Music Reviews

Starship Beer

Nut Music as Free as the Squirrels


I have a great deal of respect for National Public Radio jazz guru and music scribe, Kevin Whitehead. His book, New Dutch Swing, is a fantastic introduction to European free music. So it’s with the utmost deference that I say Starship Beer is difficult listening, and not necessarily in a rewarding way. The group had its origin in dorm room jams beginning in 1972, and continuing in sporadic fashion for 29 years. I’m sure Whitehead, Wes Mingus, and artist Pat O’Brien had fun making noises that blended Captain Beefheart with Roland Kirk by way of Frank Zappa’s garage. Some of it is rather interesting. “Noise Circus” features two takes of the track superimposed on each other. “Ghost Of Owls” sounds like someone yodeling while suffering from a severe stomach virus. “Black/White White/Black” takes off like a Beefheart jam, then loses steam and meanders around for too long. Starship Beer only recorded one LP, which was self-released in an edition of 1000. Over the years, respectable people like Joe McPhee have praised the disc. Other folks have shelled out big bucks for the vinyl version. Now it’s available on CD for anyone who really, really wants to annoy their neighbors.

Atavistic, PO Box 578266, Chicago, IL 60657;

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