Recording details

Date – late 1968 and March/April 1969
Studio – Sunset Sound, Hollywood; Whitney Studios, Glendale
Producer – Frank Zappa
Engineer – Dick Kunc


  • Don Van Vliet
  • Bill Harkleroad
  • Jeff Cotton
  • John French
  • Mark Boston
  • Victor Hayden
  • Gary Marker
  • Doug Moon
Many of the musicians on this album had a poem written for / about them by Don Van Vliet.
View Leach’s Listing for a thorough guide to who did what on Trout Mask Replica.

Track list

  1. Frownland
  2. The Dust Blows Forward ‘N The Dust Blows Back
  3. Dachau Blues
  4. Ella Guru
  5. Hair Pie: Bake 1
  6. Moonlight on Vermont
  7. Pachuco Cadaver
  8. Bills Corpse
  9. Sweet Sweet Bulbs
  10. Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish
  11. China Pig
  12. My Human Gets Me Blues
  13. Dali’s Car
  14. Hair Pie: Bake 2
  15. Pena
  16. Well
  17. When Big Joan Sets Up
  18. Fallin’ Ditch
  19. Sugar ‘N Spikes
  20. Ant Man Bee
  21. Orange Claw Hammer
  22. Wild Life
  23. She’s Too Much For My Mirror
  24. Hobo Chang Ba
  25. The Blimp
  26. Steal Softly Thru Snow
  27. Old Fart at Play
  28. Veteran’s Day Poppy

Myths and legends

The album was written in 8 and a half hours on a piano. Beefheart went a year and a half without any sleep. The band never took drugs. The musicians could not play before joining the band and were taught every note by Beefheart.

These claims have all been controverted by various band members in recent decades and are of course entirely untrue; the Captain was just having a bit of fun with us. What is interesting about these claims, however, is that people seemed willing to believe the impossible about Captain Beefheart…

“Hello, there, kids, it’s your old friend Captain Beefheart! You know, me, the magic man, invisible, and all that jazz, ha! Flies through time and space, dimension warp, all that rhythm…”

-I Was A Teenage Maltshop by Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet, 1964.

Album overview from Graham Johnston

Every description you have ever heard of the music on this album is true: it’s shocking, bewildering, inscrutable, dense, playful, hilarious, immobilising, a work of genius, unique, impossible, timeless, beautiful, overwhelming and immensely rewarding. Background music, however, it is not.

Every time I put it on, I feel an initial tremble of foreboding and uncertainty before I’m lost once again in its incredible world which I know so well yet feels so fresh.

If you have heard it then you either love it or haven’t learned how to love it yet. Ed Ward once confessed to Beefheart that he didn’t really get Trout Mask Replica:

“That’s OK,” he said, “just put it on and then go back to doing whatever it was you were doing, and it’ll come to you.”

If you haven’t heard it then buy, borrow or steal it immediately.

It’s Captain Beefheart’s most renowned work for a very good reason: there will never ever be anything remotely like it again and it’s worth putting in the effort to get to know it, no matter how awful that prospect might initially seem. None of this is hyperbole; you simply could not hype Trout Mask Replica.



Original liner information

ZOOT HORN ROLLO: glass finger guitar, flute
ANTENNAE JIMMY SEMENS: steel-appendage guitar
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART: bass clarinet, tenor sax, soprano sax, vocal
THE MASCARA SNAKE: bass clarinet & vocal
ROCKETTE MORTON: bass & narration
DRUMBO: drums [not listed on original liner, only CD reissue]

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART plays tenor & soprano sax simultaneously on Ant Man Bee, simran horn & musette on Neon Meate Dream; ANTENNAE JIMMY SEMENS sing lead vocal on Pena & plays flesh horn on Ella Guru; special guest artist DOUG MOON plays guitar on China Pig;

Produced by FRANK ZAPPA
Arranged by DON VAN VLIET

Engineered by Dick Kunc
Album design: Cal Schenkel
Photography: Ed Caraeff/Cal Schenkel
Special electronic modifications on Captain Beefheart’s band equipment by Dick Kunc
Most recent in a long series of contract negotiations leading to an actual signing: Neil C. Reshen

All songs written by Captain Beefheart
© 1969 Words & music copyrighted for the world by Beefheart Music Co. BMI

Added to the CD issue after the words “most recent…”:
CD design and restoration: Tom Recchion

An amazing Trout band photo, credited to Ed Caraeff, which appeared in Rolling Stone # 507 in 1987. More of these shots can be found with the Grow Fins box-set.

Purchase Trout Mask Replica

Trout Mask Replica releases

View the Radar Station’s full information about the various editions of Trout Mask Replica which have appeared over the years.

Related links

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