discography - bootlegs
LIVE wednesday 29.10.80 LIVERPOOL england ROTTERS CLUB
JEFF MORIS TEPPER
jeff tapir / white jew * guitar * slide
RICHARD SNYDER midnight hatsize * guitar * slide guitar ** bass guitar
ERIC DREW FELDMAN black jew kittaboo * bass guitar * synthesizer * electric piano
ROBERT WILLIAMS wait for me * drums * percussion
DON VAN VLIET captain beefheart * vocals * sax * chinese gongs
guest GARY LUCAS ** national steel dualion ** guitar ** poetry reading
CAPTAIN LIVE IN LIVERPOOL 1980
england 1998 [no label and catalog number] flat-box
time 43:30 and 43:29
thanks to other recent mass products like computers, the modern bootleg from home machines can be mistaken for an official release. in this case - two blue-green ceedees in a flat box - the outside got halfway. the left part of the white front bears lettering compiled from his hand-writings in the book 'stand up to be discontinued', and the right half contains a cut from the publicity shot for his liverpool art exhibition - held eight years béfore the concert: don, leaning on a trellis work in his 'spotlight kid' jacket, slanting away cooler as einstein (but different). very nice work, but the black & white lay-out and the photo pixels show that it wasn't done in a printing office...
the back cover - in b&w too, and with a 1982 picture - also upholds the tradition of the good old bootlegs: beside typing faults in the titles they overlooked that pop bands usually have a drummer (complain, robert!)... inside the package we discover that the front inlay is made of plain paper instead of the glossy sort. the back of the front sheet has a small picture and a poem, both copied from 'stand up to be discontinued'.
a part of that art book was also used for the rest of the make-up - in colour! for instance for a tiny reproduction of one of the paintings on the flipside of the back cover. and for the fake 'picture plates'! because, instead of being imprinted, the discs are lábeled: with half-moon outcuts of two works from 1969. anyhow, together with the mint green lettering for the notes they lóok great...
in between the jingling of crockery, and the unrest of the audience - which rather is nervous and enthusiast than frightening - DISC ONE starts with the bass solo 'toaster' 4.09, the traditional opening with some 'hair pie' variations, here in the version with eric feldman wearing a toaster (just what i say). after a false start with don forgetting to blow his harmonica on time, the full band makes a good start with the concert by means of nowadays a woman's gotta hit a man 4.26. they continue with beefheart's long-time live favourite on almost every gig abba zaba 3.41 and present a triptych of songs from their newest release doc at the radar station - material they're more familiar with. so no wonder that hot head 4.10 really cools the audience down, and when beefheart announces "one from 'trout mask replica'" and instead performs dirty blue gene 4.43 the public is definitely turned on. and after that best batch yet 5.55 is their best song yet.
then comes the usual theatrical side leap - which always divides the audience into listeners and not interested people - as gary lucas recites the poem one man sentence 1.06 (a text originally published in 1970). the group returns to music with a good performance of safe as milk 3.50, but somehow don seems to have lost the right track. for, after gary has played flavor bud living 1.16 to an again divided public, he shows slight troubles with the feeling of the song and the vocal scales needed for her eyes are a blue million miles 3.59 (with gary on guitar). and when jeff tepper has performed the guitar interlude one red rose that i mean 2.52 - in honour of his recent marriage? - don really gets out of tune and even begins to rap during doctor dark 3.23. judging from some irritated remarks towards the audience he must have been glad to finish the first set...
after the pause, wherein we get ready for DISC TWO, captain beefheart and the magic band first bring a nice bat chain puller 5.23 - but which doesn't sound as tight as could be (don thinks it's because it is 'too damn hot' in the club). it is the preamble to a packet of 'trout mask replica' songs, starting with one of the tracks they played most on their tours: my human gets me blues 3.34. everything - finally! - falls back in place in that number, and the band even exceeds that in sugar 'n' spikes 3.11 and the following veteran's day poppy 5.13. then they continue the show with a cool performance of another 'golden oldie': dropout boogie 3.40.
of course they had to promote 'doc at the radar station', so next they give a precise sheriff of hong kong 7.01 from that album. but again they return to captain beefheart's early years, by using kandy korn 5.00 from 'strictly personal' to bring everybody out of their minds. to close it off - in what must have been the encore - the musicians perform at their best in suction prints 5.18 - the collection of instrumental sounds which is their pièce de résistance - and the inevitable...: big eyed beans from venus 5.09 of course!
THE SOUND AND NOISES
although the sound system of the band sometimes has a few imperfections, the recording is of an excellent quality which makes you hardly notice it's in móno and a bit shrill. and then: those unclear noises occasionally can come from the audience - because the visitors have been recorded as well. and throughout the concert they let know they're there (some people even seem to only have come for 'big eyed beans from venus')! or was there a much frequented bar on the stage?
this isn't a superb gig, but in hindsight that isn't quite strange. first: far out concerts must stay exceptions. and second: this was only beefheart's fifth gig on the first tour since almost two years of whatever-nothing-he-did. the band - which included the suddenly recruited richard snyder - sounds as if they're not feeling at home yet, especially in the musically seen 'old songs'. but when they get going after the somewhat uncomfortable start (caused by the unrest in the audience?), in the end they meet the high standards don van vliet sets for a good show.
and despite don's usual lack of timing and his temporary loss of vocal abilities (not such uncommon habits of him) the collaboration with the magic band passes off satisfactorily. yes, altogether, the performance is successful - or at least: the audience clearly enjoys it!
unfortunately this pretty bootleg (as for package and sound, not the artistic level of the performance) is a bit expensive. instead of the current cd price common in former times - you must be prepared to pay something between 75 dutch guilders and 80 german marks (as there's no euro yet). that is: if you have the luck to find it...
don't get fooled: this re-release - also advertised as live 1980 and liverpool 1980 - is a stripped off version of the complete recording which originally was spread over two ceedees due to the length of the concert. to achieve the more than fourteen minutes shorter result practically all the applause and pauses between the tracks have been cut away, of course.
unfortunately quite a lot of those cuts were done amateuristic and considerably rough, mostly causing totally unnatural transitions - so the 'performance' races on without a decent moment of rest, especially in the second half. compressed that way, it virtually lacks the genuine atmosphere of a líve show... it also means that the interaction between the captain and the audience - one of the essential charms of a beefheart (or anyone's) concert - has been lost. terrible and ridiculous!
but what's left if you don't have access to the full version is a nice collection of live interpretations of compositions from several eras. as the sound quality is unchanged, so excellent, and the music is played well - dón regularly is the dissonant - uncritical listeners will think there's nothing to complain about. and as this ceedee is about the first official release of a concert ('london 1974' left aside: that's not captain beefheart!), i'm sure it will satisfy the ignorant fan.
hey, man, ófficial? come on! this is as good a bootleg as the preceding 'the captain live in liverpool'. a close look at the package immediately makes clear this is an illegal product, beit disguised in a treacherously real outfit. for contrary to the blue-green recordable ceedees the plate is silver, and the quality of the liner booklet shows it was manufactured at a printer at somebody's home. however, the illustration on the plate of trouts circling around isn't impressed but a sticker, and the liner notes contain the usual mistakes characteristic of unofficial releases.
the copyright of some songs is credited to unlikely owners, and drummer robert williams (again) fails from the band line-up while a paste-up presents his successor from 1982, cliff martinez! further, the notes are not written by an expert, and the designer of the booklet allowed himself mysterious fantasies about a phallus like construction, the river that runs through liverpool - yes, the mersey - and trouts (which probably haven't been spotted in it for a century due to the pollution).
nevertheless, the professionally looking design of this 'safemilk production' - which name is another clue that there's something dubious going on - gives the impression of a regular release. and that must have been the reason why it slipped past many credulous purchasing agents of numerous (e-)shops that usually keep away from unlicensed stuff. although, in the end it gives us the opportunity to purchase this in several meanings not exactly correct live recording without much trouble.
my CONCLUSION: reasonable (so for stupid collectors only)
my ADVICE (in the unlikely case): grab your easy chance
click clack back to the concerts or return to the power station
captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo