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Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Somewhere over Vancouver 1973

  by Lisa Torem

published: 2 / 2 / 2015

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Somewhere  over Vancouver 1973
Label: Gonzo Multimedia
Format: CD


Inferior quality live recording, recorded in Vancouver in 1973, by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

‘Somewhere Over Vancouver (March 3, 1973)’ is the third album in a series of live recordings performed by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, which was an American band formed in Lancaster, California in the 1960s. This particular engagement was recorded live from the Commodore Ballroom. The personnel included Don Van Vliet AKA Captain Beefheart (vocals, gongs, saxophones and blues harp); Rockette Morton (bass and electric guitars), Roy Estrada (bass guitar), Zoot Horn Rollo (guitar and slide guitar) and Ed Marimba (drums and percussion). Alex St. Clair may also have been part of this line-up. The band was known for its quirky instrumentation and Beefheart’s Howlin’ Wolf style vocals. Their first couple of albums were largely Delta blues-inspired. Between 1967 and 1982, (when Van Der Vliet, who died in 2010, retired from making music) and with a round robin of players, more than a dozen studio albums were produced. The legacy they left is huge. John Peel referred to frontman Van Vliet as “a psychedelic shaman.” Cartoonist Matt Groening said of the Magic Band “…too weird for the hippies.” Laurie Anderson, John Lydon of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Pere Ubu, David Byrne of Talking Heads, Devo and the B-52s’ have gone on record discussing the band’s influences. Van Vliet and Frank Zappa were mutual admirers and often rivals. Probably the Magic Band’s most critically acclaimed recording was recorded in 1969—‘Trout Mask Replica’, but despite Van Vliet’s reputation as demanding to the point of bullying, which led to frequent personnel changes, they were prolific and would become known as free-thinkers and intrepid experimenters The cover of ‘Somewhere Over Vancouver’ is smartly designed and the album is packed with material. The sound quality overall leaves a lot to be desired. You can hear plenty of audience noises and a lot of distortion. The introductions are barely audible. It takes a while for things to take shape. ‘Hair Pie Bake III’ and ‘Suction Prints’ sound thrown together. The gritty vocals blossom in ‘Low Yo Yo Stuff’ and ‘Nowadays a Woman’s Gotta Hit a Man’—a surprising title, considering the rock patriarch ethos of the day—features old school instrumentals and exciting solo work. The harp soloing and trading with vocals is the high point here. ‘Abba Zabba’ has more energy, but nothing revolutionary. ‘Old Black Snake’ features more beautiful harp. A more rock vibe erupts on ‘Alice in Blunderland’ and ‘I’m a King Bee/Sugar Moma’ reveal some stirring roughhewn vocals and the right amount of urgency and passion. ‘Mirror Man’ finds the ensemble super engaged and focused. The energy is obvious and the slide is much appreciated. ‘Big Eyed Beans From Venus’ is loopy, but sounds very cool in this live version, and ‘Golden Birdies’ is another contrastive rocker, which is by far the most futuristic and revealing of all the tracks.

Track Listing:-
1 Hair Pie Bake III (Live)
2 Suction Prints (Live)
3 Low Yo Yo Stuff (Live)
4 Nowadays a Woman's Gotta Hide
5 Abba Zabba (Live)
6 and Intro (Live)
7 Sugar 'N Spikes (Live)
8 Peon (Live)
9 I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby
10 Old Black Snake (Live)
11 Alice in Blunderland (Live)
12 I'm a King Bee - Sugar Mama
13 Mirror Man (Live)
14 Big Eyed Beans from Venus (Live)
15 Golden Birdies (Live)

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