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Captain Beefheart - London 1974  CD (album) cover

LONDON 1974

Captain Beefheart

RIO/Avant-Prog


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1 stars Ay-yi-yi! THIS is Captain Beefheart?!?

First, a little background. In the mid-seventies, CB signed up Andy DiMartino as manager and signed with Mercury records. Apparently, the idea was to create more popular music, which failed miserably, as CBs record sales were lower than in his Warner Bros. years. The direction of the music pissed off the remaining members of the original Magic Band, so they all quit just before they were to go on tour in England. DiMartino quickly hired a group of session musicians (who had no idea who Captain Beefheart was) and headed to England. This is a live set on that tour.

The music is uninspired, as is CBs singing. Most of the songs are from the Unconditionally Guaranteed album which was an obvious attempt for middle of the road radio play. Frankly, London 1974 sounds like a Las Vegas lounge act with Captain Beefheart as the smooth crooner and a group of local session players.

Ay-yi-yi!

Report this review (#124163)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
HolyMoly
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2 stars This is a live concert document of Beefheart's tour following the Unconditionally Guaranteed album. When that album ended up being "sweetened up" by the producer prior to release, giving it an uncharacteristically poppy sheen, Beefheart's band abandoned him and he went on the road with what became known among unsympathetic critics as the "Tragic Band", consisting of random LA musicians raised on Canned Heat records. There is also film footage of this tour, and I believe the filmed concert is the same show documented on this CD (they sound very alike, anyway).

I'm going to try not to hop on the Tragic Band-bashing bandwagon, but it's very clear from this recording as well as the film that this is not the Beefheart of legend. One of the most telling moments in the film is when he first walks on the stage, after the band had already been jamming on "Mirror Man" for a minute or so. He looks like a deer in headlights, confused and maybe a little scared. It's unsettling. However, I will say that this band's rendition of "Mirror Man" (one of three "old" songs on here) is excellent, and for me the album was worth buying for this track alone.

The remainder of the album is definitely not bad, it's just very generic faux-blues and pop R&B music. And I have to say (and I hate to pick on one guy like this) that the saxophone player in this band is beyond annoying. Milking all the cheap thrills he can with squeals and high energy shrieks, he's the saxophone equivalent of the showoff who sings the national anthem taking 3 minutes to get through the first line. This reaches its nadir on "Peaches", the "hit" from the latest album. It's hideous.

Other songs aren't bad though. "Upon the My oh My" is a song I've always found kinda catchy, and "Sugar Bowl" is kinda cute. The takes on the earlier "Abba Zaba" and "Crazy Little Thing" are undistinguished but passable. And the sound quality of the album is quite good too.

Get this one for "Mirror Man", if you're so inclined, but otherwise this is for diehard fans only.

Report this review (#825682)
Posted Friday, September 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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