captain beefheart electricity

discography - bootlegs


LIVE thu 15 january 1981 usa SEATTLE wa SHOWBOX


autumn 1980 through january 1981 captain beefheart and the magic band promoted their latest album, doc at the radar station, with a tour in europe and the states. however, as don hadn't performed live for well over a year and a half, it took a while before he found the right groove. after a terrible first week, the group came into shape (also because last-minute member richard snyder 'fell in place') and when the band returned to the usa in late november it was tight. one of the last concerts of what would turn out to be beefheart's last tour, took place on 15.01.81 in the farthest north-west and coincidenced with the captain's fortieth birthday. so it was very easy for the bootleggers to find a title for the show.

1 - SUCTION PRINTS intro version (bass &) shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
2 - MY HUMAN GETS ME BLUES trout mask replica 1969
3 - NOWADAYS A WOMAN'S GOTTA HIT A MAN clear spot 1972
4 - HOT HEAD doc at the radar station 1980
5 - ASHTRAY HEART doc at the radar station 1980
6 - DIRTY BLUE GENE doc at the radar station 1980
7 - BEST BATCH YET doc at the radar station 1980
8 - SAFE AS MILK strictly personal 1968
9 - A CARROT IS AS CLOSE AS A RABBIT GETS TO A DIAMOND doc at the radar station 1980
10 - ONE RED ROSE THAT I MEAN lick my decals off, baby 1970
11 - DOCTOR DARK lick my decals off, baby 1970
12 - BAT CHAIN PULLER shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
13 - SUGAR 'N' SPIKES trout mask replica 1969
14 - VETERAN'S DAY POPPY trout mask replica 1969
15 - SHERIFF OF HONG KONG doc at the radar station 1980
16 - SUCTION PRINTS full band version shiny beast (bat chain puller) 1978
17 - BIG EYED BEANS FROM VENUS clear spot 1972

the BAND
JEFF MORIS TEPPER jeff tapir / white jew * guitar * slide guitar
RICHARD SNYDER midnight hatsize * guitar * slide guitar * bass guitar
ERIC DREW FELDMAN black jew kittaboo * bass guitar * keyboards * synthesizer ** mandolin
ROBERT WILLIAMS wait for me * drums * percussion
DON VAN VLIET captain beefheart * vocals * tenor sax * soprano sax * harmonica
guest GARY LUCAS ** national steel dualion

2elpee DON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY photo cover

europe 198? rondo-lette db 501/2
record 1 side a: tracks 1-5, side b: 7-10

time 16:15 + 17:00

record 2 side a: 11-14, side b: 15-17

time 20:01 + 18:27
captain beefheart bootleg - 2lp 'don's birthday party' (photo cover) - live 15 january 1981 showbox, seattle, usa
chronologically seen a bit confusing, rollin' red (paul brown) wrote about this item in the 'big bad but beautiful book of beefheart bootlegs #2' áfter the description in volume 1 of the re-release with the 'drawn cover':

198? Double EUROPEAN bootleg DON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY on [Rondo-lette] DB 501/2 is the original first pressing which arrived with the beautiful Anton Corbijn shot of Don in the Mojave Desert (the cover of the england 011180 new musical express - t.t.) scanned onto a yellowish cover and was copied into caricature painting on the second pressing. Each record differs in colour. Disc 1 is brown marbled vinyl, disc 2 salmon pink.

As there are also copies in circulation on plain black vinyl, this could mean it was re-pressed on (at least - teejo) three different occasions, all still sought by collectors. So how many copies are circulating is anyone's guess. Yet I know of two people who willingly paid £100.00 plus for mint copies of this original pressing quite recently!

additional note by teejo:

i once was told that this version of the concert is missing track six, 'dirty blue gene'. that fact is being confirmed by the second ceedee release 'don's 40th birthday party', which is said to be taken from 'the master tapes' - read: this 'photo cover' edition, because the back cover of that ceedee has a clue that it is the digital version of it (see further on).

elpee SEATTLE SHOWBOX JAN 15th '81

europe 198? rondo-lette db 502

side a: tracks 11-14, side b: 15-17

time 20:01 + 18:27
captain beefheart bootleg - elpee 'seattle showbox jan, 15th.'81' (live)
the black & white insert

rollin' red (paul brown) in the 'big bad but beautiful book of beefheart bootlegs #2':

198? Single EUROPEAN bootleg SEATTLE SHOWBOX JAN, 15th '81 again on [Rondo-lette] DB 502 is almost certainly to be disc 2 of the original 'photo cover' pressing! It comes in the same salmon pink vinyl and was most probably split into single bootlegs to allow people to buy it in two halves! I can remember seeing it alongside the double in a shop in london in 1982/3 where I snapped up the double lp without blinking, as I was so stunned by the deluxe cover which I had not seen on a Beefheart bootleg before. Although I don't recall the single version actually having this black & white cover insert. The front cover is based on a drawing from [the second version of] the book "The Lives And Times Of Captain Beefheart", made in 1979 by a certain Antonio.

additional notes:

* of course, the question is whether there also exists a (single) bootleg with the first half of the live performance?!
* although all the vinyl issues of this concert are categorised as 'european' pressings, the size of the insert to this variation could clear the origin. for when it's the american 'letter' format (216x280 millimeter), these bootlegs were made in the united states....

2elpee DON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY drawn cover

europe 198? rondo-lette db 501/2

record 1 side a: tracks 1-6, side b: 7-10

time 22:00 + 17:00

record 2 side a: 11-14, side b: 15-17

time 20:01 + 18:27
captain beefheart bootleg - 2lp 'don's birthday party' (drawing cover) - live 15 january 1981 showbox, seattle, usa

chronologically seen it's a bit confusing, but in the 'big bad but beautiful book of beefheart bootlegs #1' glass finger (gary pratt) described this item before further details on the first pressing were known:

198? EUROPEAN Double Bootleg on [Rondo-lette] DB 501/2. This record, pressed on thick multicoloured vinyl, and with a 'HIGH Rondo-lette FIDELITY' logo on the back cover, is a real cracker. The sound, though mono, is just like a live album. The mix is good and it is a great show, very relaxed. Somebody should stick it on CD.

It is from a concert recorded on Beefheart's 40th birthday at the Showbox, Seattle in January 1981. It is a series of highlights with the audience singing "Happy Birthday" and Beefheart complaining about the "urine colored lights" and the "horrible smoke smell". The music is brilliant as well with a Hot Head / Ashtray Heart like a giant mechanical snake dancing on the stage and Safe As Milk taken at top speed, which at one point appears to float in the air on guitar riffs which you feel this final Magic Band could keep playing till they pulled the plug. Just awesome. If you are a Beefheart fan and never heard this, you're in for a big treat!

There must be two different covers for this, a painting version shown here and a picture version which is shown in the discography of "Garantiert Ungewöhnlich" published by Sonnentanz Verlag in 1990 (the german translation of colin webb's 'captain beefheart. the man and his music' - t.t.). It is said that there was a first issue on brown marble (and salmon pink - teejo) vinyl with a brown and yellow cover and a photo by Anton Corbijn, taken in the Mojave Desert in California.

This second issue, has a cartoon type drawing of the Corbijn photo in blue, yellow, green, white and red [the 'books of the bootlegs' are in common b&w print, hence this seemingly superfluous remark - teejo} - vinyl is charcoal grey marbled. There must be (at least - teejo) three versions all together as I've seen copies pressed on black vinyl with black labels with large white stenciled numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4, cartoon cover as above. I'd say this is my favourite bootleg.

additional information:

* not mentioned is the look of the labels: they're cream-coloured, and - to confuse everyone - are totally blank.
* a remarkable fact is that the tracks on the first record are separated, while the show on the second elpee has no artificial breaks.
* the back cover: centered tracklist and source, and also that the recording is 'excellent mono', printed in yellow inside a dark-green silhouette of don van vliet's head with hat (outcut from one of the pictures anton corbijn took in 1980) on a sharp yellow background. catalog number and rondo-lette logo in the upper corners are in dark-green too.

bootleg ceedee DON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY
luxembourg 1994 tuff bites t.b. 94.1008
complete show
- digipack

time 75:12
captain beefheart bootleg - ceedee 'don's birthday party' - live 15 january 1981 showbox, seattle, usa

rollin' red (paul brown) told about this ceedee in fanzine steal softly thru snow #5, later adding changes to the text in beefheart bootlegs #2:

1994 Bootleg CD DON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY on Tuff Bites, T.B. 94.1008. FABRIQUÉ EN LUXEMBOURG with this amazing sleeve illustration by J. Saurer. Although it appears to have been dubbed from the vinyl this is a great sounding though mono CD. Credits say "These songs were recorded live at Showbox, Seattle, January 15th, 1981" - this was Beefheart's 40th birthday. The show is complete. This is my favourite bootleg and it is a great show, very relaxed - a bit too relaxed during Bat Chain Puller where Beefheart appears to have wandered away from the microphone when he is supposed to be singing, so they have to start again!

[later sentences:] This release allegedly was a race against time with an Italian pressing that in fact surfaced a month or two after this copy (see next item - t.t.)! This CD is by far the best choice with its glossy 'sleeve design', and is what i guess you call a gatefold, and surely the most sensible way to present CDs.

Great to be able to hear the show in its entirety, instead of having to get each disc carefully out of the single cover and play four sides in succession! Pretty sure the show is mastered from the (mind: 'drawn cover' - teejo) LP, although there is little or no hiss / crackles to speak of and at 70 minutes plus, I guess good value for money at around £15.

I've often wondered if there were plans for this show to be officially released. I heard it was also filmed, and I would love to get my hands on that! I guess this was just done privately, but the excellent sound quality must have originated from the mixing desk (there is a tape in circulation that includes all the show, with the audience singing "Happy Birthday", and more talking between the songs).

more data:

* no other notes are given than the mentioned credits and tracklist - the inside of the cardboard fold-out is just the title again in very big lettering.
* the glossy, great looking lay-out and the picture plate with the usual information imprinted on a leopard skin in wrong colours (black spots on purple) recently have mislead people to think it is an official album - so fortunately this wonderful concert, surely one of their best ever, crept into the catalogs of some retailers in the web and in the world.

bootleg ceedee DON'S 40TH BIRTHDAY PARTY
italy 1995 musically tuned mt4@
without track 6
time 67:38
captain beefheart bootleg - ceedee 'don's 40th birthday party' - live 15 january 1981 showbox, seattle, usa

rollin' red (paul brown) told about this other release in ceedee form in the fanzine 'steal softly thru snow #6' before it was included in beefheart bootlegs #2 (combined texts - t.t.):

A second CD pressing appeared in the middle of last year (1995) of dubious Italian origin, and is a bit of a 'cock-up' to say the least! Although the sound quality is as good, if not arguably better on certain tracks than its Luxembourgian distant cousin, the main fault is the omission of the very excellent Dirty Blue Gene, and if you're familiar with the show it spoils the continuity. Reportedly pressed from the live "master tapes", it also omits the crowd singing "Happy Birthday", as does the (drawn cover) vinyl version.

I don't know how many of you spotted that the picture on the cover is not Don van Vliet, but a Mr. Arthur Lee from the 1960s psychedelic rock band Love? (Full marks to Frank Wright who was the first to inform me of this.)

more details:

* the first track - the intro version of 'suction prints' - is mistitled 'flavour bid living'
* the back of the insert shows a full colour reproduction of the 'gorilla crow' painting alongside some words on the captain beefheart exposition / don van vliet exhibition 'stand up to be discontinued' held in brighton, england.
* the inner of the notes sheet consists of the end of the interview 'rap'n with the cap'n' from the england 011180 magazine 'new musical express'.
* the picture plate has the same silhouette of don with his hat that appeared on the back of the drawn cover elpee, but is in plain, beautiful blue.
* an important detail is that a part of the back cover is very matching to the front cover of the oldest vinyl issue - and it is yellow as well! here's an edited version of it:
captain beefheart bootleg - 'siae' stamped back of cd 'don's 40th birthday party'
* of course, this is a clue that the ceedee might be dubbed from the first vinyl release, and would explain why a song and some audience frivolity are missing....
* in case of counterfeits (burned bootlegs): they have no 'siae' stamp on the back cover, which indicated that all taxes had been paid [in the years that there were no heavy rules against bootlegging].

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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo