Old Music

A Squid Eating Dough – Captain Beefheart

The Beefheart odyssey continues.. I’ve given all the post-Tragic Band albums a good going over and there’s some monumental stuff. The Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) period, and the live album that documents it has much to recommend, not least the squalling ‘Owed T’Alex’ and the ‘Bat Chain Puller’ mantra itself (rumoured to be the cause of more than one relationship breakup.. just play it a couple of hundred times in a row).

And it’s got me thinking, and worried. I’m not one of those retrologists, I don’t think modern music is automatically inferior to classic recordings from the golden age of rock and roll.. I DO listen to lots of it. But..

Which modern bands or artists with an established catalogue display the breadth and scope of work of Beefheart or, say.. The Beatles? No groaning out there, there’s a serious point here, at least as serious as I ever get on TRC..  they made their transition from bar band to rock giants to spent disillusioned musicians in just seven (count em) years, releasing thirteen albums. From ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ to ‘Get Back’.. yer modern rocker would be lucky to put out two records in that time, and chances are those two would sound identical. So I’m having a crisis, and that, in part, is why I’m listening to the Captain so much. It’s challenging me. I’ll be challenged by Trout Mask Replica next week: stay tuned.

Here’s some more Beefheart, the John Lee Hooker-styled choogling title track of his final album. On its release, this video was ‘too weird’ for MTV. Go figure.

One reply on “A Squid Eating Dough – Captain Beefheart”

Morning Capt,

Much thanks for the traffic. As for modern artists with a 60s release schedule ethic, here are a couple… Going back a few years, Elvis Costello captured the aura of The Beatles with fast and ever changing releases. As much as I love John Zorn, even I couldn’t keep up with his output, which continues to range from stringed composition to Japanese scream core to blistering rock and straight up Hasidic jazz.

Probably the best and most popular example is Prince, who, at one time, lost half his fanbase with his rapid fire eclecticism. His 90s output was the epitome of your point. All high quality and seemingly cut from whole cloth, whether anyone was listening or not.

But, you’re right. The 60s/70s were the glory years for invention and experimentation. And, though every generation says the same thing, THIS time – with the industry on the ropes the way it is – is very easy to say you’ll never, ever see those days again. At least… not with big money backing.

Thanks Capt.,
Capt. Willard

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