Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album Every Song – Two of the brilliant reviews.

A couple of the excellent 5 * reviews following the UK release. Thank you so much guys. It is really great to read, gives me a boost.

I’d be really grateful for any other reviews! Always good to hear from you!

c j perkins

5.0 out of 5 stars GIMME DAT BOOK, BOYReviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 26 September 2022

Verified Purchase

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.
An introduction quickly puts the reader into the background and mindset of the Captain and his intriguing, often fractious, relationship with Frank Zappa from their initial mutual love for blues, R&B, and do-wop and the unfortunate pornography bust to their creative collaborations. Willie The Pimp from Zappa’s Hot Rats album is discussed as part of a Contemporary Recording section associated with various albums. A great touch.
Opher’s insights are enhanced having witnessed the man perform on a number of occasions, comparing the live with the recorded. He takes us on a journey though each of the official albums, track by often painful track. Not all concerts or tracks are regarded as classic, Opher remains a critic throughout. What he does do is reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the Captain’s work, relationships and attitudes. He discusses not just the musicians involved and the Captain’s poetry but the background to its creation and the tensions that exist between the personnel.
There’s an almost visceral description of the track Lick My Dacals Off, Baby managing references to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, musical structure, ‘wild animal sex’ and the joys of ‘licking everywhere that’s pink’. All in two short paragraphs. His comments about the tracks Hair Pie Bake 1 & 2, leaves little to the imagination.
But the Captain is more than lascivious tracks and Opher describes his love of nature, fear for the World and his support for feminism on such pieces as Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man and The Host The Ghost The Most Holy O.
Opher uses the book to explore some of the multitude of bootlegs and rarity/outtake recordings available. This is ideal for the more adventurous or devoted collector. Those musicians closely associated with the Captain, ex-Magic Band members as such, are given a rightful space where their subsequent work is discussed.
As with other On Track books, there is a generous number of images reprinted, in colour and B&W. These range from album covers and promo shots to concert photos and some of the author with band members.
I always enjoyed Beefheart and his music and have fond memories of the parties where his music was played but it was this book that gave me a greater understanding of the man, his music and why he is still such an influential character. More importantly, it headed me back for a wiser listen.

Barry Snaith

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb companion guide for every Beefheart nerdReviewed in the United Kingdom on September 4, 2022

Verified Purchase

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.

Today

It’s been a strange and busy day.

I’ve been writing my latest Sci-fi novel. I’m 23,000 words in and about a third of the way. Sometimes it flows and sometimes I have to work at it. I’ve got some thinking to do about the plot details. We’ll see how that pans out.

I went for a walk up my hill. There was a cold northerly wind and light cloud. I even got rained on. It was nice when the sun came out though. It still has some warmth.

On the way up my hill I passed a guy with two kids walking a dog and a pet sheep. It was very friendly. You don’t see that every day.

It was a strange walk. I did not see any living things. Even the pigeons, seagulls and crows seem to be hiding. The season has suddenly changed. I think they’ve decided to migrate.

I picked an apple off my wild apple tree. Delicious.

I was reflecting on this summer. It seems to have gone so fast. A brilliant year for fruit but a very poor year for butterflies. I couldn’t find any caterpillars on the nettles or ragwort. The year before there were lots. Perhaps it’s the drought that’s done for them?

In between writing I’ve been playing some Captain Beefheart. Such an amazing band.

I put out some Magic Band photos on Drumbo’s Magic Band site. It was fun checking out the photos of various Magic Band gigs. I had a read of the reviews. Some great ones. That gave me a boost.

The day has melted away!

In Search of Captain Beefheart – A Rock Music memoir – Chapter 1 continued – The Beatles!

This follows on from my first hearing of the Beatles first album:

We played the whole album through and through a number of times and I loved it. From there on I bought every Beatle single, album and EP on the day of release and I, like all my friends, were glued to the charts. It had set me on fire again.

I was thirteen years old, living in Surrey on a housing estate in post-war Britain. It was all in the shadows of rationing and war. There were bomb sites and prefabs. The world had seemed very drab and black and white. But on that day in Tony Humm’s bedroom the 1960s began. Hard on the heels of the Beatles Merseybeat hit the charts as Brian Epstein exploited the Beatles overnight appeal to launch a host of Liverpudlian acts and every label in the land fell over themselves to sign up a ‘Mersey’ band. There was an explosion of new acts and all the established Pop acts were blown away. Immediately they were part of the old world. We all went Pop Music mad. It’s all we talked about at school.

Unbeknown to me I had been searching for the Beatles. They were definitely part of my quest but I did not put them in the title because that would have been too trite. Besides, in many ways the Beatles were the stepping stone to what came later. Rock and Pop music were still styles aimed at a young teenage market. When you grew up you were supposed to leave that behind and grow to like more mature types of music like Classical and Opera. At the start the Beatles were a Pop band with many Rock elements. As they developed their music became more complex and their lyrics, under the influence of Dylan’s poetic masterpieces, became deeper and prosaic. They led the way for Rock Music to be considered something much more than trivial Pop music and be considered as an adult art form. They enabled Rock musicians to be regarded as genuine musicians.

But I jump ahead. Right then the Beatles were essentially a Pop band unlike any that had gone before. They actually wrote their own songs as well as nicking stuff from American R&B and Rock ‘n’ Roll. I heard someone talking on the radio the other day saying that the Beatles were probably embarrassed by the banality of their earlier Pop songs. He was talking shit. Right from the start their stuff was brilliant. There was a patina on every song. It shone with Beatle magic that transformed it into something more. Those songs have quality that lasts to this day, even the Pop songs. They were in a class of their own and I can’t think of a bad one.

That afternoon at Tony’s is fixed in my mind so that here, over fifty years later, I can still remember the excitement and wonder of it. We played the album to death and thrilled to every track.

Suddenly the world had changed. The charts were full of Mersey bands. I rushed out and bought everything by the Beatles and avidly watched their progress in the charts along with all the other lesser bands. All the kids were turned on like never before. There was a palpable excitement.

There was a record stall at Kingston cattle market that sold new albums for £1.25. By saving up my pocket money I could buy one album every two weeks. Gradually I got my collection together. Alongside my Beatles albums I soon had just about every new Mersey band. There was Gerry, Billy J, Freddie, Brian, Dave, Searchers, Hollies and the rest. I had all the singles and EPs. I even sent away for the two ‘This is Merseybeat’ albums and Billy Pepper and the Pepper Pots. My Rock records had been displaced further down my wall and there were considerably more brackets. One entire wall was full and I’d started on the second wall.

Somehow I never got to see the Beatles play. I don’t know why. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I could. None of my friends did. The Beatles did not seem to play anywhere nearby. There were no venues on the Thames Delta. We were a Rockin’ backwater. It’s one of my many regrets.

But at least the Beatles were in my life and I listened to them, watched them on telly and grew with them. I felt I understood them.

I can’t explain the excitement there was waiting for each new release. You pre-ordered it and were dying to hear it. You watched it explode on the charts and excitedly discussed it to death at school. Was it as good as the last? How was it different? As soon as you got your hands on it you rushed home and played it endlessly. I used to put it on the old Dansette with the arm raised so it played non-stop. I’d do the A-side a dozen times and then flip in over and do the same with the B-side. Unlike all the rest the Beatles never disappointed. There’s nothing like it now. Nothing has ever matched that.

There was a disaster on the day of the release of the Beatles second album. My Dansette broke. I rushed out to the local record shop where I had placed my order and picked up the album. I rushed home and I could not play the thing. It was the most frustrating time of my life. I sat in my bedroom holding ‘With the Beatles’. I studied the cover and noted the length of their hair. Hair had become incredibly important. I studied the track list. I could hold it, look at it and take it out of its cover but I could not play it. It was driving me mad.

In the end I had the idea to nip down the road to me mate Jeff. He had a Dansette.

Jeff was only too keen to play it and the two of us spent the day listening and it was brilliant. Then I had to go home and the agony started again. Jeff suggested that as I didn’t have a means of playing it perhaps I could leave it with him until I’d got my record player fixed. The idea was appalling but I could not think of a single reason why not. Reluctantly I agreed. For the next two weeks my new Beatles album resided with Jeff and I can still remember the gloom and despondency this produced in me

Great 5* Reviews for Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song – Thanks Guys! Really Appreciate it!

Great 5* Reviews for Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song – Thanks Guys! Really Appreciate it!


Barry Snaith

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb companion guide for every Beefheart nerd

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2022

Verified Purchase

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.


Mr. Phil Secretan

5.0 out of 5 stars Every track of every album reviewed.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 September 2022

Verified Purchase

This is another book in the fabulous On Track series. Opher Goodwin has a forensic knowledge of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Beefheart was active in the years 1964 to 1982 but his influence is still felt 40 years later. Mr Goodwin knows his subject inside out and each track from each album is described in great detail. The author goes into the background to the recordings and lists the musicians on each album. I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who!s interested in music of the 60s and 70s.

The Release Date Sept 30th in the USA

The book is available through Burning Shed (The publisher’s own distribution site) Captain Beefheart On Track (burningshed.com)

Or through Amazon:

Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song: Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789522358: Books

I do have a batch of copies that are available signed (including post and packaging) for: £17 – UK     £20 – Europe   £23 – USA

If you are interested please message or email me with your address. Payment through paypal – opher.goodwin@gmail.com

Captain Beefheart – Safe As Milk (1967)

A sample from the On Track book.

Thank you to all the kind responses to the Beefheart book. I’m glad that so many of you are enjoying it. Please leave reviews on Amazon. I have sent out all of my personal copies and ordered in another batch if anybody else wants a copy.

Safe As Milk (1967)

Personnel:

Don Van Vliet: vocals, harmonica, marimba

Alex St. Clair Snouffer: guitar, bass (9, 10), percussion

Jerry Handley: bass (except on 8, 9, 10)

Ry Cooder: guitar, slide guitar, bass (8), percussion

John French ‘Drumbo’: drums

Sam Hoffman: theremin (6, 12)

Russ Titelman: guitar

Richard Perry: harpsichord

Milt Holland: log drum, tambourine, percussion (2, 4, 8)

Taj Mahal: tambourine, percussion (7)

Studios: Sunset Sound; RCA

Producers: Richard Perry, Bob Krasnow

Engineer (and demos): Gary (Magic) Marker

Label: Buddah

This album is a very good entry point for those who are unfamiliar with the work of Captain Beefheart. Don had been listening to jazz musicians John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Miles Davis, and had a clear vision for the way he wanted the band to go. He wanted to be more experimental and move away from straightforward blues to incorporate African rhythms and jazz, and take on the acid vibe of the day. However, that was a work in progress, and for this album he retained the heavy blues base which made it accessible to the uninitiated. This was still desert blues, but now with an acid tinge.

   Much was happening in 1966. It was a watershed year of great change. The key factor was drugs. While marijuana and speed had been staple drugs for the blues/R&B vibe, there was now the sudden influx of LSD. It transformed the attitudes of the musicians and audiences. In England, this had an impact on established bands like The Yardbirds, the Stones, The Animals and The Pretty Things, who changed quite dramatically from straightforward bands playing Chicago blues, into experimental psychedelic bands. The process could be clearly seen with The Beatles’ evolution on albums from ‘Please Please Me’ to the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Newer psychedelic bands like Pink Floyd and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were starting out just as a new underground venue scene sprang up to cater for them.

   On America’s West Coast, a new style of music labelled acid rock was emerging. Bands such as The Doors, Love, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and The Holding Company, Country Joe and The Fish and Grateful Dead, were sweeping in. Beefheart was on the crest of this wave.

   In order to achieve his new vision, Don knew that changes had to be made. Clearly some of the band members – though well versed in the blues – were unable to make the transition to acid rock. The first to go was drummer Paul Blakely, who was replaced by John French (later named Drumbo). This was an important change, because not only was John (incidentally, also from Lancaster) an accomplished drummer and master of the complex polyrhythms that Don was envisioning, but he could also read and transcribe music, so was able to interpret Don’s ideas from his piano-playing, humming or singing, notating them and organising the band to play the music that was coming from Don’s mind. This talent would become more and more important as the band developed, the music became more complex, and the Captain became stranger and stranger.

   With John onboard, the band moved to Los Angeles in order to break into the wider music arena and seek a record deal. The underground scene was beginning to take off with venues like the Avalon Ballroom, where they found their own specific type of audience. The second change, was to find a guitarist who could handle the more complex arrangements. Don had been impressed by the guitar-playing of young musician Ryland Cooder who was in a moderately successful folk/R&B band called The Rising Sons. Ry was a 20-year-old guitar/slide prodigy whose skills Don coveted. Don knew that Ry could transform the band’s sound. However, what followed was – sadly – a game of intrigue and deception.

The book is available through Burning Shed (The publishers own distribution site) Captain Beefheart On Track (burningshed.com)

Or through Amazon:

Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song: Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789522358: Books

I do have a batch of copies that are available signed (including post and packaging) for: £17 – UK     £20 – Europe   £23 – USA

If you are interested please message or email me with your address. Payment through paypal – opher.goodwin@gmail.com

Extract from Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song.

Extract from Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song.

The Legendary A&M Sessions (EP) (1984)

Personnel:

Don Van Vliet: vocals, harp

Alex St. Clair Snouffer: drums

Jerry Handley: bass

Doug Moon, Rich Hepner, Alex St. Clair (‘Moonchild’): guitar

Paul Blakely: drums (‘Moonchild’)

Producer: David Gates

Studio: Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, CA

Label: A&M

Release date: October 1984

Having established themselves on the local scene by playing covers of blues numbers, the band rapidly built a following. Their sound reflected the blues of the 1960s British Invasion, with inspiration from bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things. Many people thought Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band were British. The Howlin’ Wolf covers – which dominated their act and can be heard in the live recording from the Avalon Ballroom – suited Don’s vocal style. On the strength of their performances, the Magic Band were signed to A&M Records for a two single deal.

   In 1965, they took their first steps into a recording studio and laid down five tracks. Four of these came out on the two A&M singles, and one languished in the vaults: undiscovered until the 1980s when this EP was released by first A&M then Edsel.

‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ b/ w ‘Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?’ and ‘Moonchild’ b/w ‘Frying Pan’ were released as singles. Just think, if these tracks had received sufficient airplay, they might well have broken through, and this R&B version of Beefheart might’ve gone on to produce more in the same vein to rival The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things and Downliners Sect. The Magic Band were good enough. But it wasn’t to be.

 ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ (Blake, Dixon, McDaniels)

This was selected from the five tracks recorded by A&M as being the most likely to be a hit. It was originally written by Blind Blake in 1929 as a ragtime blues titled ‘Diddie Wa Diddie’. Willie Dixon adapted the music and lyric, adding a distinctive Bo Diddley riff and a rock-and-roll/R&B vibe for a single in 1956.

   The Beefheart arrangement is much heavier, with a thumping bass. The track is reminiscent of British-Invasion R&B, but has fuzz bass that gives it a punchier characteristic. Don’s voice was greatly suited to this delivery, and his blues-harp-playing added a rich bluesy element. Unfortunately for Don and the boys, the Boston group The Remains released an adaptation of the song simultaneously. Synchronicity, huh? The Remains’ version is also great, though not as heavy as Beefheart’s. They probably undercut each other, so neither reached the national charts. The single became a local hit, but broke no further than that. If it had, things might’ve been different: perhaps they might’ve stuck with A&M and remained an R&B band, who knows? History turns on small events.

   The song was later covered by many notable people, including Leon Redbone, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, The Sonics, The Blues Band and Manfred Mann.

The book is available through Burning Shed (The publisher’s own distribution site) Captain Beefheart On Track (burningshed.com)

Or through Amazon:

Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song: Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789522358: Books

I do have a batch of copies that are available signed (including post and packaging) for: £17 – UK     £20 – Europe   £23 – USA If you are interested please message or email me with your address.