The Vinyl 100 – #95 Captain Beefheart – Trout Mask Replica

Trout Mask Replica

The Vinyl 100 Continues (I think I will just refer to this as the Vinyl 100 now…) with the one and only Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band’s third album “Trout Mask Replica”..

What you need to know about Captain Beefheart: His real name is Don Van Vliet, born as Don Glen Vliet in Glendale California in 1941 and ultimately left the earth in 2010 at the age of 69. He liked to paint. Supposedly he liked to torture band-mates. His vocal octave range is debatable, some say 7 octaves, some day 4. I will leave that up to debate. He had a mutual and volatile relationship with fellow eccentric musician, Frank Zappa. And there was other stuff of legend like the time he sold vacuums door-to-door.

My path to Captain Beefheart lead directly from my interest in Tom Waits. When I heavily got into Tom Waits (an artist who will have several albums on my Vinyl 100 list), it was his 80’s material (Swordfish Trombones, Rain Dogs, Frank’s Wild Years) that drew me in, and the fact that every article I read about his 80’s material it was mentioned that he was influenced by Captain Beefheart after being introduced to his music via his wife, Kathleen Brennan, and well that was more than enough to set me on said path.

Also, free form jazz helped.. No kidding. Because this album, as famously written, is a very challenging album, so-to-speak… and it was released in 1969, 45 years ago. I am of the belief that some of the best music ever made is the kind that intrigues, frustrates, and puts you off upon first listen… this album might do that to some. It is very abstract in presentation and delivery. I’d be daring to say that if someone has never listened to Captain Beefheart start with Trout Mask Replica. Everything after (and even before) is easy listening. And why ease your way in? If this album isn’t for you then try Safe as Milk, or Bluejeans and Moonbeams. Good albums, but kind of safe..

Trout Mask Replica does push boundaries, and challenges one’s notion of conventional music. I don’t find it too difficult to get into, but I eventually listened to this album after broadening my own musical palette. Now a random fun fact, the fish head on the cover is actually a carp. Nothing is as it seems… But anyway, there are the typical trademarks of the Captain on this album, still.  Blues influence, abstract lyrics, etc.

This album sits in my collection among many other artists.. but I honestly can’t think of any other artists, even ones influenced by him, that can touch his output and creative and mad genius with their own material, well, aside from a few jazz greats.

For those keeping score:

#96 Fugazi – In On The Kill Taker
#97 Agent Orange “When You Least Expect It…
#99 & #98 The Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill & Run-D.M.C. Raising Hell
#100 History: America’s Greatest Hits


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