captain beefheart electricity

reviews and rants


an anthology

canada 1999
2ceedee warner archives / rhino 75863

japan 1999
2ceedee [label unknown] pcd 1163/64

usa 1999
2ceedee warner archives / rhino r2 75863

usa 1999
2emcee warner archives / rhino r2 75862

captain beefheart - the dust blows forward (an anthology) - o-box 2cd
the outside

140499 - [edited] news from the internet site of rhino records and a press release:


The long overdue, but highly anticipated authoritative Captain Beefheart 2-CD collection The Dust Blows Forward (an anthology) is due to arrive in stores on August 3rd! Consisting of more than 30 songs, The Dust Blows Forward compiles all of the essential Beefheart material recorded between 1966-1982, including such songs as 'Diddy Wah Diddy', 'Abba Zaba', 'Big Eyed Beans From Venus', 'Bat Chain Puller' and 'Hot Head', among many others. Also included are selections from the Bongo Fury live album recorded with Frank Zappa, a couple of previously unreleased rarities as well as many tracks never before on CD in the USA. The Dust Blows Forward will be available at all retail outlets for a suggested list price of $29.98. The anthology will also be available through the Rhino website.

THE TRACK LISTING [sources added by me, teejo]:

DISC 1 - 73.45 minutes
diddy wah diddy the legendary a&m sessions 1966
frying pan the legendary a&m sessions 1966
electricity safe as milk 1967
abba zaba safe as milk 1967
beatle bones 'n' smokin' stones strictly personal 1968
safe as milk strictly personal 1968
moonlight on vermont trout mask replica 1969
ella guru trout mask replica 1969
old fart at play trout mask replica 1969
sugar 'n' spikes trout mask replica 1969
orange claw hammer trout mask replica 1969
my human gets me blues trout mask replica 1969
china pig trout mask replica 1969
lick my decals off, baby lick my decals off, baby 1970
woe-is-uh-me-bop lick my decals off, baby 1970
i wanna find a woman that'll hold my toe till i have to go lick my decals off, baby 1970
the smithsonian institute blues (or the big dig) lick my decals off, baby 1970
i'm gonna booglarize you baby the spotlight kid 1972
click clack the spotlight kid 1972
grow fins the spotlight kid 1972
when it blows its stacks the spotlight kid 1972
little scratch unreleased 'brown star' 1972 rarity
big eyed beans from venus clear spot 1972
golden birdies clear spot 1972

captain beefheart - the dust blows forward (an anthology) - front 2cd
the real front

DISC 2 - 76.08 minutes
nowadays a woman's gotta hit a man clear spot 1972
low yo yo stuff clear spot 1972
too much time clear spot 1972
my head is my only house unless it rains clear spot 1972
clear spot clear spot 1972
upon the my-o-my unconditionally guaranteed 1974
party of special things to do bluejeans and moonbeams 1974
sam with the showing scalp flat top zappa / beefheart / mothers * bongo fury 1975 - live
debra kadabra zappa / beefheart / mothers * bongo fury 1975 - live
hard workin' man 'blue collar' soundtrack 1978 rarity
bat chain puller shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
the floppy boot stomp shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
tropical hot dog night shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
owed t' alex shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
hot head doc at the radar station 1980
ashtray heart doc at the radar station 1980
sue egypt doc at the radar station 1980
making love to a vampire with a monkey on my knee doc at the radar station 1980
ice cream for crow ice cream for crow 1982
the past sure is tense ice cream for crow 1982
light reflected off the oceands of the moon b-side 1982 rarity

 quick comment by teejo:
ah, sort of 'greatest hits', isn't it?... well, already know them (but then i'm from europe)


a review

what nobody who knows the recording history of captain beefheart ever thought to be possible, suddenly has happened: a selection of tracks from all (minus 'mirror man') twelve official releases he made for a total of eight record companies. each of them of course is only interested in their own stand, and as they all have to be talked into participation (read: get paid enough) to get it realised, it's almost a wonder when that succeeds.

but music is merely business and in the course of time things can change: labels vanish, are taken over or voluntarily join other conglomerates. after a while the amount of involved companies gets reduced to just a few, which makes it much simpler. like in this case where warner brothers already possessed frank zappa's old 'bizarre / straight' label on which 'trout mask replica' and 'lick my decals off, baby' originally have been released.

already owning the rights to 'the spotlight kid', 'clear spot', and the 'shiny beast' albums from the beginning, the bigger part of beefheart's work is in the hands of the warner media family. the actual work of convincing the remaining companies to join the project was left to its daughter rhino records, and with success. so now we have a collection of greatest hits, but as captain beefheart never even had a tiny one, 'the dust blows forward' is subtitled 'an anthology' (and housed in a holder with a lettering and a picture of don that only invite aliens to take a further look).


the easy part of the job was to select some songs from all the albums in order to give a proper idea of the developments during don van vliet's career as a musician. although, it's strange nothing is included from 'mirror man', an important turning point, and we can only guess why: because the songs are 'too long', or because it was just a release of by then old material? i think, when - fortunately as few as possible - songs from the two terrible 1974 albums of which i always forget the names, are included, it also should have contained material from the album that just wasn't released on time due to some 'bob krasnow circumstances'.

the advantage of an overview like this also is that it can be used to re-order the history - which indeed was done by opening the 'trout mask replica' tracks with the earlier recorded 'moonlight on vermont'. on the other hand, i wonder what the connection is between his 'bongo fury' with frank zappa and his own music: the zappa sound is so completely different to beefheart's, it dishevels the general feeling of the ceedee set (but frank's old 'discreet' label is a part of mother warner too...).

but the trouble with making a choice is that sometimes you have to... choose. so, besides the absolute tophits and the favourites most of us would pick, like 'electricity', 'big eyed beans from venus', 'bat chain puller' and 'making love to a vampire with a monkey on my knee' (to mention a few), there are tracks on this collection that easily could have been other ones.


for instance, the choice of tracks from 'ice cream for crow' includes the title song - of course - but where are 'cardboard cutout sundown' and 'the thousandth and tenth day of the human totem pole'? instead, we get 'the past sure is tense' (not a bad song, anyway - but maybe here because it's a work-out of the 'little scratch' rarity?) and... 'light reflected off the oceands of the moon', only released as a b-side and in fact just an instrumental version of 'hey garland i dig your tweed coat'....

besides this stray track the anthology includes two other sideslips, of which 'little scratch' (known from european bonuses to 'mirror man' ceedees) is a charming 'brown star / clear spot' outtake but not really a 'great hit' - or was it included because it formed the basis of 'the past sure is tense'? however, the second strange addition, van vliet's guest vocal to hard workin' man (part of the soundtrack to 'blue collar'), surprisingly enough fits in well with the overall sphere of the compilation - also because the backing is a good blues tune (with ry cooder on slide guitar).

talking of that before mentioned instrumental track: when i came to this closing number of the set, i suddenly realised it was the only of its sort. for amazingly enough there are none of his other 'sculptures without vocals' on this anthology! no 'hair pie', 'peon', 'ice rose', 'flavor bud living', 'semi-multicoloured caucasian' - and come up with some more titles yourself. the choice of the not so immediately outstanding songs always will be discussed as tastes differs, but completely - and intentionally it seems - leaving out this other, interesting facet of beefheart's composing talent is a straight blunder! (discussion closed.)


well, beside the use of a wrong font and lay-out for the 45 pieces track list, those are my difficulties on some details. because for the rest there's not much wrong with this release. all songs are taken from sources with good sound quality like the rhino version of 'shiny beast' - instead of the minor virgin (uk) ceedee - and even the recently re-mastered 'safe as milk'! unless someone else also hears a false spot in 'the smithsonian institute blues', my only further remark is that for some reason the different playing volumes of the albums haven't been equalized.

now, the world finally has got the ultimate introduction to the unique sound of captain beefheart's 'painted music'. but does it need it? and two ceedees long? well, most people on earth don't have any of his works, so they're surely helped with it. especially as the - due to modern printing fashions not always easy reading - no-nonsense liner notes give a very good description of the seventeen years history of the band and comment on the separate songs. in fact, it's one of the most useful summaries i've ever read.

contrary to most of the other existing 'nutshell histories' barry alfonso comes up with accurate dates (especially the first years) and facts - although the text sometimes doesn't seem to be written for persons of not-english origin. the only real 'mistake' i came across was the time of the departure of john french and jeff cotton from the magic band: that had happened around summer 1969 while the notes place it a whole year later.


captain beefheart - the dust blows forward (an anthology) - front booklet 2 cd
an alternate 'spotlight kid' cover (original is in colour but unscannable)


so, the set is a perfect starting point for van vliet virgins, and even if it turns out to be the ending point they still possess a marvellous 'album' which lasts almost four vinyl elpees (imagine: two times 'trout mask replica'). it can also be used as an appreciated gift to your friends who never dared to buy one of his albums for lack of sufficient knowledge of the catalogue but secretly hoped for 'something easy' like this.

then there is the group of music lovers lucky enough to own pieces of captain beefheart music, but who in general don't possess more than two, maybe three albums - although i wish it was otherwise. they - the clear majority of fans - now have the chance to listen to the other material and decide which missing records are fit to obtain.

a bunch of better educated beefheart familiars even might be interested in it because it gives them the opportunity to enjoy the best parts of albums they don't want to have because of tracks on it which they dn't like ('the spotlight kid' and 'clear spot'). or which simply are difficult to find like 'strictly personal' (two songs) or not at all like the long-deleted 'lick my decals off, baby' (four tracks).


and how about the hardcore fans who already know all the music of the captain and can sing and dance along to every tune? well, not to mention those 'not guaranteed moonbeams' from '74 and his fury to frank zappa's bongo, beefheart always made albums with at least a handful of - simply described - great songs. as a matter of fact, it already was big fun to listen to them over and over, and now those addicts can really guzzle in them.

even to a dangerous extend! for, after shuffling the 'unwanted stuff', there is nearly two-and-a-half hour of lovely tormenting to be endured! i for me always have trouble in playing more than ne (good old vinyl) side of 'trout mask replica' at a time. that record is so damn heavy i need a pause after each set of blistering tracks that attacked my mind (no, not a psychiatrist anymore - 'doc, do you think it is normal that i dig this music?') - and that's only after twnty minutes.

of course not all songs on these ceedees are as breathtaking as the (7) ones off his masterpiece, but as the set hardly has any relaxed songs - only two 'clear spot' tracks and the 'little scratch' outtake - it's difficult to play this collection non-stop. one 'hit' after another rolls by and keeps you swinging on and on. so, it must be heavy even to experienced captain beefheart fans.


folks that aren't into his music alone, can also dig the booklet with the mentioned liner notes and a nice heap of unknown pictures (if not all). they can spot the band or don van vliet in alternate poses for several albums, look at some live pictures, or gaze at strange memorabilia like a 'disneyland demo', and a few van vliet drawings.

highlights from the earliest years are the one-month-old band at the 1965 hollywood teenage fair, quite a lot of 'trout mask replica' weirdness, and three alternate 'lick my decals off, baby' front covers. the biggest part of the photos is from the early 70s, including live pics, three alternate portraits of 'the spotlight kid' - one of which is the actual front cover of the set -, some 'clear spot' snapshots, and a cutout of don and his wife jan from a known rolling stone pic. the main other material, like a valentine greeting by beefheart and the brown star drawing and poem, originate from that period too.

but that also is the big minus point of the booklet: the total absence of material that illustrates the '68 'strictly personal' period or the long years from 1975 thru 1982 (two known 'shiny beast' press pictures are too small to be counted). they also didn't check the correctness of the quote on the holder: 'there are only five great men in the world and three of them are hamburgers'.... it seems that warner brothers, after going through their own archives and finding some additional photos, halfway the job ran out of money - or time.


okay, an outsider probably won't notice the missing information, but - with respect to what we get - that's not the perfect documentation to the thorough walk through the musical career of captain beefheart offered on this two plates. it doesn't lower the quality of the music of course, but somehow gives a feeling of incompleteness and haste-work.

it's just the same feeling that occurred in relation to the omission of beefheart's instrumentals, any song from 'mirror man' and the idea that some tracks left out deserve a place in this collection (too). to pick but one from each (minus two) of his albums, and not to mention the 'bongo fury' outtake 'the torture never stops': 'autumn's child', 'trust us', 'neon meate dream of an octafish', 'bellerin' plain', 'glider', 'sun zoom spark', 'when i see mommy i feel like a mummy', 'run paint run run', and 'hey garland i dig your tweed coat'.

but never mind what caused half a booklet and a ceedee too short (while first you complained about the length of the collection, teejo!?), the remaining 'jukebox' still is more than enough to get everyone who loves 'derailed' music completely out of his mind - and make him nt wanna go back, too! captain beefheart songs aren't easy-listening, so you need a lot of nerve - but there's a long, long swinging ahead....


MY CONCLUSION ear-opener for blanks and beginners, essential addition for half-way fans, feast for veterans, big fun for everyone - i repeat: it swngs!
MY ADVICE don't dare to withstand it

030999 theo tieman

click clack back to the records or return to the power station

captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo