Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sweet sweet bulbs (Captain Beefheart) (LP 12)

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (CD - Reprise, 1969) ****

Genre: Alternative 

Places I remember: Another Marbeck's purchase (this has already become a common theme). 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: There are climactic points all over the shop - my favourite moment is Well.

Gear costume: ...closely followed by China Pig.

Active compensatory factors: Arrgghhhh where to start discussing this record. I could just say it's fast and bulbous and leave it at that.

Descriptions of this album cannot convey the bizarre inspired madness that assaults the senses. If you prize a melody above all else do not approach. If you don't like the blues, ditto. If your mind is closed, ditto.

But if you're up for it, dive in and go with it. It's hilarious! And deep! And challenging! And rewarding!

My favourite critical response is from Robert Christgau who commented that Trout Mask Replica was "... great played at high volume when you're feeling shitty, because you'll never feel as shitty as this record".

The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, speaks for many of us when he tells of listening to Trout Mask Replica at the age of 15: "I thought it was the worst thing I'd ever heard. I said to myself, they're not even trying! It was just a sloppy cacophony. Then I listened to it a couple more times, because I couldn't believe Frank Zappa could do this to me – and because a double album cost a lot of money. About the third time, I realised they were doing it on purpose; they meant it to sound exactly this way. About the sixth or seventh time, it clicked in, and I thought it was the greatest album I'd ever heard".

BTW - one star deducted because, while it's important and great and all, truthfully, it's not an album I listen to a lot for enjoyment.

Where do they all belong? Zappa's Hot Rats and Bongo Fury albums feature Captain Beefheart heavily and any lover of fine beat combos should search those albums out. As for the Captain's own stuff - Lick My decals Off, Baby is next in line.

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