There was an amazing amount of brilliant music emerging during the 1960s, particularly in the year 1967. The combination of good music, artistry, drugs and a Hippie counterculture movement provided a fresh backdrop for a youth who reveled in their respective new identity. There were many classic records done at this time as people had the influence and motivation to make music that sounded different.
Along came Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. Although merely a cult sort of band at the time, this is one of their best efforts and sealed their reputation as quirky musicians with a twist. Let’s have a listen and see how it fares.
Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do begins with a blues based sort of influence with a deep, raspy blues style vocal from our Captain and gorgeous slide guitar. It evolves into a good starting point from these USA musicians. It’s odd, but listenable. It’s a time trip back to 1967. It is simple and well done, very catchy.
Zig Zag Wanderer starts off with a hint of psychedelia with the intro, before going into a surprisingly catchy rock jam. It’s a refreshing listen in retrospect and cutting edge for the time. The melodic and warped guitar parts are really good, typical of the music from the USA in the late 1960s.
Next is Call On Me which sounds more poppy, but draws on a deep respect and acknowledgement of the history of music, to that point. Bands and artists today should take note of some of the great music in the past. These guys did, and it goes to show why they are resoundingly successful here. There is clanging fuzz guitar, awesome bass riffs and a feeling that these guys loved heavy drug use. There are some interesting mixing and instruments in the outro as well.
After that we have the Dropout Boogie which is about dropping out of University and being unable to find a job afterwards. It’s a short piece which is a parody of the situation. Clever, and witty. The piano part in the middle is a nice touch, before going back into a classic rock groove. Very interesting music to listen to.
I’m Glad sounds like another strangely humourous piece, but in addition, it’s a love song. It sounds almost like a Burt Bacharach influenced piece, who was the king of writing breakup songs. It’s good to hear anyway, and is another good listen, way back from 1967. Oddly enough, sounds like a pop single sort of thing to listen to.
Electricity is a very psychedelic piece, complete with a throaty vocal, artistic lyrics, keyboard sounds and a catchy drum part. It doesn’t get much more trippy than that at the time of recording. The melodies and vocals mix cleverly and its an entertaining listen. There are some weird sounds throughout.
Next is Yellow Brick Road which has an interesting intro. The song is a well thought piece about said road. It’s not an exact reference to The Wizard Of Oz movie, but it is a catchy, upbeat and consistent listen, much like the rest of the album. Towards the end, the vocals have a psychedelic reverb outro on them. Great though.
After that Abba Zaba is a strange lyrical piece which is nonsensical. It’s a good listen with some bongo like percussion in it. It has a cool bass guitar solo in the middle. Bet you didn’t expect that, it makes a welcome change from most rock band solos. A cool and different listening journey than you’d expect.
Plastic Factory comes next, with trippy harmonica and a more traditional blues feel about it. It’s actually a good listen, a sort of head nodding experience musically. The guitar playing is excellent, along with the combination of the Magic Band and the instruments that they play. It’s an up yours to a factory boss. Perhaps a lazy person’s anthem? It’s refreshing regardless.
Where There’s Woman comes next, and is a passionate piece with clanging guitars, brilliant bongos and raspy blues wailing from the Captain. The piece then burst into a variety of tempos and textures, just to surprise you. Another good listen.
Next is Grown So Ugly which is a piece which details a daily life of someone with an identity crisis in physical appearance. There is a more blues influenced feel to this track. Once again, the guitar is brilliant here. It tells the tale of said character, with references to travel.
Lastly, we have Autumn’s Child which starts off with melodic guitar, then has crashing musical intervals which add variety to the track. It talks about marriage and love based concepts, in among a psychedelic backing track and references to time travel. It’s an interesting listen, and Captain Beefheart, we salute you and your Magic Band.
This album is widely acknowledged as a classic in psychedelic music that has a blues based intention with it. It’s far more informed by the tradition of blues based music than similar psychedelia contemporaries, such as Pink Floyd. Regardless, this is a very solid effort, and highly recommended. By the way, this is the way that slide guitarist Ry Cooder got noticed, playing on this album. He was 20.
Trippy blues music from a lifetime ago.
Ah the Captain – some character. I will share.
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