– Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band – Live at My Fathers Place – November 18, 1978 – WLIR-FM –
There was a time you couldn’t mention Frank Zappa without mentioning Captain Beefheart somewhere in the same sentence. After a very brief stint (and his only top 40 hit) for A&M Records in the mid-1960s, Captain Beefheart took up residence at the otherwise Teen Pop label Buddah Records before landing on Frank Zappa’s newly founded Straight Records. And that’s where the real evolution of the odyssey that was Don van Vliet (aka: Captain Beefheart) got rolling. Releasing the milestone Trout Mask Replica, it put Captain Beefheart at the forefront of the avant-garde in Rock, and became one of the cornerstones, if not a part of the foundation in the Progressive Rock movement.
Although one could put an argument forth that Captain Beefheart’s music had more in common with Ornette Coleman than say, Soft Machine – they were nonetheless one of the most influential bands to emerge from the late 60s and become a solid fixture in the experimental 70s. After Beefheart’s split with Zappa (some say acrimonious, others say it was time things got moving along), Beefheart settled at Warners where the evolution continued and refined to where this radio concert from 1978 comes in.
According to the MC, this was the first time Captain Beefheart did a live concert on radio. It’s a little hard to believe, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were true. The music of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band was anything but commercial – was probably more complex and challenging than even Frank Zappa’s – and for that reason, wasn’t really everybody’s cup of tea.
But if you lose the expectation and keep an open mind, the music of Captain Beefheart is some of the most interesting and innovative to come along in a very long time – and its safe to say we haven’t heard anything come close to it in a very long time – and maybe we never will.
For Beefheart fans (and there are a lot of you), this is a feast for the ears. And even though it went longer than it’s almost 90 minutes (it fades out before it finishes), it’s essential listening and vintage Beefheart.
No disappointment here – except maybe for the fact there isn’t more like it.
In any event, enjoy this one and listen carefully. There’s a lot going on.
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