Recording details:

Date – May/June 1982
Studio – Warner Brothers Recording Studios
Producer – Don Van Vliet
Engineer – Phil Brown

Musicians

  • Don Van Vliet – vocals, harmonica, sax, chinese gongs
  • Jeff Moris Tepper – guitar
  • Gary Lucas – guitar
  • Richard Snyder – bass, marimba, viola
  • Eric Drew Feldman – bass, piano
  • Cliff Martinez – drums
See Leach’s Listings for a thorough guide to who did what on Ice Cream For Crow, compiled for the Radar Station by Jasper Leach.

Track list

  1. Ice Cream For Crow
  2. The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O
  3. Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian
  4. Hey Garland I Dig Your Tweed Coat
  5. Evening Bell
  6. Cardboard Cutout Sundown
  7. The Past Sure Is Tense
  8. Ink Mathematics
  9. The Witch Doctor Life
  10. 81 Poop Hatch
  11. The Thousandth and Tenth Day Of The Human Totem Pole
  12. Skeleton Makes Good

Album overview from Graham Johnston

And so to the final Magic Band album and a very bleak affair it is. However, as usual it is a superb album from a great band of mostly new personnel.

Apart from the playfulness of both the opening title track, with its contagious guitar riff, and Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian, a spellbinding instrumental, there is a weariness and a heaviness to many of the Crow songs which makes it a perfect close to a fascinating story.

I feel like all the loose ends were tied up here so Captain Beefheart could become Don Van Vliet once more and slip away to focus on his primary love of painting and deal with his soon-growing tragic affliction with multiple sclerosis.

If only there were more. Ah but there is… there are the paintings.

Myths and legends

Phil Brown who engineered ICFC contacted the Radar Station to challenge a comment about the album being made up of ‘leftovers’. This is not his understanding as there were plenty of songs available to them. However I have not been able to get a more detailed reply from him.

He did tell me that ICFC was recorded

“… in one 6 week period. There was a budget from Epic and we stuck to it, partly because I don’t like working long hours. After about eight I lose effectiveness and Don and Gary were on board with that. We worked a very sane schedule – 8 hours a night 5 days a week with only one weekend, I think.”

I was able to ask Richard ‘Midnite Hatsize’ Snyder whether he thought Don was scraping the barrel, to which he replied:

“Yes … and … no. I feel as though Don ‘knew’ (before telling any of us, of course), that this would be his last album – and that he was doing a bit of ‘house cleaning’ with some of his favorite unfinished business. Indeed, it was at Jan’s insistence that Semi-Multicolored Caucasian be included on this album, so she was probably aware that this would be its ‘last chance dance’.

“At the same time, Don was hoping to use some of the unreleased Bat Chain Puller tracks for inclusion on ICFC, but he couldn’t resolve release issues with the powers-that-were at the time [namely Frank Zappa – SF], hence he re-recorded 1010th Day with Cliff. He even asked me (in the studio, during the recording of the tracks that were already prepared/rehearsed) to try to learn the whole keyboard part on marimbas – but with the time that was available, it was not a possibility.”

Reviews:

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Ice Cream For Crow releases

View the Radar Station’s full information about the various editions of Ice Cream For Crow which have appeared over the years.

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