Revenant Beefheart box set update archive

4/9/98 Update

From Dean Blackwood at Revenant:

Hey guys. Things are still coming together nicely. John French is busy on the bulk of the notes and I am attempting to wrap up the recordings end of things. Some cool surprises in the works.

We are looking for good quality versions of the following live performances from any era:

  • Suction Prints
  • Pompadour Swamp
  • Peon
  • Dali’s Car
  • Old Fart
  • Well
  • Dust Blows
  • Apes Ma
  • Odd Jobs
  • Best Batch Yet
  • Owed T’Alex

And, since the BBC has erased its tapes and Peel himself has no tapes, we are auditioning versions of the Peel Sessions (all 8 tracks) to see who has the best set. Thanks. Dean.

As ever, contact Dean at for more info.

If you would like to read an article about Revenant which appeared in April 1998’s Spin magazine then have a look at Resurrection Shuffle

13/8/98 Update:

This is the current ‘official’ blurb from Revenant about their upcoming release:

For release in early 1999:

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Grow Fins Essential Rare Recordings (1965-1982)
5 x CD set (enhanced)

Components include:

  • The full, from-the-master tape Trout Mask Replica house sessions
  • Safe as Milk/Strictly Personal demos, outtakes, and alternates
  • Unissued recordings from all settings and eras, including those from the personal archives of Magic Band members
  • Cd-rom accessible video/audio footage of Cannes Beach ’68, Paris ’73, Amougies ’69 and other live performances.
  • The set will be housed in a 60+ page hardcover book, with cover art by Cal Schenkel, lots of rare photos and memorabilia, and featuring notes by John “Drumbo” French, David Fricke and John Corbett.

31/7/98 Update:

Following recent unfounded speculation in the newsgroup about the legality of this box set release, concerns about royalty payment and speculation that Don does not want the set released, I have received the following statement from Dean Blackwood, label manager of Revenant:

First, John “Drumbo” French is writing the notes for the set, along with David Fricke (Rolling Stone editor) and John Corbett (Wire contributor). In connection with preparing the notes, French has done new interviews with the following former Magic Band members: Bill Harkleroad, Alex Snouffer, Doug Moon, Vic Mortenson, Denny Walley, Gary Lucas, Robert Williams, Cliff Martinez, John Thomas, Jerry Handley, Jeff Cotton, and several others. All are certainly aware of the set and have willingly agreed to have their interviews included as part of the notes to accompany the set. All former Magic Band members which can be located are being compensated for their involvement in creating this music, in most cases as a token of respect and acknowledgment more than anything else, since as a “legal” matter they have no legal claims to either the sound recordings or the compositions underlying them.

Don and Jan have also been contacted. As of now, he has expressed no interest in being involved in the project. He is, of course, being paid mechanical royalties at the statutory rate as holder of the copyright in the compositions underlying the sound recordings which we will be using. He will also receive additional “courtesy” royalties in connection with his role in the performances despite, again, having no legal claim to such royalties. All the sound recordings are being licensed from their “legal” owners, which happen to not be Don (nor Magic Band members in most cases) because that is how things “legally” work in the US.

As a practicing attorney, everyone can be sure that I have a firm grasp on the law.

This release is not, in any way, shape or form a bootleg; it is neither illegal or unethical. As Dean pointed out Magic Band members are being paid for their contribution despite the lack of legal obligation to do so. This is a release which will finally do justice to the music of Don van Vliet and the Magic Band, which, I’m sure we will all agree, had been given pretty shoddy treatment over the last 30 years or so. At last, Revenant are hoping to put that straight. Many thanks.

14/7/98 Update:

Things are moving rapidly, here’s what Dean has to say:

Things are going swimmingly. John French is writing the bulk of the notes, and interviewing everyone from Jeff Cotton to Mark Boston and beyond. David Fricke (Rolling Stone) and John Corbett (the Wire) are helping out, too. I’m seeing Gail Zappa and Denny Walley this weekend re the original Bat Chain Puller. Talked to John Peel today re a number of things. He is sending me Kidderminster and some other stuff, but, sadly (and incredibly), does not have originals of the Peel Sessions masters and the BBC has destroyed theirs.

Cal Schenkel (original art director and photographer (along with Ed Caraeff) on Trout Mask (and Cal also did Bat Chain Puller) ) will be doing the cover illustration for the set (which will probably be called something like Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Metal Man Gets His Wings (he won em, now he’s getting em): Essential Rare Recordings (1963-82)) and will also be supplying photos from both Trout Mask and BCP.

What I do need help on are the following live recordings:

  • Any good sound quality ’70-’73 live stuff
  • The definitive live versions of Click Clack and Grow Fins (I vote for Paris 73 for the former, dont know about the latter, but need good clean versions of both, including the version on the Paris show).
  • Peel Sessions – surely someone over there has a better than decent set of them? Even someone who has a first generation recorded off the broadcast would be better than what’s circulating. any BBC engineering types who made tapes? Something? Peel was no help on that one.

So, if you are able to help out at all withthese items (or anything else) please e-mail Dean at

30/6/98 Update:

I received the following e-mail on 24th June from Dean Blackwood:

Revenant’s 4-cd hardcover book set of unissued/rare Beefheart tracks has now been scheduled for November release through our distributor Koch. This means that we need to have all tracks, texts and materials in hand and squared away by August 1, which is only 5 weeks away. This will give us the full month of August to do the layout and mastering, so that we can submit everything to press by the beginning of September, allowing 8 weeks for pressing, printing and bindery.

The 4 cds will be housed in a foil-stamped, cloth-bound hardcover 64+ page book, so it’ll take a bit of time to lay it out but should prove to be a whopper. If you have ideas/suggestions/tracks/text/materials that you’d like to contribute but have not yet done so, now’s the time. If anybody needs to fedex anything, give me a call for fedex account number and street address. Thanks, everyone.

If you would like to contact Dean, you can e-mail him on, write to Dean Blackwood and John Fahey Revenant P.O. Box 198732 Nashville, TN 37219-8732, telephone: 615-251-1068, fax: 615-251-1059 (marked attn: Dean)

30/5/98 Update:

Revenant Records are working on piecing together a four cd box set of rare Captain Beefheart material. Dean Blackwood at Revenant sent me the following outline:

Essential Rare Beefheart: 4 cd set, housed in a 64 page hardcover cd-sized book.

CD 1: Trout Mask Replica “Rehearsals” Tape (not rehearsals at all, of course, but the first run-through of the album by the Magic Band, sans vocals, recorded at the house in Topanga-songs were later re-recorded in studio for the released version)

CD 2: I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain’t Weird full length master (includes version of “Korn Ring Finger” not on the Sequel label release of this material)

CD 3: the original Bat Chain Puller (the toughest element to secure, as it’s held by the Zappa estate-the latest is that they are not interested in putting it out on their own, however, so possibilities abound; the most likely element to drop out, resulting in a 3 cd set)

CD 4: the odds and sods cd: live/demo/homerecording/outtake/poetry/unissued/studio stuff spanning all eras and settings

It is the final CD which Dean would like some assistance with. If you have access to top-notch Magic Band bootlegs, and there is a chance of being able to trace their origin, then please contact Dean. He says:

We’d like to get everybody to put together a list and tape of their set of a cd’s worth of essential rare Beefheart/Magic Band tracks, from any setting at all (radio spots, studio chatter, live stuff, whatever) other than commercial releases or the first 3 cds, which tapes we can then use as reference tapes to cull from to come up with a core of absolutely essential stuff from out there in the ether. Once we narrow the tracks, then we can work on finding sources for getting as early a generation dub as possible. Fahey and I certainly aren’t aware of all (or even a fraction) of the stuff circulating out there, but collectively it seems like we have a pretty good chance of not missing out on any gems.

They also need help with images for the accompanying info book. If you have any pictures which you think should be included, and the owner of the copyright is identifyable, contactable and willing, then let Dean know. If you are able to help out in any way at all, please contact Dean at

I’m sure we’d all like to see this project succeed where others have failed.

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