captain beefheart electricity

discography - bootlegs


recorded 1976 - released 2012

THIS is part 1 INFORMATION and VINYL - ceedees - more ceedees

intended TRACK LIST
also mentioning the later official release

- A -
1 - BAT CHAIN PULLER 5:02 shiny beast 1978
2 - SEAM CROOKED SAM 3:10 unreleased
3 - HARRY IRENE 3:23 shiny beast 1978
4 - 81 POOP HATCH 2:38 poem ice cream for crow 1982
5 - FLAVOR BUD LIVING 1:38 instrumental doc at the radar station 1980
6 - BRICKBATS 4:26 doc at the radar station 1980
- B -
7 - THE FLOPPY BOOT STOMP 3:58 shiny beast 1978
8 - A CARROT IS AS CLOSE AS A RABBIT GETS TO A DIAMOND 1:52 instrumental doc at the radar station 1980
9 - CARSON CITY aka OWED T'ALEX 3:20 shiny beast 1978
10 - ODD JOBS 5:12 grow fins 1999
11 - THE THOUSANDTH AND TENTH DAY OF THE HUMAN TOTEM POLE 5:42 ice cream for crow 1982
12 - APES-MA 0:40 poem shiny beast 1978

the BAND
DENNY WALLEY feeler's rebo / walla walla * guitar * slide guitar
JEFF MORIS TEPPER jeff tapir / white jew * guitar * slide guitar
JOHN THOMAS * keyboards
JOHN FRENCH drumbo * drums * percussion ** guitar
DON VAN VLIET captain beefheart * vocals * tenor sax * soprano sax * bass clarinet


when in 1974 captain beefheart's new musical course with the worthless 'unconditionally guaranteed' and 'bluejeans and moonbeams' had led to a terrible shipwreck (and the departure of faithful old hands), he set forth for what would become a long handicap journey to come back. to get the right feeling again, in spring '75 he helped frank zappa on his 'bongo fury' tour as a guest, before forming some live magic bands in the second half of that year. the beginning of 1976 he was ready to record an album which should prove he only had lost his musical skills temporarily: BAT CHAIN PULLER.

then it was zappa who helped hÝm by letting the band rehearse at his home studio and advancing the costs of the recording session. one of the uncleared questions from that period is what was planned to happen next. it seems that frank - who ran 'discreet records', together with his long time companion herb cohen - didn't intend to bring out beefheart's come-back on his own label (as far as known there hadn't been signed any contract), but just wanted to get paid back - with a considerable profit of course - when an other company would release the record.

however, when captain beefheart's new album had been finished the discreet bosses had gone to war with each other. due this 'fruit fight' between the 'two flamingos' there couldn't be reached an agreement to get 'bat chain puller' on the market, although contracts got signed with warner bros (usa) and virgin (uk).

after two years of frustration - in which copies of a demo tape were available 'everywhere' - new problems emerged when don van vliet eventually released SHINY BEAST (BAT CHAIN PULLER) on warners - making virgin very angry as they thought they had an exclusive deal with him. which led to lawsuits against warner bros and van vliet who was charged for two million dollar!

'shiny beast' is subtitled 'bat chain puller', because it mainly contains identical re-recordings of tunes from the 'lost' album - extended with the two original poems and a few new songs (one of which is a retrospect on the tropical hot dog night of waiting for the release). other material from it would be used on the two last albums beefheart would produce. and when he had retired from music, don kind of set free both of the then still unreleased songs by publishing the lyrics in the 1987 art book 'skeleton breath, scorpion blush'. and because one of them, ODD JOBS, was brought out on the 'grow fins' collection of rarities, till date just one piece of the come-back album hasn't been released officially: SEAM CROOKED SAM.

so, all in all, today this aborted album mainly is a nice historic document with just two or three special tracks: seam crooked sam, maybe BRICKBATS as the original version is much more fiery than the later remake, and the first interpretation of FLAVOR BUD LIVING which is much slower than the official instrumental and is played by john 'guitardrumbo' french...!

sobering p.s.

the fact that practically all the 'bat chain puller' material is available in some way, makes any plans for a 'rebirth' commercially seen totally uninteresting. that's why you shouldn't pay attention to the rumours circulating for decades that the zappa trust - which holds the master recording imprisoned for debt, in case don van vliet (who owns the artistic rights) would decide for a public release - soon is going to release the overdue album.

germany 198? shelter lp 80 b
side a: [four 'fillers' time 9:35] tracks 1-3 - time 11:00
side b: 4, 6-7, 9-12 - time 25:35
WRONG speed

gerry 'glass finger' pratt described this item in the 'big bad but beautiful book of beefheart bootlegs #1' as:

19?? GERMANY ZAPPA presents CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & HIS MAGIC BAND ORIGINAL 1976 SHINY BEAST VERSION on SHELTER LP 80 B. Labels, black on cream, say PRODUCED BY THE SHAME and 'Eurodisc Gmbh Munchen'. Cover is startling red on green (front) and green on red (back) with uncredited art and 'Produced by Frank Zappa & Herb Cohen'. According to John Ellis " [...] This album blended the moods of The Spotlight Kid and Lick My Decals Off, Baby and would have been a triumphant return to the fold if it had been issued. [...] Beefheart was forced to rework and re-record the album, which was finally issued in '78 as 'Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)'. It is possible to compare the two because Beefheart's label in England, Virgin, leaked a demo tape which was reviewed in the press and has had wide private circulation."

              beefheart - bootlegs - original 1976 shiny beast version
              (dertotempolesagtmanstehtaufdemgrund) - first elpee (red
              on green front)

This is one confusing bootleg! It should be the ORIGINAL 1976 BAT CHAIN PULLER and it has live tracks put in as fillers, I guess. The record starts off with Apes Ma, When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mummy and Veteran's Day Poppy - in fact these are from the My Father's Place broadcast. Then there is Interview '78 with 'Moma heartbeat.... shadows from the sun' conversation. Then Bat Chain Puller, which I suspect is a live version but fades out before the applause. Then two 1976 tracks: Poem ('seam crooked sam' - teejo) and Harry Irene, plus seven more on side 2 gives nine tracks all together I assume from the leaked demo tape. The tracks on side 2 most are very similar to the 1978 version but one track, called Poem is the track Odd Jobs, while Owed T' Alex was originally titled Carson City in '76. There also is a re-issue with a different black-on-white cover.

additional notes by teejo:

* there is a considerable difference in volume of the sources used for the record: the live pieces are much louder than the studio stuff.
* an indication for the release date is the fact that - except for the so-called 'poems' - all titles are correct, even 'poop hatch' which title only would come to light with its official release on 'ice cream for crow'. so (the first version of) this bootleg must have been pressed in late 1982 or later.
* notice that a small subtitle says: 'dertotempolesagtmanstehtaufdemgrund' (just like that: in lower case and without spaces) which more prominently would be used on the cover of the re-issue.

bootleg elpee ORIGINAL 1976 SHINY BEAST VERSION der totem pole sagt man steht auf dem grund
germany 198? shelter lp 80 ab
side a: [four 'fillers' time 9:35] tracks 1-3 - time 11:00
side b: 4, 6-7, 9-12 - time 25:35
WRONG speed
captain beefheart -
              bootlegs - elpee 'der totem pole sagt man steht auf dem
              grund (original 1976 shiny beast version)' - second elpee
              (drawing front)

paul 'rollin' red' brown wrote about this re-issue in the 'big bad but beautiful book of beefheart bootlegs #2':

19?? Single bootleg GERMANY ZAPPApresents CAPTAINBEEFHEART&HISMAGICBAND ORIGINAL 1976 SHINY BEAST VERSION on Shelter LP 80 AB. This alternative cover copy of the same LP featured in 'Bootleg Guide #1' is identical in content, more likely to be the re-pressing of the red on green LP! Personally, I prefer this black and white cover, which reproduces a Van Vliet type drawing of an animal and man on the front and an ink drawing on its reverse, to the original! The labels are plain and simply marked in pencil 'A' and 'B', and this version of the 'Shiny Beast' bootleg is quite common at European record fairs - although becoming increasingly overpriced in the last year or two.

Again, I am bewildered as to why it is mastered at such an incredibly fast speed. The original tapes that were sent over to Virgin by Don in 1976 (and even reviewed by the music press) have been in the hands of collectors for years. Why this recording of Don sounding as if he is high on 'helium' was used, is beyond me. My guess is that it was just mastered too fast and no-one noticed. Still it does have that superb (live bonus) versions of When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mummy and Veteran's Day Poppy. Even the Interview '78 is in fact, and again, a speeded-up John Peel radio interview from 1973!

additional note:

* this second version confirms the source of the three live fillers, as the track list notes mention: 'new york 11.12.1978' - which is the date the concert at 'my father's place' was broadcast.
* an indication for the release date of this second version is the '1985' in the artist's signature on the front.

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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo