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***Captain Beefheart***

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I recently bought the CD of Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), and listened to it in the car today. I probably haven't heard it in 20 years. I was completely blown away. The music still sounds fresh, inventive, and involving. So much imagination, intelligence and creativity. I hesitated playing it, because I would have felt so sad if it were just an exercise in nostalgia. No way; this is great music. I want to highlight "Suction Prints." Wow! What a driving song. Listening to it with fresh ears, I totally misjudged Robert Williams on drums - he's a monster! And the way the trombone and bass lines snake in and out, and the constantly changing musical pallette...

As you may have surmised, I totally dug it. Highly recommended.

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oh yes...this is true.

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French's 800+ page book describes, in extensive detail, and from several different sources, truly terrible abuse by Beefheart over his musicians, which had lasting, hurtful impacts on them, even decades later. I have to say that combined with similar information in Harkelroad's book, I find this disturbing and am having difficulty separating that information from the music, at least for now.

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You mean Guy Cosson's 'Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band' (Editions Parallèles)?

A friend of mine who read it says about the same.

Cosson is also the author of an excellent (and very well documented) biography of Rahsaan Roland Kirk which was published in France some five years ago.

I have read and liked the Rahsaan book. I have not read te Beefheart one.

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I've managed to get over Beefheart the fucked up sick person by not reading those stories over and over.

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You mean Guy Cosson's 'Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band' (Editions Parallèles)?

A friend of mine who read it says about the same.

Cosson is also the author of an excellent (and very well documented) biography of Rahsaan Roland Kirk which was published in France some five years ago.

I have read and liked the Rahsaan book. I have not read te Beefheart one.

I have not read Cosson's book, only Harkelroad's and French's. French's book contains interview quotes from many people around Beefheart at the time.

I find it interesting that James "Motorhead" Sherwood, of the early Mothers of Invention, comes across in the French book interviews as one of the most articulate people in this musical community.

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Let me highly recommend the recently released compilation Captain Beefheart's Jukebox (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Captain-Beefhearts-Jukebox-Various-Artists/dp/B0024DIZPI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1271961759&sr=8-1). It is well researched and thoughtfully compiled, with good liner notes. Mainly consists of excellent blues numbers (and I am not too knowledgeable about the blues, so most of the stuff was new for me), and really highlights the fact that good Captain didn't appear fully formed out of nowhere, but developed on what has been done before him.

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There's a bunch of books out on the Captain and yes,

they talk about the truly difficult times, but just like

this Drumbo book, there are nearly always personal comments

from the very same knock-downers on the true swirl of genius

that's in that head of his. A eccentric guy who lives in our,

unfortunately, concentric world. Creative people don't have to

be bastards, sometimes it just comes from lots of internal energy.

Yup, doesn't excuse them, but it has to be remembered that one is

weighing their personal experience of the art alongside another's

personal experience of the personality - not really apples <> apples.

This is a good cross-section of some important folks - some in much of their

eccentric glory (Beefheart included). Some of these people will surely

disappoint as well, but it can still be an edifying experience:

042201.jpg

Edited by rostasi

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French's 800+ page book describes, in extensive detail, and from several different sources, truly terrible abuse by Beefheart over his musicians, which had lasting, hurtful impacts on them, even decades later. I have to say that combined with similar information in Harkelroad's book, I find this disturbing and am having difficulty separating that information from the music, at least for now.

I think that's why I haven't ordered/read French's book. I'd rather not know (at least not right now). But I did read the Harkelroad book and got a taste of it.

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Ok, what kind of abuse are we talking about?

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Ok, what kind of abuse are we talking about?

The Harkleroad and French books, and my emails with Bill Harkleroad, all described much the same thing. The band members were in their late teens or early 20s, all without funds or other gigs. They lived in a house with Beefheart, who was much older. He kept them going through marathon rehearsal sessions day and night, mostly non-productive due to Beefheart's disorganization and lack of musical training. He kept them near starvation for extended periods. He verbally abused them continuously, in loud, powerful talks which went on for hours. These screaming sessions were manipulative and pushed just the right buttons with each person, for maximum torment. The verbal abuse would be triggered by a tiny or slight matter, or by nothing at all. They lived in constant uncertainty about when the next extended nasty speech would come. He also egged them on to physically fight each other over slight or non-existent problems, which they did, and at times he beat them physically himself. They were worn down after a time, both physically and emotionally, to the point where they could barely function. Some of them left the house for periods of time but all felt compelled to go back. They describe themselves as feeling powerless, and like victims of a cult.

French and other band members relate in his book that decades later, while engaged in day to day activities, each of them often stops and worries about whether Beefheart would approve of what they were doing, or what Beefheart would say about what they were doing.

Bill Harkleroad's emails to me, about five years ago (which would be about 35 years after the abuse) clearly indicated that he is still dominated by the abuse, in a very sad, powerful way. I found his communications heartbreaking. I have experienced a little bit of what he described in my business, but I (and the others in my office) were not living day and night with our leader, an older abuser.

James "Motorhead" Sherwood, of the early Mothers, describes in a French book interview that he witnessed a small amount of Beefheart's abuse and was stunned. He had known Beefheart since childhood and could not believe what he was hearing. Gail Zappa told French in the 1990s that neither she nor Frank were aware of the abuse because Beefheart would put on a totally charming act whenever outsiders came to the house. Only after the outsiders left would the marathon pain sessions start up again.

French and other musicians describe how they independently, years later, were told by various professionals that they had been the victims of witchcraft.

French and others in his book describe how a few years before the abusive conduct, Beefheart was taking ten hits of acid at a time, often. Friends confronted him about it, and he said that he was hardly doing it anymore, "only 17 or 18 times a month." Ry Cooder left his band in disgust about that time.

The French book is long, with many quotes from interviews from many musicians and others around Beefheart at the time, and contains a wealth of detail about the abuse which I have tried to briefly summarize. Harkleroad's book is not as detailed, and is more a cry of pain.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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Yeah, that sucks alright.

Although I do gotta say, that any time you put up with that much bullshit for so long, the time comes when you gotta look at why you put up with it, not why somebody else did it. Because a motherfucker can get up and walk away and stay gone if they really feel the strong-enough compulsion to do so. At some point you gotta find out what part of you is willing to tolerate that, and fix it.

Still, that sucks. Bandleaders are all crazy and manipulative SOBs to begin with (and I mean that in a good way, really I do), but throw in massive quantities of acid whatever "creative demons" were there anyway and...yeah, that's not pretty.

What would we say about Sun Ra?

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Yeah, that sucks alright.

Although I do gotta say, that any time you put up with that much bullshit for so long, the time comes when you gotta look at why you put up with it, not why somebody else did it. Because a motherfucker can get up and walk away and stay gone if they really feel the strong-enough compulsion to do so. At some point you gotta find out what part of you is willing to tolerate that, and fix it.

Still, that sucks. Bandleaders are all crazy and manipulative SOBs to begin with (and I mean that in a good way, really I do), but throw in massive quantities of acid whatever "creative demons" were there anyway and...yeah, that's not pretty.

What would we say about Sun Ra?

Interesting points. In French's book, he describes how older musicians who joined Beefheart's band, such as Art Tripp and Elliott Ingber, would not put up with Beefheart's abuse, would confront him back, and he mostly left them alone. He seemed to prey on young musicians who were not very good at standing up for themselves. French himself describes episodes in his later life when he encountered Beefheart and told him off, although he felt a lot of emotion about doing it.

I am not sure about Sun Ra. I have heard Michael Ray express only love and admiration for Ra in several long bandstand comments, during a concert by Michael Ray and his Cosmic Crewe. From what I have read, and obviously I was not there, Ra kept the musicians in long rehearsals, talked a lot, and punished the musicians for what he saw as behavior problems, such as getting drunk, but I am not sure that he was cruel to his band members. Maybe more like annoying, if you didn't like his long rehearsals and talking.

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Yeah, when you're young and inexperienced, you can easily be led into believing that "this opportunity" is the opportunity and put up with damn near anything to not lose it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it ain't, but sooner or later you gotta realize that if it's truly an opportunity and not just an exploitation, then it's a two-way street and you deserve some respect too, so by god, if it ain't readily forthcoming, command it then!

Of course, that's a life-lesson that some learn earlier than others, and some never at all.

As for Ra, I've not heard about any violence, but they did live in relative squalor & deprivation for quite a while in order to "serve", so that might well have been a "cult" too...although I'm not one who thinks that "cults" are intrinsically evil...sometimes its the only way for a group of like-minded individuals to keep their principles alive in the face of overwhelming hostility and/or indifference. But the leader of the cult accepts tremendous responsibility, too much for any one human to ever administer "fairly" in a fail-proof manner. But such is life, eh?

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Brickbats

Brickbats fly at my fireplace

Upside down I see them in the fire

They squeak and roast there

Wings leap across the floor

Fold up the wall shadows

The window curtain ghost

Throws my heart and dusts my throat

My mind caught by the corner

Gradually decides its safe

Becomes a bat itself

Flexes its little claws

Curse its leather wings

With loud, hollow pops

Around the room

Threatening to dash its brains

Somehow at the last minute

Retreats and becomes a natural glue

And holds fast and slow

In every other motion

Making the night more interesting

Becomes a cold, liquid breeze

That freezes and thaws

And pours the surroundings full

As no breath can be taken

It drowns and relieves

To see the black turn into yellow

And the yellow into black.

Brickbats

Brickbats

Brickbats

Brickbats

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that behavior is quite disgusting on Beefheart's part, and a classic kind of cult-manipulation of people with extremely low self esteem and other personal problems - I mean, there are many f'd up bandleaders who have behaved abusively (and I can think of two great older singers, one now dead, who fit well right into that category); but Beefheart's actions clearly fit into the category of intensive abuse that merits nothing but isolation and punishment.

also, from my point of view, he's just not a good enough musician to put up with any of that crap, but obviously I'm in a minority here. And somehow it seems only a step from the kind of things he was doing to Harkerload et al to the more advanced actions of a Charles Manson.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Skeleton Makes Good

Originally appeared on Ice Cream For Crow

There's so many things

to feel and see while you're awake

they're just out of reach

out of grasp

yeah out of reach

and just as many; maybe more

the minute that you sleep

so I got to throw my preach

skeleton breath

scorpion blush

I have a crush on your skeleton

watch out unsuspecting stranger

you'll fall off the log

headfirst into dreams

end up screaming

this will comb the wolf

and that will comb the fog

what will peen the rain

what will preen the hog

oh you mean earth

and hell over you

and laugh at your tire tracks

if you get up

skeleton makes good.

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If you're in the L.A. area...

"GARY LUCAS, featured guitar soloist and member of the final edition of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, celebrates the career of visionary American maverick genius Don Van Vliet a/k/a Captain Beefheart, who changed the face of music forever over a career spanning a dozen brilliant and uncompromising albums, spanning 1967′s groundbreaking “Safe as Milk” through 1969′s radical “Trout Mask Replica” and finishing with 1982′s elegant “Ice Cream for Crow”..."

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When was Beefheart honored by Dylan?

And if someone here attends, please ask Lucas if Beefheart's still alive.

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When was Beefheart honored by Dylan?

And if someone here attends, please ask Lucas if Beefheart's still alive.

Strange you should ask.

Edited by 7/4

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Yeah. Hilarious. :(

I changed it.

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I took no offense; don't worry about it.

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