All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas: The World Of Captain Beefheart

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
Gary Lucas has been a long time fan of the one-of-a-kind mutant rock-jazz-blues of Captain Beefheart. This led to his being part of Beefheart's Magic Band in the '80s and to his revisiting the music after Beefheart's 1985 retirement in various formats including a raucous jazz tribute band, Fast 'n' Bulbous. This time he goes back to the Captain's canon in the context of a rock band with Nona Hendryx doing the vocals.

Hendryx is probably still best known for her time in the '70s soul trio Labelle but she has worked in all sorts of styles herself including collaborations with Bill Laswell and Talking Heads. Her voice cannot match Beefheart's incredible bleating croak but she does a fine job singing the songs in her own style. She brings a sassy kick to the jangly agitation of explosive tunes like "Sun Zoom Spark" and "Sugar 'n Spikes" and expressive tenderness to Beefheart ballads like "My Head Is My Only House," "Too Much Time" and "I'm Glad."

The instrumental side of things is dominated by Lucas' whirlwinds of slide guitar that buzz and spray over the wilder tunes. The tracks that come from the Trout Mask Replica era, such as "Sugar 'n Spikes" and "When It Blows Its Stacks," sound especially crazed thanks to Richard Dworkin's stomping drums and Jordan Shapiro's rolling organ. They turn the Howlin' Wolf-style "Rollin' and Tumblin'" groove of "Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do" into a nifty blues hoedown as well with Shapiro pushing the tune along on both organ and honky tonk piano.

Maybe the most impressive part of the project is the polish given to Beefheart's more conventional songs. "Too Much Time" comes off like a gritty Muscle Shoals soul grinder with rich organ and sassy vocals, the arrangement of "I'm Glad" with swaying background vocals could pass for an old Smokey Robinson ballad and "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles" is sung to a hypnotic guitar and electric piano vamp that matches the low-burning passion in Hendryx's voice nicely.

For all its surface craziness, there has always been a solid musical core to Captain Beefheart's work and this project brings that out. Nona Hendryx's soulful moan fits right in with the intricate pummeling of the band, helping give the tunes a sensuality they did not originally have. This CD is also a reminder that Beefheart wrote a number of genuinely lovely songs as well as hellacious rock-blues stomps. Hopefully this will lead more people to investigate his work.

Track Listing: Sun Zoom Spark; My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains; Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do; I'm Glad; The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or The Big Dig); Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles; Suction Prints; Sugar 'n Spikes; When Big Joan Sets Up; Too Much Time; When It Blows Its Stacks; Tropical Hot Dog Night.

Personnel: Nona Hendryx: vocals; Gary Lucas: guitars; Jesse Krakow: bass; Jordan Shapiro: keyboards; Richard Dworkin: drums; Kiki Hawkins and Keith Fluitt: background vocals.

Title: The World Of Captain Beefheart | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Knitting Factory

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

Gary Lucas
Coming Clean

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The World Of Captain Beefheart

The World Of Captain...

Knitting Factory
2018

buy
Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons

Music From Max...

Cuneiform Records
2016

buy
Pearly Clouds

Pearly Clouds

Acrobat Music
2016

buy
 

The Ordeal of Civility

Knitting Factory
2011

buy
 

Waxed Oop

Cuneiform Records
2009

buy
Coming Clean

Coming Clean

Mighty Quinn Productions
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read Drift CD/LP/Track Review
Drift
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Journey Moments CD/LP/Track Review
Journey Moments
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island CD/LP/Track Review
Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Night Concert CD/LP/Track Review
Night Concert
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Rumah Batu CD/LP/Track Review
Rumah Batu
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 17, 2018
Read The Bat Swings! CD/LP/Track Review
The Bat Swings!
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 17, 2018
Read "Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Sunset
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Peaks of Light" CD/LP/Track Review Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "The Poetry of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review The Poetry of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "Blueberry Ash" CD/LP/Track Review Blueberry Ash
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "Pharaohs From Outer Space" CD/LP/Track Review Pharaohs From Outer Space
by Chris May
Published: July 1, 2018
Read "Geometry of Caves" CD/LP/Track Review Geometry of Caves
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 16, 2018