CAPTAIN BEEFHEART AND THE MAGIC BAND
Ozit-Morpheus OZIT CD 9003
Record Collector March 2005
The perfect accompaniment to Strictly Come Dancing...
A vast, disparate hotch-potch of live cuts cherry-picked from The Captain's British adventures between 1972 and 1980. The listener surges from the legendary Bickershaw festival in 1972 to Knebworth '75 and - I remember it well - a storming appearance at Manchester Apollo in 1980. Despite this time-warping, this is a strangely coherent gathering showcasing a band capable of the most scorching funk, thundering against the wild exotic vision of their extraordinary leader. As one who witnessed at least two of these sets, I have to admit that I simply do not recall them being so fierce. Almost everything here now seems irresistible, from the whacked out opener Abba Zabba (which appears twice, at London and Bickershaw) to more obvious diversions of Safe As Milk and a fabulous dog-like blues of Gimme Dat Harp Boy.
Of course, it is essential that one be in a Beefheartian mood. If the sun is beating down on a gentle Sunday morning, then that is the wrong time. I allowed these 23 tracks to invigorate my living room while watching Strictly Come Dancing with the sound turned down. This worked to great effect. There is, of course, mind-zapping wit at work here. Do you really need to glimpse beyond a title like Orange Claw Hammer or the gorgeous Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Mile to be granted a vision of rock music constructed on an avant-garde palate. A vivid splash of aural colour. Lovely product, too, complete with a set of evocative postcards.