Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #30

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica (Bizarre, 1969, vinyl)

One of the oldest records I own — got it in Salem, OR the summer it came out; the cousins my mother and I were staying with made me play all my weird-shit music in the laundry room with the door closed.

I knew this was supposed to be way, way, waaaaay out there, but I was determined to understand it and so played it over and over (even on my revamped turntable, the LP does sound rather worn out). By the end I was certain of the truth: these were not jokes or sloppy jams, if anything, the tracks were a bit over-controlled, every squawk in its precise place. Made me crazy excited at any rate. Don’t know if it’s Beefheart’s “masterpiece,” but it will forever be his most famous album.

Now I must register my one complaint about it (aside from there being a couple too many spoken-word interludes). I detect the influence of Old Vinegar Puss Frank Zappa in that the overall effect is more anti-sensual than it should be. Van Vliet was a subtle master of Dada lust, I say, and all that holds back Trout Mask is that’s more obscured than on many of his other releases.

PS: Quick note on Steve Young (R.I.P.). One of my last “discoveries” before I left MT, I loved him back in those days and would play him for friends alla time. Thought he ran out of gas in the mid-70s and never picked up anything on CD. When I heard he was gone I went back to the vinyl. Owch. One of his best works, “Seven Bridges Road” is a marvelous braid of yearning and sorrow. He recorded the tune again and again, but damned if he didn’t over-arrange it every time. And as John Morthland noted, he also oversings even though he has a plenty muscly voice. Disappointing. Will live on in fond memory.


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