Monday, 15 December 2014


"trout mask replica"
Year:    1969
Country:    US
City:    Lancaster, CA
Label:    Warner
Format:    CD, 2 x LP
Tracks:    27
Time:    79 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Psychedelic Rock            Experimental

Captain Beefheart’s 1969 masterpiece set an unmatched standard for avant-rock. This new reissue from Third Man puts it back in print on vinyl.

Though it’s hard to tell by listening, the first two albums by Captain Beefheart (aka Don Van Vliet) found him creatively frustrated. Safe as Milk from 1967 and Strictly Personal from the following year were inventive blues-rock records, but Beefheart had bigger ambitions. At that point, his group the Magic Band were a mostly democratic collective, and since Beefheart had less musical expertise than his colleagues, his odder suggestions were vetoed as too unconventional. “That really pissed him off,” said bassist Gary M “[Because] he had all these ideas in his head and he had no way of getting them across to people.”

To gain the control he needed to express his vision, Beefheart morphed the Magic Band into a kind of musical cult. In mid-1968, he replaced some members of the group with younger, more impressionable players (guitarist Bill Harkleroad and bassist Mark Boston were each just 19), gave everyone a nickname to match his own, and holed up with them in a house on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The sessions in the house have since become a crucial part of rock legend, the subject of contradictory stories and much myth-making. By many accounts, Beefheart imposed weird lifestyle rules and played mind games that bordered on brainwashing. Some claim the musicians couldn’t leave the premises save for a weekly grocery trip, and drummer John “Drumbo” French said he spent one month eating only a cup of soybeans every day.

Beefheart put a piano in the house—despite not knowing how to play it—and banged out ideas, which French transcribed and assembled into tunes. The resulting pieces were more like puzzles than songs, giving different instruments conflicting time signatures and varying part lengths that had to somehow meet at specific points. French compared it to building a solid wall with bricks of unequal size. This unorthodox complexity forced the Magic Band to rehearse 12 hours or more a day, usually without Beefheart. Often they would sleep right where they had just practiced, and immediately continue upon waking (*Review by Marc Masters ).
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