1 february 2018

i will spare you the details, but after a year of hopelessly suffering my quickly degenerating web host i have decided to discontinue our collaboration - and spread the word: freewebs sucks!

which means that with immediate effect captain beefheart electricity will be flashing on at the new address
see you there, you're welcome...

captain beefheart electricity

media shows


music project various artists * FAST 'N' BULBOUS the captain beefheart project
started europe 21.10.2001 usa 09.02.02

2001 - 2002 - THIS is TRACK LISTS & REVIEW - later - albums

(mostly instrumentals!)

early 2001 usa cds4 FAST 'N' BULBOUS the captain beefheart project [no label and no] demo only

VETERAN'S DAY POPPY trout mask replica 1969 5:46
ABBA ZABA safe as milk 1967 3:52
EVENING BELL ice cream for crow 1982 1:51 instrumental by origin
WHEN IT BLOWS ITS STACKS the spotlight kid 1972 4:55
total time: 16:24

austria 250802 live performance 24th SAALFELDEN JAZZ FESTIVAL
* = radio + web broadcast 16 september 2002 radio österreich 1
* = radio + web broadcast 6 september 2003 radio nederland 4

* * PACHUCO CADAVER trout mask replica 1969 4:58
* * ABBA ZABA safe as milk 1967 6:39
* * WHEN BIG JOAN SETS UP trout mask replica 1969 3:16
* A CARROT IS AS CLOSE AS A RABBIT GETS TO A DIAMOND doc at the radar station 1980 1:39 instrumental by origin
* * WHEN I SEE MOMMY I FEEL LIKE A MUMMY shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978 6:19
* EVENING BELL ice cream for crow 1982 2:07 instrumental by origin
* * THE BLIMP (MOUSETRAPREPLICA) trout mask replica 1969 1:37 song
* SUGAR 'N' SPIKES trout mask replica 1969 2:38
* CLICK CLACK the spotlight kid 1972 in medley with:
* ICE CREAM FOR CROW ice cream for crow 1982 total 5:26
* VETERANS DAY POPPY trout mask replica 1969 5:48
* WHEN IT BLOWS ITS STACKS the spotlight kid 1972 9:21
* SUCTION PRINTS shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978 4:45 instrumental by origin
* * TROPICAL HOT DOG NIGHT shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978 6:37


by teejo
based on demo ceedee and austrian broadcast

i'm dumbfounded. i even listened to the recordings for several times to be sure of what i heard. but it didn't change my mind: this project is biggest collection of irritating beefheart covers you'll probably ever come to hear (or better: lets hope you never will). oh man, they are sóoo boring!...

of course, much too few people know about the revolutionary music of captain beefheart and the magic band and it always is a sympathetic idea to change that terrible fact, especially when introducing don van vliet's works to an audience with an other musical taste than (alternate) rock. but what is presented here is botch rather than a loving tribute, and the overall result is reverse to the (probably) well meant intentions.

not that the musicians are thirteenth-rate amateurs - they sure can handle their instruments in a professional way - but in general they just have the wrong approach. okay, in their statement about the shows they have hedged against criticism in advance by declaring that: 'the idea is to use the compositions of don van vliet as a vehicle for improvisation and arranging', but that is no excuse for the fact that they studied beefheart securely, but simply don't seem to have gotten the point: the notes are right, but they aren't played the way don wanted them to sound (the 'exploding note' theory).

i have to admit that 'translating' beefheart's work into a different musical style is a tricky challenge. first there is the fact that the main part of his repertoire was made up by sóngs, and although his lyrics can be reproduced, his voice is inimitable. but that problem can be solved by any singer - or a rapper - with the right feeling. however, withóut vocals the songs are missing an essential ingredient.

unfortunately, that is the case  here - and one of the reasons why these interpretations lack the real impact. and the idea of letting the horn section take the place of don's vocals (see their statement), rather makes things worse instead of helping them out. besides that, when you want to 'transmute this guitar-based music into ensemble interplay' you're not aware of beefheart's vision about 'sound strokes fighting each other' (expression by mé, teejo).

the egocentric renditions of this ensemble just proof how easy it is to fail if you have the wrong attitude. though at times the tracks have recognizable parts, they contain too much meaningless improvisation and basically: they are too soft (read: not mean enough). an example of the annoying overdose of improvisation is 'abba zaba' which originally lasts 2:41 minutes: the demo version is more than a minute longer, and the live performance even includes fóur minutes of foreign sounds...

the trouble is that the arrangements they used to create 'swinging tunes' have completely beaten flat the necessary basic sharpness, probably in order to demonstrate more of the musician's skills. so the final product is comparable with ridiculous mistakes like 'the james last orchestra plays the beatles' and 'show and marching band tzummarum presents beethoven in a medley'. because the band tries to turn van vliet's unique 'painted sound' into something completely different...: músic!

they smoothed out the explosive tension in such a way it immediately chases any serious beefheart fan away in total despair. the jazz ensemble even succeeded in removing the characteristic flavour of the fascinating 'sculptures' so efficiently i fear that the uninitiated listeners where this acquaintance is meant for will get a severe shock in case they hear the album versions.

while, however, it ís possible to introduce the blanks to the unusual sound of the captain without misplaced self-centredness. right during the first listen to this crippled interpretations, i came to think of the cover versions played by the 'meridian arts ensemble' (on the 'prime meridian' ceedee). although active in an other musical field - modern composed music - it is brass-based too, and théir transformations don't lack the specific beefheart touch (coincidentally both ensembles have rendered 'when i see mommy i feel like a mummy')...

so, is this project a complete mockery? no, fortunately there are three short exceptions to the destroying arrangements. one of them actually isn't a cover, as it is a live performance of the 'evening bell' guitar instrumental from gary lucas' original beefheart repertoire. the second number which hardly deviates from the original is a bass solo version of an other instrumental by origin, 'a carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond' (but which still is played much too sweet). also quite intact is the only song they perform: 'the blimp (mousetrapreplica)', with its coincidental, simple backing.

but altogether this project is an insult to don van vliet. i'm afraid the 'slow and shrivelled' vehicle has shiny, but square wheels, and i pity the poor visitors of the shows who got fooled. best would be to immediately cut this off target shows down for a reconsideration.

[theo tieman 041202]



click clack back to other covers or return to the power station

captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo