Captain Beefheart and his Magic Bands

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Bands

Magnetic Hands: Live in the UK 72-80

The Viper Label

For a fellow who hasn’t performed music since 1982, the last few years has certainly seen a gush of “new” Beefheart material. From the mammoth Grow Fins collection on Revenant (which everyone should own) to reissues of Mirror Man and Safe As Milk, Don Van Vliet and the Magic Bands are popping up everywhere. Now a label in the U.K has gathered 18 live performances and packaged them together as Magnetic Hands. While the quality isn’t the greatest (these are bootlegs after all) they do show why in its prime, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band was considered by many to be the greatest live act around.

First off, skip tracks one through eight. Made up of cuts from the Bickershaw Festival in 1972, Manchester in ’72, and Leicester University in 1973, these cuts border on the unlistenable. You can barely hear the band, and the good Captain comes off as more a screaming street person than the only 21st century blues man alive. Now, once you get past those, things start getting interesting with “Orange Claw Hammer” from Knebworth in 1975, as well as “Dali’s Car” from the same show. Good stuff, although it would have been nice to hear the entire show.

But when you get to “Nowadays a Woman’s Gotta Hit a Man” from Liverpool in 1980, you finally get to hear what all the fuss was about. The remaining six cuts, featuring the final version of the Magic Band (featuring the great Gary Lucas on guitar) are perfect foils to Beefheart’s pinballing brilliance. They make the abnormal sound natural, the surreal sublime. “Abba Zaba,” “Drop Out Boogie,” and “Hothead” twist, spin and shout as well as it can be done. When they were “on,” no one short of Sun Ra could top them. This set is lovingly designed, with an informative booklet. It’s too bad better versions couldn’t have been found for some of the cuts, but you take what you get.

The Viper Label: http://www.the-viper-label.com.uk

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Alonso Ruizpalacios
    Alonso Ruizpalacios

    Generoso speaks with director Alonso Ruizpalacios, whose dynamic new feature, A Cop Movie, utilizes a unique and effective hybrid documentary style to examine police corruption in and around Mexico City. A Cop Movie was the winner of the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival.

  • Sarah McQuaid
    Sarah McQuaid

    The St. Buryan Sessions (Shovel and a Spade Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Hearty Har
    Hearty Har

    Radio Astro (BMG). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Junkwraith
    Junkwraith

    A young woman abandons a promising skating career only to be chased by her inner demons.

  • The Slackers / Sic & Mad
    The Slackers / Sic & Mad

    Love I Bring /Cat Prozac (Split 7 inch single on). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    An adaptation of a classic horror story safe for little eyes.

  • Nosferatu
    Nosferatu

    A classic horror tale ends up some place weird.

  • Self Taught
    Self Taught

    Over a ten-year period, punk guitar legend Tim Kerr and his wife Beth used thrift store cameras to document self-taught artists environments. Combined with portraits of the creators, Self Taught is a celebration of artistic spirit.

  • New Music Now 002
    New Music Now 002

    In NMN Episode Two, Ink 19’s Pat Greene picks the soothing, balm-like brain of old friend Matt Gorney (The Civic Minded Five, Jazz in the Bible Belt on WPRK, 91.5 FM, Winter Park, Florida) as the two discuss the album Promises, from Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

  • Fun Home
    Fun Home

    A small town funeral director hides a not-so-big secret.

From the Archives