Captain Beefheart is about six years ahead of his time; his early material was cut in 1965 and still sounds advanced today. The main influences on him are Delta country blues and John Coltrane’s mystical jazz. His voice has a four-octave range, which means he can peak at skyscraper high notes and comfortably descend to guttural monotones. Combined with his personality, his music and his voice will either fascinate you or send you screaming into the woods. He plays word games, sometimes getting triple meanings through puns, and his material is basically good-natured and wildly imaginative.
In conversation the Captain is distant and intimate at the same time but his personality is wonderfully refreshing. I don t understand all of his music but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him several times. He told me via pay-phone from a northern California fishing village that he intended to “go commercial” for “The Spotlight Kid” but the Captain’s conception of commercial is still sweetly weird. The music on this disc is close to his early blues boogie days, and the performances are much more orthodox than on the “Trout Mask Replica” or “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” albums. It’s the Captain’s most palatable album in years. If you dig him already, ’nuff said. If you haven’t heard him or have been put off by him, “The Spotlight Kid” will make it easier to dig him.