Thursday, April 09, 2020

As far as books about Captain Beefheart go in my own personal library I gotta admit that there are probably many more devoted to Ving Fuller than there are of the man called Van Vliet! Thankfully that gaping omission in my reading matter has been solved with the acquisition of these three tomes for the times which should not only bolster the Beefheartian aspects of my reading matter, but educate me even more'n what I already know about the man, CREEM magazine circa 1972 and Lester Bangs' VILLAGE VOICE cover story notwithstanding, or notwithsitting either!

TIN TEARDROP by Ken Brooks (Ken Books) is a nice thin volume and a pretty on-target if kinda staid effort that was self-published by an actual Beefheart fan. It's whatcha'd call a pretty straight-ahead or straightforward for that matter bio, and although it does tend to read like a term paper (and what's with alla those cornballus literary quotes beginnin' each 'n every chapter) it should make any fan of the Captain sit up and take notice what with the guide to nom de plumes (better yet, nom de musiques) and bootlegs etc. snuggled in the back. Still, that relative dryness seems to permeate, and I get the idea that more than a few hardened fans will vehemently disagree with certain opinions or explanations of songs but hey, it's Brooks' book and not yours!

A CARROT IS AS CLOSE AS A RABBIT GETS TO A DIAMOND collects a whole slew of previously published Beefheart reviews and crams 'em all into one book for your easy access in case you wanna read all those Lester Bangs reviews yet don't wanna search through dozens of papers collected about over the years. For me this was a much better sit down and kick your feet up book because it captures the entire Beefheart feeling that was still soaking up the musically-minded person's psyche back when the man was considered a living and breathing musical entity. Rather than having to read about the bloke through years or rose-colored hindsight which has marred many a rock appreciation (such as the kind you see via many a Velvet Underground or Patti Smith retro-look where some dizzy chick reduces both's body of work to tepid memories of friends past and Glade air freshener rheumy reminiscences which belie the power and energy that these acts were best known for) you get to see up front just why the Magic Band and Beefheart in particular were such a vital force for depression-era wage kids like me who hadda pick up pennies off the street in order to buy some flea market find. A handy reference in case you're interested in finding some Langdon Winner appraisal or just can't remember what that Bangs interview around the time of DOC AT THE RADAR STATION was all about after lo these many years.

Naturally my own personal fave of the batch (no, I'm not gonna make the obvious joke!) is this little neo-fanzine collecting even more Captain Beefheart articles and such, only this time these were taken from the original clippings so you get to read alla these writeups as the originally appeared in the pages of such hallowed publications as THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS or CREEM. If THE LIVES AND TIMES OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART might look familiar its because the people who did this also put out those similar-minded Frank Zappa and Lou Reed collections, so's it naturally has that real earthy sorta appearance that appeals to me as it should given the life and energy that were poured into these writeup in the first place. Lotsa rare snaps, fan art, stuff you mighta missed (after all, were many of you readers [like me!] still pouring through ROLLING STONE inna seventies fighting your way through tons of Linda Ronstadt and Eagles worship in order to get to the meatier pieces?) and sheesh, if you're the kinda guy who'd turn down the opportunity to read a Charles Gillett or Tim Souster appreciation of the man called Van Vliet why are you tuned into this very blog inna first place? 


Anonymous said...

Ah! The good captain! The only captain! Captain Beefheart! Saw The Magic Band at Tufts in 1971. Mississippi Fred MacDowell, in an Eleganza suit, opening. 'Twas a time! Cheers! Alvin Bishop

Anonymous said...

lol captain bee fart lol did he escape from dr demento? lol loser lol punk rock lol