Captain Beefheart On Track: Every Album, Every Song

5* Review


Superb Companion Guide For Every Beefheart Nerd

Submitted 4 months ago

By The Inconsistent Jukebox

From UK

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


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

   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 – Launch Day USA!!!

Today is the day my book is released in the USA!!

It’s been out in the UK for a month now. Thanks for all the great reviews guys!!

An album by album, track by track commentary on the best band in the world – ever!!

‘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.’

‘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’ 

Roy Harper – On Track – Every Album Every Song

Roy Harper must be one of Britain s most undervalued rock musicians and songwriters. For over fifty years he has produced a series of innovative albums of consistently outstanding quality. He puts poetry and social commentary to music in a way that extends the boundaries of rock music. His 22 studio albums 16 live albums, made up of 250 songs, have created a unique body of work. Roy is a musician s musician. He is lauded by the likes of Dave Gilmour, Ian Anderson, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes and Kate Bush. Who else could boast that he has had Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Chris Spedding, Bill Bruford and Steve Broughton in his backing band? Notable albums include Stormcock, HQ and Bullinamingvase. Opher Goodwin, Roy s friend and a fan, guides the reader through every album and song, providing insight into the recording of the songs as well the times in which they were recorded. As his loyal and often fanatical fans will attest, Roy has produced a series of epic songs and he remains a raging, uncompromising individual.