A winter night in January 1981 I drove up to Reseda in Los Angeles to see Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band at the Country Club. It was a fantastic concert and Don and the band were flying. At the time I was working for the Danish Radio as a freelancer and I asked a guy at the door if Don would be available for an interview. To my surprise he came out and told me to meet Don at a Denny’s restaurant across the street. And there he came in his stage-clothes, very nice and we talked as you can hear here. After the
For many people on the first listen Trout Mask Replica just sounds awful. For those of us that grow to love it, it’s a masterpiece. If you don’t entirely get it yet, this 10 minute feature video from Vox nicely picks apart what’s going on and why so many of us consider it to be uniquely special. If you enjoy this and want something more in-depth then have a look at Samuel Andreyev’s analysis of Frownland and his extended conversation with John French.
Don’s last lengthy interview was by phone with Dutch radio presenter Co de Kloet. Recorded in 1993 and broadcast on Co’s show on the Dutch National Station NPS. Gary Lucas set the interview to music which he had composed. This was originally broadcast on Co’s show in 2008 and it has just been released by Okaymusic. It can be bought as a download only – get it from iTunes, Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk Gary and Co also performed this live at the BimHuis in Amsterdam in 2012 and again at the Zappanale in Bad Doberan Germany.
This isn’t a review of this recent release by Chrome Dreams this is a warning. It’s not a new documentary about the relationship between Don and Frank it’s just a repackaging of the two previous titles “Under Review” and “From Straight to Bizarre” although there is nothing to tell you that on the new package or on the Chrome Dreams website. So if you already have these two DVDs don’t bother wasting money on this release, the new packaging is the only thing new about it. The card box opens up to reveal copies of the earlier DVDs in their original packaging. It smacks of
This DVD was announced earlier this year and touted as a “documentary,” but even at the announcement stage there was little cause for optimism. Let’s start with the fact that the person pictured on the cover of the package is not even Don Van Vliet, but rather some anonymous mustachioed fellow captured in mid-yowl (Arthur Brown or Nick Mason??) – clearly an indication of the level of care and attention likely to be put into the package. Given how many plainly sub-standard CDs and LPs have been issued by the likes of the execrable Ozit records, there was little hope that this would be anything
BBC Radio 6’s Gideon Coe will be playing a Beefheart concert on his evening show Wednesday 22 May (starts 9pm BST). It’s not clear what it will be although our best guess is the 1968 Peel sessions. If you miss the show I think it should be available via the BBC 6 website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01sjs73 (Thanks to Nulsh for the heads-up)
It’s always good to see new Beefheart related items appearing. Footage The UK company Voiceprint Records have announced a new addition to their ‘Lost Broadcasts’ series of DVDs due for release on 18 June 2012: [wp_quote] On the 12th April, in the middle of the European leg of the tour Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band stopped off at the Beat Club studios in Bremen to film a session for later transmission. Of the four song session filmed that day only one track has ever been broadcast. The band at that time included: Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), vocals, harp. Rockette Morton (Mark Boston), guitar/bass.
Some fascinating footage has appeared on YouTube from 1969. Is it something not seen before or is it a much better version of the Trout Promo footage that has been doing the rounds for many years? (that was so dark it was almost impossible to make anything out). It appears to show Don and the band (Mark, John, Bill and Jeff) cavorting about and generally acting daft. The quality is not great – it’s dark (all black and white), the camera keeps moving and some of the film has been treated to look negative … … but even so it’s well worth watching. It was
This is an interesting documentary release – From Straight to Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA’s Lunatic Fringe. It comes from Chrome Dreams who you may remember from the Captain Beefheart: Under Review DVD. The dvd documents Zappa’s attempt to control his recordings by setting up his own labels, Straight and Bizarre – while at the same time releasing music from LA’s freak scene which would otherwise have never made it to vinyl. Although it mentions all the albums released it concentrates on those by Alice Cooper, The GTOs, Wild Man Fischer, Jeff Simmons and, of course, our man Captain Beefheart. So for Beefheart fans there
Here are some golden birdies, bits, bobs and doodads for your delectation: Moris Tepper has a new CD out called A Singer Called Shotgun Throat, a title suggested by Don apparently. Full details can be found on Moris’s website. For those manic collectors out there I’ve been trying to document all the Beefheart titles available as flexi discs. These are strange releases emanating from Russia and Poland. Check out what I’ve found so far on this Russian flexi discs page. If you’ve got others please let me know. YouTube continues to be a great source for hearing attempts at Beefheart covers. Here’s a selection of
DJ ShinyBeast at PhonicFM will be broadcasting a two hour Beefheart special on Tuesday 27 April 2010 between 8 am 10 pm BST. Tune in at the PhonicFM website. Thanks to Gordon for the tip-off.
Don walked/fell off the stage during the band’s performance at the Mt Tamalpais Fantasy Fair and Mountain Music Festival in 1967. This was supposed to have been a warm up for an appearance at the Monterey Festival but Don’s acid induced dive caused Ry Cooder to quit the band and their big opportunity to make a name for themselves was missed. Now, amazingly, some hitherto unknown photographs of the band’s (short) appearance have surfaced on YouTube. Sadly, Don’s dive isn’t captured in any of the shots, but they’re worth a look anyway. Thanks to Louis for the heads up on this. Update 12/03/2010: I’ve written
Skeletonbreath – the band at MySpace. Invincible Czars perform Upon the My-O-My at YouTube. Ty Segal performs Dropout Boogie at YouTube. Album review of Lemons at Pitchfork. Snow Patrol include a reworked Observatory Crest in their Late Night Tales compilation. The version Snow Patrol have chosen is not the original Bluejeans and Moonbeams cut but the A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond version which is prefaced by Eric Drew Feldman’s intro to Making Love To A Vampire With A Monkey On My Knee. Odd. Bob Dylan’s album Theme Time Radio Hour, Season 2 on Ace Records includes Ice Cream
Last night’s broadcast of Don Van Vliet’s 1993 interview with Co de Kloet, with musical accompaniment recorded in 2008 by Gary Lucas, can be heard until 10th September at the Dutch radio station NPS website [no longer available]. The programme is two hours long. Tom Waits, says Don, “.. had the nerve to think he could sing like me.”
Trout Mask Replica promo pack These poems by Don Van Vliet are from a Trout Mask Replica promo pack which was recently auctioned at eBay. I am uncertain whether there was originally a poem for John French as well, but as he was famously uncredited on the album this seems unlikely. Thanks to Gary L. for alerting me to these. Uncut manipulation Uncut magazine for November 2007 has a five page article about, “the men who made Trout Mask Replica and survived. Just…” John French, Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Gary Marker were interviewed by David Cavanagh who paints a lurid picture of the making of
This photograph of a baseball signed by Don Van Vliet in 1982 at a press conference he held to promote Ice Cream For Crow replaces my previous post here. That post concerned the May release of audio from the press conference. The website owner who owns the tape of the press conference has been so overwhelmed by applications from visitors here that he has asked me to remove the name of his website and links to it. He wrote today – we checked our email this morning and we simply can’t handle that many potential downloads. Over-use penalties (with our host) would break us financially.
Jeopardy Jaws dropped across a nation on December 11th when the B-word was used on American prime-time television. Captain Beefheart had become famous for a moment and fans rushed to write to internet discussion groups with the unlikely news. The cause of the excitement? A $1200 question in the game show Jeopardy, “Captain Beefheart is said to have a range of 4.5 of these.” If you don’t know the answer, go to the Jeopardy Archive here and point your mouse at the appropriate square in Double Jeopardy! Round The Big O. More video Bob wrote in from Boulder to mention that he’d spotted former Magic