There is music, and then there is Captain Beefheart. Beefheart created an amalgamation of Sun Ra, Howlin’ Wolf and planetary pop that has never been even remotely touched, much less equaled. Beefheart plays the blues. It might be the blues in 8/16’s time, and it could feature trombone and “shake bouquet”, but at some level (subatomic, in most cases) it’s the sound of the soil, the sweat and the pain of American’s oldest musical form. It just sounds funny.
Years ago Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) retired from recording and live performance to focus on his painting, and recent rumors state that his health doesn’t permit much of that. Since then he and the Magic Band have been the focus of numerous re-releases, a few boxed sets as well as several books on the enigmatic showman. For those of us who love the Captain, this is all good news. Add this release from Rhino Handmade, a 5,000 copy only release of a concert at My Father’s Place in Long Island, NY in 1978. The sound is topnotch, the playing exquisite, and finally, for those of us who made do with inferior bootlegs, the mysterious “speeding up” problem of the latter part of the concert is corrected. The material ranges from “Abba Zaba” to “Bat Chain Puller” as well as what was probably Beefheart’s only “normal” song-musically, at least-“Harry Irene”.
All in all, this is a great two-disc set that captures all wonder that Beefheart and the Magic Band were capable of. A true American legend, Don Van Vliet did what many threaten, but few actually do: he walked away from it all and hardly a peep has been heard from him since. He might not even know this record is out. Oh well. Now you do. Buy it, and have yourself your own “Tropical Hot Dog Night”. Or something like that.
// Notes from the Road
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