This live review was written by Tristram Lozaw and originally appeared in February 1981 Boston Rock. Pressed in a recent Lester Bangs interview for something he could compare to his music, Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart named the “speed and emotion” of works by artist Franz Kline. Beefheart seems to rely on shapes instead of notes. Word sounds instead of lyrics. Equations that don’t necessarily balance. Approaching music as the artist / sculptor he is, Beefheart’s communiques are more often directed at his band (his canvas) than the audience. A painter doesn’t throw a swash of color onto his creation and then talk toRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review was written by Mark Leviton and appeared in the 27th February 1981 edition of ‘BAM'[/alert_box] “You either love it or hate it,” explained the guy standing behind me to his wary girlfriend during Captain Don’s blistering set. “It’s the weirdest music I’ve ever heard, but I love it.” I don’t think the friend was convinced. Captain Beefheart certainly is an original, and with his new band (guitarists Jeff Tepper and “Midnight Hat Size” Snyder, bass and keyboard man Eric Feldman and drummer Robert Williams) he’s launched on a retrenching operation, basically abandoning his sometime commercial attempts and heading for the woods ofRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Robert Palmer, from the 30th November 1980 New York Times[/alert_box] Don Van Vliet, who is better known as Captain Beefheart, writes some of the knottiest, most extravagantly off-center music ever played on amplified instruments. One can remember earlier Beefheart concerts and be familiar with his recordings and still be unprepared for the sheer physical impact of two or three electric guitars, bass and drums hammering out rhythms that seem to trip over themselves in perfect unison, and of Mr. Van Vliet declaiming helter-skelter in a voice that veers edgily from a falsetto hiccup to a buzz-saw rasp. Captain Beefheart has been writingRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Chas De Whalley, taken from the New Musical Express from either November or December 1975. Many thanks to Chas for giving his approval to the Radar Station for featuring this article.[/alert_box] DON’T BELIEVE what your mother tells you kids, there really is a Legion of Super Heroes. Quiet, mild mannered, and sensitive he may be, but Don Van Vliet is also the Spotlight Kid and with Drumbo and Winged Eel Fingerling he beamed down to London to save us. He also saved his sagging reputation. Forget the self pity that’s haunted the Captain for the last couple of years, he’s once againRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review was written by Hot Scott Fisher and originally appeared in Phonograph Record Magazine, April 1973[/alert_box] As we all know, Chicago is renowned for having its roots firmly planted in the blues. That, of course, makes it fertile territory for Captain Beefheart who unmistakingly got his start with the idiom (listen to his Budda LP SAFE AS MILK or an obscure A&M single from the mid-sixties Fryin’ Pan). No matter how far from its standards he journeyed in his avant garde jazz – verbal, imagery period well expressed on TROUT MASK REPLICA and LICK MY DECALS OFF BABY, he never really lost touchRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Lady Bangla Boom, taken from the May 1972 Phonograph Record Magazine.[/alert_box] “I really must apologise for this P.A.,” the Captain said to his Albert Hall audience, “I’m sorry, really sorry.” The audience fell silent – “I’m not THAT serious,” APPLAUSE – “but I am very sorry. The next time I am here, I will bring my own PA.” The long awaited concert was sadly marred by hired PA. trouble (stop me if you’ve heard this story). The Captain was visibly upset by the strange noises being emitted from the massive ($$$) system, and in the middle of one composition, he flung theRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Bob Palmer, taken from the April 1971 edition of Jazz & Pop News.[/alert_box] Ry Cooder, with his group, and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, bowed to the New York Press at Ungano’s in mid-winter. Both are among the more progressive Warner/Reprise acts, though their use of musical traditions accounts in part for their unique sounds. Cooder, on first, played a brief set composed entirely of country blues pieces from the 1920s and 30s, originated by Blind Willie Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, and others. His bottleneck guitar, and his mandolin styling as well, were classic in that he approached his material asRead More →

Hmmm… is this the very best surviving clip of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band? I think it could be: Recorded on 15 January 1971 at WABX Studio, directed by Chuck Reti. Available on the enhanced disc of Grow Fins. Track list When Big Joan Sets Up Woe Is Uh Me Bop Bellerin’ Plain Line up Don Van Vliet Bill Harkleroad Mark Boston Elliot Ingber Art Tripp John FrenchRead More →