We’re all brothers of tomorrow!!!
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Lick My Decals off, Baby,
Posted on by Opher
The most exciting band I have ever seen perform live!! Quite incredible and revolutionary on record too!
and without vocals so you can hear the complexity of the arrangements and rhythms
Superb Companion Guide For Every Beefheart Nerd
Submitted 4 months ago
By The Inconsistent Jukebox
Firstly, reader, I’ll tell you what this book is like: You know when you go into an art gallery or museum and have an accompanying guide book explaining a little about the art or artefacts? Well, this is very much like that. A companion piece for every track. The author has lovingly reviewed and described every song and it is also full of little facts and interesting information. If, like me, you are a Beefheart and The Magic Band aficionado (and I’m guessing that you are) then you’ll appreciate this book. We’ve all read John French’s definitive horse’s-mouth and meticulous account, Bill Harkleroad’s equally valid (but not so obsessively detailed) story and we’ve also read Mike Barnes’s fantastic and accurate outsider view. There are a couple of other tomes too but those three are the glorious triumvirate of Beefheartian history. This book isn’t trying to be that. What it does is makes you revisit the albums. Not with a different perspective – we all have our own, as does this, but with another incentive; to listen to the most original, influential, unique music in rock history. It’s a book for Beefheart lovers, nerds and obsessives. If you don’t agree with some of the author’s viewpoints on the music it really doesn’t matter. The purpose of the book is as a companion to this vast and broad decade of sheer creativity, originality and music-as-art from a genius/tyrant/eccentric and the supremely dedicated and unique musicians who helped to realise the vision, even taking a backseat to his ego for the sake of the art. I love it and so will you.
In the UK
In the USA
by Nicky Crewe
Thank you to Nicky Crewe for his review of my book on the great Captain Beefheart.
Opher Goodwin – Captain Beefheart On Track; Every Album, Every Song
by Nicky Crewe
published: 26 / 11 / 2022
Longtime Beefheart enthusiast Opher Goodwin has researched and written an essential reference work for fans old and new. Nicky Crewe takes us through the pages
It could be argued that we can now expect the internet to provide the answers to our curious questions on any topic, but sometimes it’s important to know what questions to ask, and whose information to believe. That’s where the ‘Every Album, Every Song’ series from Sonicbond Publishing steps in. The series is a great resource for those who want to know more about the music and musicians they admire and love. Written by fans who dig deep into the archives and their own experiences, these slim volumes pack a huge amount between the covers. In this one, Opher Goodwin shares some of his own life-changing encounters with Captain Beefheart and his music, coming right up to date with the Magic Band tours of 2014 and 2017. He sets Beefheart’s music and legacy into context, socially and culturally – in his case, John Peel’s radio programme and a significant 1967 London gig at Middle Earth meant he never looked back. Goodwin doesn’t avoid the difficult aspects of Beefheart’s behaviour towards members of his band, especially during the ‘Trout Mask Replica’ era. Some of the stories are as discordant and disturbing as the music they produced. Credit is also given to the roles played by John French, Ry Cooder and Frank Zappa in building Beefheart’s success and lasting reputation and relevance. He both researches and reviews this music that continues to inspire and influence, setting it in context, unpicking some of the stories and myths that have built up around the man and his chosen musicians. As the author his task is to listen with attention to every track: what an amazing opportunity. My own love of Beefheart’s music followed a similar trajectory. I first heard ‘Electricity ‘on the jukebox at the Magic Village, Roger Eagle’s cellar club in Manchester in 1968, and was blown away. I was then introduced to ‘Trout Mask Replica’ and ‘Safe As Milk’. Beefheart’s music may have been an acquired taste, but it was one I acquired quickly. I saw the band at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972, as I was working in a wholefood catering tent right next to the stage. No sleep possible! Roll on another year and I was in a band managed by Roger Eagle (later responsible for Eric’s in Liverpool). Not only did he promote Beefheart’s tours in the UK, but the two of them became close friends, sharing a love of blues music and a similar stature and approach to life. Through Roger, I was invited on the tour bus whenever I was free and got to see much of the ‘Clear Spot ‘tour. I took this opportunity for granted at the time. Many of my friends were musicians, in bands with varying degrees of success. I still have my gifted copies of ‘Spotlight Kid’ and ‘Clear Spot’ from those days, and over the years I have come to realise how privileged and fortunate I was to have had such an adventure. I followed Beefheart’s new releases for many years, but for me those two albums stand out. They contained songs that were unexpectedly tender and poetic, as well as harking back to the delta blues that Beefheart was so influenced by, and they are forever associated too with that particular period of my young life. Sometimes when I walk in to a cafe, club or shop, I unexpectedly hear one of Beefheart’s songs. My heart leaps: it’s a little piece of magic for the day. It happened to me last week with ‘Too Much Time’, which led to a conversation with a young barista, about the same age now as I was when I met Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. It’s fantastic that people are still discovering him, still sharing his music, as his legacy continues to grow. Opher Goodwin’s book covers the official albums, the compilations, rarities and bootlegs and the live albums. There’s information about the offshoot band Mallard, and the reformed Magic Band, and the solo projects of all those who passed through that legendary band. There’s even a section on tributes and covers. Sometimes I wonder if you can know too much: when I was 16 I didn’t need to know the hows and whys to respond to the music, the voice, the presence and the genius, but now I find those back stories fascinating, and I owe Opher Goodwin my thanks.
I first heard Beefheart’s Safe As Milk at Mike’s on the day of its release. To say I was bowled over is an understatement. I was into both the blues and psychedelia, but this seemed to combine the two in a way that blasted your mind and body into atoms. It shook me, and I was hooked. I’d never heard anything like it. By this time I was also going to London underground clubs Middle Earth, UFO, The Roundhouse, The Marquee and Les Cousins. For me it was to see mainly Pink Floyd, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix and Roy Harper. When I heard that Captain Beefheart was going to play at Middle Earth, I was ecstatic. There was only one problem: I was in the midst of my A-level exams. I had been offered a provisional place at university, and needed the grades, but music was more important to me, and besides, my biology exam was a week away. Surely I could afford a night off. High on adrenalin, I drove to London on my trusty motorbike, only to discover that the gig had been postponed. Beefheart’s bassist Jerry Handley was ill, and they’d been replaced by the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. Now, I quite liked Aynsley Dunbar, but he was no substitute for Captain Beefheart, who was rescheduled for the following week as a double bill with John Mayall (another favourite of mine). That made it an absolute must.
The gig was now going to be the night before my A-level biology exam. If I went, I wouldn’t be home until 3:00 a.m., and my exam started at 9:00 a.m.. I would have no last-minute revision, and I’d be knackered. Still, needs must. No choice! It was truly one of the best gigs I have ever been to. I can’t remember anything about John Mayall that night, but Beefheart just blew me away! Needless to say, I didn’t get the required grade, and the course of my life changed. However, I’d seen Captain Beefheart in all his glory! I wouldn’t change that even if I could.
The 1960s were a time of liberal views and creativity. Following World War II and the 1950s austerity, a generation of rebellious teenagers emerged. Fired with optimism, confidence and naivety, they sought to throw off the shackles of conformity and break out from the conservatism of their parents’ generation. This was the new age, and young people saw a world of new possibilities, with waves of creativity in fashion, art, writing, dance, architecture and, most of all, music. Social norms were being rejected. There were protests against the Vietnam war, marches for civil rights, a burgeoning spirit of environmentalism, feminism and equality, coupled with a rejection of the establishment. These sparked great social and political change. Young people had a voice, and they wanted to be heard. Minds were opened. Clothes were colourful. Hair was long. Music was loud. The hair, clothes, attitudes and protest weren’t a fashion, they were symbols of a new way of living; an alternative to the establishment.
The underground movement had an impact on the mainstream. Young people were dropping out, departing on adventures to exotic third-world countries and delving into new religions and cultures. They were appreciating the world’s beauty without needing lots of money. At that time of great social change, many young people were convinced there was a better way to live. They were experimenting with communal living, getting back to nature, dropping out of the rat race, opposing the whole money-driven greed and warmongering attitudes. These were attempts at a simpler, better way of life.
This was the underground culture from which Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band appeared. They were part of the Los Angeles scene, playing at venues like the Avalon Ballroom that catered for the freaks of the day. The West Coast acid rock scene was based around San Francisco and Los Angeles. The two cities had completely opposite vibes, and intense rivalry. San Francisco had more country, jug band, folk roots with bands like Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Grateful Dead. Los Angeles had a punkier blues experimental feel, with bands like The Doors, Love, and also Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, who were more avant-garde.
The counterculture was about being far out. Bands were vying with each other to be more extreme, extolling the underground scene’s acid/drug culture. The more outrageous the costumes and hair, the better. A look at the cover of Country Joe and the Fish’s I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die, clearly demonstrates that. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band topped them all. It didn’t get any weirder.
Captain Beefheart – ‘On Track – Every Album, Every Song’ receives great reviews!
‘As with his excellent On Track book about Roy Harper, Opher Goodwin has immersed us in the world of a truly great, if enigmatic musician. Opher’s deep and personal knowledge of the times, the culture, man and his music create a provocative and fulfilling read.’
‘This is such a brilliant book.’
‘a gold mine of information’
‘a forensic knowledge of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band.’
‘what it feels like to have your brain rewired by this completely unique artist’
‘a must have for fans of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band.’
‘You know when you go into an art gallery or museum and have an accompanying guide book explaining a little about the art or artefacts? Well, this is very much like that.’
‘I love it and so will you.’
‘another incentive; to listen to the most original, influential, unique music in rock history.’
So good to read the reviews of my new Beefheart book. Very heartening that people are enjoying it so much. It’s good to know that I’ve done justice to my favourite band! Thank you so much to all those leaving reviews and likes!
This is the second of the books that I have written in this series for Sonicbond Press. A third will be out next year.
I have received another batch, so if anybody else would like a signed copy please contact me.
For those who do not like purchasing from the dreaded Amazon it is available through other outlets including the publisher’s own site Burning Shed.
Couldn’t leave Eric Klerks out of the show. He was spectacular. That duelling guitar with Denny is the heart of the band. One of the most original and distinctive elements of the Beefheart sound. You have to be an amazing guitarist to master that technique, the notes, rhythms and complex interactions. Beefheart and the Magic Band have been blessed with an array of outstanding guitarists and Eric is up there with the best.
When I heard that the Magic Band were reforming and touring I was ecstatic. My favourite band! After the initial euphoria, I was much more circumspect. How could anybody possibly substitute for Don Van Vliet? Don probably had the best (and loudest) voice in Rock Music history. He gave Howlin’ Wolf a run for his money. I checked out the line-up and it looked great. There was Gary Lucas, John ‘Drumbo’ French, Denny ‘Feeler’s Rebo’ Walley and Mark ‘Rockette Morton’ Boston. Even so I was expecting little more than a tribute band. How wrong I was. They not only had the vibe and the excitement of the original incarnations but somehow Drumbo turned out to be a dynamic frontman and even carried the vocals to within a gnat’s crotchet. Amazing. After that the band toured regularly and I got to as many gigs as I could, took my younger son and his friends and introduced them to real music. They were blown away. Gary Lucas unfortunately, dropped out (Oh, if only he had been replaced with Zoot Horn Rollo) but Eric Klerks came in and did a fine job. The standard didn’t drop. I even liked the Henry Kuttner incarnation (though I sorely missed both Mark and Denny). Far from a tribute act – they were indeed Magic! Here’s a number of shots of John in action at the Duchess York in 2012.
1995 – 2022
Published Saturday 29 October 2022
It’s Prog-Tober! 31+ albums and reviews in 31 days!
Opher Goodwin — On Track: Captain Beefheart
The quote on page 46 from Orpher Goodwin’s On Track: Captain Beefheart of the track When Big Joan Sets Up, encapsulates what makes Beefheart special, and at the same time why he remains a niche artist.
“… a great melody that carries it through. It’s meaningless but full of insight, so frenzied that it shouldn’t work, yet it does. It hangs together. That’s what is so great about Beefheart’s music – it pulls you in; the music is complex; the lyrics seem full of meaning, but everything is just beyond one’s grasp. You find yourself hooked. It propels you. It’s visceral. It tugs at the cortex. Rewarding.”
This applies across all of Beefheart’s recordings. Not without the odd exception of course, such as the mid-period ‘commercial’-leaning releases and things like Beefheart’s contribution to Frank Zappa‘s Willie The Pimp on Hot Rats. One of the things I find interesting about these two maverick forces of musical nature (Zappa and Beefheart) is that both went to Antelope Valley High School in the small Californian Mohave desert town of Lancaster. They remained friends on and off after leaving Lancaster; when their monumental artistic egos would allow. With Zappa, being more successful, helping the often-broke Beefheart out.
This is a great addition to Sonicbond Publishing’s ever expanding Every Album, Every Track series. This looks at Captain Beefheart’s studio output as well as the plethora of live releases and bootlegs that have followed since his death in 2010.
Comprehensive and critical where required, self-confessed Beefheart obsessive Opher Goodwin, knows his way around an incisive phrase and sets each of the studio albums into a context of time and place, record company and management shenanigans, and contemporary critical reactions. As well as assessing the various incarnations of the Magic Band, and how well they were able to translate the Captain’s ideas into actual music.
After making his brilliant final album, Ice Cream For Crow (1982), he left music-making on a high point, and turned back to painting. Beefheart, under his own name of Don van Vliet became a renowned abstract expressionist painter, gaining the level of success in the US that had eluded him musically. A happy ending of sorts.
This makes an excellent companion to Mike Barnes’ Captain Beefheart: The Biography (Omnibus Press) where neither shy away from Beefheart’s obsessive and bullying behaviour that were part of his artistic makeup. Opher Goodwin’s On Track: Captain Beefheart is a great guide and companion to this often-challenging artist.
If you’re curious, for me the place to start is with 1978’s Shiney Beast (Bat Chain Puller), but every Beefheart fan will have a different gateway release to recommend.
A memoir of a life spent in Rock Music
The sixties raged. I was young, crazy, full of hormones and wanting to snatch life by the balls. There was a life out there for the grabbing and it had to be wrestled into submission. There was a society full of boring amoral crap and a life to be had in the face of the boring, comforting vision of slow death on offer.
Rock music vented all that passion.
This book is a memoir of a life spent immersed in Rock Music. I was born in 1949 and so lived through the whole gamut of Rock.
Rock music formed the background to momentous world events – the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Iraq war, Watergate, the miners’ strike and Thatcher years, CND, the Green Movement, Mao and the Cultural Revolution, Women’s Liberation and the Cold War.
I see this as the Rock Era.
I was immersed in Rock music. It was fused into my personality. It informed me, transformed me and inspired me. My heroes were musicians. I am who I am because of them.
Without Rock Music I would not have the same sensibilities, optimism or ideals. They woke me up!
This tells that story.