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Captain Beefheart


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Captain Beefheart Mirror Man album cover
3.57 | 101 ratings | 11 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tarotplane (19:04)
2. Kandy Korn (8:05)
3. 25th Century Quaker (9:49)
4. Mirror Man (15:41)

Total Time: 52:28

Bonus tracks on 1999 expanded reissues:
5. Trust Us (Take 6) (7:14)
6. Safe As Milk (Take 12) (5:00)
7. Beatle Bones N' Smokin' Stones (3:11)
8. Moody Liz (Take 8) (4:32)
9. Gimme Dat Harp Boy (3:32)

Line-up / Musicians

- Don Glen Vliet / vocals, harmonica, shenai, composer
- Jeff Cotton / guitar
- Alexis Clair Snouffer / guitar
- Jerry Handley / bass
- John French / drums

- Mark Marcellino / keyboards (not confirmed)

Releases information

Recorded in 1967

Artwork: Michael Mendel

LP Buddah Records ‎- BDS 5077 (1971, US)
2xLP BMG Entertainment ‎- 74321 91644 1 (1999, UK) Re-titled "The Mirror Man Sessions", remastered by Elliott Federman with 5 bonus tracks, new cover
LP Friday Music ‎- FRM-5077 (2014, US) Remastered by Joe Reagoso

CD Castle Communications ‎- LTCD01 (1988, UK)
CD Buddha Records ‎- 7446599606-2 (1999, US) Re-titled "The Mirror Man Sessions" (details above)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Mirror Man ratings distribution

(101 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Mirror Man reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some may dispute that Trout Mask Replica is the essential Captain Beefheart album to own. It may be the most experimental and the most well known, but overall I feel that this album was a stronger release. Half quasi-improv jams (the lyrics feel improvised on these tracks) and half Avante-Garde insanity, this album is nothing short of breathtaking. One major difference from this album in comparison to other Beefheart albums is the length in songs, two songs exceed 15 minutes and the other two run from 8-9 minutes in length each.

The opening jam of Tarotplane is an ordinary blues riff augmented by some improv harmonica puffs and some lyric which feels completely thought of at the stop, but the band plays so tight and keeps the groove so well, that the jam becomes tighter and tighter as the song progresses. Sure it gets a little boring in the middle, but that's the fun of the experimentation, they were able to take that one riff to the extreme. The Mirror Man is an attempt at a contemporary song on the album, but the extended jam takes the song in a completely different direction. 25th Century Quaker is another attempt at this, but again is caught up in the experimentation. The finale, Kandy Korn is another extended jam that has the same improvised feel as the opener Tarotplane.

Overall, this is a superb effort from Vliet and his cronies. What's so enjoyable about every album that he has released is that they make you unsure of what direction they will take next, so you're always on your toes. Anyway, this is by far my favorite Beefheart album, but it is not without its faults. The extended jams can get a tad repetetive, but they don't really deter from the overall experience. And if you've never liked Beefheart's voice, you're not going to be swayed by this album. 4.5/5.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Actually if this album had been released after recording it, it would the second in the man's discography and should be stuck between Safe As Milk and Strictly Personal. These tracks were recorded in 67, but for some reason delayed until 71, maybe due to the abundance of his work in those years. The first lenghty tracks is rather tedious for a proghead as it is a repetitive blues loaded with a single Bo-Diddley riff and has much similarities with a crazy version of Canned Heat coupled with John Lee Hooker. While an infectious groove with some rather cool moments, Tarotplane has the major inconvenience of over-staying its welcome in your hi-fi. Kandy Korn is rather quieter and less bluesish but still largely improvised, and maybe the most interesting track on the album. 25th Century Quaker is more blues but with an odd-beat tempo and a twangy guitar to go along in its ever- incessant search for improvisation makes another highlight. The title track returns to an infectious Hooker-Diddley riff endlessly repeated and driven by a steady beat, and for the newcoming proghead, this again will have many lengths and unless being a fan of minimalism (for the repetition parts), you might be in for a bit of a bore. Little Scratch has a more Zappa-esque construction (but this is accidental since this dates from 67, and from what I know, they were not collaborating this soon even if they met in high school), but unfortunately is much too short, while the last track Hill #1 is back to a basic bayou blues, yet again once more. On this album, Van Vliet is only playing harmonica, which is a little limiting.

Funny thing is I understand that all Cd releases (the one I heard for this review is by Repertoire record) have different track sequences (but apparently the same tracks), but I wonder how those could have fitted on a vinyl (I never owned a CB&HMB vinyl) given the track timings. Even for a double vinyl, this might be hard to balance. Nevertheless Beefheart has certainly made better records than this one and has certainly been more progressive than here.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mirror Man was recorded at the end of 1967 and was supposed to be Captain Beefheart's second album, but it wasn't released till 1971. Which is weird, it sounds so similar to the early Can albums that you would expect it had a direct influence on the German kraut scene. Maybe there was a similar experimental vibe hanging in the German air.

The music has taken a step away from the Southern blues of the band's debut. The song format is still blues, but the jams are extended to extraordinary lengths. The harsh and dissonant drone is starting to challenge our harmonic sense, a trait in Beefheart's work that will only grow in the following years.

On a first exposure to Captain Beefheart, you are likely to be disorientated by the seemingly chaotic clash of the instruments, as if guitar, bass and drums aren't playing together but apart from each other. Or even against each other. The tattered voice of Don Van Vliet won't help for a quick and smooth appreciation of this music. After a while, each of the songs starts making sense though. The problem is that they are all a bit too lengthy and that only Kandy Korn reaches true excellence.

This album offers an interesting ride through Don Van Vliet's eccentric world. It's still fairly accessible and groovy for Captain Beefheart's standards so I'd sure recommend this one to all Kraut rock fans that haven't dipped their toes into this jumble yet. But it's sure not his best work.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Progressive Southern Blues from the muddy banks of the Delta

I´ve seen a lot of people go wrong with the great Captain by starting out with Trout Mask Replica, -and who can really fault anybody who wants to listen to a record who, by many around the world, is heralded as a masterpiece of modern music? Well if you are interested in trying out chilies, don´t start out by munching on habaneros until your mouth bleeds and your head is transmitting radio broadcasts of the men´s national high jump quarterfinals from 1948 - no, you start off by adding a few drops of Tabasco on your corn flakes and see what´s what.

As other reviewers have mentioned, this album was recorded back in 1967, but has no flower power or psychedelic aspirations. There is a distinctive de-de-de-de-de-de-de-de-de- de-de-de-dah-de-de dirty blues going on here, but this shouldn´t scare the prog community away, because just like Safe as Milk, The Magic Bands first effort, the combination of Beefheart´s raspy and almost growling vocals teamed up with an almost cacophonous approach to playing music together as a band, you are treated with something completely different than other blues rockers from the time. One thing I really like about Tarotplane, in particular, is the presence of the harmonica that twist and turns and roars similarly to the way Don uses his voice (No big surprise since he ´s the one playing the darn thing). The best song on here however is Kandy Korn and I´ll happily play this at my funeral at abnormal volume just to be perfectly sure, that no creature in a 5 mile radius can escape this wonderful and weird blues poetry.

My absolute favorite thing about this release is the vocals, who are distraught and semi-schizophrenic jumping from laid back ramblings to all out crazy shout/singing - where my dear Captain sounds as a crow who´s been sucking on cigars since the roman empire was still in its pajamas. The guy was a trash can poet - a true innovator of the English language, and how you can marry sentences together to form some kind of metaphysical cohesion of what is tangible and what is just weird and crazy as hell, but there is beauty to be found here as well beneath all these layers.

I love this record when I´m cooking (no such thing as slicing onions and leaks to this mother) and to some extent, this release is the perfect soundtrack for a smoky evening at the pool table with a cold beer in your hand and a great big curly beard on your face.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Originally intended as half of a double album project, It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper (the other half was rerecorded and issued as Strictly Personal), Mirror Man was going to be the improvisational "live the studio" half of the deal. Four sprawling psych-drenched blues numbers, with the Captain taking a more restrained role when it comes to his vocals (though it's always possible that more vocals would have been added on later takes), the album opens with the almost 20 minute long Tarotplane, which is a roving improvisation that is mainly based around the blues standard You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond, and the same pattern applies for the rest of the tracks - take a classic blues track and Beefheartise it to the hilt. It's a fun insight into a side of the Safe As Milk/Strictly Personal-era Beefheart sound that didn't come across on the original studio albums, but hardly the first place you should go in exploring the Captain's work, especially considering the Captain's light vocal involvement.
Review by Sinusoid
2 stars This is an album where I'm just not feeling the vibe. I respect Captain Beefheart artistically. I love his SAFE AS MILK album and respect the TROUT MASK REPLICA album. MIRROR MAN sounds like a hybrid of the two albums; there's the bluesy-ness from MILK with a bit of abstract approaches from TROUT. I should like this more than I do.

I honestly think the lengths of the songs have a lot to do with my disagreement with this. Captain Beefheart has a great unique style of creating musical textures, but I feel that his ideas are meant to be condensed into sizeable quantities, i.e. Beefheart does not sound good when the song is longer than seven minutes. Every song is at least eight minutes in length with ''Tarotplane'' going upwards of nineteen. And there's very little development in any of the jam sessions. If the album is meant to be ''live in the studio'', I firmly believe it.

That's essentially it. The sound of Beefheart's backing band is there, and the vocals are unmiskatenly the Captain's. Problem is these jams are meant to be taken in five minute bite size pieces. The longer these pieces are, the more unexciting they get. It really hurts when the tempos really slack. There isn't enough of interest in any of the pieces for me to really recommend this except to confirmed Beefheart fans.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Endless avant-garde boogie jamsessions, psydelic folk and weird lyrics sang by the captain of craziness: welcome to mirror man of Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band. Tarrotplane is an avant-garde boogie jamsession which clocks in with 19 minutes. The boogie structure isn't that strange at all. ... (read more)

Report this review (#510608) | Posted by the philosopher | Sunday, August 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars And then the trouble started. Van Vliet's men set off into the studio, fresh from the Milk sessions, ready to step a little farther up toward the stars. But it didn't quite work out that way. The intention was to make a double album, It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper, but the sessions s ... (read more)

Report this review (#253971) | Posted by questionsneverknown | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album was cause of the biggest mistake I ever made in my music listening/experiencing career. Bored with the music I had heard so far, I looked through the Dutch pop encyclopedia "Oor" (ear) just to see if from the reviews in it I could extract some music that might be interesting to expl ... (read more)

Report this review (#69943) | Posted by jeromach | Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Released in the early 70's but recorded in 1968 before the "Trout Mask" sessions, this is extraordinary featuring one of the Captain's best MAGIC BAND line-ups stretching out on 4 extended numbers. "Kandy Korn" is my favorite, a simply outstanding track that sounds about a decade ahead of it' ... (read more)

Report this review (#50488) | Posted by | Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Starting with the negative points, of which there are little, this album is hard to get into, the instruments are hard to follow, the vocals sound rough, and at times even annoying, but after a few listens you really start to realize that van Vliet is a poetic master, who has taken blues to a new ... (read more)

Report this review (#33474) | Posted by Rob The Plant | Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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