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Tag Archives: Don Van Vliet

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles

Gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh; track 10 from 1972’s ‘Clear Spot’ will get you every time.


Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian

Sweet ‘n’ lovely instrumental from the Captain’s final album, 1982’s ‘Ice Cream For Crow’. Combine this with a sunny day and it’s sure to bring a smile to your face.

For Karl-Heinz Exner. Float on buddy.

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 – 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.

Laurence Johns

Curator of Counter-Culture, Personal Development Consultant & Writer

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