Friday, 8 August 2014

Captain Beefheart Live: Detroit US review

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band: Live From Harpos 1980

When it comes to the late Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart, most music fans either run to the hills in fear of his chaotic, indescribable music, or, have a soft spot in their heart for his chaotic, indescribable music. There's usually no middle ground. I was in the camp of the latter for many, many years, finding the music of Beefheart & The Magic Band to be just a little too off the wall, too uncommercial, and too noisy to enjoy. Well, years of listening to his collaborations with Frank Zappa have warmed me up to this madman's rantings, and here we have a rare, archival recording from December 11, 1980 at Harpos in Detroit, Michigan, just a few short years before Beefheart retired from the music scene. The Magic Band at the time was comprised of Beefheart on vocals & sax, bassist & keyboard player Eric Drew, drummer Robert Williams, and the three guitar army of Richard Snyder, Jeff Tapir-White, and Jeff Morris Teeper. 
This live set was recorded during the tour for the album Doc at the Radar Station, and features some new & old selections from Beefheart's discography. The audio quality here isn't the greatest, but Gonzo Multimedia have done a decent job in presenting this almost as a crisp bootleg. With the three guitarists in tow, this is a pretty rocking set, as energetic numbers such as "Best Batch Yet", "Hot Head", "Ashtray Heart", and "Safe as Milk" feature lots of six-string firepower over which Beefheart shouts his unique vocals. Whether you call his vocalizations 'singing' or not is up to you, but you have to say that the guy had his own style. "Dr. Dark" combines rumbling, intricate jazz-fusion with noisy punk, and Beefheart's grating bleating cuts through the dissonant guitar patterns like a serrated knife on the jarring "Bat Chain Puller". The heavy rock of "Sugar & Spikes" and almost metallic free-jazz of Kandy Korn" show just how noisy and dangerous this band could be...certainly not for everyone, especially those that require melody in their music.Whether you can stomach the music of Captain Beefheart or not, you have to give credit where credit is due; this band unleashed some savage, avant-garde styled stuff here that is as bizarre as it is unique, with plenty of angular, dissonant guitar work to boot. Audio isn't the greatest, but this is a cool archival live release nonetheless. 

Track Listing 
1) Intro 
2) Nowadays a Woman's Gotta Hit a Man 
3) Abba Zabba 
4) Hot Head 
5) Ashtray Heart 
6) Dirty Blue Gene 
7) Best Batch Yet 
8) Safe as Milk 
9) Dr. Dark 
10) A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond 
11) One Red Rose That I Mean 
12) Bat Chain Puller 
13) My Human Gets Me Blues 
14) Sugar & Spikes 
15) Sheriff of Hong Kong 
16) The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back 
17) Kandy Korn 
18) Suction Prints 
19) Big Eyed Beans From Venus 

Added: July 15th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Gonzo Mulitmedia
Hits: 2
Language: english


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