Saturday, April 21, 2007

Along with many people, I consider "Trout Mask Replica" and "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" to be the twin peaks in the career of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (and yes, I'm of the opinion that the Magic Band members are due almost equal credit for the music's success). Recently, though, I've been listening a lot to the follow-up recording (well, I think it is--see below), "The Spotlight Kid". It and "Clear Spot" occupy a kind of limbo between those two earlier masterworks and two of the worst things you'd ever not want to hear, "Unconditionally Guaranteed" and "Bluejeans & Moonbeams". Both nod toward the poppish directions he'd take but each is also immersed more groundedly in the blues. Back in '75 when I'd traded in virtually my entire rock collection, CB was included, a dire error. I'd reacquired most things on vinyl by the late 80s, gradually getting disc versions as well, though not of "Spotlight Kid" which was only, erm, spottily available. I'd never managed to get "Clear Spot", however (originally issued in a clear vinyl LP sleeve, btw; I think I recall that van Vliet wanted the disc itself to be clear as well but the idea was nixed by Reprise). I remember "Spotlight Kid" coming out before "clear Spot" though what I can see on-line tells me the opposite. I could obviously be wrong though, even musically, the former sounds closer to TMR and LMDOB than the latter. Dunno.

Yesterday, at DMG, I picked up the disc containing both. I hadn't heard "Clear Spot" since the mid 70s and it holds up pretty well, some very solid songs in there. I know "Shiny Beast" has its adherents but I still hear a bit of slickness in there that's not on these recordings (though, of course, it's a million miles better than the two that preceded it). I think it's still there in the final two recordings ("Doc" and "Ice Cream") though not so much as to be a distraction.

In any case, very good to hear the "Clear Spot" session once again.

Also picked up Tony Conrad's "Joan of Arc" (Table of the Elements), on at the moment and sounding excellent. Recorded in '68. As well, I bought a compilation of Vietnamese "country" recordings called "Que Hu'o'ng" (Homeland). I believe the ensemble is called "Gia Dinh", led by one Ba Pho. Will report back.

Having lotsa fun with Zadie Smith's "On Beauty"; quite the romp. Also about 1/2 of the way through the Hofstadter which is going fine so far. Kind of a restatement of the ideas first raised in GEB but with the fancifulness. Some things are more clearly laid out; I have a better grasp of Godel numbering than I did before, for instance.

Late arrivals:

Erik M/Luc Ferrari/Thomas Lehn - Les Protorhythmiques (room 40)
Taylor Deupree - Landing (room 40)

btw, that Vietnamese disc is much poppier than I anticipated. Cute 'n' pretty sorta, but disappointing.

No comments: