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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band are showcased over 12 tracks recorded live for radio and TV. The material is sourced from two 1968 sessions for John Peel plus a 1972 appearance on Beat Club and features tracks from four different Beefheart LPs. The Beat Club tracks are excellent sound quality. The BBC tracks are recorded off air but are still thoroughly listenable. Comes with full credits and comprehensive sleeve notes.


1. Yellow Brick Road
2. Abba Zabba
3. Sure 'Nuff 'n' Yes I Do
4. Electricity
5. Beatle Bones 'n' Smokin' Stones
6. Safe As Milk
7. Kandy Korn
1. Trust Us
2. Steal Softly Thru Snow
3. Click Clack
4. Golden Birdies
5. I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby


 Side One, Tracks 1-4 recorded for BBC Top Gear on 24th January 1968 , broadcast February 4th

Side One, Tracks 5-7 and Side Two Track 1 recorded for BBC Top Gear on 6th May 1968 , broadcast May 12th

Side Two, Tracks 2-5 recorded for Beat Club, Radio Bremen on May 12th 1972, broadcast on German television channel ARD

Sound Quality

On Side Two Tracks 2-5 are of very good sound quality. The remaining tracks are recorded off air but are still thoroughly listenable.


Captain Beefheart  – vocals, harmonica, saxophone

Side One Tracks 1 – 7, Side Two Track 1

John French  – drums

Alex St.Clair  – lead guitar

Jerry Handley – bass

Jeff Cotton – guitar

Side Two, Tracks 2 – 5

Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo) – guitar

Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) – guitar

Eliiot Ingber (Winged Eel Fingerling) – guitar

Roy Estrada (Orejon) – bass

Arthur Tripp III (Ed Marimba) – drums and percussion


Born Don Glen Vliet, Captain Beefheart was one of the key performers to emerge from the late 1960s underground scene. He was cited as a key influence by artists as varied as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, John Lydon, Howard Devoto, Joe Strummer, Devo and Pere Ubu. Particular praise has been heaped on the 1969 double LP Trout Mask Replica, described by his friend the writer Lester Bangs as "four sides of discordant yet juicy swampbrine jambalaya roogalator." Writing for The Village Voice in 1980, Bangs offered this description of Beefheart's importance. "There are some of us who think he is one of the giants of 20th-century music, certainly of the postwar era. He sings in seven and a half octaves, and his style has been compared to Howlin' Wolf and several species of primordial beasts. His music, which he composes for ensemble and then literally teaches his bands how to play, is often atonal but always swings in a way that little rock ever has. I hear Delta blues, free jazz, field hollers, rock'n'roll and lately something new that I can't put my finger on but relates somehow to what they call 'serious' music."

One of Captain Beefheart's earliest supporters was John Peel. Peel had first heard the band whilst working as a DJ for Radio KMEN in California in 1966. Beefheart's record company subsequently invited him to see The Magic Band supporting Them at The Whisky A Go Go on Sunset Strip. Back in the UK Peel was keen to feature them on his BBC radio show, which he did – twice – in 1968. In his book In Session Tonight, Ken Garner relates that "Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band were in the UK on tour and Peel was keen to get them in. Unfortunately, as Americans, they fell foul of the then Ministry of Labour rules on work permits. In support of the Musicians Union, the Ministry stipulated that only musicians offered reciprocal bookings for British acts could play at the BBC. As American radio didn't do live sessions, no American bands could be recorded in the UK. Solo artists could be booked, if backed by British musicians. But Beefheart had an all-American band. Peel producer Bernie Andrews persuaded the Ministry that, as the name suggests, this was a touring band of magicians. They got permission, as a 'Variety' act."

Four selections from Safe As Milk still sound extraordinary today. Yellow Brick Road is relatively melodic, built around the refrain "keep on walking and don't look back" with the Captain on harmonica. A slow and deliberate Bo Diddley beat underpins Abba Zabba which also includes a bass solo. DuringSure 'Nuff 'n' Yes I DoDave Tate, the engineer, remembers having to suspend a mike over Beefheart, who insisted on singing lying on his back. Bernie Andrews remembers Beefheart being entranced by the sound made by the control cubicle light switch. 'Oh isn't that great', he said, switching the fluorescents on and off for three or four minutes." Fittingly the final track from the session isElectricity.

The second Peel session was to promote the Strictly Personal LP. Beatle Bones 'n' Smoking Stones features an idiosyncratic Beefheart vocal, apparently critical of the Beatles "Strawberry Feels Forever". Safe As Milk was not included on the LP of the same name but has a more orthodox melody and rhythm. Beefheart's hymn to Kandy Korn concludes with some intricate guitar interplay. Finally Trust Us is built around a hypnotic riff which the band and Beefheart keep returning to over its considerable length.

It was a very different Magic Band that recorded four tracks for the Beat Club TV programme four years later. An all new line-up was rendered anonymous by the extravagant stage names that Beefheart had bestowed. Steal Softly Thru Snow is an instrumental that emphasises the dexterity of the rhythm section and some frantic Beefheart blowing. The Captain switches to harmonica on Click Clack, sounding like something Ry Cooder might have contributed to Performance.A brief Golden Birdies features a Beefheart spoken word vocal. Finally I'm Gonna Booglarize You allows the three guitarists to stretch out, providing a suitably angular backdrop for some Beefheart vocal improvisation. NME journalist Nick Kent witnessed this line up play Brighton Dome in March 1972 and was suitably gobsmacked. "As soon as the first  notes were struck, time stood still. Music like this had never been heard before – or since. There was a genuinely superhuman power coming out of the PA system. None of us could believe we were hearing music this visceral and dementedly alive. You could practically see the electricity coursing through their instruments and taste the phlegm bubbling in Beefheart's larynx. He wasn't kidding when he called them the Magic Band."



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