The Sentinel

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Tag Archives: Don Van Vliet

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 – There Ain’t No Santa Claus on the Evening Stage

Don Van Vliet for Xmas? This Blues dirge, taken from 1972’s ‘The Spotlight Kid’ even has some sleigh bells on it.

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Funeral Hill

Wonderful unreleased track from The Spotlight Kid sessions. Anyone familiar with the 1972 album will recognise this is from that era; slow, brooding Avant-Blues (with more emphasis on the Blues than the last 2 albums) that smoulders rather than crackles. This really should have made it onto the album (who really needs ‘Alice In Blunderland’?); an album that met with criticism and was accused of being sluggish and lacking energy. This was unfair as ‘The Spotlight Kid’ was Don Van Vliet pulling back from the outright confrontational music from ‘Trout Mask Replica’ and ‘Lick My Decals Off Baby’, and delivering something  a tad unexpected. For our money, ‘The Spotlight Kid’ was a great album; one that would have been even greater with the addition of this track.

Captain Beefheart w. Frank Zappa – Orange Claw Hammer (1975 radio performance)

This was performed live on KWST radio in 1975; Don Van Vliet accompanied by Frank Zappa on guitar on an incredible rendition of a track that was originally on 1969’s ‘Trout Mask Replica’. Anyone familiar with the original will know that the track consists of Don’s spoken word and nothing else. This radio performance sheds light on the possibility that it may have originally had some musical backing. Outstanding!

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Doctor Dark

‘Lick My Decals Off Baby’ (1971), Don’s follow up to ‘Trout Mask Replica’, is possibly the purest Beefheart album there is. Dense, tangled, and with probably the least amount of reverb on any of his albums, it’s the closest that Don got to music that sounded 2D (“Like a painting”). ‘Doctor Dark’, with all of it’s mutant Delta Blues sprouting tentacles and extra limbs, is a perfect example of the albums intent.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Ice Cream For Crow

The title track from the Captain’s, sadly, final album. The video shows off Don van Vliet’s paintings; which was possibly his way of telling us that this was what he would now concentrate on. Don had MS and even stated that he did the video as he was unable to bring the band out on the road. He knew how unwell he had become; and he knew that retirement from the music business was just around the corner. With that, we bring you ‘Ice Cream For Crow’ (1982).

Captin Beefheart & The Magic Band – White Jam

Remembering Don Van Vliet 5 years from his passing; this is a track from 1972’s ‘The Spotlight Kid’.

Laurence Johns

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