This is the Beefheart album very few people are going to hear unless the record and management companies involved with the Captain get moving. It sees Don Van Vliet returning to an area somewhere between ‘Trout Mask Replica’ and ‘Clear Spot’, undoubtedly his most satisfying period. Possibly to prove the claim that he created the sound of his original Magic Band, the Captain has found himself an unidentified band and – guess what! They sound just like a Magic Band. Not the Magic Band, but they go a long way to rediscovering the drive from years past. The album opens with the title track ‘Bat
TO THE casual observer, Captain Beefheart’s vibe must appear to be similar to the window blind painting he has created to adorn his latest batch of surreal surface barking. It looks and sounds a blur, right? No. You’ve got to scratch deep down to relieve this particular musical itch. You’ve got to get some of that dark paint under your fingernails. ‘Captain Beefburger’, as our illustrious Ed mockingly refers to him, wallows deep and silent for years shrouded by his own notoriety and then without warning, emerges into the musical gloom, armed with tunes and words of earthy energy that only he can properly manipulate.
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART makes no mistakes, tells no lies. He is a painter, not a photographer. He doesn’t encapsulate, summarise, categorise, conceptualise, react. His music is pure, as pure as you like, not that it matters whether you like it or not. He is greedy, and selfish, not like a shopkeeper, but rather like a baby crapping on the floor. It isn’t a case of his music not being like anybody else’s, but the other way round. The other’s aren’t even real hacks. They are hacks in inverted commas. Comparison is irrelevant, so disregard the last bit. His music compromises less than most. It is awful,
PECULIAR CHAP, Captain Beefheart. Ever since the full-frontal attack of “Trout Mask Replica” – still my favourite of all his works, whatever he says – he seems to have been moving towards what we professional euphemists tend to refer to as a ‘more accessible’ kind of music. In other words, – he’s been coming in from the unique, arresting stance he’d struck on “Trout Mask” to a position closer to the mainstreams of rock. That does not imply criticism. for with albums like “Lick My Decals Off. Baby”, “The Spotlight Kid” and to a lesser extent as far as I’m concerned “Clear Spot”. He brought
This article / interview first appeared in Sounds 14th April 1973. Many thanks indeed to Simon Sergeant for typing it up and sending it. I must confess I didn’t expect Captain Beefheart’s reply to “Hello, how are you?” to be that he felt fine but was very angry about the Muhammad Ali fight: “Look what they have done to him man, I mean he won that, and they took it away from him.” Don Van Vliet and his wife Jan joined us for a lunch a couple of days after he flew in to London for his biggest and potentially most successful tour here. With