Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Don!****Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - The Spotlight Kid (Reprise, 1972)

Its the only album that was credited soley to Don van Vliet. He wanted to make something a little more accessible. A little bit of bread was appealing. The band was barely eating, living off handouts. They hadn't made any money in three years. What did he do that was so radical? What did he do that made the band hate this collection of songs? What kind of extraordinary preposterous great lengths did he go to?

He wrote some slower songs. Yep, Downtempo. That's all. Slowing these songs down made his vocals feel more like a delta blues singer, garnering a bit of a new audience. This period of time was so tumultuous that the whole band almost abandoned him. Granted, there were more details, like Vliet throwing one of the guitarists into a dumpster as a metaphor. I'm sure the communal residence scenario probably began driving hungry unsatisfied musicians into emotional outbursts of all kinds.

Regardless, this is actually my favorite of his records. Go on, disagree. Lester Bangs liked it, so I stand my ground.

Here's one of my favorite live clips from that album era:

And here's the album in its entirety:

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