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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A Termite in the Wood: Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica (1969)

Not every record is for its time. Some don't even care about time. In the case of the strange masterpiece, Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica, it doesn't even pretend to keep time. In the summer of 1969, Trout Mask came out as an abstract sound collage that followed no trend, or provided even a hint to what was dominating the rock airwaves. Rather than build on what was popular then, it seemed to anticipate the rude gesture of punk almost a decade later. But it did it without the artists involved wanting to upset, or alienate anyone. 

Walt Whitman wrote about the spirit that Trout Mask inherited some seventy years before it was made. "A perfect writer would make words sing, dance, kiss, do the male and female act, bear children, weep, bleed, rage, stab, steal, fire cannon, steer ships, sack cities, charge with cavalry or infantry, or do any thing, that man or woman or the natural powers can do," Whitman wrote in An American PrimerTrout Mask dances and weeps and bleeds and sacks cities by integrating free form verse, the urban blues of Howlin' Wolf, the gospel blues of Blind Willie Johnson, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. The record was so dissonantly original that it annoyed more people than it attracted. People even heard it in records that weren't Trout Mask

A friend of mine once bought one of John Coltrane's more wildly improvisational records (John Coltrane in Seattle) only to call me later to complain, "This isn't Coltrane. It's Beefheart!" But to understand the shock and disbelief surrounding the release of this 1969 landmark, a wildly original (and unsurpassed) experimental leap in popular music, one that defied all the reasons why we listen to popular music, you have to first consider the music already on the airwaves, or perhaps about to arrive there.

Read on..

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Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work..




Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work..

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