Music Artist Spotlight – 02/24

Captain Beefheart

Some bands strive to keep in time with each other, hitting those all important notes at just the right time. But when that band is led by Captain Beefheart, they instead choose to spread their timings apart causing each sound to clash with and contradict with the other instruments to create a unique sound. Captain Beefheart, born Don Glen Vliet (later changed to Don Van Vliet) on January 15, 1941, has brought the sounds of the blues and scattered it’s remains around on the ground whilst dancing around. In his early years, Beefheart was known to be a bit of a brat, and his friend and fellow musician Frank Zappa once recollected that the two would sit in Beefheart’s room listening to records and every now and then Vliet would yell “SUE! Get me a Pepsi!” Despite this attitude Beefheart grew more and more shy as he got older and it took him a while before he was able to perform live.

The album he is perhaps known most for is the 1969 album Trout Mask Replica, an album that took 8 months of rehearsal for the band members to get the songs just the way Beefheart wanted. The Album was produced by his friend Frank Zappa. It took blues, jazz, and some elements of the modern rock sound and mixed them in a bowl, coming up with a recipe for success using minimalist production to achieve the powerful sound each song possesses. Each instrument seems to go it’s own way, but still matches up with each instrument in a strange kind of way that no doubt lead to the relentless practice schedule to get the songs finished. Beefheart would lock himself in a room opposite of the rest of the band to record his parts. The lyrics were his usual surrealist affair, where nothing is as it seems. Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening said that after his first listen he thought it was the worst album he had ever heard, but he now ranks it among his favorites.

Captain Beefheart’s music inspired other musicians such as Tom Waits to take a step away from conventional sounds and timings and try to experiment with sounds all their own. His willingness to shred songs and lay the pieces together in a different way is what made him such a hit to his fans. Beefheart has retired from the music business, living in seclusion and painting. Though recent reports say that due to his health issues, he can no longer paint and is bed-ridden. But regardless of his condition, he will go down in history as one of the ones that went against the grain and made a difference because of it.

Beefheart Radar Station, an unofficial fan site

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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