Blabber ‘n’ Smoke
1981 UK tape White Patterns On Her Dress on Funky Weird Tapes FW001
19?? UK vinyl Various Artists : We Couldn’t Agree On A Title on ICR001
Funky Weird produced a series of deliberately lo-fi (before the term was used) cheaply recorded tracks and released them on cassette only.
This is probably the first cover version of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke attempted. It’s not bad considering the guitars and drums are being played in what seems to be an attempt at out of tune punk version of the ‘Trout Mask’ sound.
The compilation album is of artists who recorded at London’s Street Level studio.
Thanks to Arild Stromsvag for finally ending my search for a copy of this tune.
Moonlight On Vermont
2012 live Freddy’s Back Room, Brooklyn NY
Performed live as part of the Beefstock South tribute show on 14 January 2012 which you can find on Youtube. No details about the band. The less said about the contrived name the better!
The Android Trio
Steal Softly Thru Snow
2021 released on YouTube only
Magic Band alumni, Andy Niven, Eric Klerks and Max Kutner continue to carry the Beefheart flame with a storming version of Steal Softly with throat-shredding vocals from Peter Niven.
2004 CD Dropout! on Bad Afro Records AFROCD021
2004 vinyl Dropout! on Bad Afro Records AFROLP021
Included on a covers album of some of the band’s favourite obscure (and not so obscure) sixties garage band songs.
There are notes on each song. This is what they say about Dropout Boogie:
Safe As Milk … if you don’t know this record,
you really should check it out – no matter what kind of music you
normally listen to. Once we listened to DROPOUT BOOGIE at least
30 times in a row, while driving from Oslo to Copenhagen in our
little van. No shit!
Their version of the song strips it back to the basics with distorted vocals, and guitar solos where the original broke for a waltz interlude.
The cover of the album shows the band sittiing around grooving to a portable turntable surrounded by singles, albums and girlie mags. Top of the pile of albums is Safe As Milk.
The Balancing Act
Zig Zag Wanderer
1987 US Vinyl New Campfire Songs on Primitive Man Recording Co IRS39097
Originally formed in 1984 to perform singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Davis’ songs, the L.A.-based Balancing Act was built around acoustic guitars, distinctive harmonies, intelligent, quirky songs, and an assorted array of instruments such as melodica, recorder and even a shortwave radio. Even though the band forged its sound around acoustic-based songs they also employed touches of atonality and rhythmic twists.
You can watch them perform Zig Zag Wanderer on Youtube – recorded at the University of Texas in 1987
Les Bandis du Vidourle
This cover from a band based in Nimes, France. Sorry but I have no other information.
Thanks to Jean Michel Thiriet for sending this to me.
The Barely Works
Tropical Hot Dog Night
1990 UK CD The Big Beat on Cooking Vinyl COOKCD 024
Thanks to Derek Laskie for spotting this one – he comments “this succeeds for me despite the slightly embarassing growly vocal at the start. Includes flutes, fiddle, trombone and tuba breaks and rocks in at 4:51.”
Tom Barman & Guy Van Neuten
2003 Belgium CD Live on Universal 986-5925
Tom Barman (of Belgian rockers dEUS, who’ve referenced Beefheart often) in a side project with Guy van Neuten released a live acoustic double album. They play some dEUS songs and a number of covers. Their version of ‘Harry Irene’, recorded in Rotterdam in 2002, is fairly true to the original but is piano driven.
1995 Canadian CD You People Are Sick on Basketcase International BC-1
These Canadians open up another case of the punks and give the song a hard rock outing. Pity the rest of the album is so nihilistic! Keyboardist Tony Malone now fronts the Beefheart Toronto Project which has recorded some interesting takes on other Beefheart classics.
The Beat Poets
Gimme Dat Harp Boy
Sun Zoom Spark
The Beat Poets, formed in 1986, were “… Scotland’s Premier Surfin’ Instrumental Rock & Roll Band” led by Tom Rafferty. They have turned up on a number of tribute albums. Tom had been a member of The Primevals (who were also on the Fast ‘n’ Bulbous album) and bassist Big John Honeyman played for both The Beat Poets and The Primevals.
Tom Rafferty told the Radar Station about their Beefheart influence and the links between the two bands:
I’d like to clarify the Beat Poets/ Primevals
connections. The Primevals are led by Michael Rooney, my good
friend, and have been since 1983. I was in the band for the first
3 years. I left, on good terms, and formed The Beat Poets. The
Primevals are a rock & roll band steeped in American music,
blues, jazz, rock & roll, – the Clyde is their Delta. The
Beat Poets are a surf band – Dick Dale is one of our guiding lights
( we supported him when he came over to Scotland). So we don’t sing.
Big John Honeyman helped the Beat Poets out one
night when our regular bass player was ill. It worked so well
that we kept him. John now works as both a Beat Poet and a Primeval.
The point I’d like to get across is that although
the bands are good friends and have shared some members over the
years, we are different – the Primevals are Michael’s gang, the
Beat Poets mine.
I should also add that the Beat Poets have been led
by Tom Rafferty and Keith Bruce! (It’s only fair – he’s been with
me since the start!)
Both bands were big fans already, in particular Michael
Rooney – we shared a flat together for some years and he regularly
blasted out Trout Mask Replica, Clear Spot, Safe as Milk – he introduced
me to the magic of the Captain during the early 80s.
The Primevals regularly played both China Pig and
Crazy Little thing live. I did a few gigs back with the Primevals
helping out when their regular guitarists have been unavailable,
and the set included China Pig one time, and Hard Workin Man, which
I’ve seen them play a lot. The Primevals are still gigging – I was
back in the lineup when we proudly supported the Nomads 18 months
ago. The Beat Poets are heading back into the rehearsal rooms soon
– work commitments have been in the way, but I’m back home now.
The Beasts of Bourbon
Hard Work Drivin’ Man
1988 Australia 7″ Hard Work Drivin’ Man // Elvis Impersonator Blues / I Love You Because on Red Eye RED17
1988 Australia vinyl Sour Mash on Red Eye REDLP5
1989 Germany vinyl Sour Mash on Red Eye / Normal REDLP5
1990 Australia CD Sour Mash on Red Eye / Polydor REDCD5)
1991? Australia CD Live Volume Two on Oblivion Records ORCD9102
Thanks to Werner Ahrensfeld for the information who added the comment “This version is excellent in my opinion.”
2002 various dates live – unreleased
Beck has performed this song live on two occasions at least; on 24 February 2002 at the Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA and on 17 August 2002 at Zellebach Theatre, Philadelphia (this version can be heard on Youtube.)
The Beefheart Project
Upon The My Oh My
Blabber ‘n Smoke
New Electric Ride
This Is The Day
Happy Love Song
2011 live – unreleased
The above listed set was performed at the Mosae Zappa, Muziekgieterij Maastricht, the Netherlands on 7 May 2011. An unusual, and some might say, safe selection of songs but this Dutch band gave them all a loose jazzy feel that worked surprisingly well.
I don’t know if this was a one-off concert or there are plans for further shows. The band is:
Tejo Verstappen – vocals
Bert Oostindie – guitars
Mike Roelofs – assorted keyboards
Geert Roelofs – drums
Check out YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=beefheart+project&aq=f for the complete show
Beefheart Toronto Project
Beatle Bones ‘n Smokin Stones
Dr Dark Drums
Hair Pie Bake 1
Hair Pie Bake 2
Hair Pie Bake 3 (bass solo)
Long Necked Bottles
Yellow Brick Road
The Beefheart Toronto Project is a group of Canadian musicians who are working together to record a number of Don’s songs, at least one culled from each of his albums. The plan is to have 25 tracks recorded and then possibly look at some live performances. The first part of the Carp Mask Replica was added to Soundcloud at the beginning of 2016.
The Project is guided by keyboardist / vocalist Tony Malone, previously of the band Basketcase who recorded a version of Ashtray Heart.
Check out their work here – https://soundcloud.com/beefheart-project-toronto
This track is included on the Genus Records’ Mama Kangaroos tribute album.
Beatle Bones ‘n’ Smokin’ Stones
Big Mess Orchestra
Run Paint Run Run
This track is included on the Genus Records’ Mama Kangaroos tribute album.
Black & Farrell
Sure Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do
1996 German CD Cataract Jump on Fritz FR952014-1
Jimmy Carl Black (aka Indian Ink) teams up with blues guitarist Richard Farrell for this album and covers the classic blues tune that Don revamped for ‘Safe As Milk’.
See also Chadbourne & Black and The Muffin Men.
The Black Gang
A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond
1999 US 7″ This Is A Prayer on Kill Rock Stars KRS-352
A band comprising Mike Watt (firehose; Minutemen; The Stooges), Nels Cline and Bob Lee. Clear orange-coloured vinyl with picture sleeve. Watt has this to say on the back cover “… w/much due respect to captain beefheart (don van vliet) for all his wondrous tunes”
The Black Keys
Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles
2009 US CD Various Artists: Covered – A Revolution In Music on Warner Bros Records
Here I Am ( I Always Am)
2008 US 7″ I Got Mine / Here I Am( I Always Am) on V2 Records VVR5051097
This blues rock duo from Akron have previously covered another song with a Beefheart connection – ‘Grown So Ugly’.
The version of ‘Here I Am’ on the b-side of a single was recorded at Suma Studios but the song has been a regular fixture in their live setlist through most of 2008.
‘I’m Glad’ was recorded one day at Dan Auerbach’s house and has somehow escaped onto the internet. It’s a raw version similar to the original and played at the same languid pace until a scorching guitar kicks in about halfway through which ratchets up the intensity levels.
‘Her Eyes’ is a pretty impressive heavy version with wah-wah.
Here I Am ( I Always Am)
1994 US 7″ w/ Searchin’ on In The Red Records
1994 US vinyl I Got A Baaad Feelin’ About This on In The Red Records ITR027
1994 US CD I Got A Baaad Feelin’ About This on In The Red Records ITR27
199? Australian CD Up All Night AuGoGo Records ANDA 188CD
2009 UK CD Love Bomb on Sunbeam Records SBR2CD5049
This UK psychedelic band released several fine albums in the late 60s. On this previously unreleased collection of live tracks recorded between 1967 and 1969 is their cover of Electricity. It says it was recorded in August 1967 in Sweden. I don’t doubt the venue but the date seems very unlikely as Safe As Milk wasn’t issued in the US until September 1967!
Crazy Little Thing
199? US CD To Jam is Human, to Gig Divine
This Californian club band released their version on a live cd.
I have no other details about this.
2003 US CD eveningshadesprevail self released
Don’s slow ballad from Safe As Milk is given a faster and more upbeat setting here making it sound like a classic sixties bubblegum happy summery chart hit that it might have been (with a hint of The Beautiful South?).
This track is also included on the Genus Records’ Mama Kangaroos tribute album.
This track was originally credited to Bilenky Cycle Works, then this was changed to Friends of Janet and is now credited to Janet Bressler. Janet, who was lead singer with Bilenky Cycle Works, told the Radar Station about her involvement and recording one of Don’s songs:
Steve Bilenky (guitarist for Bilenky Cycle
Works) was in a band called The Notekillers. (see www.davidfirst.com
for their history). The Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart
were both big influences on The Notekillers… my own knowledge
of Beefheart was limited to “Big-Eyed Beans From Venus”,
“Lick My Decals Off Baby” and “I’m Gonna Booglarize
You, Baby” all of which I dug and would work quotes from into
conversation – so, Captain Beefheart was always part of my lexicon
even if in a small way.
When Mike Villers approached me about doing
a song for the compilation, I knew that Steve would really be into
covering Beefheart, and I’m basically open to anything :) … Villers
chose the song for me… I like to think of myself as a soul singer
even though my own stuff is more rock’n’roll… we recorded the
song as a basic soul-influenced rock tune, then Villers went back
to the studio without us and added extra guitar tracks, plus horns,
keyboards, and backing vocals (none of which were in our regular
line-up). I loved the result… I always wished I was Otis Redding,
so here was my chance to approximate that sound…
Dave Brock and Mick Slattery
A pre-Hawkwind recording which as far as I know has never seen the light of day. Dave Brock described it as “a silly psychedelic single”. It’s mentioned on page six of the book The Saga of Hawkwind by Carol Clerk (Omnibus Press 2004) … however the chronology is a bit odd as Safe as Milk wasn’t released in the US until September 1967.
Thanks to Justin Flude for the heads up about this.
A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond
1997 US 7″ w/ Returns To The Orange Grove / Divines Water on Thrill Jockey Records THRILL041
A side project by Tortoise guitarist Douglas McCombs. Seems to be solo although Archer Prewitt helps out on the title track.
Edgar Broughton Band
1970 UK 7″ Apache Dropout / Freedom on Harvest HAR5032
1970 Germany 7″ with picture sleeve on Harvest 1 C 006-04 685
1975 UK vinyl A Bunch Of 45s on Harvest SHM2001
1992 UK CD Edgar Broughton Band Singles Compilation on Document Series CSAP CD109
1999 UK CD Harvest Festival on EMI Harvest 521198 2
2001 UK CD Out Demons Out on EMI 5310672
A inspired pairing of ‘Dropout Boogie’ with The Shadows instrumental hit ‘Apache’ – and the first Beefheart cover to be released. Actually listed on the label as ‘Apache Drop Out – Apache introducing Drop Out Boogie’. Edgar Broughton has been one of the few singers to get close to any of Don’s voices – much of their early work has Beefheart sounding vocals. The band were highly popular on the late 60s / early ’70s underground scene in the UK with their agit-prop theatrics, ‘Out Demons Out’ chant, general fuck-authority approach and being always willing to play at free concerts. A great live band!
By the way, ‘Harvest Festival’ is a 5CD various artists retrospective of the 1970s UK progressive label – a pretty drastic way to get a copy of this cover but there’s some other excellent music on there too.
Too Much Time
2009 CD Lay Your Burdon Down on Alligator Records
To celebrate their 30th anniversary Buckwheat Zydeco released this album and set up a new tour. The version of Too Much time is done a straightforward competent fashion. Nothing flashy and nothing unusual … it’s not even given a zydeco twist.
Built To Spill
2013 live at various venues
A US band based around Oregon (I’m guessing) have performed ‘Abba Zaba’ a number of times live as part of their set. Check them out on Youtube.
I Love You, You Big Dummy
1978 UK vinyl (bootleg) Time’s Up on Voto Lyn5333
One of the classic bootlegs of the Punk era. However the song is titled here as ‘I Love Everybody’. It was recorded at the Buzzcocks first session in October 1976 along with other tracks that would be released on their ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP. Like all punk songs at this time it doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at 1:21 this is less than half the length of the already short original version!
The decision to record ‘Dummy’ must have been Howard Devoto’s as he also covered it with his band Magazine formed after leaving the Buzzcocks.
1991 UK CD (bootleg) Time’s Up on DIYE 2
2000 UK CD Time’s Up on Mute Records Scratch2CD
1995 Holland CD Bwana 3 on Munich Records MRCD174
A Dutch guitar, keyboards and saxophone trio admitted that Beefheart was an important musician but that they were not influenced by him. For this cover “we simplified the difficult rhythmic structures into a sort of ZZ Top rhythm.”
unknown date, unreleased
The former Talking Heads frontman is a Beefheart fan and would begin live shows with his version of Well, sometimes with a drum machine backing, sometimes with guitar and/or horns although for some reason would not use all the lyrics of the original.