captain beefheart electricity



THIS is BAND #3 - go to the main page

the live reunion

soon after the start of the rehearsals, the magic band #2 found out it was impossible for john french to sit behind his drum kit ánd sing in front of the band simultaneously. so they decided to ask ROBERT 'wait for me' WILLIAMS to take over drums and percussion during drumbo's 'beefheart impersonation' acts. the news that he said 'yes' was mainly spread by hímself, sneaking it into replies to utterances in the news group concerning this subject:

robert williams - - 30.01.2003

'Jennifer' asked: > Is it true that some Magic Band members (without the Captain) are going to be touring? <

Well, it looks like I'll be going to England in April as a part of the reunion.

from THE GUARDIAN 070403 england
by matt groening

note: shortened and corrected version

Beefheart may be a recluse, but his Magic Band is back

On February 8, in the tiny Paradox recording studio in the desert town of Palmdale, about sixty miles north of Los Angeles, I found myself hunched down on the floor between bass player Mark Boston and guitarist Denny Walley, while a few feet away John French pounded the drums and Gary Lucas clawed his guitar through an astonishingly precise version of Captain Beefheart's My Human Gets Me Blues. If you're a sentimental fool like me, you'll understand why, even though my ears felt like they were bleeding from the excessive volume, I had tears of joy in my eyes.

This song took me back to 1969, when all my teenage weirdo buddies and I were in thrall to everything that pushed beyond the flower-power culture then in full bloom: we dug [....], and what we considered, and still consider, the greatest avant-garde rock album of all time: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica. Casual listeners might hear it as a lot of clatter and wailing (which is how it struck me on first hearing), but once you get past the audacious unfamiliarity of Trout Mask Replica, you realise that this was not just some big improvised mess, but in fact the most tightly composed polyrhythmic rock'n'roll ever written.

Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, created an entirely original music [....]. He delivered an eccentric alternative to the rhythmically repetitious pop music of the day, and he did it with passion, virtuosity and deadpan surrealistic brilliance. (I once asked Zappa if Don's whole Beefheart persona was a put-on, an act, and he said: 'No, Don was just as strange in high school. Stranger.')

I saw Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band perform in assorted line-ups over the following decade, and each time was floored by the intricacies of the songs and the almost hive-mind precision of the band, who nailed the rhythms and changes with the perfection of a classical chamber ensemble and yet still rocked out. My first Beefheart show, the greatest concert I've ever witnessed, was in Portland, Oregon, in 1970, and it has ruined most of the rest of rock 'n' roll for me ever since.

These days Van Vliet is a recluse in northern California, where he continues his second career as a successful painter. But his disappearance from the public scene has merely fuelled the folk myth. The record bins are full of Beefheart reissues, outtake collections and bootlegs, and the internet is alive with fans trading tapes and speculating on rumours about their beloved Captain. I have heard amazing unreleased Beefheart performances from Zappa's legendary basement vaults, so I know the legends will continue.

And in response to the folk myths, after more than twenty years of dormancy, the Magic Band has reunited in tribute to their leader. This incarnation of the band consists of MARK 'rockette morton' BOSTON on bass, GARY LUCAS and DENNY 'feeler's rebo' WALLEY on guitars, and JOHN 'drumbo' FRENCH on drums, harmonica and vocals. Their repertoire extends from the early Dropout Boogie to the late The Floppy Boot Stomp, with John French stepping up to the microphone to provide a surprisingly authentic and exuberant replacement for the missing Van Vliet.

ROBERT 'wait for me' WILLIAMS, the Magic Band's drummer in the late 1970s and early '80s, will sit in for French during the songs with vocals and harmonica. To celebrate their reunion, the Magic Band has recorded BACK TO THE FRONT, an informal, live-to-tape ceedee on the All Tomorrow's Parties label. And they will be performing live [...]. For those who have yet to experience the Magic Band's truly ambitious weirdness, these shows will astonish you. And for tried and true Beefheart fans like me, these are deliriously momentous occasions with maybe a nostalgic, avant-garde sniffle or two.

captain beefheart - the magic band reunion - line-up #3 - mark boston / rockette morton, john french / drumbo, robert williams / wait for me, denny walley, gary lucas - by toby madden
picture by toby madden
(part of the extensive information on this line-up in the live in concert & crow's milk veedee)

robert williams - - 16.02.2003
'Spencer' explained: > I would like to see them. [Earlier] I was just saying my old friend would prefer to remember them as they were in '66-'72 than risk a big disappointment. [He thinks] There is no chance of getting that Magik back. It died in  1973. <

I disagree.

All of the musicians involved in this reunion have actually improved their playing skills since 1973. That's what's wrong with the music industry now more than ever. Record companies are overly concerned with the age and appearance of the bands. [...] Most musicians from the seventies that really had it going on back then gave it up because they couldn't make a living at it. That's sad because I'll bet lots of them would be really good now and probably write some great music.

John French is playing drums as good or better than ever and sounds a lot like Don on the songs he'll be singing. Denny Walley is playing slide just like he always had with Don and Zappa, amazingly. Gary Lucas [...] is a learned student of the Beefheart style of guitar playing. Mark Boston is playing a five string bass and is as solid as a rock. He still does that same dance while playing as he used to. I have been playing drums nearly every day and in rehearsal with the Magic Band it felt just as it did when I last toured with Don.

All I can say is that any Beefheart fan that misses this opportunity to see that great music brought back to life by the guys that originally played it are sure to regret it. If I weren't a part of it I'd still be in the audience cheering them on. There is no risk of being disappointed unless your only concern is the physical appearance of the musicians. As time goes on we all get and look older with the exception of Dick Clark [whó? i only know michael jackson!... - teejo].


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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo