The Beefheart Toronto Project is a group of Canadian musicians who are working together to record a number of Don’s songs.
Their statement of intent on their Facebook page says that they will:
Cover one song from every Beefheart LP plus something each from the 1966 A&M sessions and the 1975 Zappa collaborations. We opted to include extra tracks from Trout & Decals because the music is so spectacular and ground breaking.
The musical director of the Project is keyboardist/vocalist Tony Malone who used to front a band called Basketcase that recorded a version of Ashtray Heart back in 1994. The Project started as just a couple of musicians working in a home studio but has now developed into a small core band who call in guests to help out on particular tracks.
Over the past year or so the band have been posting demos of their works in progress on Soundcloud. They have now posted, under the heading Carp Mark Replica Part 1, what they call their “first set of masters” which includes 13 pieces:
- Yellow Brick Road
- Beatle Bones ‘n Smokin Stones
- Ella Guru
- Hair Pie Bake 1
- Hair Pie Bake 2
- Hair Pie Bake 3 (bass solo)
- Bellerin Plain
- Dr Dark
- Dr Dark Drums
- Click Clack
- Long Necked Bottles
- Ashtray Heart (this is the version originally recorded by Basketcase)
Some solid performances here. They’ve obviously spent time perfecting these songs and the confidence of the playing shows it was time well spent. All the arrangements are pretty much recognisable but there are few surprises along the way – electronics and keyboards substitute for sax and marimba for example. Yellow Brick Road is the one track that gets the biggest makeover. Tony Malone’s vocals are suitably growly at times without trying to copy Don exactly. Sharp drumming and thundering bass. Great fun, so take a listen …
Check out their work here – https://soundcloud.com/beefheart-project-toronto
The band’s attention now moves to the later albums including Don’s 1975 collaboration with Zappa, although they will be revisiting the early days with a cover of Frying Pan. The plan is to have 25 tracks recorded and then possibly look at some live performances.