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