Source material is always a coveted treasure for researchers and collectors. Captain Beefheart is frequently cited by the avant guarde musician in both rock and jazz as the inspiration for recordings and even careers. HisTrout Mask Replica,the holy grail of vinyl, is listed as many a critic’s top recordings of all time. Captain Beefheart AKA Don Van Vliet, born 1941, acted as artist then musician, the motivation repeated most recently by David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Beck. The Rhino Records Anthology of 30 songs on two discs spans the recording years of 1966-1982 with plenty of music previously unreleased on CD. The cult-like devotion to Beefheart actually should be treated as a like cult. Van Vliet often held twelve-hour practice sessions, depriving his band members of food and sleep. A contemporary and friend of Frank Zappa, Van Vliet traded with and borrowed from Zappa utilizing him as producer and musician on early recordings. Also heard are guitarists Ry Cooder and Gary Lucas. Captain Beefheart’s music, often a mix of blues and surrealism was the Ying to The Beatles Yang. The sweetness of Paul McCartney’s voice was countered by the gruffness of Van Vliet. He can best be described as a mix between Tom Waits, Dr. John, and Wolfman Jack. So strange (for his time) and unusual, his music attracted the likes of Joe Henderson, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman. Beefheart’s pop music experimentations paralleled the work of jazz’s new and free experimenters. Mingus included protest into his compositions, Albert Ayler psychodelia, and Ornette Coleman developed his prime time concepts. During the sixties when rock was destroying the market for jazz, Beefheart was destroying the barriers between the genres.
Track List:Diddy Wah Diddy; Frying Pan; Electricity; Abba Zaba; Beatle Bones ‘N Smokin’ Stones; Safe As Milk; Moonlight On Vermont; Ella Guru; Old Fart At Play; Sugar ‘N Spikes; Orange Claw Hammer; My Human Gets Me Blues; China Pig; Lick My Decals Off Baby; Click Clack; Grow Fins; When It Blows Its Stacks; Little Scratch; Big Eyed Beans From Venus; Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man; Low Yo Yo Stuff; Too Much Time; My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains; Clear Spot; Upon The My-Oh-My; Party Of Special Things To Do; Sam With The Showing Scalp Flap Top; Debra Kadabra; Hard Workin’ Man; Ba Chain Puller; The Floppy Boot Stomp; Tropical Hot Dog Night; Owed T’Alex; Hot Head; Ashtray Heart; Sue Egypt; Making Love To A Vampire With A Monkey On My Knee; Ice Cream For Crow; The Past Sue Is Tense; Light Reflected Off The Oceans Of The Moon.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.