Virgin/EMI are to rerelease their entire Captain Beefheart back catalogue on CD on Monday 7th August. The albums have all been remastered and Captain Beefheart biographer Mike Barnes has written informative liner notes which set out the context and circumstances of the creation of each album.
The Virgin/EMI publicity machine should ensure that Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band get more publicity in the near future than they have had in years. Some people will come to listen to Captain Beefheart’s music for the first time, others may be tempted to listen again after many years. The Virgin catalogue has a range of Beefheart’s musical styles to choose from, so those unfamiliar with these albums can read The Radar Station’s overview of each one by clicking on the titles below.
Virgin’s first Captain Beefheart studio album was ‘Unconditionally Guaranteed’ (1974). ‘Bluejeans & Moonbeams’ followed later that same year. ‘Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)’ (1978), ‘Doc At The Radar Station’ (1980) and ‘Ice Cream For Crow’ (1982) complete the Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band story.
Virgin’s 2006 reissues of these CDs contain no previously unreleased recordings, although ‘Ice Cream For Crow’ does contain a bonus track, ‘Light Reflected Off The Oceands Of The Moon’ which was originally released on an 1982 ep and was later included in the Rhino compilation CD ‘The Dust Blows Forward’
‘Live in London (Drury Lane 1974)’, whose cover design is shown here, is a concert recording which is being issued by Virgin Records for the first time, although two tracks did appear on the 1975 Virgin sampler album, ‘V’. The new Virgin CD is the full version of the concert and includes two tracks missing from a 1994 CD of the same concert, ‘London 1974’.
Mike Barnes in his liner notes writes that the first of those tracks, ‘Keep On Rubbin’ – AKA Mighty Crazy’, “amalgamates two different takes on the same theme by Lightnin’ Slim and Lightnin’ Hopkins, and is as lewd as the title suggests.”
The second track, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ is the jazz standard and features a clarinet player who Captain Beefheart tells us, “sucked a cosmic particle up the bell of his horn and illuminated his mind.” It is not generally understood why this number was included in a Captain Beefheart concert.
The Capitol Radio ad for the concert is included as a bonus track. The sound quality of this CD is a huge improvement over the previous (non Virgin) issue.
It should be fascinating to find out how newcomers to Captain Beefheart react to these albums. I look forward to reading their comments. Perhaps some reappraisal of the music by people with entrenched opinions may also be forthcoming – that could be refreshing.