One of my favourite labels, Revenant Records who released the “Grow Fins” treasure trove of unreleased Beefheart, released the second volume in their “American Primitive” series this week. Vol 1 was a stunning collection of gnarly pre-war gospel. Volume 2 features pre-war blues, hillbilly and jazz. Reuters have a nice feature on it. Should the fancy take you, you can also read my piece about Revenant Records from our John Fahey tribute.
‘Mixing It’, with its impeccably selected range of new music, is one of the BBC’s most interesting radio shows. Informed and witty commentary is provided by the hosts Mark Russell and Robert Sandall, who in their broadcast last Friday played a new Deerhoof track. Deerhoof, they said, “…transmute the basic vocabulary of guitar based rock into an inexhaustably diverse sequence of fractional shapes.” Their new CD, The Runners Four, “has a keen sense of fun.” “We’re not quite calling this next album the Trout Mask Replica of the new millenium, but one of us is strongly tempted so to do.” You can hear that taste
The first anniversary of John Peel’s death will be marked by several hundred concerts which are to be staged under the banner of John Peel Day. One of these concerts features The Fall and New Order, among others, and will be pre-recorded in London for broadcast as part of a six hour radio special on October 13th. John Peel’s admiration for Captain Beefheart was legendary so it is not surprising that a Beefheart track is included in the double CD ‘John Peel – A Tribute’ to be released on October 17th. Many of the bands about which Peel waxed lyrical are represented on the CD,
Gary Lucas continues to be one of the most hard-working and prolific members of the various Magic Bands. Gary’s calendar shows him to be currently performing in Europe. Tonight, 21st September, he’s performing in Amsterdam and the show will be broadcast and webcast live at VPRO. Audiences in Bristol and Lancaster this weekend get a rare chance to see Gary perform his score to a 1920 film. The Golem is based on the legend of an historical 16th century rabbi who created a man out of clay to save the Jewish community of Prague from annihilation. Apparently this is a superb example of the early
Anton Corbijn persuaded Don Van Vliet to remove his hat during the Ice Cream For Crow cover shoot. Corbijn later recalled that Don put it straight back on his head again. “My wife’s not gonna like this,” Don said. I don’t suppose that Jan minded too much. The resulting photograph became iconic and Don later made the short film Some Yo Yo Stuff together with Anton. Part of that film, plus an impressive selection of Corbijn’s music videos and other film work are to be released as a DVD on Tuesday 13th September. A 56 page book accompanies this Directors Label DVD from Palm Pictures.
Big Eyed Beans From Venus, that bunch of Beefheart botherers from Athens GA, have announced another two dates for their ongoing assault on the auditory senses of that city. They play the 40 Watt in Athens this Wednesday, the 14th, and play there again on October 8th when they open for the Circulatory System (friend of theirs from Olivia Tremor Control). There are still audio links to their Beefheart covers at MySpace. But when will they get out of Athens and start touring?
For every one who appreciates the Hammond Organ playing of Jimmy Smith, Ian McLagan or John Medeski there are plenty more for whom the Hammond Organ represents middle of the road wallpaper music and serially issued LP compilations of teutonic pop drone. Imagine if a Klaus Wunderlich or a James Last had ever got round to covering Captain Beefheart and smoothing out his edges. I suppose that collectors would now be paying very silly money for cheesy LPs with titles like Hammond Party of Special Things To Do, Hammond Blows Its Stacks Vol 3, or possibly Orange Claw Hammond. Even Acid Jazz, latter-day home to
I’ve just stumbled across an excellent, in depth and lengthy article about what many would consider a holy trinity – John Peel, John Walters and Captain Beefheart by Kris Needs. Needs shows how their three stories are intertwined with each other, while also paying tribute to each. There are stories in here which I don’t remember ever reading before such as Don accidentally “branding” his mother and Joe Strummer commenting on his first encounter with Trout Mask Replica which he stated was “the moment I became a weirdo”. There are a lot of factual inaccuracies but who cares, it’s all from the heart.
BBC Radio 7 has just broadcast an excellent 3 hour John Peel memoir and tribute in which Peel talks extensively about his life, influences, passions and family. We also hear an episode of Home Truths and his son’s eulogy at Peel’s funeral last year. It is a wonderful 3 hours for those of us who continue to miss his voice, humour and character on a daily basis and I’d heartily recommend you give it a listen on the BBC site while you can. Peel’s voice has also been cropping up regularly in the BBC Radio 3 show of his friend and colleague, Andy Kershaw. Listeners
The New Haven Advocate reviews the appearance at the Zappanale festival in Germany of Doctor Dark. Doctor Dark are notable not only for being a Captain Beefheart tribute band, but also, apparently, for featuring “the only person in [New Haven’s] history to run for mayor in drag” in their line-up. The same paper also interviewed Doctor Dark in late 2003 about their previous appearance at Zappanale.
A Mongolian “throat-singing heavy rock band”, Yat-kha, have released an album of cover versions featuring Captain Beefheart’s “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles”, along with tunes by Joy Division, Bob Marley, Kraftwerk and Hank Williams. A recent article in The Independent newspaper said: Kuvezin’s growling vocal harmonics emerge from his deepest regions, resonating around the changing shape of his mouth-cavity. In the case of Captain Beefheart’s number, this is not too far removed from its original practitioner’s approach, but these techniques sound quite startling when imposed on the likes of “Man Machine” and “When The Levee Breaks”. You can hear a couple of mp3s
I’m sure many visitors will already have heard of the sad passing of Dr Robert Moog, inventor of the MiniMoog synth. As with so many great innovators, there’s a Beefheart connection to be made. In a 1980 interview with John Piccarella Don Van Vliet was asked about the process of teaching his music to his band and he replied: You can do it on the piano… you can do it on guitar some times.. Sometimes on the Mellotron.. Sometimes on the Moog. I like MiniMoog, I think that’s a real sensitive instrument. Also in 1980, this time to Lester Bangs, Don said he recorded his
I’ve always tried to avoid taking a train-spotter approach with this site over the years (not that you would think it from my blog entries) – it would be an easy road to travel with an artist like Captain Beefheart who seems to attract obsessive detail-noters. However, we at beefheart.com are endlessly amused by the frequency that Captain Beefheart rolls of the tongue of musicians and journalists, some using it to gain reflected credibility, others to provide an all-too-easy frame of reference, instant but ultimately meaningless. Others, of course, just love him too. In the absence of any real Beefheart-related news, here are just a
A friend started off a blog a while ago featuring a gallery of his doodles and abstract photographs, entitled Elbow Room. I used to work with Norms, the author, and witnessed the creation of his “biro on lined paper” works first-hand during many otherwise uninteresting meetings in the council offices. Like a visual equivalent of Robyn Hitchcock’s most surreal songs, they offer a pleasing and often hilarious idle browse. Norms is a Beefheart admirer and consequently a Beefheart theme has crept into a few of them. Check out Sea of Negativity, What A Moon Can Do II, No H On My Faucet, Devil’s Red Wife,
Walt Michelson mailed with news of his 50 synesthesia-musicboxes. Each of these pays homage to a different musician. His Beefheart musicbox, Ant Man Bee Massacre in Beeftroutwinter, is currently on show at Galerie Otto Schweins in Köln. Which particular Beefheart music you hear when you look at it is, I suppose, entirely up to you. For further explanation see Dr Michelson’s email.
In his memoirs, the concert promoter Freddy Bannister tells his version of why Captain Beefheart formed a new Magic Band just to play Knebworth Festival in 1975. According to Bannister, Beefheart’s manager Herb Cohen was so impressed by the $15,000 fee offered for the performance that he replied, “We’ll put a band together even if it means my mother will have to play.” Be that as it may, the latest Knebworth memorabilia to be offered for sale by the Bannister family is a reproduction 1975 stagecrew tee shirt. “We weren’t very ‘merchandise’ oriented in those days and didn’t have any T shirts to sell to
My inbox most days contains links to newspaper and magazine articles referencing Beefheart. New bands love to drop the Beefheart name, music journalists likewise. I send about 99% of this stuff to trash. What remains is some fun stuff, such as Liverpool band The Zutons who claimed to have named themselves after a Beefheart song. For the mp3 generation, who don’t read sleeve notes, that long lunar note was played by a Mr Zuton Rollo. So when a musician with no need of fame by association places ‘Lick My Decals Off, Baby’ at the top of his list of favourite albums – as David Lowery
I’ve recently received news of an exhibition which has just opened in Glendale, California, featuring the original artwork from Captain Beefheart’s Strictly Personal album cover Revolutions, a ground-breaking free exhibit that features the artists behind the images synonymous with identifying the pop culture of the 60s and into the new Millennium, opens July 31st at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale. Showing never-before-seen art and original creations, from photographs to posters, original artwork used for albums and CDs, magazine art and drawings, the exhibit showcases artists who created visually beautiful and thought-provoking work cherished by the world’s musical icons. This unique exhibit is a reflection
Not a lot of Beefheart in this post but I thought it worth drawing your attention to an article in The Guardian which announces that Stockhausen will be playing live at London’s Billingsgate market. You can also read the announcement at Stockhausen’s own website. A tenuous link? OK – Don Van Vliet once said that “a lot of good music comes out of Germany, Stockhausen for example”. In his typically contradictory manner he also once said that he liked Stockhausen more than he liked Stockhausen’s music so who knows. UK residents now have a rare chance to encounter both.
I’ve learned by now not to hold out too much hope when Ozit release another Beefheart CD. But this time they’re taking the piss … ‘Prime Quailty Beef’ … for heaven’s sake, Ozit, get a grip. This is second rate stuff even if it is decent sound quality (although, at least that’s an improvement on your usual shoddy sound). But ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’! … By no stretch of the imagination is that ‘prime quality’ anything let alone quality Beefheart. So what do we have here? Well, it’s the Crazy Little Things (semi-legitimate release) CD of the 1974 Cowtown, Kansas show (including the two versions of