[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Robert Palmer, from the 30th November 1980 New York Times[/alert_box] Don Van Vliet, who is better known as Captain Beefheart, writes some of the knottiest, most extravagantly off-center music ever played on amplified instruments. One can remember earlier Beefheart concerts and be familiar with his recordings and still be unprepared for the sheer physical impact of two or three electric guitars, bass and drums hammering out rhythms that seem to trip over themselves in perfect unison, and of Mr. Van Vliet declaiming helter-skelter in a voice that veers edgily from a falsetto hiccup to a buzz-saw rasp. Captain Beefheart has been writing
[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Bob Palmer, taken from the April 1971 edition of Jazz & Pop News.[/alert_box] Ry Cooder, with his group, and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, bowed to the New York Press at Ungano’s in mid-winter. Both are among the more progressive Warner/Reprise acts, though their use of musical traditions accounts in part for their unique sounds. Cooder, on first, played a brief set composed entirely of country blues pieces from the 1920s and 30s, originated by Blind Willie Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, and others. His bottleneck guitar, and his mandolin styling as well, were classic in that he approached his material as
[alert_box type=”info”]Taken from the 22nd September 1982 edition of The New York Times.[/alert_box] Don Van Vliet, who is better known as Captain Beefheart, is still in the forefront of rock’s avant-garde, more than 15 years after the release of his first album. Although he has polished his music and changed the personnel of his Magic Band a number of times since the mid-1960’s, the broad outlines of his style were already in place the first time he entered a recording studio. They include fractured rhythms; dislocated country blues riffs; disjunct melodies and passages of counterpoint that sometimes recall Stravinsky; extravagantly gruff singing and croaking, and
[alert_box type=”info”]Taken from the 28th September 1980 edition of The New York Times[/alert_box] Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band probably would have been an anomaly had they burst on an unsuspecting world anywhere, at any time. Ironically, the Captain, whose real name is Don Van Vliet, grew up in Southern California and put together his first magic band in Los Angeles in the mid-60’s. Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and other future pop icons were singing folk music and their own sensitive ballads at the Troubadour, the Ash Grove offered pure folk and blues, and the Birds were setting Bob Dylan’s folk songs to rock-and-roll rhythms.
[alert_box type=”info”]Taken from the 31st December 1972 Rolling Stone.[/alert_box] The continuing evolution of Beefheart’s music has been one of the most fascinating developments of contemporary rock. The Captain has seemed an introverted, almost schizophrenic figure, mirroring in his work the apparent dichotomy between the rigorous ensemble playing of the Chicago-out-of-Mississippi bluesmen and the anarchic-sounding sprung rhythms of modernists like Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. But the unique facet of Beefheart’s blues playing has always been his understanding of the essentially irregular metric structures of much Mississippi blues, and he has thus been able to translate the abrupt, quirky stridency of the early blues guitarists into