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.
Hmmm… is this the very best surviving clip of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band? I think it could be: Recorded on 15 January 1971 at WABX Studio, directed by Chuck Reti. Available on the enhanced disc of Grow Fins. Track list When Big Joan Sets Up Woe Is Uh Me Bop Bellerin’ Plain Line up Don Van Vliet Bill Harkleroad Mark Boston Elliot Ingber Art Tripp John French
This recording was taken from Chorus, a French television programme. The performance took place at Théatre De L’Empire, Paris on 7 November 1980. Track list Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man Best Batch Yet Dirty Blue Gene Safe As Milk Flavor Bud Living Bat Chain Puller Big Eyed Beans From Venus. Band members Don Van Vliet Eric Drew Feldman Rick Snyder Jeff Moris Tepper Gary Lucas Robert Williams
There was also a great promotional video for the title track of the final album, with its striking shots of desert landscapes, Don’s paintings, tumbleweeds and the Magic Band earnestly miming with no leads connected to their guitars. Filmed on 7 August 1982 in the Mojave Desert, California. Directed by Don Van Vliet with Ken Schreiber; cinematography by Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). The video, an uncommon concept at that time, was explained by Don as being a more favourable alternative to a promotional tour, leaving him free to get on with the rest of his life. Too weird for MTV at the time, it
James Kalm shows us around the Paintings and Poems exhibition of 2007 at the Anton Kern Gallery in New York. You can also view the individual paintings from this exhibition.
For many years, a classic performance of I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby from German television show Beat Club in 1972, circulated among fans. Then in 2012 the full 29 minute performance was released on DVD by Gonzo Media as The Lost Broadcasts but very rapidly became unavailable again once more. However, some of it is available to view on YouTube; the whole band are just incredible here and it’s hard not to be dumb struck by some of the vocals: DVD track list Mascara Snake (Bass Solo) Click Clack 1 Click Clack 2 Golden Birdies Band Introductions I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby 1 I’m Gonna Booglarize
On 27 January 1968 Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band performed on the beach at Cannes, France, in front of the Martinez Hotel. They were in Cannes to perform at the MIDEM music festival. The video of Electricity and Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do is a fantastic document of a tight band on the rise: This video can be found on the enhanced disc included with Grow Fins (Rarities 1965-1982) Band members Jeff Cotton Jerry Handley Don Van Vliet John French Alex St. Clair Snouffer Photographs The above photo was taken by photographer Herman Selleslags. Other shots were features on the 1970 French reissue
This version of Orange Claw Hammer is one of my very favourite things that either Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa ever recorded. It’s an acoustic performance recorded live on radio KWST in 1975. It’s available on the Grow Fins Rarities 1965-1982 box set.
A 1993 poetry reading CD was included in the Stand Up To Be Discontinued exhibition book and later reproduced in the Pearls Before Swine book. It included readings of the following poems: Fallin’ Ditch The Tired Plain Skeleton Makes Good Safe Sex Drill Tulip Gill At the time, many found the recording shocking and upsetting. This was the first time Don Van Vliet had been widely heard in public since 1982’s Ice Cream For Crow and the intervening 11 years had clearly not been kind. He sounded far older than his 52 years and rumours of illness seemed to have confirmation. Today, I think they
Well this is pretty special. A television advertisement was made, shown, audiences were angered and then it was banned. As John French comments in The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart, nowadays it could be an ad for toothpaste. Read the full story: Metromedia Refuses To Air Captain Beefheart TV Commercial – Charges Album Title ‘Obcsene’
On 22nd November 1980 The Magic Band gave a storming performance of Ashtray Heart and Hot Head in front of a studio audience for Saturday Night Live. Ashtray Heart Hot Head According to Doug Stacey: “The person yelling “Shit!” at the end of the SNL performance was Radames Pera, the once child actor playing “Grasshopper” in the TV show “Kung Fu.” He was disgusted with the Beefheart performance. It was evidently his first exposure to Don’s music.” Robert Williams, the Magic Band drummer, commented on this heckling: “After the show we went to an after show party at a bar in Manhatten with the cast
18th October 1987 interview with Don’s friend Kristine McKenna. Hear it!
If you can cope with the interviewer’s ego then this is pretty entertaining – hear it!
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)
Welcome to my very favourite item here at the Radar Station. It’s a streaming audio interview broadcast on the John Peel show on the 24th April 1973. Fourteen minutes long, it is less of an interview than a friendly chat. John Peel states at the beginning that he is notoriously bad at interviewing people, but this is one of the best interview I have ever heard with the Captain and really captures his sense of fun. This tape was sent to me by Peter Cooney, many thanks indeed. Click to hear the show.