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Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica CD (album) cover

TROUT MASK REPLICA

Captain Beefheart

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.78 | 260 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars WARNING: THIS ALBUM IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART!

Okay, I'll admit at first this album just sounded like a cat with a fork clutched in its paw scratching a chalkboard that doubled as a plate, but after giving it a few good listens I can see some things to like about this album. Captain Beefheart (AKA Don Van Vliet) and the Magic Band recorded this album in 1969 at Frank Zappa's Laurel Canyon home as well as rehearsed it (though when you listen to it, it doesn't sound one bit like it was rehearsed). The Frank Zappa/Mothers feel is certainly on this album (I mean, the man did produce the damn thing), but there are more often than not extremely original and well-rehearsed ideas. This double album, with songs that are generally around the 1-2 minute range, is mainly just free jazz-blues with some quasi-atonal sounds with a very earthbound singer on top of it all. At first, you may think it is just chaos and that the album should never have been produced, but it is after the second or third listen that you really start to understand what is going on.

From Frownland to Veteran's Day Poppy. your mind will numb and tear apart from the musical onslaught. The entire band plays their "music" to perfection, and by perfection on this album I mean they played it so well it sounds out of sync and sometimes like it doesn't fit in the mold of the song. Stand out tracks are Hair Pie Bake 1, which is more like or less a 5 minute free jazz experiment that comes of perfectly. The blues numbers on the album, such as My Human Gets Me Blues and Dachau Blues, are also wonderful tunes that feature raunchy harmonica from Beefheart himself. The lyrics on this album are a mixed bag, most of them feel improvised and some of them feel well rehearsed, but they all have this feeling of magic among them, because you don't know where the music will turn next. It's that sense that makes this album so good.

In the end, if you can get past the musical barrage, then you may find something to enjoy. Beefheart did better works in my opinion later on, with Lick My Decals Off, Baby and the Mirror Man, but it is this album that he will always get his reputation from. It's sad that this was the only Beefheart album that Zappa collaborated on (although they would later team up for Bongo Fury), because if they had continued their partnership Beefheart might have released another Avante-Garde masterpiece. You'll either love or hate this one. But for me, I liked it. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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