portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

My main inspirer
Don Van Vliet  
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
January 15, 1941 - December 17, 2010

"Cut the Cake and We'll All Get Well"

 
Don Van Vliet - 'Captain Beefheart' charcoal on handmade paper - A Swapp 1983
  Well,  what can I say that hasn’t already been said elsewhere and SO much better? I am a huge fan of 'The Captain' and with his passing in December last year (2010) from complications arising from his MS I was struck down by the loss. I have long been a Beefheart fan and bought 'Safe as Milk' when it came out (over in the UK on Marble Arch for 12/6d). A bunch of musician friends and I learned 'Trout Mask Replica' by rote as soon as we laid our hands on it! Many’s the time I recall walking through the local parks reciting ‘The Dust Blows Forward and The Dust Blows Back’ from memory! I guess you had to be there. These guys learned to play the album too – note for note. Dale the drummer is still drumming to this day (do you know anyone who can match Art Tripp III and John French’s time signatures by ear?) and still is as good as ever. As is the guitarist Johnny who can literally play anything, teaches guitar and plays in various incarnations as Max Moonlight (just finished at set at the Royal Festival Hall with ‘Denise’ the hairdresser from Coronation Street - I kid you not!)  Max Moonlight (site updated at Johnny's oops, Max's request! Good to hear from you Johnny! Keep on Rockin'!
*Don't believe me....quite? Well here's Johnny doing what he does best ... .. .
Moonlight does Moondance
more Max.....Go Johnny Go!

But I digress! These gems are a few bootlegs not least of which are some that others pointed me towards that I hadn’t got over on QualityBootz but here’s a genuine selection of pieces that have tickled my tuba and kept my squid in a polyethylene bag,...... Fast and Bulbous!

Live at Reseda California 1981, The Old Waldorf SF the same year and a compilation boot called ‘If You Got Ears’
In 1993 I was lucky enough to go the large Beefheart exhibition in Brighton as it toured Europe and had the book ‘Stand Up To Be Discontinued’ as it’s catalogue. It included a CD of poetry reading from Don that came as a shock for it was the first time we had heard from him in about ten years by then and he sounds frail and weak voiced, There is also his last known interview here from Dutch radio the same year (93) and despite it having Don sounding weak voiced still, he is on form and clearly having fun playing word games with the interviewer over the phone from 4FM in Holland.
N.B curiously there appears to be two tracks missing from these files one poetry piece and a section of interview but no matter they are fun and I am hunting the missing tracks down. It may be a copyright issue and the poem could have been used elsewhere as has the interview, as Gary Lucas has used this as a back ground piece mixed into a musical composition he has recorded see http://garylucas.com/www/capt/ (otherwise these are not published anywhere else) We have lost a unique voice and creative talent and are the poorer for his leaving us




R.I.P   
Don Van Vliet 
'Captain Beefheart' 
  January 15, 1941 - December 17, 2010
Here's a top Ten Beefheart Boots list 
  1. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - 60s Demos – what it says on the tin, not for beginners!
  2. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Brown Star Sessions ‘72 wonderful stuff and essential listening – my top rated Beefheart boot
  3. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - The Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL, 1980
  4. Captain Beefheart - 1993 Radio Interview, Radio 4FM, Holland  - telephone call chat of interest to completists & weirdos like me only
  5. Captain Beefheart - Poetry Reading – (taken from the CD published with the Book - Stand Up To Be Discontinued 1993) of interest because it reveals how frail Don was even then.
  6. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Live In Brussels ‘74 Almost uniformly unlistenable v poor quality boot taken from vinyl possibly, have this in vinyl format and its is little better here.
  7. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - London 1974 Good quality and the band are tight as…… Don on fine form
  8. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Crazy Little Things: Live At Cowtown ‘74 Heavy heavy set, generally good and has good bass presence highly listenable may need equalizer adjustment for your optimum enjoyment
  9. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Live ‘N Rare, Disc 1 & 2 pretty mixed bunch worth having for completists maybe
  10. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Rarities, 1969-1980
  11. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Railroadism: Live In The USA, 1972-81 Strange this and a compilation of ‘best of’ American performances but much of it sounds way too fast too these ears
  12. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Dichotomy: Rarities, Outtakes and Demos From The ’60s and ‘70s mostly excellent and good quality throughout mixed quality needs track by track listing but its worth it for completists 
  13. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - I’m Going To Do What I Wanna Do: Live At My Father’s Place, 1978, Disc 1 & 2   Wonderful stuff and good quality for the year especially

~
Captain Beefheart's Ten Commandments For Guitarists:

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS...That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR...Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH...Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL...Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. IF YOU'RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU'RE OUT...If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE...Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY...You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That's your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song "I Need A Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he's doing it.

8. DON'T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT...You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE...When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE...Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow. 









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Here's the best of the rest......well it's for completists I know and some of these are truly dreadful!(sic) but it shows what's available.........I will post more comments about hidden gems amongst the detritus as I go along...spot something you like the look of? Or haven't got.........? Then ask and it shall be so!
Please don't be out off and yes I know its just a list but apart from the best boots already posted elsewhere, I will post more music as and when........Bogota Boogie!


Art


Zoot


Don alto sax


Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - 'Joan Sets Up'



Say Goodnight Don....


..................Pappy with the khaki sweatband, bowed goat potbellied barnyard that only he noticed
The old fart was smart
........




Well, well, well?

> * _ _ _ * < - > * _ _ _ *< - > * _ _ _ * <



THE MAGIC BAND


I can't say enough about the musicians who played with Captain Beefheart. Whatever the torment and vicissitudes they experienced at Don's hands and direction, they turned out (and maybe were already) extraordinary musicians. It was my immense pleasure to see the Magic Band play at the 'Zodiac' club in Oxford back in 2005 (Monday June 6th) and I have documented my response over on Beefheart.com (check the side links on the main page) suffice to say here are the origins of the Magic Band and their last incarnation. Two for this Sundae Sunday (Google tells us its the anniversary of the Ice Cream Sundae - go figure America!)
Now  Beefheart purists (and I am one - I like everything! Even the mealy mouthed named 'Tragic Band' too - yes, yes Bluejeans and Moonbeams it's true! they were love songs people doesn't Don deserve your attention whatever he did? He does for this listener) but purists may say there's no Don here.......to which I say open up your ears and hear, there is Don in every phrase and this is his mentoring, inspiration and muse at work here too





The gig at The Irish Centre Leeds is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond...er, I mean as close as I can get to the Oxford gig and is a true wonderment. It is simply the best band I have ever heard, John French and Mark Boston are the driving force power house with Denny Walley and the breathtaking Gary Lucas on guitars wheeling about above the drum and bass are evidence of one the the greatest nights of music I have ever experienced second perhaps only to the Captain's show at what was then the Oxford Polytechnic at the time of Clear Spot which stands as the peak experience of live music for this old muso.
Here's the line up I saw a year later with John Peel for the Peel Sessions show 2004
I saw the Magic Band on this tour at the Zodiac 2006 (now a 'Carling Academy' but amongst local yokels we refuse to have it know by any other moniker! Power to the people!) I have reviewed this tour over on Beefheart.com and they kindly sent me this boot in lieu of payment for my pictures and published my sycophantic letter too which I was quite expecting in that it makes me sound like a wazzock!!
I really was prepared to be highly sceptical about any band touring with Beefheart music minus the steerage of the Good Captain BUT BOY WAS I WRONG!
This is the best evening's entertainment I have had in years! Drumbo [John French] makes it informative as well as highly enjoyable! His passable [not merely, he is the inheritor of a voice that comes as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond] Beefheartian vocals made this and the set is well chosen and spectacular to say the least, with my bass hero Rockette Morton (see below) and Gary Lucas on guitar replacing Bill Harkleroad, who I would early love to have seen, plus Denny Walley on space age guitar and noodliedoodling. This band cooked! Gary and Denny were a fantastic combination as only musicians from the Beefheart School of mad time signatures can be. I was hopeful of seeing Zoot Horn Rollo and Art Tripp III but frankly wasn't prepared for the storming performance from this line up...................
see more pictures & blurbling over at Beefheart.com
Readmore here

           ** A note about the vocals - many, including me, were a tad nervous about the absence of the good Captain and John French is nothing if not as close to his friend and mentor as it is possible to get. He nails it! I didn't think anyone could but he does........the band's very own 'Bill Wyman' in that he is the archivist par excellence and I am so glad he kept his sanity along the route (check out his book here
I've made a cover for it here
.................................................well I made it for Dave 'Sealy' Seal, so you owe it to him!
they're not very good I'm afraid but they have photos by yours truly and it's the best I can do for the mo'

'Rockette Morton' - Mark Boston The Zodiac Oxford 2005 photo by Andy Swapp

Bogota Boogie!

 and here from the wonderfully specific and totally typical Brit Prog Rock blog (prog rock blog? Ed) that is Hals blogspot.......a set from Jan 2004 early in The Magic Band tour which just shows how tight these wonderful musicians are. I love this band and I love this music!




Denny Walley, Michael Traylor, Mark Boston, John French & Gary Lucas
I have taken the liberty of correcting the tracklistings on both the tracks and the text included here ...

Diddy Wah Diddy!

++ *  * _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ *  * ++

More Captain...............








check Bif – cotton popping out of his sleeve …
poop hatch open – big poop hatch with a cotton hatch – hatch holes – got to pick up the horns …
but the head won’t move until it walks - check this vid from Holland! Best thing I've seen on TeeVee in ages.......



....and just because it sprang into my head this morning.......one of my favourite poem/lyrics and courtesy of the wonderful and my favourite site  Beefheart.com

  81 Poop Hatch



Info:
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and THE MAGIC BAND
1980-12-20 LATE SHOW
WHISKEY-A-GO-GO, Los Angeles, CA.

01. Apes Ma
02. Hair Pie Bake III ( Bass/Sax )
03. Don on Tape
04. Hair Pie Bake III ( Bass/Sax )
05. Nowaday's A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man
06. Hot Head
07. Ashtray Heart
08. Dirty Blue Gene
09. Best Batch Yet
10. Safe As Milk
11. A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond
12. Don and Crowd
13. One Red Rose That I Mean
14. tuning
15. Doctor Dark
16. Bat Chain Puller
17. Sheriff Of Hong Kong
18. tuning - Crowd - Don
19. Suction Prints

 total time approx. 67:27

The Band . . . .
Captain Beefheart [Don Van Vliet] - vocals, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, chinese gongs
Eric Drew Feldman - bass guitar,  synthesizer, mandolin, mellotron, electric piano
Robert Williams - drums, percussion
Richard Snyder - guitar, slide guitar, bass guitar
Jeff Moris Tepper - guitar, slide-guitar


Liner notes say:  This is the Late Show from the second night ( two nights in a row, two shows each night ). The recording is a bit "hot", but the sound is still pretty excellent. I had not listened to this tape for many years because my copy ran very, very fast. I am happy to share this speed corrected version, as this is a great show. The band is raging and Don is also really "on" here. The vocals are awesome. Don is intense in his delivery, getting more into it as the show progresses. The vocal fade out at the end of 'Doctor Dark' here is incredible. The room is silent and Don really kills it ! Following that amazing, fading finish quickly Don starts 'Bat Chain Puller' with a roar. Very cool. The band intros follow Bat Chain Puller.

 After 'Sheriff Of Hong Kong' Don wishes everybody a Merry Christmas and even shouts a
"Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho" ! This is another show in which Don is very chatty and quite funny.

 Interesting start here, Eric plays the Hair Pie Bass solo all the way through and then he starts it up again as Don joins in on Sax. They finish that and eventually Don plays a tape recording of himself through the mic. After that they play Hair Pie again ( bass and sax only ) !

Last year the Late Show from the first night was shared out here. Let's hope the Early shows do the same.

Aside from the occasional out of tune guitar, this is one of the better performances by the 80/81 band ! A very enjoyable listen. Have fun.





Instrumental tracks only, no vocals. Some distortion here and their but still very enjoyable!!

01-Lick My Decals Off,Baby
02-Doctor Dark
03-I Love You Big Dummy
04-Bellerin' Plain
05-Woe Is Uh Me Bop
06-Japan In A Dishpan
07-Big Toe # 25
08-Petrified Forest
09-The Buggy Boogie-Woogie
10-The Big Dig (The Smithsonian Institute Blues)
11-Space Age Couple
12-Clouds Are Full Of Wine
13-Flash Gordon's Ape
14-Japan In A Dishpan (Take 2)
15-Japan In A Dishpan (Take 4)
16-Japan In A Dishpan (Bass & Drums)
17-Flash Gordon's Ape # 1
18-Flash Gordon's Ape # 2
Look at that guitar! It's a Danelectro twin neck!........


Bogota boogie.......BOOOOOOOGIIIEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
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The Magic Band - NEWS 

A heads up from the wonderful  Beefheart's Radar Station 
that Sundazed Music has released a recording of the Oxford Zodiac Club Set from The Magic Band that I went to and reviewed for them (see links) way back in 2005. Allegedly mixed by John French hisself and with photos that Beefheart.com says are intriguingly like my very own which you can still find on the website 
 
UPDATE: Amazon seem to have one copy only left (as of 20th August 2013) but Sundazed themselves have it in double vinyl and CD formats at vastly reduced prices ($5.99 for the CD) a Bargain of anyone's shekels
'Rockette Morton' - Mark Boston at The Zodiac 2005  photo by Andy Swapp

As The Radar Staion says: 
A couple of the photos used appear uncannily exactly the same as those sent to the Radar Station soon after the show by Andy Swapp … but there’s no acknowledgement of this on the cover … check out more of Andy’s photos and his review of the Zodiac show



1 comment:

peter atanas said...

Mr. Andy Swapp , thank you for your comments and writings on Cpt. Beefheart . Since my youth i was an admirer of his art . I think the "new" Magic Band is doing a great job to keep the spirit of Don van Vliet´s music and the work of his Magic Band(s) alive . John French is an authentic singer and performer ...the other musicians are wonderful , too . Your blog - site helped me to discover that...

best wishes from austria
peter atanas mintscheff
(sorry for my bad english)