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Captain Beefheart - Ice Cream For Crow CD (album) cover


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2 stars Beefheart's last studio album before he gave up music, relocated into the Mojave desert and concentrated on his painting.

For those who like the more 'out there' Beefheart this will not disappoint. I've owned it a long time and never got to grips with it apart from the track I bought it for, "Ice Cream for Crow" which is a shuffling, pretty accessible number reminiscent of the "Shiny Beast" material, minus horns.

The rest is just a little too weird for me. Still at least he ended up in this sort of vein rather than in Bluejeans and Moonbeams/Unconitionally Guaranteed territory, which were just TOO accessible

Report this review (#105511)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album is certainly not Captain Beefheart's finest hour. "Ice Cream For Crow" was Beefheart's last real effort as a recording artist before his retirement from music, and in my opinion it was not a great note to end on. The opening track "Ice Cream For Crow", is reminiscent of his earlier work and one of the few few truly good songs on the album, along with the almost Canterbury sounding "The Witch Doctor Life" and the two minute long guitar instrumental "Evening Bell". Other than this, the album is fairly bland and mediocre, with the exception of ""81" Poop Hatch", a poem spoken without the aid of instruments by Beefheart, something worth hearing even if you don't like the poem itself. A fairly poor album, but for any Beefheart fan worth having for completion purposes.
Report this review (#146793)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I got this album for my birthday present and it took me a couple listens to fully absorb it. This album hasn't got the melodic richness of Shiny beast or an initial strange impact of Trout mask replica. But it is definately a little better than Strictly personal, the record where many odd decisions were made. When you have listened to this record a couple times you notice that it is probably more diverse than you first thought. The playing is excellent as usual for Beefheart. And from the Beefheart albums I have (Mentioned earlier in the review) this is stylistically closer to Trout mask replica than other albums. The riffs are very angular and playing is really curvy. Beefheart's songs despite the popular belief are very structured, tight and focused. Structures are just very complicated. You may not find hummable melodies at first and some of the music may seem annoying but when you get into it, you find lots of hidden beauty and suddenly music feels more coherent. That is the case on this album too.

The tittle track has the boogie rhytmn and many imaginative guitar lines played on it. It is probably one of the most catchiest songs on this album. The rhytmical patterns are just powerful and it is very entertaining in the wacky way. The ghost the host the most holy-o has somekind of subtle doomy atmosphere and background singing adds something special to this song. One of the better songs on this album. Semi-multicoloured caucasian has my favourite song tittle on the album and it is the best instrumental on the album. It sounds pretty fresh and and flows through the key changes very well. Hey garland I dig your tweed coat is a pretty funny song tittle also. The song is very aggressive and curvy. Evening bell doesn't quite grab me. While I appreciate the technical aspects of this acoustic guitar instrumental, it really isn't in the same league as Yes' Mood for the day on Fragile album. There is a lot of darkness on Cardboard cutout sundowm and this time it isn't so subtle anymore and it has Beefheart's angriest performance on the album.

At this point listener will notice that there isn't much variety on Beefheart's vocals on this album. It is mostly his speak singing. That is probably why I don't give this album five stars. The first half is really good and the second half works in varying degrees. The past sure is tense starts with a quite catchy and relaxing melody but suddenly bursts into quitar and harmonica madness. The song has the most powerful vocal performance on this album and it definately one of the highlights. Witch doctor life is the most melodic song on the album but it lacks something. It is ok. 81 poop hatch is totally unnecessary poem reading section. It is to long to be just monologue snippet and it isn't so skillfully read to be as impressive as poem sections on Trout mask replica. The thousandth and tenth day of the human totem pole is very interesting but saxophone lacks some of the drive. However Ink mathematics with its complex riffing is pretty good and Skeleton makes good ends the album with a mad note just like it should be.

In the nut shell this is a great end to one of the weirdest music careers. Don't buy it first but every Beefheart fan should buy it eventually.

Report this review (#204729)
Posted Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars "Ice Cream For Crow" was Don Van Vliet's final studio album before his retirement from the music business to concentrate on painting (or because of an undisclosed illness, depending on who you believe). It was not a bad way to leave. In my not so humble opinion, his last three albums were his mos consistently enjoyable.

this album starts off well, with the title track bouncing along with that angular, disjointed sound Beefheart had always seemed to enjoy, but never quite perfected until the "Shiny Beast" album. The fun continues with "The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O". a call and response tune that either hoists a glass to or makes fun of religion, depending upon your perspective.

The remainder of the album continues in this vein, with Beefheart's odd poetry serving well over the band's regulated cacophany.

The only low point is "81' Poop Hatch", where the Captain discusses poop for a bit loger than I'd like to hear.

Report this review (#222393)
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This being his last album, it's really sad to know that he will no longer be making music.

Out of all his albums, besides Trout Mask Replica, this is one of his most popular releases. Now the album's title track, which was released as a single did boost its popularity slightly, especially due to an eye catching music video.

Now I won't lie, I do prefer Trout Mask Replica over this album. Not that this is a bad album, it's just the experiments on this album are more similar to each other, with some tracks even having similar vibes, whilst on Trout Mask, each song was a big suprise.

Musically the album is better than Trout Mask, with the music being structured more and more contemporary. There is a big Zappa esque feeling at times to the songs, mainly due to the use of instruments and even the playing ability of the musicians. But I did prefer the random outbursts on Trout Mask.

One of the negatives of this album is that Beefheart doesn't really sing as much as he did before. The albums vocals are mainly either spoken, done in a funny voice or mainly just poetic in nature, but to be honest, it does give the album a unique flair. It seems that the album is more based around lyrical ideas and rhythms rather than music. Now this is seen in the beat poem esque songs, and the song where it's just poetry with no music.

1. Ice Cream For Crow - Great instrumentation. Beefhearts delivery is amazing. Great lyrics with some interesting imagery being portrayed. 10/10

2. The Host, The Ghost, The Most Holy-O - A beat poem like moment. Great instrumental sections with some really interesting points. 7/10

3. Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian - Very Zappa esque. Great instrumetal work, with a jazzy backbone. 8/10

4. Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat - Another beat poem song, with dramatic instrumentation. Great arrangement. 8/10

5. Evening Bell - Pretty impressive bluesy guitar improvisation with some nice fingerpicking. 6/10

6. Cardboard Cutout Sundown - I love the gruffness in Beefheart's voice in this song. Nice instrumental section at the end. 6/10

7. The Past Is Sure Tense - I do love the jaunty guitar riff in this song. The vocals are quite funny at times, and the delivery is pretty cool too. Nice word play in the song too. I love how chaotic the song gets at the end. 9/10

8. Ink Mathematics - I love how odd and random the song is. Reminds me more of something from Trout Mask Replica. 10/10

9. The Witch Doctor Life - Love the use of xylophone (very reminscent of Zappa instrumentation). Love the way Beefheart use's both singing and narrative vocals in the song. 9/10

10. 81 Poop Hatch - Does anyone think that when Beefheart talks, he sounds a lot like his fellow avante garde musician Frank Zappa? Great poetic narration, with great use of words. I love how raw this recording sounds, where you can hear his voice crackling and even his breathing. 8/10

11. The Thousandth & Tenth Day Of The Human Totem - I love the very odd story told in the song, and how the musicians are perfectly on time with Beefheart's vocal rhythms. It's also good to heart Beefheart's crazy saxophone and clarinet playing is heard again. Nice instrumental outro, I love how raw it sounds.

12. Skeleton Makes Good - A very crazy ending song. Very sporadic in nature, but the nice guitar riff in the middle which continues to the end is really cool, and quite pretty. 8/10

CONCLUSION: I think overall, it is a great release, but to be honest, compared to Trout Mask Repilca, it feels that theirs something missing. The songs are great to listen to, but with Trout Mask, each song would do a certain thing to you, make you laugh, cry, ponder, huddle in fright. With this album, it was less of an emotional experience. It does take you on some vivid poetic journey's though. Song wise, the songs aren't as strong as the material on Trout Mask Replica, but I do admit that this album is more consistent. This being his last album, it really reflected on who Captain Beefheart was as a person...a crazy man with a moustache.



Report this review (#532215)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Captain Beefheart's swansong is a charming companion piece to Doc At the Radar Station, continuing that album's mixture of jagged instrumentals, unaccompanied spoken word poetry, and twisted songs updating Beefheart's distinctive avant-blues style for a new era. The opening title track is probably the best one on here, Beefheart and the Magic Band creating a piece which is at once addictively danceable and yet, at the same time, completely bizarre. At points the use of slide guitar seems to fit in interestingly with the approach of new wave groups such as Talking Heads and Devo, whose unusual, angular musical styles perhaps owe a little thing or two to Beefheart.
Report this review (#571210)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars A Fine Way to Go Out

By 1982, Captain Beefheart had gotten tired of the music business, and retired to pursue his painting and sculpting interests. This at a time when it seemed like the world was finally starting to catch up with him -- some high-profile appearances on Saturday Night Live and The David Letterman Show seemed to indicate that his popularity was on the rise. After the razor-sharp fury of Doc at the Radar Station, this album finds Beefheart settling into a more laid back groove. Laid back, but not happy and content. Not depressed or bitter either, just... a bit weary.

The title track opens the album with a jolt of electricity which is inviting and accessible -- the band released a promotional video clip of the song, even -- and it even sounds a bit bright and optimistic, as if the Captain still sees hope and good prospects ahead for delightful mischief. Things quickly settle back down into darker territory with "The Host the Ghost the Most Holy-O", a typically fine spoken piece with typical jagged accompaniment. The third song, "Semi-MultiColoured Caucasian", is less typical - a relatively smooth instrumental focusing on the interplay of the guitars, reminiscent of "Alice in Blunderland" from The Spotlight Kid (1972). My personal favorite Beefheart poem is next, the baffling "Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat". Strange images ("...and the rainbow baboon gobbled fifteen fish eyes with each spoon!...") collide in random fashion, with suitably unpredictable and strange backing music. Gary Lucas (guitar) contributes the lovely solo piece "Evening Bell", and side one ends with another spoken piece similar to "Garland", entitled "Cardboard Cutout Sundown". So far we have plenty of odd and weird music, not to mention wild poetry, but these pieces differ from the prior album Doc at the Radar Station in that the Captain's rage and fury seems to be taken down a few notches.

Side two picks up the pace for a couple of peppy tracks, "The Past Sure is Tense" and "Ink Mathematics", both revealing a paranoid worldview in that abstract Beefheart way. "The Witch Doctor Life" brings out Beefheart's cracking falsetto and a bit more of a melodic singing style reminiscent of the Spotlight Kid album. "81 Poop Hatch" is a spoken word piece with no musical accompaniment, spoken in a low, serious tone of voice that intones lines like "my eyes are burnt and bleeding" and "trumpet poop on the ground with peanuts, its bell was blocking an ant's vision" in the same solemn tone. This song as well as the following "Thousand and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole" were leftovers from the original Bat Chain Puller album (see my review of that work for details), and the latter piece is one of this album's clear highlights. Totaling nearly six minutes, the music is long- winded and trudging, climbing in a linear fashion to a climax that never comes. Beefheart's recited allegory that accompanies this music is among his most astute and vivid bits of social observation. Ending the album is a scary bit of growling in the grotesque "Skeleton Makes Good", Beefheart's last spit of venom before he bows out of the music business.

In the context of Beefheart's discography, this sits as a very comfortable, self-assured album that indicates that he was on a creative roll, even if his energy level and emotional investment were quickly falling. It was a good note to go out on, a nice cap on a very solid discography.

Report this review (#964624)
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 | Review Permalink

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