SUGAR AND SPIKES
odds and ends
captain beefheart: 'bat chain puller'
from SOUNDS 060877
by eugen beer
is album review
* bat chain puller, recorded in spring 1976, is an album which never was brought out. this review is based on a copy of the demo tape from virgin records, which was supposed to release it in england
* the reviewer graded it as: ***** at least
this is the beefheart album very few people are going to hear unless the record and management companies involved with the captain get moving. it sees don van vliet returning to an area somewhere between 'trout mask replica' and 'clear spot', undoubtedly his most satisfying period.
possibly to prove the claim that he created the sound of his original magic band, the captain has found himself an unidentified band and - guess what? they sound just like a magic band. not thé magic band, but they go a long way to rediscovering the drive from years past.
the album opens with the title track 'bat chain puller' - pure beefheart. guitars revolve around a central riff, while the captain delivers a vocal as weirdly repetitive as that great track that finishes 'clear spot': 'golden birdies'.
next is a poem delivered in monotone over a clanking electric piano, suitably eerie. third track is about harry and irene, who 'ran a canteen'. the backing track on this sounds remarkably like an outtake from 'raindrops keeps falling on my head'.
the fourth track is a rambling monologue. then comes a peach of an instrumental, a single guitar running along a basic theme, appealing in its simplicity. so the album continues, more songs, another poem and another instrumental. every track startles, every track satisfies.
without any track listing (this is a private tape, remember) it's kind of difficult to put titles to these tunes. as you would expect, you can't pull a hook based title out of these sweethearts: beefheart never offers anything as órdinary as a hook.
all i know is that it was recorded at the manor sometime last year, probably just after the knebworth show (050775 festival performance - t.t.), and that it's prime-cut top-rib beefheart. i also know that listening to it has given me great pleasure, and that it would be a GOOD THING if that pleasure was readily available.
how's about it, virgin, etcetera etcetera...?
p.s.: the word from virgin records is that until the beefheart / herb cohen wrangle is sorted out, the album would only be withdrawn on release, so...
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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo