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Tag Archives: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Korn Ring Finger

A brilliant track that, astoundingly, never made it onto any of Beefheart’s albums proper; Korn ring Finger was made around the same time as the ‘Mirror Man’ album, and fits in perfectly with that sound. This is The Sentinel’s favourite era of the tCaptains music, and this piece is just as good as ’25th Century Quaker’,‘Tarotplane’ etc. The sound, like ‘Mirror Man’ is bouncy, expansive, and effortlessly psychedelic.
1967; amazing.


Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Tarotplane

Sprawling Free-Rock of the highest order here from Don and the guys ‘Mirror Man’. Delta Blues infected by Free Jazz and the Avant-Garde; something the crew would delve into even further on their seminal ‘Trout Mask Replica’ album. The bouncy and expansive, yet subtle, psychedelia of these tracks makes one long for the abandoned album. Nevertheless, we got there in the end and these titanic pieces are here to be submerged in time and again. Recorded in 1967, released in 1971, ‘Mirror Man’ was a mop up of some of the tracks from sessions for the shelved album ‘It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper’*.

  • other pieces from those sessions were re-recorded and released as ‘Strictly Personal”.

Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band – Veteran’s Day Poppy

Today would have been Don Van Vliet’s 77th birthday if he was still in this dimension. So to celebrate this we give you the closing track from Don’s main masterpiece (as opposed to all of his other one’s), 1969’s “Trout Mask Replica’. This track has three sections to it, all three are wonderful, but somehow that coda is where the real magic is.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – When Big Joan Sets Up (Live in Detroit 15/01/1971)

This was pretty soon after the Captain and his band emerged form the house on Ensenada drive in the woodland hills, after spending 8 months cooped up (and in the case of the band members, imprisoned) rehearsing and recording the seminal ‘Trout Mask Replica’ album. As one can see in this performance, Don Van Vliet looks pretty well fed, whilst the rest of them look scrawny, wild eyed and manic. One can only imagine what it was like in that house, where the atmosphere must have been akin to living within an intense cult; but the stunning results are undeniable when one listens to the ‘Trout Mask Replica’ album, or to this gig where the band blast out tangles, intricate, hyped-up Avant-Rock of the highest order.

Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band – Electricity (Cannes Live 1968)

Don and His Magic Band (who truly live up to their name here) juggle fiery demon blues and witchy Americana; managing to keep all the volatile ingredients in place and delivering grooves and thangs. Also, was nice to see this song referenced in Twin Peaks: the Return. Did anyone notice?

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Moody Liz

The sister/companion piece to the bands ‘Kandy Korn’, ‘Moody Liz’ takes the listener from tumbling psych, country Blues, through a slow, steady musical incantation, and onto a finale that is just pure loveliness. Don and his (truly) Magic Band at their best; circa 1967.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – The Blimp (mousetrapreplica)

One of the many wonderful pieces from the Trout Mask Replica jigsaw; this time with the music actually being played by The Mothers of Invention whilst a Magic Band member delivers the vocals via the medium of telephone. Wonderful stuff.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Ella Guru

By the time one gets to the 4th track of 1969’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’, it feels like the album has started to hit its stride (foolish, but understandable on first listen), as ‘Ella guru’ is grooving; albeit in a ramshackle, rickety, jagged fashion.Like the rest of the album, the simple set up of drums, bass, guitar and vocals teases out astonishing, gnarled and debased music of Blues origin. So much has been said about ‘Trout Mask Replica’, and most of it’s true. Praised and hugely rated, but in no way overrated; an absolutely extraordinary Avant-Garde free Rock album.

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Glider

After 1971’s ‘Lick My Decals Off baby’, an album that was possibly the closest thing to Don Van Vliet’s vision, the man himself decided that the music was ‘too far out’; this, according to John ‘Drumbo’ French, was after deciding that the music wasn’t far out enough (before ‘Trout mask Replica’). The albums that followed started to get a lot tamer, before bouncing back (think ‘Doc At the Radar Station’, the unreleased ‘Bat Chain Puller’, and ‘Ice Cream For Crow’) and hitting the same heights as the ‘classic’ period. The reigning in period resulted in two of the worst albums in Beefheart’s back catalogue, ‘Unconditionally Guaranteed’ and ‘Bluejeans & Moonbeams’. It has to be said that those two albums aren’t even really beefheart, although that’s a whole other story and not one to be explored here. The two that followed ‘Decals’ are the, frankly, overrated ‘Clear Spot’ (it has great moments, but then there are tracks such as ‘Low Yo Yo Stuff’ –  nuff said), and the album that this track is from, ‘The Spotlight Kid’. ‘Clear Spot seems to get all of the praise from this period, but ‘The Spotlight Kid’ beats it hands down. From the opener ‘I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby’, right through to this track, the closing ‘Glider’, we’re getting straighter Blues….but still Blues as imagined by Don Van Vliet. ‘Glider’ is a great closing song; a track where you can almost see the sun setting around you. It’s a shame because the band members reported hating making the album; and playing songs from it live. Zoot Horn Rollo stated that ‘it sucks’, and a lot of critics complained about the tempo’s and labelled the album as ‘ponderous’. Don’t let the criticism put you off, let The Spotlight Kid shine down on you.

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Odd Jobs

The Sentinel would like to celebrate what would have been Don Van Vliets 74th birthday today with a brilliant and touching ode to an odd job man from Don and co; taken from the ‘Bat Chain Puller’ album (which was unreleased at the time). The moment when the song changes from the spiky intro; where Don is delivering what is essentially spoken word over restless music, into a ‘groove’ which he starts singing over; is truly, truly magical. From 1977.

Laurence Johns

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