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 Post subject: Re: Captain Beefheart
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:05 pm 
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A brush with greatness

The night Captain Beefheart drove me into the hills in a red Corvette

It’s 1974, and a young Caroline Boucher is in Los Angeles to meet scary legend Don Van Vliet…

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New electric ride: Captain Beefheart. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Caroline Boucher
Sunday 20 August 2017 06.00 BST


In 1974 I was working for a music paper. They were reckless days: a record company would send you off to interview acts and stump up hotel and fares, and I’d been dispatched to Los Angeles to interview the Beach Boys. I was living with a music business lawyer, Robert Lee (he of the Virginia Plain lyric); he was acting for Richard Branson who was desperate to sign Captain Beefheart to Virgin records. So off we went to the Hyatt House – known as the Riot House – on Sunset Strip which was, as usual, chock full of bands.

We’d managed to track down the Captain’s current manager, Andy DiMartino and were prepared to approach with care. Captain Beefheart had a mercurial reputation; his music could be impenetrable, he could be imperious. Frank Zappa and Ry Cooder had both been supporters but he’d fallen out with them, and he could be a tyrant to the musicians in his Magic Band. However, the Captain was regularly championed in the UK by John Peel and had a fanatical underground following, including Richard Branson, who also wanted to sign Frank Zappa.

Andy DiMartino seemed an unlikely manager – neat, suited and rather nervous. Quite a contrast to the Captain, who appeared in the orderly downtown LA office in top hat and cape, trailed by his wife Jan, who carried a large notebook. “Write that down, Jan,” would become a regular mantra over the next mad days. Beefheart was striking, he dominated a room and had huge presence; I was struck by his piercing eyes and dreadful skin. Jan was small and mousey.

With a record contract on the table, the Captain was charm personified. We became his new best friends. He went straight out and blew most of the advance on a red Corvette Stingray in which we roared into the hills to listen to a sax player he wanted to sign. “This car is a petrol bomb,” he observed proudly, pointing out the fuel tanks that ran under the doors. In a donut diner that night under cruel blue fluorescent lighting he asked Robert if he’d visited Mars lately, and doodled two drawings which we still have.

At the Riot House the Captain drank a revolting concoction of milk and brandy and then we returned to the Corvette in the underground car park, talking about knights of the Garter.

“That’s a song,” announced the Captain, humming and stamping and thus we wrote a song called exactly that round the back of the car. To cap it all, there were a few earth tremors.

Sadly the song never saw the light of day. The Captain subsequently fell out with DiMartino and Virgin but we kept in touch for a while.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... d-corvette

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 Post subject: Re: Captain Beefheart
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:52 pm 
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Location: >>==> Wellington New Zealand
An Unlikely Jesus
Doug Kearns

Captain Beefheart taught us how to walk with Trout Mask Replica in 1969.

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In June of 1969 the ground split and continents collided as the old order of human understanding fell away like an avalanche. Defying all expectations a monolith of human evolution broke through the Earth’s crust and thrust into the light of day its lightning white beacon signaling a freshly re-aligned human relationship with the universe. One small step changed everything.

Hints had presaged this re-ordering. Hints were everywhere in society’s steady unraveling: race riots, the free speech movement, Vietnam, hippies. From every direction unrest was stirring. As we move into the 50th anniversary of this momentous event you may think by now this is about the pinnacle achievement of the moon landing. In fact, I have no memory of Apollo 11 touching down. It was the summer of my high school graduation, and as draft bait I had other fish to fry.

I do remember exactly where I was when life changed forever. Once there was record store on Reisterstown Rd. in Maryland. The name’s lost now and several years later when I went back the building was gone. It existed as if to midwife one album only into my hands, the crimson red-jacketed Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Just months before came the release of The Mothers of Invention’s Uncle Meat. Many celebrated that as the crowning achievement of the dying decade. It would soon become clear that Zappa was but John the Baptist preparing the ground for Beefheart’s Jesus.

Beefheart was an unlikely Jesus. He was brutal with a short-tempered and impatient personality. The story of Trout Mask Replica is as mythical as the record itself. Dissonant, out of tune and complicated by the polyrhythmic drumming, the result hit the ear like an ungainly monster attacking Tokyo. According to the creation myth the double album came to Beefheart fully formed. His job was to painstakingly teach his band, measure by measure, the abstract epiphany he was given. He shut the band away for a year maintaining them on a near starvation diet until it’s said Frank Zappa stopped paying them. The enduring attraction of TMR defies easy explanation. Upon first listen it’s as annoying as arguing neighbors throwing things. But as Matt Groening put it, by the sixth listening you get it. This is a body high and not something that can be explained.

It’s helpful to understand that polymath Beefheart was an abstract painter and his approach to music borrowed heavily from the intangible mental walkabouts required of abstraction. In his case, American blues provides the skeleton, Dada surrealist poetry the language, and free form jazz the attitude. This is the full American experience; an urgent celebration so profound it needed not only its own language but its own alphabet as well. Or think of it as the intersection of all the arts. A category of one. Contrary to its spontaneous sound the album had been practiced relentlessly for nearly a year and once in the studio it was completed note for note in six hours. Fifty years on it remains a jagged little beast, challenging our ear and cultural values. It’s probably no coincidence that when men first walked on the moon TMR taught us how to walk on the Earth.

https://www.splicetoday.com/music/an-unlikely-jesus

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 Post subject: Re: Captain Beefheart
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:54 am 
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hmm, Doug Kearns seems like a bit of a knob to me

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 Post subject: Re: Captain Beefheart
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:31 pm 
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Location: >>==> Wellington New Zealand
:lol:

I love these folks attempting to pigeonhole people they don't know for our entertainment.....

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 Post subject: Re: Captain Beefheart
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:55 pm 
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Why Captain Beefheart’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’ Still Sounds Like Tomorrow
The iconic album remains one of the ultimate tests of how far you are willing to go to give yourself up to music
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/trout-mask-replica-50th-anniversary-captain-beefheart-848521/
By David Fricke

Released 50 years ago, on June 16th, 1969, Trout Mask Replica — the third studio album by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band — still sounds like a tomorrow that has not arrived, a music created at a crossroads of sound and language so far distant it continues to defy definitive summation and universal translation. Guitars jut out at improbably severe angles in ice-pick treble, like broken bones slicing through skin. The drumming comes in a rush of agendas, U-turn spasms of loose-limbed time and tempo under melodies which, in turn, feel like they are yet only partially born, still evolving in sense and structure. The singing is another primal logic altogether, an extreme in octaves and sustain that goes from hellhound bass to wracked falsetto, the pictorial cut-up frenzy of the lyrics run through archaic Delta-blues vernacular.

Here is an apparent chaos of pure impulse performed with insanely drilled conviction on a double LP of 29 tracks, only eight of which pass the three-minute mark; a mass of disparate roots — field hollers and Fifties R&B; Sixties garage rock and psychedelia; free jazz and tape manipulation — whipped together in a taut, explosive confrontation with no clear precedent and, after a half-century of canonization on “Greatest Albums of All Time” surveys, no certain legacy. The phrase “Beefheartian” is often used as a measure and compliment in record reviews, to assess the aspiring weirdness of other, especially younger artists. It is a misleading judgement, particularly in relation to Trout Mask Replica, the most Beefheartian album that the singer himself, Don Van Vliet, ever made. As punk icon John Lydon, one of the record’s most famous fans, told Pitchfork, “It was anti-music in the most interesting and insane way” — a “confirmation” to him, as very young man, frustrated by the rules in pop, that “there was room for everything.”

On Trout Mask Replica, breaking through the limits of coherence and cohesion already reset in the wide-open liberty of rock in the late Sixties, Van Vliet and his greatest Magic Band — guitarists Bill Harkleroad and Jeff Cotton, bassist Mark Boston, clarinetist Victor Hayden and drummer John French — established new margins of personal, idiosyncratic expression, much as the Velvet Underground did for drone, minimalism and literary transgression. But even Van Vliet — who continued to press his singular, soulful dada onto records as varied and inspirational as 1970’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby; the near-pop of 1972’s Clear Spot; and his true triumph, 1980’s Doc at the Radar Station — never made another album as foreign and raw as Trout Mask, maybe because it was too dangerous to go back there.

“That is a hell of a thing to ask somebody to do, to give blood like that,” Van Vliet, who died in 2010, said of composing in 1989, during one of my last conversations with him. Fifty years later, like its infamously literal cover, Trout Mask Replica still comes to you in vivid rivers of red.

Everyone with a copy of Trout Mask Replica has a story of walking into it for the first time, typically in disbelief. “I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever heard,” the cartoonist Matt Groening admitted in the 1997 BBC documentary, The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart. “It was just a sloppy cacophony,” he went on, until the “sixth or seventh” listen when “it clicked in, and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard.” In his original rave review of Trout Mask Replica in Rolling Stone, published in July, 1969, Lester Bangs initially admitted that “the rhythms and melodic textures jump all over the place … Given a superficial listening, they seem boring and repetitious.”

But as he reaffirmed a decade later, in a 1980 article in The Village Voice, Trout Mask Replica was “not even ‘ahead’ of its time in 1969. Then and now,” Bangs insisted, “it stands outside time, trends, fads, hypes … constituting a genre unto itself.” That album “reinvented from the ground up rhythm, melody, harmonics, perhaps what our common narrow parameters have defined as music itself.”

I came to Trout Mask Replica in the summer of ’69 with preconceptions — all formed by Beefheart’s first two albums: the eccentric, angular pop of 1967’s Safe as Milk and the rattling heavily-phased blues menace on 1968’s Strictly Personal. I heard the former LP’s garage-rock blitz “Zig Zag Wanderer” (with stinging-Byrds guitar by a young Ry Cooder) on FM-underground radio in Philadelphia and ordered the album from a local record shop. By the time I got it, I already had Strictly Personal and decided that Beefheart’s Magic Band were my Rolling Stones on Mars.

When I bought Trout Mask Replica, entirely on faith — encouraged by the affordable price, especially for a double LP, and the association with Beefheart’s high school friend Frank Zappa, who produced the record and issued it on his Straight label — I listened at first in shock, then embarrassment, as if I lacked the hipness to ride this atonality. But I refused to quit, playing at least one side a day and studying the six-page lyric insert like homework until I felt some connection, if not equilibrium. I came to realize that I didn’t need to understand the music; it was enough to lose yourself in it, to enjoy the sheer audacity and secret-society appeal — here was a record that wasn’t going to let just anyone inside — and let the restlessly moving parts congeal in their own time.

That happened in an aptly random sequence of tracks, mostly where the blues was closest to the surface: “China Pig,” an improvised John Lee Hooker-style boogie in Alan Lomax-field recording fidelity (with guitar by an old Magic Band member, Doug Moon); Van Vliet’s acapella chant “Well”; the unusually focused swing at the start of the last track, “Veteran’s Day Poppy,” and the elegaic tone of its extended coda, an instrumental mourning for the dead in war. Van Vliet was, in his roundabout way, a romantic. When I saw him for the first time in concert, touring behind the 1972 album, The Spotlight Kid, he responded to the cries for an encore — “More! More!” — by playing exactly that on soprano sax: “More,” the romantic theme from the 1962 Italian film, Monde Cane.

The myth of Trout Mask Replica‘s creation, largely sold by Van Vliet in the press at the time (including a 1970 cover story in Rolling Stone), has long been superseded by the darker truth of its genesis and the high price the band paid, in sanity and credit, for their commitment. Van Vliet, of course, did not write the entire album in one eight-hour stretch, and he did not teach the musicians how to play from scratch. Harkleroad and Boston, both in their teens when they joined the Magic Band in 1968, had worked together in other groups; Cotton played on Strictly Personal; and French was a teenager as well when he became the Magic Band’s drummer in 1966, driving both Safe as Milk and Strictly Personal.

Van Vliet’s insistence on colorful pseudonyms — Zoot Horn Rollo (Harkleroad), Rockette Morton (Boston), Antennae Jimmy Semens (Cotton), the Mascara Snake (Hayden, who was Van Vliet’s cousin) — effectively masked individual contributions. French, dubbed Drumbo, was dropped from the Trout Mask credits entirely in original pressings after conflicts with Beefheart resulted in the drummer briefly leaving the group. French has written extensively about the harrowing circumstances of Trout Mask‘s birth: Van Vliet’s autocratic control as the band lived and rehearsed together at a house in Los Angeles’ Woodland Hills, on the edge of starvation as French transcribed the raw data of Van Vliet’s composing — whistling ideas and banging on a piano, an instrument he could not actually play — and the band forged the fragments into angular, episodic sense. Excerpts from that hard labor were later released as part of a five-CD box, Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982 (Table of the Elements). (Disclosure: I wrote liner notes for the set.)

But the words were Van Vliet’s, sung in a “truly scarifying gallery of separate voices,” as Bangs put it in the Village Voice, “at various times a sagebrush prospector, Jews screaming in the ovens of Auschwitz, greased-back East L.A. pachuco” and “several species of floral, piscatorial and amphibious life.” In an America gripped by the dilemma of the Vietnam War, “Dachau Blues” was a frantic reminder of a horror not long past — “The world can’t forget that misery/’N the young ones now beggin’ the old ones please/T’ stop bein’ madmen” — while “Steal Softly Thru Snow” addressed Van Vliet’s obsession with another looming holocaust, humans’ inhumanity to the environment (“Man’s lived a million years ‘n still he kills”).

There was wit aplenty too. Van Vliet wrote about sex with ribald affection (“Pachuco Cadaver”), even without words — the manic instrumentals “Hair Pie: Bake 1” and “Hair Pie: Bake 2,” barely disguised references to female genitalia — but also about affection with surprising clarity and sympathy (“When Big Joan Sits Up”). In one of my interviews with him, Van Vliet used a telling visual reference to describe his urge to write and play music: “I’m just throwing up — in tie-dye.” His parallel life, as an artist, eventually won out. In 1982, after releasing the album, Ice Cream for Crow, and deciding that more than 15 years of struggle for recognition and anything close to a hit record was plenty, Van Vliet retired his Beefheart alias and his last Magic Band, concentrating on a second, more reclusive yet successful life as a painter.

He actually hinted at that as far back as Trout Mask Replica, in “Wild Life”: “It’s a man’s best friend/Wild life along with m’ wife/I’m goin’ up on the mountain fo’ the rest uh m’ life.” But there was too much tie-dye and blood in him, to get out, before that. “I make records for myself,” Van Vliet told me in the summer of ’82, shortly before he decided he’d given enough. But if anyone else was paying attention, he said, “It pleases me that they would be as bored as I am to listen to these things.”

Fifty years on, nearly a decade after Van Vliet’s death, Trout Mask Replica remains one of the ultimate tests of how far you are willing to go to give yourself up to music. It is not the first Captain Beefheart record you should hear. But you should not miss it. At the very least, you will not be bored.


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