Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Memoriam
Captain Beefheart

My record collection consists of many early obscure albums of various artists. To a great extent I shied away from the Pop Culture stuff and tended to lose interest in bands once they claimed commercial success. Don Van Vliet was no exception.

It was 1969 and I was at a friend's house when he brought out an album with a pink cover featuring a person with an odd hat and a fish mask. The title was Trout Mask Replica, although the fish looked more like a Koi. The artist called himself Captain Beefheart. My friend informed me that the album was produced by Frank Zappa, another favorite of mine, therefore I was eager to hear it.

Upon the first play I was dazed and confused by the seemingly chaotic nature, similar to some of The Mother's of Invention's works, but even further out there. Upon subsequent listenings it grew on me as the chaos gave way to the complexity of it.

Van Vliet's style was a blend of Blues, Rock, Experimental and Psychedelic with vocals sung in his unmistakable gravely voice and is considered to have "greatly influenced" New Wave artists such as David Byrne of Talking Heads, Blondie, Devo and The B-52s.

Tom Waits' shift in artistic direction, starting with 1983's Swordfishtrombones, was, Waits claims, a result of his wife Kathleen Brennan introducing him to Van Vliet's music. "Once you've heard Beefheart," said Waits, "it's hard to wash him out of your clothes. It stains, like coffee or blood."

Captain Beefheart and Magic Band went on to record a number of albums which, although gaining critical acclaim, never gained a large following or commercial success.
Performing with various configurations of the Magic Band through 1982, he left the music scene to concentrate on his artwork.

The Captain passed away yesterday at the age of 69 due to complications from multiple sclerosis. May he rest in peace...

Tonight I bring you a collection of his live performances followed by a documentary on his life and works and then wrap it up with a 14 minute performance with Frank Zappa. A song which I used to visualize as pertaining to the mid-evil days but now realize speaks of our current government as well - The Torture Never Stops.



Click here to view individual playlist entries


No comments:

Post a Comment

I hope you enjoyed the show!
See you next week.