captain beefheart electricity

reviews and rants


5 tracks i may be hungry but i sure ain't weird

captain beefheart - discography - buddah records logo ('picture' version)

the old buddah



[edited] news from ICE Magazine March 1999:


Reincarnated with a new mission, BMG-owned Buddha Records will debut in the spring with expanded, newly remastered reissues of such out-of-print works as Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's Safe as Milk and Mirror Man [...]. All will be fleshed out with CD bonus tracks, some of them previously unreleased. Buddha - with a new spelling to boot - will have access to its parent company's vaults, but will focus on artists whose significance is measured by more than chart numbers.

On June 1st, Buddha plans to dig into the vaults for Beefheart's Safe As Milk and Mirror Man, the latter retitled the MIRROR MAN SESSIONS. Both albums are fleshed out with bonus tracks recorded during the same October-November 1967 sessions that resulted in Mirror Man, which was originally intended to be a two-LP set called It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper. The Mirror Man Sessions augments the original four tracks with Trust Us (take 6), Safe as Milk (take 12), Beatle Bones 'n' Smokin' Stones, Moody Liz and Gimme Dat Harp Boy.

captain beefheart - the mirror man sessions - remastered 'mirror man' album plus bonus tracks - front promo ceedee usa
front of cardboard sleeve of promo

comment by teejo:

the buddah which retired from business long ago seems to have spent all the hundreds of thousands of dollars it gained through the sales of the two beefheart albums it brought out. ánd the easy money that kept rolling in from the numerous licensed re-releases and combinations of (tracks from) those elpees [i'll save you the details about the six vinyl reissues, the four cassettes and the eleven ceedees pulled together from them, as well as the three plates that include tracks from the 'strictly personal' outtakes we know as 'the alternate beefheart - i may be hungry but i sure ain't weird'].

as could be expected from the music giant bertelsmann the above press announcement contains some lies in order to give the impression they bring us something completely needed. 'safe as milk', 'mirror man' and the source of all the bonus tracks minus one: 'i may be hungry but i sure ain't weird', are available in abundance! and 'korn ring finger' - which will be part of the 'grow fins' box set by the way - in fact just was left out from the quite old (1992) release 'i may be hungry but i sure ain't weird'.

so - except for KORN RING FINGER - these reissues don't contain any surprise, and i doubt if the re-mastering can convince me it's something else than another plain attempt to screw the completists among the collectors.... (i wonder why i still am one!)

[080399 - thanks to uwe krüger for spotting the announcement]

by mark 'kynoceph'


'The Mirror Man Sessions' is an updated version of the 'Mirror Man' album. The songs have been re-sequenced, and extra material has been added.

The improvement in the sound of this album is considerable. I don't know how they did it, but they did it. The crunchy mike problems that the Captain has at the beginning of 'Tarotplane' are still there, mind you, and some of the sonic aberrations on the original can't be fixed, but overall this is an ENORMOUS improvement on the original. The balancing of the instruments is much better and every instrument is much more audible. Particularly interesting is Jerry Handley's bass playing, which shows a heretofore unheard funkiness with tuba-like overtones.

captain beefheart - the mirror man sessions - remastered 'mirror man' album plus bonus tracks - plate promo ceedee usa
the 'white label' promo disc

The resequencing is actually a good idea. The album still starts off with 'Tarotplane', but that is followed by '25th Century Quaker', then 'Mirror Man', and 'Kandy Korn'. To me, this makes it a lot more interesting to listen to. '25th Century Quaker' on the old album was hard going for me, but the improved sound has brought out details that weren't there before, and sequenced after 'Tarotplane' it makes a lot more sense. The same can be said of 'Mirror Man' as well; a lot of the sonic rust has been knocked off and the shiny parts have been polished. 'Kandy Korn' is a joy to hear. On the original album it was one of the stronger tracks, but on this new version it just glows, showing the Magic Band's near-telepathic tightness.

In short the resequencing helps the whole thing make more sense. I really think the remastering on this one reveals even more than the remastered version of Safe as Milk, and of the two, this is actually the most dramatically improved.

There are, as on the reissue of SAM, extra songs, and like the SAM extra songs, these were originally heard on 'I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird', the excellent Sequel CD of a few years ago, which is now out of print. These are 'Trust Us (Take 6)', 'Safe As Milk (Take 12)', 'Beatle Bones and Smokin' Stones', 'Moody Liz (Take 8)' and 'Gimme Dat Harp Boy'. These sound pretty much the same as they did on 'I May Be Hungry...', that is to say, they sound pretty great, and since 'I May Be Hungry...' is out of print, this is a good way to hear those songs. I am especially fond of Trust Us (Take 6)' in particular, with its impassioned Don vocal and the roiling controlled feedback.

captain beefheart - the mirror man sessions - remastered 'mirror man' album plus bonus tracks - front original stock copy
front of the european stock copy (to come)

'The Mirror Man Sessions' still sounds more like a band rehearsal than a 'product', but it sounds like a much more purposeful band rehearsal than was previously evident on the old 'Mirror Man'. And the recording quality is dramatically, vastly improved over the old issue. This is yet another essential purchase for the Beefheart fan. I personally have always liked this record and I love hearing the sonic details that weren't there before.

Of course the bonus tracks don't hurt a bit. I don't think this album will ever replace 'Strictly Personal', although it is nice to hear the naked songs from that album without hippie jism all over them. But if you listen to 'The Mirror Man Sessions' back to back with 'Strictly Personal' you can definitely hear how the band was evolving toward 'Trout Mask Replica'.

'Mirror Man Sessions' also clarifies that the blues has always been an essential part of Beefheart's music, and that if he had cared to, Don Van Vliet could have been a white bluesman par excellence. It is to his credit that he chose to take his own path and create his own difficult, rewarding music. And a damn good thing he did too.

Highly Recommended.

[220599; thanks, mark]

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