captain beefheart electricity

photo album


picture 14


it took captain beefheart quite a time to make his first album. but that wasn't hís fault. for he already had made some songs for an intended debut elpee during his contract for two singles with a&m records in early 1966. so, when he had finished the demos he went to herbert moss, the 'm' of that record company. in the bootleg-only track the story of 'electricity' don explains that the boss rejected his songs - and especially the potential 'hitsingle' - as being "too negative, and not good for my daughter"...

and then... - yes, the question is: what happened next? for after that disappointment it lasted nearly a whole year before their first album 'safe as milk' was released! a time of doing nothing, just smoking softly, and relaxing? or did they furiously try to find another label interested in the material? there's very little known about that period from let's say summer 1966 thru september 1967 when the record eventually was brought out on the buddah label.

the great gnome biography gives no clue (as it was meant to prómote captain beefheart - even if the writer knew about the 'rejective' news, he wouldn't have mentioned it), john french replaced paul blakely on drums in october, they did just f-o-u-r concerts in seven months (three end october '66, one early march '67), in april or may guitarist doug moon suddenly got sacked, ry cooder - who soon would quit (after don had zig zagged off a stage) - was asked to assemble the elpee off which seemed to have come to an arrest, and early fall 1967 the 'safe as milk' elpee was released.

but meanwhile some changes had occurred in the original plans. for the recently discovered test-pressing captain beefheart shows that the group had signed with kamasutra records. now, the guy that had arranged the recording deal was a young, ambitious producer named bob krasnow (where have i heard that name before?). as he was keen on money and fame - for himself rather than for the bands he 'handled' - one way or another he got it done that a sublabel was founded: BUDDAH (yes, spelt the wrong way). of course he became the head of that company, and started working on the first release: SAFE AS MILK by captain beefheart!

one of the practical things kamasutra provided bob k. with was a big pile of dollars to promote the fresh record factory. so, by the time beefheart's debut was ready the label did some advertising in magazines like san francisco's 'world countdown' from june 1967 and the nation wide 'billboard' on 3 and 17 june (which in hindsight turned out to be much too early! the 'krasnow corrects perry's sound' re-editing probably still had to be done [see liner notes to the remastered buddha version from 1999]. but on the other hand: the publications also announced the famous monterey pop festival the band eventually had to cancel because of beefheart's dive off stage a week before the event...).

a bit later they took a risk when they heard about the start of an interesting states-wide 'alternative' periodical which was gonna be called ROLLING STONE... so, when the first issue of that magazine - on 9 november 1967, price: twenty-five cents - hit the stalls it appeared that buddah records had bought the complete centre page on behalf of the captain. as the new publication wasn't introduced by handing it out for free to all americans - and it was unknown too, of course - far too few people have ever seen that poster-size ad (similar to the ones previously published)! thus, as a mint copy of that #1 now costs $300, most of us unfortunately must be satisfied with the following tiny reproduction of the 58 x 42 centimeters original:

upper left there's just the logical text: captain beefheart and his magic band (bds 5001) - but, er, what the baby has to do with?... well, the very first editions of the album held the device may the baby jesus shut your mouth and open your mind, and the baby above is a substantial part of the inner sleeve artwork as well as the bumper sticker that came along with it... - but to describe the nice details of that artwork would lead me too far away from the topic.


bibliographical note
the advertisement also appears in:
usa 1986 25th anniversary reprint of the first issue
usa 2007 (book+4dvd)boxset ROLLING STONE * COVER TO COVER 40 years of rolling stone 1967-2007


[updated 240209]

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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo