A look at the new book from Herb Bermann, Don’s co-writer on Safe As Milk. It’s not that long ago that many people thought that Herb Bermann was just another myth created by Don Van Vliet. Although he shared writing credits on eight songs on the Safe As Milk album, and, much later, one on Shiny Beast, he seemed to have disappeared off the radar. But the Radar Station kept looking for him … You can read about my and Derek Laskie’s search here. We were certain he was out there and Derek eventually managed to secure an exclusive interview with him for the RadarRead More →

Song List Disc 1 – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1970) [as original release] Disc 2 – The Spotlight Kid (1971) [as original release] Disc 3 – Clear Spot (1972) [as original release] Disc 4 – Out-takes 1. Alice in Blunderland – Alternate Version 2. Harry Irene 3. I Can’t Do This Unless I Can Do This/Seam Crooked Sam 4. Pompadour Swamp/Suction Prints 5. The Witch Doctor Life – Instrumental Take 6. Two Rips in a Haystack/Kiss Me My Love 7. Best Batch Yet – (Track) Version 1 8. Your Love Brought Me To Life – Instrumental 9. Dirty Blue Gene – Alternate Version 1Read More →

Back in 1964 when Alex Snouffer was looking to start up the band that would ultimately become Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band the first person he contacted and asked to join him was Jerry Handley. They had already had some experience of playing together, enjoyed the same blues-based music and got on well together. Jerry was to become the bass player. He played on all the early singles plus the “Safe As Milk”, “Strictly Personal” and “Mirror Man” albums. By all accounts he was an easy going and modest kind of guy (still is, in fact!) Incredibly Jerry has never been interviewed before … unlessRead More →

Okay, so why am I reviewing a book about Jeff Buckley here on the Radar Station? Well, it’s written by Gary Lucas who had, and still continues to have, a big part to play in the music of Don Van Vliet, and I think, should interest a lot of Beefheart fans. Jawbone Press : London 2013 Paperback 318 pages 22 Illustrations Originally published in Italy in Italian this is an updated English version of Gary’s story of his “time with Jeff Buckley”, in which he wants to correct the many previously published errors about their relationship and to counter the attempts at airbrushing him outRead More →

If you have been lucky enough to catch any of the Magic Band reunion shows since 2009 you will have seen two new faces in the band – drummer Craig Bunch and guitarist Eric Klerks. These guys have taken on the daunting task of stepping into some big shoes and playing this complex music live to audiences of committed Beefheart fans. And if you have seen them, then like me you will know they have both acquitted themselves extraordinarily well, playing with passion, precision and commitment. I thought it was about time we found out what it was like for them being a part of the MagicRead More →

It was with great sadness that I heard Alex had died from a massive heart attack. He was 64. One of the original Magic Band guitarists, Alex can justifiably be known as the original ‘Captain Beefheart’, being the prime mover to get the band together and the musical director and organiser in the early days. In an interview in 1973 Don was asked how it all started and he had this to say:- Alex St. Claire called me – you know, the fellow who was on ‘Safe As Milk’. He had a great influence on Jimi Hendrix when he was in England. Anyway, he callsRead More →

At last, I’m pleased to present an interview with Art Tripp that I thought several times might never get finished. When I originally asked Art if he’d be willing to do this he was happy to do so – he said he ‘an open book’ and I could ask what I wanted. Then, before I could begin asking any questions Art and his partner Kitty were forced to evacuate their home in Gulfport when Hurricane Katrina hit. Luckily, they were safe and unharmed but their home and business premises suffered wind damage although it did escape any flooding. I, of course, put the interview onRead More →

Published by Salt Publishing, September 2005 Salt Studies in Contemporary Literature and Culture Paperback and Hardback Publisher’s blurb A comparative account of the musical and cultural acts of Zappa and his cohort, collaborator and antagonist Captain Beefheart. Written in the iconoclastic spirit of Zappa’s art, this book traces the mixed media experiments of California freakdom through the dada blues of Beefheart, mapping out the pleasures of imaginative excess. This book is not another critical biography, but an interpretive essay investigating what we feel is the cultural and historical importance of Zappa and Beefheart in the context of a wide-ranging network of references that run fromRead More →

Published by Continuum (33 1/3 series) ISBN 0 826427812 2007 152 pages Publisher’s blurb In the spring of 1969, the inauspicious release of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica, a double-album featuring 28 stream-of-consciousness songs filled with abstract rhythms and guttural bellows, dramatically altered the pop landscape. Yet even if the album did cast its radical vision over the future of music, much of the record’s artistic strength is actually drawn from the past. This book examines how Beefheart’s incomparable opus, an album that divided (rather than) united a pop audience, is informed by a variety of diverse sources. Trout Mask ReplicaRead More →

It’s been a long time coming. There were times when it looked like this book wouldn’t see the light of day … and what a great loss that would have been for us all. So I have to say ‘thank you’ to John for persevering with it and also to Proper Records for bravely taking on the publishing. The first thing you notice is that this is a BIG book. My review copy was a half-size photocopy and it was still huge, so I hope that the binding on the finished product is strong enough to hold the 800+ pages! The book looks good thoughRead More →

One of the many myths surrounding Don’s early years involves his association with a Portuguese sculptor called Agostinho Rodrigues (sometimes written as Augustino Rodriquez). Don’s story is that he trained under this artist and appeared on a weekly television programme with him sculpting wild animals at Griffith Park Zoo. Searches for information about Rodrigues (using variations on the spelling of his name) have come to nothing. However, in 2003 a bit more about Rodrigues, Don and animal sculpting came to light. The Rhino art box Riding Some Kind Of Unusual Skull Sleigh included a book called Splinters, a collection of personal photos and other ephemeraRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Steve on the lonely life of the Beefheart fan.[/alert_box] Why do I like Beefheart? Hmmm……. not easy to answer. Maybe I should start with ‘how’… I think my story will be echoed by other fans in the UK. In 1966/67 the music scene exploded. Although those years are parodied or ridiculed by many they were critical in the freeing of music and it is difficult to explain how radically things were changed. The frontrunners – The Beatles and The Stones – were experimenting with new sounds, but the most exciting music seemed to be coming from the American West Coast. Weird music played by bandsRead More →

We’re very saddened to hear that Don has passed away. He has succumbed to complications with the multiple sclerosis that he’s been suffering with for many years. Our thoughts go out to Jan. The world has lost a unique individual. Update: 11am 19/12/2010 I have been too upset to write much as yet so have just been watching all the wonderful tributes coming into our blog here and elsewhere across the web. I do hope Don, and Jan, were aware of the great love and respect in which they are held. Don’s music has been my companion since 1967. Safe As Milk changed my viewRead More →