so far are John French (Drumbo), Mark Boston (Rockette Morton), Cal Schenkel, Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), Denny Walley, Roy Estrada (Orejón), Jimmy Carl Black, Ed Mann and, of course, Art Tripp (Ed Marimba himself). There is no quality grading of the items to be won, so expect vinyl to be well played
Several home-made versions of Captain Beefheart numbers have been posted at nearby websites in the past few days. EvilFactman’s work in progress, Big Dummy, is at iCompositions. The vocals are not so far included. Matt LeGroulx’s versions of Hobo Chang Ba, Hot Head and One Red Rose That I Mean along with a Sugar ‘N Spikes (which is also waiting for its vocal track) are at his MySpace page. Matt says that Rockette Morton helped him out with cds of the individual guitar, bass and drum parts to make it easier for him to figure them out.
Sandy Dillon has previously covered at least a couple of Don Van Vliet’s compositions. Now, the cheeky Beefheart botherer has hijacked Don’s name to promote a programme of “Blues 20s/30s style” which she is performing with Ed Harcourt, among others, at a Dashiell Hammett night in London next month. Click on the picture for full details.
A previously unheard two and a half hour audio tape of Don Van Vliet conducting a press conference to promote Ice Cream For Crow is about to be to released at Houseplant Picture Studios website. The tape was recorded by Kurt Benbenek in Los Angeles in 1982 for his college newspaper. About twenty other student newspaper representatives were present during the four hour meeting. Don did not like the fluorescent lighting in the room so Kurt remembers that most of the conference took place in the dark. Subjects discussed include pygmies, tumbleweeds, Ronald Reagan and lack of sleep. Kurt wrote to me: I was literally
This photograph of a baseball signed by Don Van Vliet in 1982 at a press conference he held to promote Ice Cream For Crow replaces my previous post here. That post concerned the May release of audio from the press conference. The website owner who owns the tape of the press conference has been so overwhelmed by applications from visitors here that he has asked me to remove the name of his website and links to it. He wrote today – we checked our email this morning and we simply can’t handle that many potential downloads. Over-use penalties (with our host) would break us financially.
Lewis Taylor’s slightly sought-after version of Trout Mask Replica has hitherto been available on the web only in dribs and drabs . This weekend it is downloadable in its entirety, along with a mish-mash of other Lewis Taylor rarities at Okayplayer. [now removed] Lewis Taylor retired from the music industry in 2006. Findlay Brown, on the other hand, released his first recordings in 2006. One of the A-sides of his second single was the Captain Beefheart song ‘I’m Glad’. The Guardian described his live rendition of this song as a “luminous ballad“, while The Times heard it as “Johnny Cash-borrowing“. I’m Glad is downloadable at
Lick My Decals Off, Baby is simply not a composition which readily lends itself to being performed. So when I found Puttanesca’s video of one of their Lick My Decals Off, Baby rehearsals at their MySpace page I wrote to ask them to send me all sorts of obsessively interesting details about it. Weba Garretson, the group’s vocalist, promptly responded with an an engaging account of their work on the piece and included a scan of part of the transcription they used (click on the image for a readable version). [wp_quote]Decals is an evolving process for us. The version on the CD is similar to
We received a mail from Michael Traylor about a new project which involves Mark Boston. Here it is: [wp_quote]Just a note to let you know that Rockette and I have been working on a studio CD with a blues artist name Roger “Hurricane” Wilson….the CD should be released some time in early summer.. Rockette played bass and I played drums and am producing the project…one notable point is that we are doing a new arrangement of Sure Nuff and Yes I Do…there is some fun material such as a version of Exodus originally recorded by the Ventures…stay tuned for updates and links to the CD
Shiny Beasts is a compliation of the early work of acclaimed comic book artist Rick Veitch. The title is taken from Rick’s 1981 creation, Shiny Beast, which according to Stephen Bissette in his MYRANT page is more than just a nod to Captain Beefheart. Stephen describes at some length just what it is about Captain Beefheart which inspires Rick Veitch and himself. Many of us fondly remember Stephen Bissette’s work Big Eyed Beans From Venus which included lettering by Rick Veitch. Mike Lorah’s interview with Rick Veitch about Shiny Beasts is available at newsarama.com. Shiny Beasts will be published in April.
Here’s a photograph of the Van Vliet Flower Group’s tour waggon parked up at one of northern Englands newest music venues, the Don Van Vliet Lounge (click on the pictures for larger images). Sadly, the Van Vliet Flower Group is a multinational wholesaler of flowers and is not yet the name of a Captain Beefheart tribute band. The Don Van Vliet Lounge is just one of a suite of rehearsal rooms named after old musicians at the newly opened Rock and Roll Circus in Leeds.
Is this the earliest surviving Captain Beefheart poster? The hand-painted graphic work on poster paper (12″x18″) was made to advertise a Captain Beefheart concert at San Fernando Valley State College in May 1965. Victor Hayden, the artist responsible, was later to join The Magic Band as The Mascara Snake. Pamela Des Barres says that she removed the poster from the wall of Cleveland High School and has recently found it in her attic. It is now for sale at eBay.
Herb Bermann, the legendary poet who wrote most of Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk lyrics (and some more) appears on a new DVD recently recorded at a poetry reading at Beyond Baroque. Good-Bye to the Rodeo Grounds is a sort of momento of one of the last artist communities in Los Angeles, evicted to make way for a state park. In his interview for this website Herb talked about this, and of course about his involvement with Captain Beefheart. The DVD is available from Custom Flix or Amazon. There are several excerpts from it at YouTube, including an 8 minute sequence of Herb Bermann reading
Nigel Godrich, producer of Radiohead, Travis and Beck, among others, has become nostalgic for music videos as he remembers them. Curiously enough, his memory of music videos doesn’t seem to include the idea that music videos were always given away for free. So it is that if you would like to watch Nigel’s latest wheeze, From The Basement [now removed], an internet only music video source, you’ll have to pay for it. National Public Radio carries a story about this project. In From The Basement #1, Thom Yorke previews the new Radiohead album, The White Stripes perform Party Of Special Things To Do one more time,