Recording details:

Date – late 1974
Studio – Stronghold Sound Recorders, Hollywood
Producer – Andy DiMartino
Engineer – Gregg Ladangi

Musicians:

  • Don Van Vliet – vocals, harmonica
  • Dean Smith – guitar
  • Ira Ingber – bass
  • Bob West – bass (Observatory Crest only)
  • Michael Smotherman – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Mark Gibbons – keyboards
  • Gene Pello – drums
  • Jimmy Caravan – keyboards, star machine
  • Ty Grimes – percussion

This album is dedicated to Denny Rosencrantz (who is he?)

The front cover is a painting by Don’s cousin Victor Hayden (aka The Mascara Snake)

Track list

  1. Party Of Special Things To Do (Don Vliet / Elliot Ingber) 3.12
  2. Same Old Blues (J.J.Cale) 4.00
  3. Observatory Crest (Don Vliet / Elliot Ingber) 3.28
  4. Pompadour Swamp (Don Vliet) 3.27
  5. Captain’s Holiday (R.Feldman / W.Richmond / S.Hickerson / C.Blackwell) 5.42
  6. Rock and Roll’s Evil Doll (Don Vliet / Mark Gibbons / Ira Ingber) 3.09
  7. Further Than We’ve Gone (Don Vliet) 5.00
  8. Twist Ah Luck (Don Vliet / Mark Gibbons / Ira Ingber) 3.17
  9. Bluejeans And Moonbeams (Don Vliet) 5.09

Album overview from Graham Johnston

Well, this is mostly pretty ropey stuff – pejoratively known as the Tragic Band for good reason, it’s the only Beefheart album that I wouldn’t recommend.

The absolute nadir is Captain’s Holiday – a completely pointless and horribly dull instrumental which somehow manages to set the tone of the album and overshadow the better tracks. Party Of Special Things To Do has some redeeming qualities but still manages to sound more like a Beefheart pastiche than the real thing.

It does still have a couple of outstanding moments however – “Observatory Crest” and the title track are simply gorgeous tunes; big soppy career highlights in my opinion. Observatory Crest was the first tune I played when I learned about Don Van Vliet’s death in 2010; possibly the second, third and fourth tunes too. Here’s a very faithful cover by Mercury Rev:

It is possible that you can live without the rest of the material on this very flimsy offering but it’s worth owning for those two gems.

Reviews

Purchase Bluejeans and Moonbeams

6 Comments »

  1. Boo says:

    Mu favourite Beefheart album by far.
    Don’t believe the unhype.

  2. Steve Williamson says:

    I never agree with the “downers” of this great album which, in my opinion is in the top three of Beefheart’s “masterpieces”. I think a lot of critics try to out “weird” one another and although I do really like the early works of the captain including the famous Trout Mask Replica, I personally think that his finest three albums (in no particular order) are Bluejeans & Moonbeams, Unconditionally Guaranteed and Clear Spot, which are works of sheer genius. Favourite track of all time – Bluejeans & Moonbeams.

  3. Fred Acer says:

    This is one of my favourite tracks. I got some stick for liking this recently, but bluejeans has a definite ‘Beefheart’ quality to it. For me it seems as if it’s going a bit too slow and might fall-over, but carries on going like a pushbike sallying down a slow-incline. ok – a bit fanciful – but it’s hard to describe why you like beefheart sometimes.
    Do you know what he instrument/keyboard is that gives the dominant sound and what produces the high soaring notes.
    Sleeve notes say there is a ‘star machine’ on this track but I can’t find out what it is?

  4. Boo Long says:

    My favourite Beefheart album as it happens. Some lovely songs, and how anyone can fail to appreciate the beautiful lead guitar playing astounds me. Maybe just regurgitating the popular opinion without listening?

    • Boo Long says:

      Ooops.. Just realised I already commented last year!
      I may have been drunk, looking at the typo, so this one’s the sober version.
      :o)

  5. Mike Harrison says:

    A dud in the Captain’s canon, fer sure.
    Except that “Further Than We’ve Gone” is one of my all-time favourite Beefheart songs. About as atypical as you could find in his output.
    A charming little snippet of lyric given a truly sumptuous arrangement, which I suspect Don had little if anything to do with.
    The simple piano figures fit perfectly and the guitar solo is simply stunningly constructed and played. It builds beautifully without bombast and does not outstay it’s welcome.

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