[alert_box type=”info”]This review for Bill Harkleroad and Billy James’ book was written by Andy Gill and appeared in the December 1998 edition of Mojo Magazine.[/alert_box] AS ZOOT Horn Rollo, Don Van Vliet’s most faithful lieutenant in The Magic Band, Bill Harkleroad was one of the most influential guitarists in rock music, though as this memoir makes clear it was always a labour of love, first and foremost. Not only did he have to suffer the bizarre whims of Beefheart’s absurd regime but, as he reveals here, he ultimately received “no money whatsoever” from any of the albums he played on. Harkleroad admits this was probablyRead More →

An insider’s story. Published by SAF Publishing Ltd ISBN 0 946719 21 7 Price £11.95 1998 151 pages 16 photographs Synopsis from the back cover: Bill Harkleroad joined Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band at a time when they were changing from a straight ahead blues band into something completely different. Through the vision of Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) they created a new form of music which many at the time considered atonal and difficult, but which over the years has continued to exert a powerful influence. Beefheart re-christened Harkleroad as Zoot Horn Rollo, and they embarked on recording one of the classic rock albums ofRead More →

A critical overview of the artistic output of Don Van Vliet. W C Bamberger, a one-time member of the Fire Party (the Radar Station’s Beefheart discussion list), has published a book focussing on the vision and message contained within the work of Don Van Vliet, including his paintings, poems and songs. Author: WC Bamberger Title: ‘Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh: On The Arts Of Don Van Vliet’ ISBN: 0-917453-35-2 Small Press Distribution 1341 7th St. Berkeley CA 94710 USA Synopsis from the back of the book Riding Some Kind Of Unusual Skull Sleigh looks at the phases of Van Vliet’s musical career throughRead More →

Published by Agenda Published in 2000 ISBN: 1 899882 11 1 Overview by Graham Johnston I am about to write about a book that I haven’t read. I doubt that the author would mind too much, however, as I suspect that he hasn’t given his book much thought either. After having read Steve’s review for it below, I doubt whether I’d cross the street to get a copy even if Mr Brooks himself was giving them away with a free bag of magic beans stuck to every cover. This untrustworthy tome is published by the same company that brought us the laughably lame Fast &Read More →

Captain Beefheart by Mike Barnes, second edition

UK second edition Publisher: Omnibus / Music Sales Limited Date of publication: November 2004 ISBN: 1844494128 Dimensions: 210 x 135mm soft back Extent: 400 pages Price: £16.95 Order: Amazon.co.uk Mike Barnes has made considerable updates to this new edition but confusingly the book has been published with the same cover as the first edition (apart from the addition of a John Peel quote) and no obvious indication that changes have been made. This second edition was reprinted in 2009 with a different quote, this time from ‘Mojo’ magzine, on the front cover. A competition was run to win copies of the UK second edition – see the fiendish questions and the detailed answersRead More →

In recent years it seems that every aspiring writer capable of pressing keys on a word processor has felt obliged to publish their attempt at telling the Captain Beefheart story. Many of these writers have skilfully bypassed the entire research stage and plunged headlong and brain-free into the telling of a story that they know little about, occasionally with hilariously half-baked results. Those of us who have gained a perverse enjoyment from these humdrum handbooks should prepare themselves for a severe disappointment – Mike Barnes can not only write, but he also knows what he’s talking about. Facetiousness aside, this is a marvellous read. CaptainRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review for the Beefheart biography was written by Julian Cowley and was taken from the July 2000 edition of The Wire.[/alert_box] As a small child, Don Vliet (the Van came later) collected hair from his Persian cat and moulded it into the likenesses of other animals. By the age of 13, he’d completed the mammals of North America and Africa, and had developed a special fondness for ayes-ayes, dik-diks and other strange lemurs. Then he moved onto fish. Mike Barnes acknowledges early on in his book the refined capacity of Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet’s magical persona, to embellish accounts of his ownRead More →

Published by Subterraneous Archives Press Pickpocket Poets Series #1 Price unknown 2000 28 pages plus 4 page insert Contents: Poems: The Stars Are Matter Odd Jobs Gil A Tin Peened Reindeer Tulip I Like The Way The Doo Dads Fly One Nest Rolls After Another Bleeding Golden Ladder Infra-Grams Brown Star You Should Know By The Kindness Of Uh Dog The Way Uh Human Should Be Lick My Decals Off Baby Doped In Stunned Mirages The Smith That Clear Out Stars (sic) Seam Crooked Sam Rockette Morton Winged Eel Fingerling Zoot Horn Rollo Ed Marimba Untitled A Christmas Card From Don van Vliet Three MonthsRead More →

Published by Rhino Handmade/Artist Ink Editions ISBN 0 7379 0284 1 Deluxe Slip Case (23.5cm x 32.5cm x 7cm) Limited Edition (1500) with original signed print. Individually numbered $500 2004 Contents: Signed Coloured Etching (20cm x 27cm) 2 Books (both 19cm x 25cm) – “Splinters” (96 pages) & “Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh” (88 pages) One is a collection of photos, lyrics, artworks, cuttings plus the text of the pieces on the accompanying CD. The other includes an essay by Ben Watson and 60 colour plates of Don’s paintings and drawings. – See full list of artwork CD – “Riding Some Kind of UnusualRead More →

Contents: The Book – Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh The Paintings Untitled (1967) Green Tom (1976) Flame and Speckled Chemistry (1976) Poinsettia (1976) Untitled (1977) Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1984) Avah Creen (1984) Red Shell Bats (1984) Egyptian Toss Up (1984) Pet Surprises pet surprising Pet (1984) Royal Hind Doer (1985) Pig Erases Statue in Passing (1985) Sixteen Chrome (1985) A Woman a Dog Walked By (1985) Fur on the Trellis and Just Up into the Air (1985) Measures Balance (1985) Two Rips in a Haystack (1985) Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh (1986-87) China Pig (1986-87) The Navy BlueRead More →

Published by Ozit-Morpheus 2005 Thanks to Andy Bean for the cover scan Overview The cover may look familiar, which is not surprising because this is pretty much a straight copy of the first edition of the Lives & Times booklet. It’s smaller (about 6″ x 9″), with a glossy cover. Apparently it is a ‘limited addition’ (sic). A few extras have been added. There are four pages on Zappa inserted in the middle of the book (two pages from the Zappa Reprise press statement of 1971 or thereabouts, a cartoon, and a bad drawing). There are a few extra pages inserted of photos, flyers, ticketRead More →

Published by Salt Publishing, September 2005 Salt Studies in Contemporary Literature and Culture Paperback and Hardback Publisher’s blurb A comparative account of the musical and cultural acts of Zappa and his cohort, collaborator and antagonist Captain Beefheart. Written in the iconoclastic spirit of Zappa’s art, this book traces the mixed media experiments of California freakdom through the dada blues of Beefheart, mapping out the pleasures of imaginative excess. This book is not another critical biography, but an interpretive essay investigating what we feel is the cultural and historical importance of Zappa and Beefheart in the context of a wide-ranging network of references that run fromRead More →

Published by Ozit A4 size Thanks to Andy Bean for the cover scan Publisher’s blurb “Hungry But Weird” is one of the definitive books about Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. 108 pages on glossy art paper with many photographs and illustrations, put together in the style of late 60s/early 70s underground magazines, this is one of the best in-depth collections of writings/jottings/articles/drawings/illustrations about Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. Full colour card cover with images of Captain Beefheart back and front. Radar Station Review After Ozit’s shameful reprinting of Babylon Books’ ‘The Lives & Times Of Captain Beefheart’ with new title & author credit,Read More →

Published by Continuum (33 1/3 series) ISBN 0 826427812 2007 152 pages Publisher’s blurb In the spring of 1969, the inauspicious release of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica, a double-album featuring 28 stream-of-consciousness songs filled with abstract rhythms and guttural bellows, dramatically altered the pop landscape. Yet even if the album did cast its radical vision over the future of music, much of the record’s artistic strength is actually drawn from the past. This book examines how Beefheart’s incomparable opus, an album that divided (rather than) united a pop audience, is informed by a variety of diverse sources. Trout Mask ReplicaRead More →

It’s been a long time coming. There were times when it looked like this book wouldn’t see the light of day … and what a great loss that would have been for us all. So I have to say ‘thank you’ to John for persevering with it and also to Proper Records for bravely taking on the publishing. The first thing you notice is that this is a BIG book. My review copy was a half-size photocopy and it was still huge, so I hope that the binding on the finished product is strong enough to hold the 800+ pages! The book looks good thoughRead More →

Benoit Delaune - Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band(s)

Published by Le Mot et Le Reste 2011 ISBN: 9782360540211 Paperback 150 pages Blurb from cover Rogue brilliant, tyrannical leader, singer monstrous. Many rumors and legends surround the artist known as Captain Beefheart. A school friend of Frank Zappa he surrounded himself with many often anonymous but brilliant musicians of his “Magic Band”. Captain Beefheart from 1967 to 1982 created – in just fifteen years and a handful of albums – complex polyrhythmic and polytonal music, based on deconstructed blues. Many musicians today continue to avail themselves of this important artist who suddenly and silently quit music in 1982 to devote himself fully to painting.Read More →

This lecture took place at the Gifford Auditorium, Syracuse, 23rd April 1975. Don is fairly quiet throughout the lecture; when asked a direct question he gives not so much oblique answers as abstract statements beamed into his brain from who-knows where. When asked to talk a little about Trout Mask Replica, Don instead quotes sections from Sam With The Showing Scalp Flattop. Unmissable, but not particularly helpful. Frank Zappa, who does the vast majority of the talking, makes considerably more sense with his genuinely insightful ruminations on the workings of the music industry. Lecture part 1(44 minutes 26 seconds) Lecture part 2 (44 minutes 48 seconds)Read More →