Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica (1969)

Okay then…how do I tackle this one (no pun intended)? This is a revered classic of sorts, but I’ve always had a hard time listening to it (I suppose that is kinda the point? I don’t suppose it was recorded with ‘easy listening’ in mind), but now I have this crazy trip on double vinyl there is no longer any excuse to keep putting off the review/post like I did with my CD copy. Again, let me take this opportunity to briefly waffle about music being on the right format. Considering this was originally recorded in 1969 on analogue equipment, it is understandable that the CD version I have sounds a bit flat. This 2000 Warner Bros pressing on 180 gram vinyl on the other hand, is something to behold; a work of art. I’m often sceptical of the ‘boom’ in 180 gram ‘high fidelity’ records on the market, but this is really, really sweet sounding. Captain Beefheart’s psychedelic, funky blues is now more of a pleasurable listen, rather than a challenging one.

If you’re not familiar with the ways of The Magic Band it can be a bit of a headfuck at first; even for myself, and I’ve been plumbing the depths of the sonically challenging for quite a while now. With Trout Mask Replica though, it’s the horrendous clashing of almost out-of-tune sounding guitar work, mashed together in a ‘djent’ manner with a random assortment of other instruments – percussive or otherwise – and then all lamented over by what sounds like a crazy hobo just stringing words together for the sheer fuck of it. Typically, I like it, but I can’t understand how this record is held so highly all over the world. Fair, in noise, avant-garde and even the fringes of jazz and blues scenes I can see why this would be held in a positive light, but as for the rest of the ‘music mainstream’ I cannot see why people would like this? Maybe I’m an idiot.

Anyway, some of my favourite Beefheart tracks are here on this monster; “Dachau Blues”, “Frownland”, “Ella Guru”, “Neon Meate Dream Of An Octofish”, “My Human Gets Me Blues”, “Veteran’s Day Poppy” and the “Hair Pie” series…all scatterfuck, weirder-than-your-average approaches to the traditional songwriting structure. I don’t know what drugs these guys were on, but I want some.