[alert_box type=”info”]This brief article appeared in the 1st October 1998 edition of Rolling Stone.[/alert_box] “We’re in the luxurious position of putting out eactly what we want,” says Dean Blackwood. The Nashville attorney, along with guitarist John Fahey, is the co-proprietor of Revenant, a re-issue label dedicated to what he calls “raw musics.” During the last year, they’ve unearthed treasures by avant-garde improvisors, Cecil Taylor and Derek Bailey, rocabilly legend Charlie Feathers and the white country blues man, Dock Boggs. How does Revenant pay the rent? “John came into some money through an inheritance,” says Blackwood. “Instead of doing something sensible like buiding a house, heRead More →

[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 intoRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review of The Spotlight Kid (Reprise) was originally published in the 30th March, 1972 edition of Rolling Stone. Kindly sent to me by Jim Flannery.[/alert_box] “Said the Mama to the baby in the corn/’You are my first-born/That shall hereon in be known/As the Spotlight Kid.’” That’s how the title song of this album begins, and one glance at the picture on the cover — Cap natty in Las Vegas jacket, with a knowing almost-smile on his face — reveals a man with the self-understanding and self-confidence to bill himself as a new-generational hero with no false pride. And make no mistake, it is definitelyRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article is one of four reviews of Lick My Decals Off, Baby originally published in the 10th December, 1970 edition of Rolling Stone. Kindly sent to me by Jim Flannery.[/alert_box] In a twilight region which separates laughter from terror and precision from chaos, five men walk along a musical path with a purpose they disclose only in their smiles. Zoot Horn Rollo, a fortunate refugee from the Land of Drugs, carries his lead guitar between a thumb and one glass finger. He speaks through his instrument with a voice of gentleness, restraint and lyricism. To a large extent the success of this expeditionRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article is one of four reviews of Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Straight 6240) originally published in the 10th December, 1970 edition of Rolling Stone. This review was kindly sent to me by Jim Flannery.[/alert_box] When I first heard Trout Mask Replica, I about puked. What is this shit, I thought. People I met talked about it in glowing terms — not just anybody, mind you, but people I genuinely respected when it came to their musical tastes. Well, I figured, everybody has their own little watchimacallits. And then came Lick My Decals Off, Baby. Its reputation preceded it, and a preview ofRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review is one of four reviews of Lick My Decals Off, Baby originally published in the 10th December 1970 edition of Rolling Stone. This was very kindly sent to me by Jim Flannery.[/alert_box] It’s probably a tribute to the literary conscience of Reprise Records that they decided to include a copy of Beefheart’s lyrics. Within a year, some lovely young thing with a doctorate in English will have transformed Beefheart into a demiurge, thereby glorifying herself to a freshman comp class at a state institution. Fortunately, the sheet of lyrics can be overlooked; no great feat, because the sense that comes out ofRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This piece was taken from the 26th July 1969 edition of Rolling Stone.[/alert_box] Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (Straight Sm 1053) Captain Beefheart, the only true dadaist in rock, has been victimized repeatedly by public incomprehension and critical authoritarianism. The tendency has been to chide C.B. and his Band as a potentially acceptable blues band who were misled onto the paths of greedy trendy commercialism. What the critics failed to see was that this was a band with a vision, that their music, difficult raucous and rough as it is, proceeded from a unique and original consciousness. This became dramaticallyRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review of Mirror Man (Buddah BDS 5077) was originally published in the 1st April, 1971 edition of Rolling Stone. Kindly sent to me by Jim Flannery.[/alert_box] Captain Beefheart still plays to a relatively minor following, but most of them believe, as I do, that he’s one of the four or five unqualified geniuses to rise from the hothouses of American music in the Sixties, an innovator whose instinctive idiomatic syntheses and wildly original approach to composition and improvisation preview an era of profound changes to popular music. Statements like that would be extreme anywhere else, but only Cap has managed to fuse theRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article was taken from the 27th November 1980 issue of Rolling Stone.[/alert_box] After 16 years and a dozen albums, the world has finally caught up with Don van Vliet. IT’S A DOGSHIT DAY ON West Forty-second Street, the neon-choked main drag of Manhattan’s cheap-thrills district. As the daily midmorning traffic jam congeals into an unmoving mass, Don Van Vliet peers out a drizzle-streaked car window at the shuffling tribe of hookers, hustlers and head cases that clogs the sidewalks, then squints up at the lewd movie marquees looming above: SLAVES OF THE CANNIBAL GOD. SUGAR BRITCHES. THAT’S PORNO! Reeling out into the street,Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article appeared in the 3rd July 1975 edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Many thanks to Mikael Djurvall for sending along the excellent photograph.[/alert_box] PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY – Captain Beefheart, rock’s sometime genius, had just finished a show with Frank Zappa, with whom he’s touring after the end of their longtime feud. Slumped backstage at the Capitol Theatre, he scratched his shaggy head and slowly related the latest bizarre turn in his odd life. “I said some silly things,” Beefheart noted, “because I’m a spoiled brat and I don’t understand business to the degree that Frank does. I probably felt neglected. I’ll admit it…Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This classic article originally appeared in Rolling Stone’s 14th May 1970 edition. Many thanks to Justin Sherill for making it available.[/alert_box] “Uh oh, the phone,” Captain Beefheart mumbled as he placed his tarnished soprano saxophone in its case. “I have to answer the telephone.” It was a very peculiar thing to say. The phone had not rung. Beefheart walked quickly from his place by the upright piano across the dimly lit living room to where the telephone lay. He waited. After ten seconds of stony silence it finally rang. None of the half dozen or so persons in the room seemed at all surprisedRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]The following sound advice can be found in the book Rolling Stone’s Alt-Rock-A-Rama (1996) which includes an article written by John McCormick about Moris Tepper.[/alert_box] Budding guitarists take note. 1. Listen to the birds That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere. 2. Your guitar is not really a guitar Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also aRead More →