captain beefheart electricity


history - interviewflits


from england 6 may 1972 SOUNDS
by steve peacock
is early april 1972 tour report / interview


'you ask them what they think about the captain having sex, because they've always thought of me as a. eunuch - a far out lunar eunuch, due to my brief association with zappa.'

he came at last. dim memories of a tour four years back, the ever present records, scant information and wild rumours heralded his reappearance in britain earlier this year, and i was never more pleased than when i discovered that the legendary captain beefheart was in fact a perceptive, understanding, and - just as important - understandable human being.

you almost know from the records, and you never really believe all that cosmic space-freak crap that floats over from the states, but it's a relief to know for yourself.


he was tired for a lot of the tour, he had equipment problems that messed the sound about on a good number of the gigs, but through all that captain beefheart and the magic band played some of the most beautiful music you are likely to hear on the english stage for a long while.

the first gig of the tour, at bristol, probably had the most faults from the point of the sound and playing, but the sheer energy and sense of occasion made up for a lot. the albert hall was ok but that place really casts a damper on anything, and then there was manchester, which i enjoyed the best of the three.

it truly is a magic band - rehearsed to a degree, obviously, but not routined. there is a lot of room for the magic to work, and it often does. at first you take in the total sound, or at least the sound of what happens to be dominating at the time, but as you get accustomed to that you realise that there are all kinds of dfferent things going on all the time, all fitting together like one of those silver rings, but all different and separate as well.

captain beefheart concert - live 25 march 1972 birmingham, england
captain beefheart singing in birmingham, 25 march

'we worked for three years on telepathy and things like that - rockette morton (aka mark boston - t.t.), zoot horn rollo (bill harkleroad) and myself, particularly,' said beefheart (don van vliet), talking about the time after the double-album 'trout mask replica'. and it shows - the way those three work together, and with the others in the band (ed marimba, alias art tripp, roy estrada (oréjon), and winged eel fingerling (elliot ingber)) shows such understanding of each others' ideas, that it is difficult to tell a rehearsed move from a spontaneous one. it's not until you see them several times that you know.


but the thing about the magic band is that they play themselves through their instruments - something that many people aren't doing, despite a lot of talk. they don't play the blues, they don't play rock and roll - they just play. you may have heard the captain say this before, but i think it's worth repeating.

'where the hell is that - everyone playing like b.b. king [blues] or chuck berry [rock and roll]? they neglected their own art and went over to emulate things that had already been done, and could be successfully done right there, any time. b.b. king could do it, now why the hell didn't they realise that they could do it, the people who copied those people?'

'i don't think that's right for either party, that's why i tried to do something that was my own, and the thing is that invariably they will tell me: 'you sound a lot like howlin' wolf', and i'll say: 'that's impossible, [because of] the age difference.... i wouldn't do that, i have honour for other artists'.'

'i wonder what they'll think now that i have a group of men, who play men's music to women. other men can enjoy it too, but it's definitely to women because i'm playing to a receiver, i'm not playing to the phone company or an operator.'

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flits captain beefheart electricity
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