My music-loving friends (a redundant phrase, that) and I occasionally indulge in an old joke: whenever the subject of certain musical acts come up, one of us will mention how that artist is one whose work we keep on hand in case guests overstay their welcome. The point, of course, is that spinning of a disc by said artists generally moves guests to head for the door. And we oh-so-hip types, weget these artists; we actually enjoy that which is so (at best) alien or (at worst) painfully unlistenable about their music.
Two chief suspects on that list are The Residents and Captain Beefheart. Both virtually define the outsider aesthetic, though in very different ways. Beefheart’s work was based in blues, but imbued with a dada approach that headed off in all sorts of directions. His Trout Mask Replica is an important work, and this remains true whether or not you can stand to listen to it all the way through. Me, I bought it on the strength of a review I read as a young teen; it might have been the Rolling Stone Record Guide or some such. I picked it up on vinyl for a reasonable price; the records were technically used, but – as I discovered – “difficult” records can often be bought used, and the new owner will discovered the vinyl has barely been played. (The same thing happened when I finally scored a vinyl copy of John and Yoko’sTwo Virgins: the 40-plus year old vinyl is pristine. I mean, who plays that thing repeatedly?)
But Two Virgins isn’t of serious musical value; much of the recorded output of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, however, is.