The last couple of days I've been listening to Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. It's a strange experience and the more I listen to it the more it gets to me. The reason I got this album was because I saw an old documentary about Captain Beefheart and there's this special album that they talk about that was meant to be so special.
I've never been a huge fan of Captain Beefheart. The only other album I've been listening to is Clear Spot where the song Big Eyed Beans From Venus can be found. Probably one of the best songs I know. Like with Trout Mask Replica, it took me a long time to appreciate Big Eyed Beans From Venus. It wasn't until I actually listened to the song that I realised why it was so fantastic.
Some of Captain Beefhearts music isn't really music. It's like seamingly random banging on instruments with lyrics that don't make any sense or reason. Captain Beefhearts music is better described as art. Abstract art if you like. I know it sounds pretentiuous but the more you listen to it the more it thrills you. Yes, you guess right, you can't dance to this kind of music. To some it might initially sound like a drunk hobo plus his drunk hobo friends who manage to switch on the power in a recording studio and record an album with made up lyrics as they record.
Anyway, about that documentary. They interview Matt Groening (the creator of The Simpsons none other) and he talks of this amazing album.
"So I bought it. I took it home, I put it on. It was the worst track ever. They're not even trying! They're just playing... randomly. But then I thought, Frank Zappa produced it so maybe if I play it again, and I thought... It sounds horrible but they mean it sound this way. And about the third or fourth time it started to grow on me. In the fifth or sixth time, I loved it. And the seventh or eighth time I thought it was the greatest album ever made. And I still do."
The documentary also mentions that it took the band eight months to record the album. Produced by Frank Zappa and without any money since there wasn't a record contract and hence no food except small portions of soya beans in really dire times. Also, they weren't allowed to leave the house except once a week, one band member was allowed to get food from the crocery store.
You can read more about this amazing album on this Wikipedia page. To give you a little head start, here's a snippet of an intro of the song Pena as an MP3 file.
I'll continue to listen to it and will probably like it even more. This is probably the "hippiest" blog on this site of the year.
Here are some additional links worth checking out if you're interested.
The lyrics of Big Eyed Beans From Venus, The lyrics to Pena and A writeup of an article about Matt Groening
Here's a great article on epinions.com that contains a track analysis. I learnt a lot from this. "It is methodically calculated chaos"
Trout Mask Replica,
My first album was 'Meet the Beatles' my second was Frank Zappa's 'Freak Out'
album. My brother and I had to hide this album from our parents and only listen to it when they weren't home. Back in the 60's things were a lot different than today. I didn't get Captain Beefheart's 'Trout Mask Replica' until after I moved out of my P's house.
What I didn't know back then was that Zappa and Don Van Vliet (Capt. Beefheart) went to high school together. They also had a band during and after high school. I can't remember the name of the band. They broke the band up because both of them wanted to make it big on their own. Back then there were so many bands, and I mean so many bands popping up that you didn't know which 'one' band to spend ur money on to buy their album. But, if you look at the art work and album covers of Zappa, you know why people would be interested in buying one.
The same went for Capt. Beeefheart. He needed to be even more outragous than Zappa! I'm not going to get up to look but I believe I have purchased 7 Beefhart albums. Real albums! not CD's. If you can find a CD of 'Bluejeans and Moonbeams' by Beefheart I think you'll like it just as much. There's even a Christmas song on it called 'The Captain's Holiday' which I think is one of his greatest. I get a kick out of his music and I believe he did some of his albums as a parody of life. He's a poet and an entertainer, and if you like it, it's great.
But you're like the first person that I've ever seen write about Trout Mask Replica. Peace, Jeff
Oh, PS. Don went to Zappa to ask him to produce his album. Zappa had his own recording studio that he made by himself. Zappa produced T.M. Replica his own way, but it wasn't what Don wanted and there started a long (supposedly) feud between them. Beefheat played on Zappa's 'Hot Rats' album and 'Bongo Fury.'
Thanks for your comment Jeff.
"Bluejeans and Moonbeams", will look for it!
Found Bluejeans and Moonbeams. It've lovely. My girlfriend and I love "Observatory Crest"
Yes you can dance to this. I do all the time. Don't let anybody fool you, if you like the music you can play it anywhere. You can do anything you like while listening to it.
I bought a vinyl edition of this in 1986, but it wasn't until 11 years later - while I was driving 400 kms at night - that I started to get into it. Three years later I was hooked. Now I consider it a true masterpiece. For a long time I thought part of the acrimony between FZ and CB was a little jealously on Zappa's part on the basis that one of the BEST albums he ever produced was under the name of his erstwhile high school chum. Then I read John French's Through the Eyes of Magic and realised this was not the case. TMR wouldn't have been the album it was without Zappa's intervention, and he definitely didn't hijack it ... if anything, it highlighted not only Beefheart's eccentric brilliance, but FZ's generosity.