Bury the Needle of the Weird-Shit-O-Meter


Giu 4 2008, 2:20

Twenty years ago, I was a high school band geek with access to an ancient Chevy Malibu. It had the three things necessary to make me a person of some importance: seats, a big trunk, and a good tape deck. That's when I started driving Chris around all the time.

By then, I had managed to discover some cool stuff on my own - Billy Joel (especially digging The Stranger and Glass Houses), Joe Satriani's Surfing With The Alien, The B-52's Cosmic Thing... stuff like that. Okay, well... I thought it was cool.

But Chris is the one who started bringing along the experimental stuff. He's the one who took me from The Beatles to the Led Zeppelin; broadened my horizons with Bob Dylan; showed me the joys of The Pogues, Tom Waits, and Buckwheat Zydeco. Many a night, we'd hit the used record shop and spend the rest of the gas money barreling around town with the windows down, listening to something like The Proclaimers Sunshine On Leith.

Occasionally, though, Chris would decide I wasn't "ready" for something. He gave me many things that didn't catch on right away (Zeppelin took more than a decade to sink in), but I was intrigued by the music that he thought was beyond me. And yesterday - twenty years later, remember - I found a 1970 album at the library that Chris had declared out of my grasp.

So of course, I brought it home and listened to it.

Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band might just be your cup of tea. If so, I apologize for my inability to appreciate it, but... THAT is some messed up shit. I can't call it "bad", because that would not be accurate. "Bad" would imply that they were trying for "good", and they weren't. The combination of unstructured music and trippy-absurdist or deconstructionist lyrics is, to put it more precisely, challenging.

There is a much better analysis of this Frank Zappa-produced album out on this link here. And if you're intrigued by the notion of uncomposed honks and squeals on a pair of bass clarinets, gonzo guitars, and lyrics like those found in Dachau blues, then you should check out the album.

http://www.lyricsdownload.com/captain-beefheart-dachau-blues-lyrics.html Dachau blues those poor jews
Down in Dachau blues, down in Dachau blues
Still cryin' 'bout the burnin' back in world war two's
One mad man six million lose

When it comes to value words like "bad", "good", or "sucks", this stuff defiantly waves a finger (or fin) at all of it. This is music that did not come here to entertain you, you self-centered pop-prisoner. The challenge is to break the listener out of normal for a bit, and breathe whatever there is to breathe in space. Maybe that's what you're looking for.

As for me, I know my limitations when it comes to strangeness. And apparently, even 20 years ago, so did Chris.


  • dAJaro

    it took me quite some time to appreciate the captain, but it can be done. why don't you try some magma? (and not that one fake song from their page - irridium flares) their strangeness ranks in the same area as the captain's . :D

    Giu 7 2008, 17:14
  • utopiantheorist

    Linking up Billy Joel with Captain Beefheart? I think Beefheart would find this simply amazing. Great job!

    Giu 14 2008, 5:26
  • saronix

    Ya, it took me years to appreciate "Trout Mask Replica." For Captain Beefheart I'd start off with 'Safe as Milk' -- much better starting point and the songs are accessible yet still deviate from the norm.

    Lug 9 2008, 17:41
  • tadmaster

    BTW, saronix, I followed your advice. It's a slow burn - like certain kinds of peppers.

    Dic 18 2010, 15:59
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