DON'T ARGUE WITH
history - interview
COME OUT PAUL... BEEFHEART'S
from england 1 april 1972
underground hero captain beefheart
surfaced in london with a plea: 'where are you, paul
mccartney?' and being a helpful sort of diary page,
we echo: 'come out, paul, wherever you are.'
point is that paul is the captain's
favourite beatle. he said: 'they could have come to
see me anytime, because i couldn't very well go and
see them. but only paul came to see me...: in
cannes, france in 1968 [a chance meeting
at the midem festival - t.t.].'
beef really laments the beatles'
break-up. 'what do they think they are doing? they
did so much..., you know what they did. and now,
throwing all these rocks at each other - specially
'he was right, all along. it was a
shame their music got so complicated. when they were
doing 'i wanna hold your hand', that was it. no, i
want to meet paul again. but where is he? how do i
get to see him?'
a final cryptic message from the
captain: 'there are big eyed beings from venus [no,
béans] and they are right here among us.' his
next album, appropriately 'brown star'.
LOVE OVER GOLD
from england 8 april 1972
five years ago, the magic name of captain beefheart was no more than an imported elpee in the window-display of clique-ee one-stop records. there it caught the eye of peter meaden, entrepeneur extraordinaire and ex-protege of andrew oldham [manager of 'the rolling stones']. so fascinated was peter with the lp (simply titled 'safe as milk') that he purchased it and upon listening, realised that captain beefheart was, to quote a recent warner brothers press handout 'a cosmic genius'.*
the rest is history, ofsorts. peter hustled himself almost out of business to bring 'the buddah package show' from cannes' midem festival to london in 1968 - it included captain beefheart and his magic band, penny nichols and the sadly under-rated anders and poncia.
beefheart was already known to john peel (for
john had met beef in the u.s.a.) and 'safe as
milk' received regular airings on john's radio
shows. but beefheart's course of reality didn't
run smooth. pye records - who leased buddah -
declined to issue 'safe as milk', until pressure
became so strong that they put it out - in mono!
it made the charts..., and its producer, newly-famous richard perry (of 'nilsson schmilsson' fame) is quoted as declaring 'safe as milk' his best job of work. other records followed, charting the captain's progress through the stormy seas of more and more reality. [....] and now, 'beefheart's most accessible recording to date': 'the spotlight kid'.
beefheart, alias don van vliet, is currently engaged on a sell-out tour of the united kingdom - at the albert hall there were queues of fans being turned away from a full house, a far cry from the days of '68. but is all this as far as beef can go? can he ever be another 't. rex'? is his popularity strictly limited to the long-haired freaky underground set? the captain thinks not. he is, as he insists, a real artist. but can he be accepted as such with his...: 'full figure'?
'i'm working on this,' he told me, pointing at his ample frame. 'people find it difficult to accept me as an artist like this.' but he proved his point at the albert hall, when he strode around the stage, looking powerful and sounding penetrating. it's only one of the many jams that the captain is always engaged in kicking out - on behalf of himself and spaceship earth. we talked about women.
'i had known my wife for years before i...-' 'before you met her,' he explained. 'right,' i said. 'everywhere you go, it's all cock,' said beef, 'penis buildings for women sticking up everywhere. i want to build some cunt buildings. for women.'
birmingham 25 march 1972
he gesticulated to show me how he felt. 'but...: you had knówn zappa already!', i whined. 'yes, yes! but don't you see: i thought that the consciousness of myself and my band could get to him. i thought we could. but i couldn't. he's so uptight, always trying to prove to everyone that he's a mán.'
if all this gives the impression that beefheart bears grudges or is a negative person, then i have given the wrong impression. beefheart is incapable of negativity - but unlike most artists, he is capable of telling the truth, as anyone familiar with his records will know. he has the supreme artistic gift of tóuching a reality inside anyone who cares to listen to him. he is intense..., and truthful.
'how's record mirror?,' he asked. 'oh..., they've been taken over by billboard [leading usa music weekly],' i replied. 'bíllbóard!! not billboard! the mirror: taken over by billboard!' he was so astonished, got up from his chair and walked around, and sat down again. 'and there's a new policy,' i added, 'appealing to the young..., the thirteen year olds.' 'do you know thirteen year olds? they're béautiful,' said don, 'and we're another generation.'
'maybe you could give me a message for the young readers?', i asked. 'tell them: 'i'll love them if they love themselves'.... and tell them: 'love over gold'.'
the captain then rapped at some length about the beatles and lots more things, including don's ecology warnings on his early albums. but, sadly, record mirror has no more space for any more of don's reality. just remember that he is a man who loves us all. if you don't believe it - go and buy 'the spotlight kid' and by the time you have played it a few times you'll have a new friend.