Thursday, August 11, 2016

Captain Beefheart

Captain BeefHeart
Don Van Vliet (/væn ˈvliːt/, born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band (1965–1982), with whom he recorded 13 studio albums. Noted for his powerful singing voice and his wide vocal range, Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone, and numerous other wind instruments. His music integrated blues, rock, psychedelia, and jazz with contemporary experimental composition and the avant-garde;[4] many of his works have been classified as "art rock". Beefheart was also known for often constructing myths about his life and for exercising an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians.

An artistic prodigy in his childhood, Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste during his teen years in Lancaster, California, and formed "a mutually useful but volatile" friendship with musician Frank Zappa, with whom he sporadically competed and collaborated.

By the fall of 1975 the band had completed their European tour, with further US dates in the New Year of 1976, supporting Zappa along with Dr. John. Van Vliet now found himself stuck in a web of contractual hang-ups. At this point Zappa had begun to extend a helping hand, with Vliet already having performed incognito as "Rollin' Red" on Zappa's One Size Fits All (1975) and then joining with him on the Bongo Fury album and its later support tour. Two Vliet-penned numbers on the Bongo Fury album are "Sam with the Showing Scalp Flat Top" and "Man with the Woman Head". The form, texture and imagery of this album's first track, "Debra Kadabra", sung by Vliet, has 'angular similarities' to the work he would later produce in his next three albums. On the Bongo Fury album Vliet also sings "Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead", harmonizes on "200 Years Old" and "Muffin Man", and plays harmonica and soprano saxophone.

In early 1976 Zappa put on his producer hat and, once again, opened up his studio facilities and finance to Vliet. This was for the production of an album provisionally titled Bat Chain Puller. The band were John French (drums), John Thomas (keyboards) and Jeff Moris Tepper and Denny Walley (guitars). Much of the work on this album had been finalized and some demos had been circulated when fate once again struck the Beefheart camp. In May 1976 the long association between Zappa and his manager/business partner Herb Cohen ceased. This resulted in Zappa's finances and ongoing works becoming part of protracted legal negotiations. The Bat Chain Puller project went "on ice" and did not see an official release until 2012. After this recording John Thomas joined ex-Magic Band members in Mallard.


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