DON'T ARGUE THE CAPTAIN
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART: A PLAY ON WORDS
from ROCK vol.2
#16 150371 usa
by david reitman
is 27.01.71 interview
pictures by jeff feiner
note: totally re-worked version to make it more comprehensible - but if it happened?
THIS is PART 1 - part 2
the reader goes down to his local neighborhood hip capitalist record store and purchases 'trout mask replica' and 'lick my decals off, baby' by captain beefheart and the magic band. he brings them home and listens to them. the former is one of the most apocalyptic, most horrifying, most joyous, most lucid statements on wax about what seems to be happening since 'a survivor from warsaw' by arnold schönberg, 'the sky is crying' by elmore james, 'the all seeing eye' by wayne shorter and 'surfin' hearse' by jan and dean. the empire, and hence the curtain, falls.
it was with great apprehension that i set out to go to the holiday inn to interview captain beefheart. perhaps i was afraid of what i would find. perhaps he would not like me. part of the reason why i was afraid, is that captain beefheart has been portrayed as a freak, an oddity to goof on. about 70 years ago the playwright franz wedekind remarked: 'we artists are playthings of the bourgeoisie'.
was beefheart a freak show, a madman? or was he, as his records seemed to indicate, an artist, misunderstood and isolated by the society that cannot cope with the slightest variation in human behavior and appearance? all too often i had been taken in, expecting to find a six-headed chicken-woman, and finding instead a very real human being.
my head was full of anticipation as i walked up to the door of beefheart's room, knocked, found it ajar, and entered...
captain beefheart, also known as don van vliet, one of the most amazing creators of our time.
david reitman, also known as rosemary (your talking record friend), rock critic extraordinaire, whose syndicated column is read by teens and sub-teens throughout the midwest and south.
ed marimba, also known as arthur d. tripp III, daredevil percussionist with the magic band, formerly of the cincinnati symphony and the mothers of invention.
rockette morton, whose fantastic bass guitar stylings have proved to be the heartthrob of most insectivores.
ACT 3, PLAY 1
as the act begins, we find our heroes trapped in that holiday inn for the time being, discussing plans for escape:
children who are playing in the mud, what are they but sculptors?
do children make music too?
ever heard a baby cry? ever hear a mother tell him to stop?
captain beefheart probably edits less than any artist i can think of, since his way of life is so intimately connected with his creativity. i think he would like to be in a position to create and play all the time, and i think he is getting there. some artists base their arts heavily upon the editing of reality, but to beefheart spontaneity is the way of being:
everything just goes on.
well it does anyway, whether you edit or not....
ACT 3, PLAY 2
when captain beefheart looks back on his early albums, he isn't as harsh as you might expect. his first, 'safe as milk', had some playing by ry cooder including bottleneck work on 'electricity' and the bass solo on 'abba zaba'. beefheart explained that the bass player in the magic band was too busy building model cars and shopping for $150,000 houses with his wife to do the part. when the captain asked him whether he was interested in music, he did not answer. he wasn't in the group much longer.
[extra note from t.t.: the guy mentioned above must be herb bermann, the co-writer of most of the tracks, whom beefheart seemed to have in mind to replace jerry handley.]
recently buddah reissued 'safe as milk' and both beefheart and his manager grant gibbs are confident that the record company is making efforts to make good on all past commitments, including monetary ones.
the next album was 'strictly personal', produced by bob krasnow on blue thumb records. after the magic band had recorded and gone to england, krasnow tampered with it, adding phasing throughout the whole album, destroying the sound that beefheart had created. i had the impression that he didn't like the album, but he answered:
because it was phased? that was one of the phases krasnow was going through at the time. i still enjoy that album in the music. we still do that music.
beefheart is the kind of person who can cut through layers of crap to get to the essence.
just the other day [february - t.t.] buddah issued an album called ' mirror man', which dates from the same time as 'strictly personal' [corrected - t.t.], but differs from it because it has long, rather than short, cuts and is the clearest example of the profound influence the blues has had on beefheart, and good rock and roll besides. live, the magic band still does material from all the old albums, but not because beefheart wanted it. in fact, he didn't want the new group to learn the old stuff, but they asked him to do it, so he taught those songs to them.
we have recorded many of the things on the tour, but not for an album. if we had the money, we probably would record a live album on the road.
the next beefheart album will be called 'the spotlight kid'.
i don't think i've gone ágainst anything. a lot of artists go against things and go against themselves.... i have had my records used against me and i have had my art used against me by foolish people.
ACT 3, PLAY 3
rockette morton and i met up in the desert. i was playing on the stage with the first group i was in and i saw his eyes in the audience and they looked like a couple of pools of water. i thought: 'he wants to play'. so when i called him down to the house, i asked him if he would like to play beside me and i said i'd like to play beside him and first he didn't believe me because of the preconditioning of me being on the stage with that other group. he thought he'd have to put something on or take something off in order to play with me.
the first group wasn't the most desirable type of people i've ever met, you know. they turned out to drink a hell of a lot and things like that. so i got out of that group. i actually joined rockette morton's group. it wasn't actually a group, they were just a group of people - zoot horn rollo, rockette morton, drumbo, and that was it at the time [here don is a bit fantasising: those guys never had been playing together before - t.t.]. they didn't impede their vision and i thought it would be good if i got in that group, and it's taken me up until 'trout mask replica' to really be able to be in that group. they couldn't believe i wanted to join that group, you see what i mean? because they didn't think they had anything going for them...
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW THIS ENDS, CLICK CLACK TO PAGE TWO
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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo