Some of you may have read my post about the fanzine I put out many years ago. With the recent death of one of my musical heroes, Don Van Vliet, also known as Captain Beefheart, I went back into the zine vault to find an article I’d written somewhere in the nineties about the Captain. It was inspired by a letter I’d received slamming my review of the twistedly brilliant Trout Mask Replica. The letter, written by one Gary Detroit, insisted “Beefheart sucks!” It said “that album blows!” It said “music should totally just rock. That’s why it’s called rock! This is a bunch of noise!” Finally, it said “Fuck you, art rock faggot!”

Below is my response to Gary Detroit, and also to his letter. Of course, if I were writing it now, I’d take out any number of things, edit it and smooth it over. I understand a lot more about Beefheart, and music in general, than I did back then. But it seemed somehow more in keeping with honoring Don’s passing if I just let it run the way it did originally. He was, after all, an exemplar of making the exacting sound like improvisation, embracing imperfection, and finding a way to play between the notes.

Trust me when I tell you, Gary Detroit, that Captain Beefheart does not, in fact, suck. To that end, I’ve listed a few of his albums with you, a Beefheart neophyte, in mind. I don’t intend the word “neophyte” as an insult, it’s just an assumption. One that is borne from the confidence that if you truly gave Trout Mask Replica an honest spin, we would be having a very different conversation. You still might not like the music in the end, but I think you’d at least come to respect it.

So, I’ll make you a bet.

You promise to listen to each selection on my list, in its entirety, without preconceptions. If you do, and then still stand by your comments, I promise not only to send you fifty dollars in CD fees (about what you’ll be out after you sell them back used), but I will write a column lavishly extolling the merits of any band of your choosing.

Even Pearl “Jeremy has spoken, he’s spoken” Jam.

Want to shake on it?

1. SAFE AS MILK-Screaming from the loins of 1967, it’s Beefheart’s debut. Already dropped by A&M before releasing a single record, they respond by unleashing this terrorization of sixties garage rock and Beatlesque proto pop. Notable for contributions from a very young Ry Cooder, the idea seems generally to have been: take a given blues cliche, shit on it, mangle it, add doo-wop and soul frosting, and then play it better than 99% of the people you’re making fun of. Abba Zabba and Electricity are classic barely in control breakdowns. Big Black Baby Shoes is an amazing instrumental fuck-you to Steve Stills and Keith Richards. Korn Ring Finger is the song the lost tribes of Israel would have recorded to lament their forty years of wandering, if they had only possessed an eight-track mixer and a couple of microphones. Plastic Factory is what Bo Diddley would have sounded like if he woke up every morning, wiped an enormous smear of airplane glue across his upper lip, and then took the bus downtown to work the morning shift at IHOP. In the end, re-envisioning songs by Muddy Waters and Robert Pete Johnson enables guitarist Alex St. Claire Snouffer to showcase his radical chops.

2. LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY– My favorite Beef disc, every song a gem of Ur-text poetry, vocal brain lock, drastic time changes, brilliant minimalist guitar, truly original drums, and an utter lack of giving a shit what anyone thinks. Go ahead and try to top Bellerin’ Plaine, Japan Is A Dishpan and Woe-Is-A-Me-Bop for a combination of more intellectually curious tunes, relentlessly lyrical inventions, whip-crack tempos, and corrosive backbeats on any rock album, ever, period. Listen to the title track. Ignore the voice and concentrate on the drum/guitar interplay. Listen to the beautifully spare and totally original guitar on Peon or One Rose That I Mean. Who else plays like that? Who else bothered to completely break down the numbing 1-4-5 of every rock tune in the history of music and record like they were born listening to everything backward, stuffing tempo and key changes into every hook like they were throwing blind darts at Ornette Coleman’s sheet music? No one, that’s who. On the other hand, I agree that some music should “just rock,” regardless of content, and there are thousands of rock tunes I enjoy and admire, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthy of dissection or comment really in any regard except as they relate to teen groping and dance nostalgia, and, since they are built in such a way that most people are guaranteed to like them, there’s little or nothing to actually argue about.

3. TROUT MASK REPLICA-True, Gary Detroit, this album is the holy grail of difficulty, and thus not all that surprising you had an initially negative reaction. It’s like walking into an Albert Ayler concert when you thought you were there to see The Spin Doctors. Sure, it’s jarring. But are you willing to hunker down and weather the initial shock? Trout Mask is an obscure, obtuse puzzle which takes no easy route, panders to no notion of form, consistently hits the opposite note we are trained to hear, and almost BEGS you to hate it. Hey, just about anyone can play Brown Sugar or Norwegian Wood on the guitar, and to their detriment, frequently do. It takes some serious hang-lows to play any of the tunes on this album. Or record them. Or release them. The musicianship is astonishingly good and original. The human brain is geared to fear and revile that which it cannot immediately process. What greater calling is there than to strive for an expression that triggers that reaction? What more worm-like calling is there than to salve that fear with what is safe and quickly understood? Any great work in any medium; literature, painting, dance, or sculpture, had to spend decades– or even generations– girding against public notions of propriety and the general malaise of the easily satisfied. It’s not unlikely, in forty years, that this album will be burned in the streets by hysterical mobs responding to a decree by the still-living but grimly calcified President Rumsfeld. Or possibly not. At any rate, supposedly the entire double album was recorded in one week of non-stop hysteria.

4. CLEAR SPOT– A number of excellent songs on this disc, one derided a bit by purists, but tempered with a pleasing new level of production value and accessibility. A mellower Beef, more melodic and less aggressive, pulling the strings at the soundboard, pretending he’s Phil Spector. Zoot Horn Rollo blows minds and lesser guitar players away with his un-slide slide playing, anti-licks, and diminished scale rambling. Sun Zoom Spark and Big Eyed Beans From Venus are highlights. Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles is one of the great song titles of all time, and almost elementally marks the transition from avant/outside Beef to a lush but slightly pandering avant/inside.

5. DOC AT THE RADAR STATION-The second to last album, with a new and younger lineup. The dynamic is very different, but also fascinating. More polished and listener-friendly, but the dementia still lurks tensely beneath the surface. Worth it just for Run Paint, Run Run and Dirty Blue Gene. A couple of other great numbers, but also sort of an anti-climax. After years of critical panning and general abuse, the Captain quit music and moved to Germany to become (it’s true) a painter. This was 20 years ago. His paintings are relentlessly and beautifully awful, unadulterated expression, and he’s still doing them. In Germany. Amongst the Germans. Is that not a sacrifice to top all others in the annals of history, or at least rock music? To say blow me to all the groupies and agents and magazine covers and retreat to the land of Hasselhoff to sell canvases to art dealers with rectangular glasses and leather pants named Hermann? My God, it’s incredible the cross this man has carried for all of us!

AN ABBREVIATED LIST OF MAJOR BEEFHEART/GARY DETROIT FALLACIES:

All Us Art Rock Faggots Love Beefheart, and Generally Know a Lot About Him:

It does seem to be currency in certain circles to toss around the Captain’s name while probably rarely or ever listening to him. Pretending to as a matter of style or supposed cache is a tired move, but really no different than pretending really uncomfortable shoes fit ’cause they make your calves look great. We all have our affectations, and we all need to be called on them.

It’s All Just A Bunch Of Noise:

Sure, there are a number of bad songs, toss-offs and near-misses on the above listed albums, but there are precious few that are not highly regimented and constructed pieces of music. It’s like when your dad listens to half a progression of atonal jazz and goes “they’re just playing random notes….even I could play that.” Well, no, Dad, they’re not, and no, Dad, you couldn’t. Some out-jazz really is bullshit, but the majority is played by guys who know the accepted licks, chops, scales, and progressions so completely that they are literally forced to push beyond them. I mean, you can be like Tom Jones or Rod Stewart and sing or play the same dozen songs year after year and just rake in cash and panties, but who, besides menopausal housewives and casino managers, gives a shit? The reason Beefheart or avant-jazz or atonal composition sounds to a lot of people like “noise” is that those listeners have not taken the time to learn the basic vocabulary of the music, so of course, pieces that push that vocabulary to extremes sound completely foreign and confusing. Have you ever looked at early Picasso paintings? They are simple, straight-forward portraits and landscapes. He had to learn to paint “normally” before the third-eyes and bent-heads and screaming-mouths could be introduced. You don’t start with Guernica, you work up to it. Most of us have been in an art class where some tool splashes sixty-dollars worth of acrylic onto his canvas in an uncomprehending approximation of Pollock or Diebenkorn and thinks they’re doing something new. It’s the same with Beefheart. They could have made a billion dollars sounding like The Lovin’ Spoonful or even Zeppelin, but they were playing the rock idiom backward before they even started. It was either make money, or try something else. Just trying should be enough to make you weep with gratitude.

Neil Pert Is The Greatest Drummer In Rock And Roll:

I heard this all though high school, usually expressed as “Pert Rules!” Other people voted for the hairbag from Motley Crue that flips around in a cage, and still others threw their hat in the ring for Ringo, Charlie Watts, Peter Criss, blah, blah, blah. None of them have a fraction of the talent, inventiveness or skill of John French. Even a casual listen of most Beefheart discs reveals insanely difficult rhythmic underlay, without bombast or Lars/Metallica reliance on showy double bass-pedal tricks. Unlike most rock drumming, French doesn’t simply follow the chords or bass line, he makes up his own entirely different, symbiotic and percussive patina, and it is a thing of rare beauty and worthy of repeated listenings. I once saw Max Roach give a lecture that maybe twelve people showed up for, and he set up his kit and played a while, and since he’s one of the greatest drummers that ever lived, it was pretty amazing. He was about seventy-five at the time, and then in the middle of it, he just stands up and says “Enough of this shit.” He takes his hi hat to the front of the stage, puts his stool behind it, and goes to town on the fucker. Playing only that one piece, a hi-hat and two sticks, and he sounded like he had a full set in front of him, bappa-pitta-rappa-ditty-bapa-doo-whap, unBELIEVABLE. All I could think of was the overloaded shitcan of sorry ass rock drummers that I at one time admired, with their thousand piece kits, their roto toms and cow bells and extra snares and electronics and every other weak toy imaginable, and they couldn’t play a tenth of what this tired old man coaxed out of one hi-hat on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Genuinely complex rhythm is inarguable, definitive, essential, what “Rock,” if it were to truly “Just Rock,” should always strive for, yet rarely achieves. Being able to produce rhythmic patterns that are unusual and varied is a skill that is bestowed upon an extremely small subset of mankind. Everything else is playing with yourself in the tub.

Finally, Captain Beefheart Sucks:

Really, on its face, this is a foolish statement, and reveals, at the very least, a cursory listening of his music prior to what remains a flimsy denunciation. Hey, if you don’t like his music, that’s fine, don’t listen to it. I am happy, comfortable, and possibly unhealthily obsessed with being in the minority. Clearly, Beefheart is an acquired taste, and like a lot of complex or unusual music, can be a difficult and even grating listen at times. Small early doses may need to be taken on a stringent yet gradually increasing schedule, allowing time and auditory scaling to set in before you develop a Beefheart immunity/craving. Yup, it may require a little work. If, however, after all this, you still don’t want to make the effort to investigate a band that I promise you is more musically inventive, creative, original, forward-thinking, truly hardcore, absolutely unrelenting, and (the clincher) almost universally admired by people who play, then don’t. But don’t say they “suck.” Or do say they suck, but in doing so be prepared to reveal the thinness of the urine-colored ice upon which you skate. Maybe just say “I don’t like them.” That is entirely defensible, and certainly your right, and while it may not impress PJ Harvey while you’re chatting her up backstage, it at least implies you listened and then made a decision based on (questionable) taste. Saying “It sucks” is, by almost any objective standard of musical accomplishment, dead wrong. It’s the equivalent of saying “I speak of that of which I have limited conception.” You can then follow it up with, “Now pass me the crank, let me stick a feather in my ass, put some software-derived rave-samples on the boombox, AND LET’S DANCE TIL DAWN!”

Postscript: Gary Detroit didn’t take me up on my bet. I figured I’d never hear from him again, but then I received a letter almost a year later. It hemmed and hawed, cursed me out a bit, but in the end did more or less sheepishly admit that Beefheart was, after all, “pretty cool.”

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SEAN BEAUDOIN's latest novel is Wise Young Fool. His stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Onion, the San Francisco Chronicle and Spirit, the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines. www.seanbeaudoin.com.

65 responses to “Beefheart Lives On, and Beyond.”

  1. Joe Daly says:

    Ah Sean, even back then you were patrolling the fringes of music. I always found that CB was sort of an insider’s joke in many music circles. As if trading in the currency of CB or Blue Cheer references established one as de facto musical cognoscenti. But underneath those references is the understanding that CB truly was an artist to be celebrated- for all the risks he took, the formulas he disregarded, and the models he shattered. Yeah, he’s an acquired taste, as you note, but well worth the acquisition.

    And you were correct in disagreeing about the greatest drummer in the world. Everybody knows it’s… Wait. I think I’m going to stop myself right here. For a number of reasons.

  2. Simon Smithson says:

    Sean.

    We’re going to have to talk about this casually throwing the name Spin Doctors around.

    In fact, everyone on TNB is going to have to talk about how casually they throw the Spin Doctors around.

    • Gloria says:

      He’s leaping buildings in a single bound; I’m reading Shakespeare at my place downtown…’cause Shakespeare is so much more enjoyable than The Spin Doctors…

      • Simon Smithson says:

        You are all going to pay for this.

        • I’ve got a pocketful of bearded hippie. Pocket full of hippie tonight. Pocketful of Hyptonite.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Two winces, Sean.

          Also, I think you should all know that a piece on TNB dedicated to the Spin Doctors lurks in the future of all of you, and you have no one to blame but yourselves.

          Also Darci Ratliff.

          And Steve Almond.

          And me.

        • Gloria says:

          And Chris Barron. Damn him and his spunky lyrics and general affability.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I completely and totally believe that at Spin Doctors HQ, or ‘Spin Hospital’ as it’s called, they have one wall dedicated to a giant poster. It says ‘Mission Statement:’ and under that one single word.

          ‘Affability’.

        • I’m sorry to be contrary, Simon, but that is incorrect. I’ve been to Spin Hospital, and the giant poster actually says Mission Accomplished. Underneath that, it says:

          1. Overalls? Check.
          2. Beard groomed with crabs comb? Check.
          3. Sans Footwear? Check.
          4. Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong voted Worst Song Title Ever? Check.
          5. Leftover H.O.R.D.E. festival merchandise clogging basement fire escape lanes? Check.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Well, to be fair, it appears that Chris B. has decided to tailor his look away from “unwashed Phish fan,” and more in the direction of “smug software developer.”

        • Gloria says:

          2. Beard groomed with crabs comb? Check.

          bwahahahahahaha

          Or it could say:

          1. Overalls – $3.99 at Goodwill
          2. Crab comb for beard grooming – $6.00
          3. Shoes – $0, ’cause who needs them when you’re fancy free?
          4. Leftover H.O.R.D.E. festival merchandise clogging basement fire escape lanes – -$1,500 after tax write off.

          One fan in the entire world still hellbent on defending us?

          PRICELESS

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Edward Furlong is in the Spin Doctors now??

        • Joe Daly says:

          Holy shit- it’s him. Or his hemp-addled older brother Dickie.

          That’s one keen eye you’re flexing there, brah!

  3. Hank Cherry says:

    I love art rock faggots.

    • You’ve always been a little bit of a Psychedelic Fur, eh? As my Georgia co-worker used to say, “That boy got a taste of the sweet to him.”

      • Hank Cherry says:

        I missed this.

        Still, the passing of the Captain has hit me a lot harder in the months after his departure. I mean, I hear Big Eyed Beans from Venus at the 99 cent store, but it turns out to be Mantovani. Or in Target, I hear Ella Guru, only to face the reality of the situation, that’s N’Sync coming out of the speakers in the ceiling.

        Why? Because the Captain had a better world in his head than I do, and sometimes I have to revert to that.

        thanks for this thing. Too good.

        And to be clear, it was my brother Jack who dug the Psychedelic Furs, and popped his collars. But he was far from fey, and broke a vertebrae during football season his senior year in high school, and was playing lacrosse by spring. Tough guy. I was so stoned when he got airlifted out of the game, I thought, well, I thought maybe that was Jesus coming down to lend a hand. Maybe Jesus was a lacrosse fan.

        Beefheart would’ve understood.

        Hank out!

        • I hear you man. I’m constantly snapping my head to the side, having caught a Beef snippet that is really not him at all….been listening to outtakes from Grow Fins lately….finally sprung for the download. Totally worth it, so many alt versions, like all new material….all new world…all new conception….yeah….

  4. Gloria says:

    What a love letter to a strange genius.

    Also, a huge kudos to your amazing diplomacy with Gary Detroit.

    All I know about Captain Beefheart is that he was one in a long list of artists that my post-hippy teenage biker mom extolled growing up: Captain Beefheart, Leon Russell, Janice Joplin, Willy Nelson (god, mom – not country!), Montrose, REO Speedwagon, U2, Metallica, Guns-N-Roses “Appetite For Destruction.” I took to almost all of these artists to greater or lesser extents at some point or another. I never did take to Captain Beefheart, but I’d be willing to give him another shot.

    Funny enough, nowadays, my mom sends me Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the last new artist she raved about was Otmar Liebert. I hope this isn’t an omen of things to come for me.

    • That’s quite a list, Gloria. Beefheart and Montrose? Outstanding musical bookends.

      And thanks for calling it a love letter. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s true.

      • Gloria says:

        If I’m not mistaken, her first concert was Montrose with the Sex Pistols when she was pregnant with my sister when she was 17. The pregnant with my sister part may be inaccurate, but it sweetens the story.

  5. I’m glad for this for many reasons. One of which is it serves as my introduction (gasp, I know) to Captain Beefheart (even though too late, alas). I thought it was Captain Feathersword who’d died, and damnit it was this guy. Also, I get a glimpse as to what younger Sean who put out the zines was like.

    Spin Doctors.

    (that’s for Simon)

    • If only Capt. Feathersword would die, Cynthia, in a fiery crash with the woman who does Dora The Explorer’s voice.

      You are very lucky to have a clean slate of exploration in front of you. It would be like if someone handed you a DVD of every Kubrick movie, and you’d never even heard of him before.

  6. Art Edwards says:

    I think to truly enjoy CB, one has to have a little spot in her heart for complete chaos. Imagine the world is exploding. Is there a little part of you that can enjoy it? That’s the part of you that would enjoy CB. The music is far from chaos, but CB renders chaos so well. And the lyrics!

    I have that spot, and will relish Troutmask at my next opportunity.

    If you don’t have that little spot, you’re probably better off.

    Thank you, Sean.

    Art

    • You’re right, Art. In a way you would be better off. It only leads to misery, after all. Better to be satisfied. In the meantime, there’s Trout.

      • Art Edwards says:

        And, yes, the drummer. I can remember listening to Troutmask with a friend and pointing to the stereo and going, “What the fuck is the drummer doing?” True artist, creating what didn’t exist before. Completely different mindset from Peart and his ilk. Hard to believe they play the same instrument.

        That he and the Captain found each other is one of those things that keeps me hopeful. Two…I wish there were a better word for it…geniuses.

        Art

  7. Lenore says:

    i have no idea who this beefheart guy is and i feel like that’s embarrassing and i should be ashamed of myself. but i love this hank cherry character and his comment about how he loves art rock faggots. and i love them, too, as long as they’re older than (approximately) 35. the ones under 35 are just stupid dicks. i hope you’re over 35. i’d feel bad otherwise.

  8. Greg Olear says:

    John Bonham is the greatest rock drummer of all time. ZEPPELIN ROOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    All this time, I thought Captain Beefheart was Canadian whiskey. Now I know better. Take that, Gary Detroit.

    Is Rumsfeld still alive?

  9. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    If only all lazy name-callers tossing around the word “suck” received a response this thorough.

    I know people who talk of Captain Beefheart’s music like it’s the Rachmaninoff No. 3 of the alt music world. I never did take a listen to him, figuring I had research to do elsewhere first. Like you said in a nice analogy, you don’t start with Guernica. But this reminds me to make sure I don’t pass up the chance to one day lead myself to this captain.

    Because Her “Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” is indeed possibly the greatest song title of all, almost rivals some of Zappa’s titles. But “A Grimly Calcified President Rumsfeld” could have potential too, along with perhaps “Two Princes: Beefheart and Dopeyfeet.”

    • There’s plenty of time, Nat. It’s only Tuesday. I figure you for an acolyte by late Sunday evening.

      Funny you mentioned Zappa. The post was WAY too long already for me to get into it, but oddly enough, Zappa and Don Van Vliet went to high school together. A few Beefheart albums were released on Zappa’s Straight label much later on. And they put out one fairly awful collaboration album together.

  10. Zara Potts says:

    Hmmm. You have almost convinced me to take a listen with this piece. But I’m having difficulty getting beyond the title and cover art for ‘Troutmask.’

    And Captain Beefheart – is it just me or does sound slightly obscene in a faintly disturbing way that’s hard to put your finger on? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m thinking of Captain and Tenille.

    But whatever I think of Beefheart (oof) I do like all your words. You have such a charming and compelling way of writing.

    And I’m 100% with you on the Spin Doctors.

    • Thanks, Zara. I read somewhere that Don Van Vliet said he chose the name Beefheart because “I have had a lifelong beef in my heart with this society and its ills.” Or something like that. Which may change your opinion a bit.

      Me as a prepubescent spending Saturday nights watching the attenuated Tenille gambol about in a tight pantsuit, holding a baton-sized microphone? Now that’s obscene.

  11. […] The Nervous Breakdown thenervousbreakdown.com/sbeaudoin/2011/01/beefheat-lives-on-and-beyond/ – view page – cached Sean Beaudoin reprints a fifteen year-old hagiography of the genius composer Don Van Vliet., Sean Beaudoin reprints a fifteen year-old hagiography of the genius composer Don Van Vliet. […]

  12. A timely piece, Sean.

    Not because of Beefheart’s passing but more because of all talk about toning down rhetoric and learning to disagree without name calling.

    If we can be this measured and diplomatic about Captain Beefheart related disputes, surely talking about gun laws and health care will be cream cheese.

  13. hanklin says:

    I laughed out loud 3 times in the waiting room of my local service station, while reading this.

    I kinda miss the pithy angry-intellect style of your old writing, but it’s great how many different kinds of writing you can do now and stilll sound like Milky.

  14. Richard Cox says:

    I appreciate your measured and intelligent response to the letter-writing flamer, Sean. Instead of simple anger, overwhelm him with accurate information and and suggestions. I’m so glad to hear he wrote back to you and owned up to his silly and uninformed remarks.

    RIP, Captain.

  15. D.R. Haney says:

    Here’s what I’ve been told is a common trajectory with Beefheart: you listen and don’t much like it, then you listen a few more times and at some point you think Beefheart is the greatest thing ever. It’s rare (again I’ve been told) to like Beefheart right off the bat, unless you’re, like, a student at the Oberlin Conservatory or you’re otherwise into Fluxus or some such.

    Unfortunately, I was never either of those things, so I still need to listen a few more times so that I can start thinking Beefheart is the greatest thing ever. In other words, Sean, I’m Gary Detroit. It’s nice to finally meet you, sans the handle.

    Now, Don Van Vliet’s painting, on the other hand, never required repeated viewings on my part. I liked it right away. And I was shocked to learn that he’d died. I was in Amoeba Music and saw that the cover of Trout Mask was being displayed at one of the counters and asked why. He seemed like one of those people who was going to live to at least ninety, for some reason.

    • The first time I heard Beefheart, it was on a cassette mix with a bunch of other good music, like Johnathan Richman and The Sweet, but the Beefheart tune stood way out. There was no song list, so I sort of thought it was some crazy remix of an old blues tune. It took a lot of investigative work to finally determine months later that it was Bat Chain Puller. And I was pretty much obsessively crate-diving for Beefheart albums from that point on.

      I’m pleased to think I’m the one who’s going to get you hooked on the pure uncut Turkish Captain.

  16. I think you should be put in charge of dealing with Kim Jong-il.

    • If being put “in charge” meant having him hooked up to a car battery and tossing the switch every time he refused to enact one of my suggested reforms, I would totally take that job.

  17. Ian Brady says:

    Is that a current picture of the Spin Doctors?
    http://www.senbaltimore.com/bm~pix/chris-barron.jpg

    Jesus, they all look one fix away from a coronary embolism.

  18. Irene Zion says:

    Sean,
    You know I love you, and I happen to love Frank Zappa, but I don’t have any idea who these other people are, so I’m leaving a comment, but it’s a poor one. This just isn’t in my bailiwick.

  19. Matt says:

    I’ve never actually heard any Beefheart. So this list will make a god starting point for me, too.

    I have, however, heard an actual beef heart. We dissected one in a biology class years ago. The chambers made interesting noises as the air escaped from them.

  20. Erika Rae says:

    How would one lick off a decal?

    I got nothing to say of any value here, Sean – except, of course, that I am thoroughly entertained by anything you write regardless of whether or not I have any inkling of the subject matter.

    • I think it meant, back then, “don’t assign me to one record bin category.” Could be wrong about that, though.

      Hope you have the slightest inkling now, Erika. Or the desire for an inkling.

  21. Jessica Blau says:

    I am yet another one who has never heard of BEEFHEART, but I loved reading this, I think it’s great that there was a band called BEEFHEART, and they have some of the best album titles I’ve ever read!

  22. […] by bands and artists that start with the letter “A” (too bad for you, ZZ Top).  And he knows who Captain Beefheart is (or was).  And he has very strong opinions about what makes a lousy band […]

  23. Fast´n´bulbous says:

    What is the faggoty thing about art? And what is the arty thing about Beefheart? He was just experimenting. And when he´d done that he found an expression. And when he found an expression he quit. That´s what music is. Er. Should be. And plastic people dropping names, who cares. Let them.

  24. […] all kinds of major records that came out that year, which some reviewers have pointed out, like Captain Beefheart, but there’s something about those four acts that really seemed to gel. If I tried to cram […]

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