Today’s Music to keep me SsSsAaAAaNnnneeee in Isolation – Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Safe As Milk

I remember getting this when it first came out and being completely blown away. It still blows my mind. Best band ever – and so brilliant live!

C̤a̤p̤t̤a̤i̤n̤ ̤ Beefheart–S̤a̤f̤e̤ ̤a̤s̤ ̤M̤i̤l̤k̤ ̤-1967. Full Album – YouTube

Today’s Music to keep me SsSsAaaaNNNnEeee in Isolation – Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Lick My Decals off, Baby,

The most exciting band I have ever seen perform live!! Quite incredible and revolutionary on record too!

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Lick My Decals Off, Baby Full Album – YouTube

and without vocals so you can hear the complexity of the arrangements and rhythms

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Instrumental Tracks) – YouTube

Education, careers and Captain Beefheart – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

Religion is a compulsory subject in British schools. Every child has to be brainwashed every single day with a religious input, by law. Isn’t that absurd?

It is an archaic throwback to the days when religion was the cornerstone of society and schools were first conceived as places where children of the elite were schooled in Latin Grammar so they could read the Bible. Later, schooling became more widely available to the general public as society had progressed and there was a need for people with knowledge and skills to carry out the various tasks and careers needed by society.

But where does the concept of educating people to expand their minds fit in? A career is one thing but a questioning mind is something else altogether. I wanted my education to be expansive, fun, illuminating and thrilling. I wanted discovery, excitement and revelation. I received facts to learn for exams. I did not really count that as an education.



Captain Beefheart was on at Middle Earth up in Covent Garden in London. That was an event that would change the whole of anybody’s life. Captain Beefheart, complete with Zoot Horn Rollo, Rockette Morton, Alex St Claire, Drumbo and who knew who else. The whole Magic Band. That was worth £5,000,000 of anybody’s money!

The only problem was that it was right in the middle of A Levels.

This was a crisis.

No problemo. It was the week before my Biology. I wasn’t one for revision anyway. I always did well in Biology. Besides I needed a good night out. It would set me up for the exams. But I needed my grade to get my place at university to study medicine. No problemo. I told you, I always do well in Biology.

But this was the whole of my future!

No problemo!

There was no choice in the matter. It had to be done. Beefheart might not tour again. The world might end and I wouldn’t have seen him.

Besides – it was a whole week before.

I went. Rockette Morton was ill so they postponed. They put on Aynsley Dunbar instead. There was no comparison.

They put the Captain on the following week and made it a double bill with John Mayall, complete with Pete Green on lead.

Now that was a slight problem. That was the night before my Biology exam. But a double-bill with Captain Beefheart with John Mayall and Peter Green – who could possibly afford to miss that???

If I went I would not get back until three in the morning. My exam was at nine. That was about five hours sleep. That also meant no night before revision (the only revision I tended to do). I had this theory that it was pointless revising more than a day before an exam. You forgot it all. It really wasn’t so much of a theory as an excuse – back then my memory was very good. It was just that my mind was on other things that seemed much more important to me back then.

This was my future we were talking about! My future for fuck’s sake! My eminent career as a doctor, a surgeon even! Surely I was mature enough to understand that?

But then, Captain Beefheart might not tour again, the band might break up, and Pete Green was scintillating on guitar. Besides I always came top in Biology; I didn’t need to revise. I could breeze it.

But you had to admit that five hours sleep and no revision was hardly perfect preparation for a crucial exam.

I had to think this through for all of five minutes.

Where were my parents in all this? Where was my father’s guiding hand? My mum’s words of wisdom? I can’t remember. I think they had given up on trying to influence my choices. They had decided that I was a law unto myself. While not shining in my academic endeavours, I did seem to get by, so they tended to leave me to it.

The concert was brilliant! One of the best ever! The Magic band were storming! Beefheart was incredible! John Mayall, even with Pete Green, paled into insignificance.

The Biology exam was all right but there were a few questions that proved a little tricky. A bit of revision might not have gone amiss.

When the results came out I had missed the required standard by a grade. That could have been a single mark! One fact! One glance at one page of notes! The university was not impressed. They declined my services. Instead of studying medicine I did a Zoology degree at a lesser establishment. I went on to establish a scintillating career as a teacher. The pay of a teacher is not greatly comparable to the pay of a surgeon. But what the hell! Who wanted a career anyway? There was far too much real living to be getting on with, a whole universe to explore!

Some concerts are worth £5000,000 of anybody’s money.



Why is poetry not the only compulsory subject in schools?



There’s no doubt that nuclear energy is a big mistake in this age of global terrorism. A plane smashing into a nuclear plant could be a catastrophe.

Just imagine how many tens of thousands of terrorists, each consuming twenty tins of beans, it would take to sabotage a field of Wind Turbines?


Today’s Music to cheer me up in Isolation!

As this virus continues to lock us up in our own homes I continue to find music a great emotional boost!

I am selecting an artist a day and playing them loud.

Today’s music is Captain Beefheart!!

I first discovered the good old Captain when his first album came out in 1967. I was fortunate to catch them at Middle Earth on their first tour and it blew me away – the best band I’ve ever seen live! That concert is right up there with Jimi Hendrix and Roy Harper!


Poetry – A Soundtrack

A Soundtrack


There’s a soundtrack to my life,

Illustrating my feelings,

Feeding my mind,

Nourishing my spirit.


A soundtrack to love.

A background to work.


It is the music,

Intertwined with memories,

That gives colour,

Awakens emotions,

Stokes the fires inside,

To bring me fully alive.


That soundtrack contains my essence.


Opher – 2.1.2020



As I have grown up music has played a huge role in my development. The lyrics, the poems, the sounds, have entered into me, expanding my vision, intensifying my experience.

Now, when I hear a certain track, it conjures up memories, feelings and thoughts.

Music is inextricably linked to my life and inner being.

Zoot Horn Rollo – Captain Beefheart guitarist – Book review – Lunar Notes.

Zoot Horn Rollo – Captain Beefheart guitarist – Book review – Lunar Notes.

Bill Harkleroad aka Zoot Horn Rollo is one of my heroes. I was fortunate enough to see the best band in the universe – Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – a number of times back in the sixties and seventies. They were undoubtedly the greatest band that ever lived (and I’ve seen most of the biggest bands on the planet). Their interweaving rhythms, guitars and bass was the most complex and exciting sound to have been generated by any band. When that is coupled with Don Van Vliet’s (Captain Beefheart) incredible voice and poetry the result is in another planet.

Zoot was an amazing guitarist and remarkable individual. To see him play live in that band was a revelation.

This book is not a professionally written/ghost written book. It is not carefully crafted. It is Zoot reminiscing and talking about his experience in that band. I can imagine him talking into a tape-recorder with a friend. He saws he is not a writer, and he isn’t, but this is his story and recollections. I enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks Zoot. I loved your live performances and those brilliant albums you played on.

The Magic Band are still together (hopefully) with Drumbo, Rockette Morton and Denny Whalley. They are still brilliant. Still one of the best bands around even without Don. What I would give to see the band tour again and Zoot do a guest appearance!

Poetry – Egg Poot Froth – A poem I wrote for Don Van Vliet – Captain Beefheart.

Poetry – Egg Poot Froth – A poem I wrote for Don Van Vliet – Captain Beefheart.

All this talk of Captain Beefheart took me back to this poem I wrote. It is an attempt to capture something of his inimitable style. So obviously it failed horribly as nobody can ever come close.

But it was fun. I visualised it as a performance piece. At one time I was discussing dressing up as a pantomime horse with my mate Rich, walking around Hull with me reciting this through the horses backside.

Somehow he wasn’t keen.


Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth

Masticated in magenta mandibles

Egg poot froth

Migrating magnificently



Tooth drip spew

          Tooth drip spew

Grips the tortured trebles

Tooth drip spew

Tangibly trembling

In the air


Egg poot     Tooth drip


While the tragic hobo jungle bum

Constructs the new day

And rambles on his way

Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth


Egg poot

Tooth drip

Froth spew

While the hobo bum

Creates the day anew


Gypsy Queen Princess

Illuminates the new day

Dancing through magenta dawn

To where the hoboes play


Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth


She chooses wisely

As the magic hoboes pose

Evades the tooth and spew

That every pooter knows


Tooth drip spew


Maxillae clatter

And labia vibrate

Hoboes spurt

Pooters can’t wait


Egg poot froth                         Egg poot froth


Young dudes rush and prance

While claw and tooth cleave

Old jungle bums

Reap the day and leave


Tooth drip            Spew


The Gypsy Queen Princess

Discards her froth and poots

Another day is born

Another pooter shoots


Egg poot froth

Egg poot froth

That’s all there is!

Egg poot froth

Evolution’s come to this!


Opher 12.7.00

Poetry – Vliet – A poem for Captain Beefheart.

Poetry – Vliet – A poem for Captain Beefheart.

I was entranced by Don Vliet the moment I heard him way back in 1967. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band created some of the greatest music ever. That first album was just a taster. The live performance that year was probably the best I have ever seen.

Some find him discordant. But for me it gels together into the most original music ever recorded. His poetry was the same, that rich imagery and invented words.

Live the band were amazing. The Magic band still are but I can’t help but miss the Captain.

Way back in 1981 he gave the music up forever. He turned his attention to his other love – art, with equal brilliance.

His paintings from the deserts of California were carved from slabs of colour that sang with their own fluorescence. I could lose myself in those paintings in the same way I did the music.

It would have been good to sit out on the steps in the desert and watch that sun slowly sink towards the horizon. I can imagine it.


Looking through Vliet’s eyes at scrawny black crows

Perched on jagged cactus vantage points

Before daubed hills and scrawled figures

Carved with sweeping strikes of thick textured colour

On a timeless backdrop of infinity.


Staring at distorted garish dreams of reality

Timelessly floating towards forever ……………forever……….

Along the tides of an invisible desert sea

And wishing we were caught within the waters of his eyes

In neon magic,

Breathing the ocean bottom together,

As we watched the sun slowly set

And sipped a beer.



Opher 4.10.97

New definitive book on Rock Music from its roots – Rock Routes

New definitive book on Rock Music from its roots – Rock Routes – out now in paperback for £9.57.

I spent years writing this and have been holding it back. I decided to release it now. I don’t know why.

If you like Rock Music you will adore this! It gives you my personal take on all the genres and their major exponents and essential tracks. It’s informative and readable. It sheds light and is a great guide. Why not give it a try?


This charts the progress of Rock Music from its beginnings in Country Blues, Country& Western, R&B and Gospel through to its Post Punk period of 1980. It tells the tale of each genre and lists all the essential tracks. I was there at the beginning and I’m still there at the front! Keep on Rockin’!!