Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Floppy boot stomped

It was with great sadness that I learned a minute ago of the death of Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart. The music the Captain made with his Magic Band was unlike anything before it, or after it: an odd mix of jazz, R&B, zydeco, avant garage rock ‘n’ roll, and everything in between, all of it wonderful when mixed together.

Captain Beefheart’s last album, “Ice Cream for Crow,” was released almost 20 years ago, and no more were planned. Disgruntled at low sales and a sense that his sound had been ripped off by punks without his getting any acknowledgement (check out “Ashtray Heart” and draw your own conclusion, although it should be said that The White Stripes did later cover this song), he retired from music, focusing instead on his burgeoning visual art career. I didn’t expect any more music, but I liked knowing that he was around. And now I’m hoping that the Magic Band will resurface for a tribute concert.

Although I went on to delight in such albums as “Trout Mask Replica” and “Doc at the Radar Station,” it was “Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)” that was the LP that introduced me to the Captain, and it remains close to my heart. Here are two representative tracks that highlight both the Magic Band’s fearsome musicianship and Captain Beefheart’s astonishing vocal range. The cover painting is by Beefheart.

2 Responses to “Floppy boot stomped”

  1. Uncle Rich Says:

    That is sad news indeed. I was fortunate enough to hear Beefheart live several times. He and Zappa were two of my favorites. Four of his old players got together and recorded CB songs under the Magic Band name, on an album called BACK TO THE FRONT. It’s well worth getting.

  2. Uncle Rich Says:

    Just checked BACK TO THE FRONT on Amazon. They have samples of every song. Listen and be amazed.

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