In the spring of 1969, the inauspicious release of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica, a double-album featuring 28 stream-of-consciousness songs filled with abstract rhythms and guttural bellows, dramatically altered the pop landscape.
Yet even if the album did cast its radical vision over the future of music, much of the record's artistic strength is actually drawn from the past. This book examines how Beefheart's incomparable opus, an album that divided (rather than) united a pop audience, is informed by a variety of diverse sources. Trout Mask Replica is a hybrid of poetic declarations inspired by both Walt Whitman and the beat poets, the field hollers of the Delta Blues, the urban blues of Howlin' Wolf, the gospel blues of Blind Willie Johnson, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. This book illustrates how Trout Mask Replica was not so much an arcane specimen of the avant-garde, but rather a defiantly original declaration of the American imagination.
About the Author
Kevin Courrier is the author of several books, including Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, and Randy Newman's American Dreams. He has been a writer/broadcaster and film critic for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) since 1990.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Truth Has No Patterns
Chapter One: A Desert Island of the Mind
Chapter Two: A Different Fish
Chapter Three: Jumping Out of School
Chapter Four: A Little Paranoia is a Good Propeller
Chapter Five: Music From the Other Side of the Fence
Chapter Six: Fast 'N Bulbous
Epilogue: Everyone Drinks From the Same Pond
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an informative, quick read about one strange influential album. The book deepened my appreciation for the Captain's work.
The 33 1/3 series takes great rock and roll albums and discusses them is depth. This entry concerns Captain Beefheart's avant-garde rock classic. Courrier puts the album in its historical context and discusses the genesis of the music, the recording sessions and the critical response to the released album. It's very interesting to read about Beefheart, an untrained musical polymath interact with his highly trained band and producer Frank Zappa. He drew on blues and R&B along with avant-garde jazz masters like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler to make a unique and original music. Beefheart was also a painter and a sculptor and this artistic viewpoint influenced his musical development. He was a bit of a tyrant in dealing with musicians and the recording sessions were always on the verge of breaking down, but somehow everything came together almost magically into one of the most unusual and fascinating albums of the rock and roll era.
Most interesting are the author's personal insights into the album, especially on how listening to it is essentially an individual pursuit. It is indeed not something to spin at a party. In all other regards, though, it seems like a summary of Mike Barnes' excellent biography of Beefheart. I suppose I didn't expect much more from such a thin book, but either the Barnes biography or Bill Harkleroad's Lunar Notes are far better on the subject.