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Captain Beefheart - Grow Fins (Rarities 1965 - 1982) CD (album) cover

GROW FINS (RARITIES 1965 - 1982)

Captain Beefheart

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.96 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

HolyMoly
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams
3 stars This is a very attractive looking 5 disc box set consisting of practically every rare recording that Beefheart fans the world over could dig out of their boxes of bootlegs. The word "bootleg" is used strategically here, because although this is a legitimate release, and a beautiful looking one at that (I just love holding it close to my chest sometimes), the actual recordings included within are mostly bootleg-quality. Still, there are enough treasures in here to entice the fanatic, and perhaps even some curiosities to rouse the merely curious.

The main attraction is disc three - "The Trout Mask Rehearsals". Between this and John French's long essay contained in the booklet, my view of the Trout Mask Replica album was changed forever. The stock line on that album had always been that Don Van Vliet was some musical genius who re-taught all his bandmates how to play their instruments a special way to accommodate his twisted visions. In fact, the band was pretty much left to itself to work out the music, based on some very non-specific (certainly non-musical) direction from Van Vliet, translated to the band in musical notation form by drummer John French. In the rehearsals, you can hear the band play through almost all of the album's songs, without vocals, bringing the instrumental interplay into sharp focus, and showing just how painstakingly intentional all this musical madness was. This is the point at which you realize how incredibly talented they were, and how incredibly hard they worked to play stuff that was this off-the-wall. The sad punch line to this story is that John French did not even receive a performing (let alone composing) credit on the original Trout Mask Replica vinyl release (go ahead and check! he's not there! I think he's credited on the CD release though), thanks to a momentary fight/spat between French and Beefheart just as the album went to print. That's just not cool.

The other discs are only fitfully interesting. Disc One focuses on the very early days, presenting some high and low quality demos for Safe As Milk songs, as well as other songs that didn't make the cut. Disc Two focuses on the live performance side of that band, the intersection between their blues raveups and their psychedelic experimentation. Some cool non-album tracks like Korn Ring Finger (later released on a reissue of Safe as Milk) are of special interest. Disc Four only contains a few minutes of "music", mostly just some dialogue from the TMR rehearsal tapes, but on the CD there are also some video files featuring rare footage of the band. The footage of the Lick My Decals Off band playing "Bellerin' Plain" for a TV is the clear highlight for me. Wow. Disc Five is a random collection of odds and ends across the whole career, without much to recommend it.

Basically a two-star affair, but I'll award it an extra star for the revelations offered by the Trout Mask Sessions portion, as well as the excellent booklet and beautiful beautiful packaging (I'm gonna hold it close to me again... mmmmm)

HolyMoly | 3/5 |

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