Captain Beefheart

Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 11:20am by Ian Beabout
Captain Beefheart, 1969

If Zappa was a musical genius, than one of his few true peers, Don Van Vliet (best known to the musical world as Captain Beefheart) was a musical madman. A poet, artist, and truly an eccentric character, Van Vliet proved to be the more primitive, gritty foil to Zappa’s more polished style of music composition. With a band that could harness distorted, dissonant, raw, but complex music and Van Vliet’s raging Howling Wolf-inspired voice, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band proved to be one of the most unique and uncompromising acts to emerge from the 60’s LA scene, and that’s truly saying something. Trout Mask Replica (1969) first found it’s way into my life when I was about 13 or 14 years old. At the time, Zappa was my favorite artist and had already expanded my musical horizons to appreciate jazz and experimental, but nothing could prepare me for Trout Mask Replica. At times, it seemed chaotic, disparate, and random, while other times the band really came together and rocked out with a raw energy rivaling even the most extreme punk music along side a complexity that most progressive rock bands wouldn’t dare attempt. This record proved important to me because it unlocked the world of avant garde music, and when I learned to appreciate the unbridled primitivism this record so unabashedly displayed, my world opened. Trout Mask Replica taught me to question my own definition of music and that music didn’t have to be pretty or even pleasant to be compelling and enjoyable. 

Category: Feature Stories

Tags: Captain Beefheart, Trout Mask Replica, Zappa Records, Remaster, Frank Zappa, avant garde, experimental music, Magic Band, Don Van Vliet
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