Month: April 2017


Mr. Erskine was not a big fan of this album that he reviewed for NME. Overly critical if you ask me. Personally I would have no trouble in recommending this album as it is full of great songs, some of them even classics, and this class of songwriting is almost impossible to find on albums these days.
Personally I have a special soft spot for the songs “I Wanna Rule The World”, “I’m Mandy Fly Me” and “Art For Art’s Sake”.
If you have never listened to 10cc before, you may like to take a listen. One of the great pop/rock-bands!



Enn ui old iron

10cc: How Dare You! (Mercury)

By Pete Erskine

“With extensive critical acclaim to their credit and a succession of hits to their name, 10cc well deserve the accolade `Superstars`.” – record company press release.
“Superstar” is a euphemism for that final ascent to rock `n`roll heaven – the result of a specialised form of alchemy in which fans transform themselves into “freaks” for their band (“10cc freak, Burnley”) while the band is rendered as some kind of giant-sized sacred cow.
We, of course, become “so-called critics”.
I therefore suspect that if 10cc have become “superstars” then this new album of theirs will be greeted with universal critical fanfares and turn out to be their best-seller yet.
But will it be on the strength of its real, intrinsic contents, or as a result of the cumulative effect of their past track record?
This is the sort of question “superstars” have to ask themselves every day of the week.

One of the advantages/disadvantages about becoming a “superstar” is that people stop looking too closely at your work because a) they are frightened to disagree with the majority, and b) they start feeling paranoid that their initial investment/commitment might turn out to have been misguided.
The Business, for example, has, and will always be, loth to make sudden about-turns; similarly, punters in this country have little cash for gambling on the works of unfamiliar artists – hence they often prefer to follow only one or two bands exclusively.
If either of these turns out the occasional dog they will therefore make damn sure that they find something they like about it, even if it`s only the sleeve art.
It might actually be very pleasant to be an artist in this position – to be able to sit back and know that your work is being purchased almost on conditioned-reflex.
But the temptation to take liberties, to develop a cynical attitude to your audience and want to play little games with their gullibility must be very great.

More than that, this kind of “freedom” has to be damaging to the development of your art because you have nothing left to strive for.
It is, after all, a truism that an artist`s best work is often produced under strict discipline and duress.
Not that 10cc are in that position yet.
But, on the evidence of the contents of “How Dare You!” the results of their having been over-indulged by both press and public (as the pioneers of intelligent, satirical pop) are beginning to show.
“How Dare You!” is quite astonishingly insubstantial.
Musically, there is nothing comparable to “I`m Not In Love”, lyrically there is nothing as “witty” and nimble as “Life Is A Minestrone”.
Whatever happened to the kind of intelligence that produced a track like “Speed Kills”?
Having said that, I also acknowledge that comparisons are unfair.
But, on any terms this album appears to be an unloved pre-fab job assembled by a group of musicians with little feeling for their music beyond a preoccupation with sound quality (and even that isn`t as fully exploited here) and even less for each other.


One does not expect a “warm”, endearingly human album from 10cc, but it does come as a surprise to be confronted with something as perfunctory as this.
I can only think to attribute this to the damaging effects of the kid glove treatment they seem to have received since changing record companies – and, perhaps to a certain over-confidence as a result of “I`m Not In Love”.
I mean, is it really such a good thing to spend over three months recording an album?
The album opens with the title track, “How Dare You!” which is epochal because it is 10cc`s first instrumental.
It might be the best described as 1984 factory music – the sound of massed cybernauts at their workbenches. The most one can say for it is that it`s cleanly executed. Essentially a filler, though.
“Lazy Ways” sets the musical mood for the rest of the album – a vague reprise of the atmosphere of “I`m Not In Love”; itself a reprise of the atmosphere of the Beach Boys` “Feel Flows”.
Lyrically it is an expansion of the idea proposed by one of the characters in “Catch-22” – that one can extend one`s life span by cultivating boredom:
“You get less done but,
more out of your days”.

“I Wanna Rule The World” takes the form of – again – a kind of cybernetic chant made more eerie through simple use of synthesised electric piano. However,
“I wanna be a boss/I wanna be a big boss/I wanna boss the world around/I wanna be the biggest boss that ever bossed the world around”
– does not constitute profound social commentary to me. Nor do the lines:
“Gimme the readys/Gimme the cash/Gimme a bullet/Gimme a smash”
(in Art For Art`s Sake”) – which are no more “perceptive” about “greed” than the Floyd`s “Money” lyrics.
In any case, The Last Poets, will never be surpassed as the masters of the form used for “I Wanna Rule The World”.
Aside from this, the dramatic impact of “I Wanna Rule The World” is greatly diminished by the group`s apparent inability to keep things simple – something they threw out between “Sheet Music” and “The Original Soundtrack”.
I am greatly disappointed to see them reverting to the old lamebrain impress-a-crowd technique of incorporating 2,000 chord changes a minute.
At times they almost sound as if they`re trying to re-record Queen`s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
It does, however, feature A JOKE:
“I get confused, so confused/I get a pain, I get a pain up here/In the Shirley Temples”.
The perfunctory 10cc pun.

“I`m Mandy, Fly Me” seems similarly pointless apart from representing that same pre-occupation with Sounding Important by tearing off the aforementioned blitz of chord changes.
“Iceberg” attempts to poke fun at platitudes in the same vein as “Life Is A Minestrone”, except that Minestrone is replaced by Iceberg.
Really, it`s so tedious I can`t think of much else to say. Depressing too.
There is, however, a fine Eric Stewart guitar solo closing an extended version of the single “Art For Art`s Sake” which opens side two.
“`Head Room`,” says the press release, “looks at a young man`s first encounter with sex.”
With the same kind of consciousness and dependence on dreary innuendo that pervaded Procol`s “Souvenir Of London”.
Simply crass – like the lyrics of “Iceberg” which conclude:
“There`s really not a lot that you can do/And I might be back for sloppy seconds”.
What`s that about?
Presumably the same tired schoolboy humour inherent in the lines
“Dumb waiters waiting sweating straining/All mass-debating my woman”.
– of “Don`t Hang Up”, which, thankfully, close the album.
The most insidious thing about the whole 10cc approach – which I wouldn`t mind if they could retain their initial high standards – is that it`s infectious.
At a time when, more than ever, we`re desperately in need of a return to simplicity, naivete, boy-girl lyrics and a Good Guitar Sound, 10cc are busy spawning mind-rot like “18 With A Bullet” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Give me “No Milk Today” any time.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Cat Stevens, Patti Smith, Grateful Dead, Albertos y Lost Trios, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Dion, The Great British Music Festival.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


The journalist, Mr. Murray, is positive in his review of this album and later even wrote a book about Bowie that you will find here:
The album, in its original form, was only six songs but is still considered among Bowie`s finest among many of his fans. Despite its status and a #3 position on the US Billboard 200 chart and going to #5 on the UK Albums chart – it is only certified Gold in Canada, UK and the USA to date. Surely some mistake?



Don`t touch that dial

David Bowie: Station To Station (RCA)

By Charles Shaar Murray

“A sixty thousand word novel is one image corrected fifty-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine times” – Samuel R. Delaney


Discuss David Bowie`s “Station To Station” from any perspective available. Up to two hours may be spent on this question. You may answer in note form if necessary.

1. It may be argued that there is a qualitative difference between music made out of necessity (i.e. to fulfil a contractual quota) and music made purely for the sake of enjoyment derived from making it.
David Bowie didn`t have to make this album.
After completing his work on the movie soundtrack of “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, he was supposed to take a holiday until the New Year (this one, putzo) when he was/is scheduled to go into rehearsal for the European tour and, presumably, the next U.S. tour.
However, he ended up writing a batch of songs and flying his band into L.A. from New York to go into the studio and make this; an “extra” bonus album, if you like. Kind of like “The One That Got Away” in reverse.

2. The album opens with the sound of mighty trains chuffing determinedly from speaker to speaker (must be a real trip in quad, Jim), heavily phased to suggest (“allude to” would be more precise) the ambience of the white noise you get when you twist a radio or TV dial attempting to local a channel. (Not to mention “station-to-station” (as opposed to “person-to-person”) long-distance `phone calls).

3. The title song, which opens the album, runs 10.08 (at least, that`s what it says on the label. I haven`t checked it). Bowie doesn`t make his vocal entry until the track is nearly three and a half minutes.

4. If Bowie was James Brown he could well have entitled the second, up-tempo half of “Station To Station” “Diamond Dogs `76”. The dominant sound of this album overdubs the claustrophobic guitar-strangling garage band chording of “Dogs” (plus, to a lesser extent, the howling, wrenching lead guitar of “The Man Who Sold The World”) over the itchy-disco rhythms of the “Young Americans” album, while Bowie`s vocals evoke the lugubrious, heavily melodramatic vibratoed almost-crooning of Scott Walker.

5. “Golden Years,” the album`s Big Single, is placed in the middle of the first side. The placing of an already-familiar single on an album of otherwise new material is always crucial, since it automatically provides a period of decompression, a relaxing of the concentration necessary to assimilate new music.
“Golden Years” is a masterstroke of a single (though not quite in the same exalted class as the masterly “Fame”) and it`s quite the most compact and direct piece on the album.
Elsewhere, Bowie lays out vocally for quite considerable lengths of time – particularly on the title track`s companion Marathon, “Stay”, which can be located over on the second side – leaving the band to cook uninterrupted.
His vocals are not only sparse, but mixed right down and mumbled into the bargain.
In the days when I was into lyric sheets (i.e. before I remembered that Dylan never provided a lyric sheet in his life, and realised that a crucial part of my enjoyment of “Horses” was down to listening to the words as part of  the record and comprehending/understanding/deciphering more of them with each listen instead of copping the whole thing off a dessicated cribsheets) I would have bitched about not being able to do the heavy lyrical analysis schtick straight off.
As it is, I find myself listening to the sounds of the music (and the music of the sounds, man, far out!) rather than even trying to make out the lyrics.
On a purely audio basis, therefore, “Station To Station” represents a solid triumph for Bowie as an organiser of music. Maybe if I had the sleeve I`d know whether it was a concept album (heh!) or not. Hope it isn`t, though.

6. Musically, the biggest surprise on the album is the intro to “TVC 15,” the first track on the second side.
It`s rolling bar-room piano (vaguely reminiscent of Climax`s “Loosen Up”) with Bowie copping the “Oh-woa-hoo-wo-ho” vocal intro from the Yardbirds` “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (the man is nothing if not eclectic) before settling into a tight but relaxed groove with a great chorus in which Bowie carols, “Transition/transmission”. It`s one of the craziest things I`ve heard in a long while.
Incidentally, I have no idea of what the title means. My theory (which is my own, etc., etc.) is that it refers to Channel 15 on Los Angeles TV, but on the other hand Joe Stevens suggests that it`s the register number of the video course that Bowie`s supposed to be taking at U.C.L.A., while Mick Farren opines that it`s a gearbox of some sort (alternate meaning to the “transmission” motif).
To coin a phrase, I await further enlightment.


7. “Stay” features a lurching raunch guitar part performed, or so Mr. Kent informs me, by Ron Wood.
It confirms my belief that the standard of Mr. Wood`s playing is entirely determined by the company he keeps, a belief initially fostered by a comparison of his playing at Eric Clapton`s Rainbow Concert and on Rod Stewart`s sole albums (sublime) and on the vast majority of Faces manifestations (ridiculous), not to mention a brief earful of a recent Stones bootleg.
Here he gets plenty of room to smear funk all over the scenery, ably supported by Willie Weeks on bass (and presumably therefore Andy Newmark on drums).
Bowie`s vocal line, embellished by female back-up voices singing octaves, is quite absurdly effete – not to mention loopily wacky a la Sparks – but it seems almost logical when juxtaposed with Wood`s funk riffs.
Since I`m working from a blank sleeve with no info, I can give you no exciting tidbits about the world-famous musicians, engineers, producers, arrangers, derangers, freerangers and so forth who are doubtless embroiled in the proceedings.
I can hazard a guess, though, that Tony Visconti is present in some productorial capacity and Paul Buckmaster in an arrangerial ditto, whereas the other musicians are simply whoever was in Bowie`s road band at the time, with another Carlos Alomar or Earl Slick (or both) on guitars. The more Ronsonesque guitar leads on the album are certainly reminiscent of Slick`s work on the live album.

8. In addition to the above-mentioned songs, the album also includes two real croonaruskies on which Bowie – and this is Ian Mac`s idea, not mine, Dave ol` pal (heh heh) so don`t git mad – sounds totally drunk.
Dig the scenario – the bar`s closed, the proprietor`s sweeping the floor and stacking the chairs up on the tables with their legs in the air like abandoned mannequins, and this turd in the corner just won`t stop singing along to the backing track in his head.
More so than anywhere else on the album, Bowie discards the conventional tradition of rock singing (i.e. non-realistic, purporting to be a stylisation/abstraction?) of the way the singer “normally” speaks and by extension therefore is) in favour of an abstraction of the styles of the so-called “Balladeers”.
Both these songs are placed at the end of their respective sides; “Word On A Wing” comes at the end of side one, while “Wild Is The Wind” ends side two.
The latter was written by Toimkin and Washington (the only non-Bowie song); Tiomkin is presumably Dimitri of the Ilk, and is therefore, equally presumably, a theme-from-the-movie-of-the-same-name.

9. The main lyrical motif of the title song is “It`s too late (to be grateful)/It`s too late (to be hateful)”.

10. “Station to Station” is a great dance album.
It`s funk on the edge, the almost claustrophobic rhythms of “Fame” diffused through the tortured guitars of Ziggy`s memory tapes, plus that new vocal style, simultaneously ugly and mesmeric.

11. Let`s hear it for the title guy in the baggy suit.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Cat Stevens, Patti Smith, Grateful Dead, Albertos y Lost Trios, Bob Dylan, 10cc, Dion, The Great British Music Festival.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


This is not a very flattering concert review. It seems to me that the reviewer hated the band before he was ordered to a do a review of this concert. The result is here for all to see. So read this with a large pinch of salt.


Workrate Astounding

But Queen lack midfield schemer…

By Chris Salewicz

It`s difficult, you know, keeping up with all the fickle shifts in credibility and acceptability.
It is, for instance, apparently no longer accurate to view Queen as merely the last band to pick up the fag-end of androgyny rock in this country.
The other day (indeed) a friend of mine – a man of no small taste in these matters – was speaking of Freddie and his cohorts as being “The new Led Zeppelin”.
Heavy, ehh?
Well, you most probably saw the show yourself on the box on Christmas Eve.
What you maybe didn`t know was that the audience had been sat there in the Hammersmith Odeon since eight o`clock with only the Mr Big set to keep them occupied until ten o`clock. Last year, when the Old Grey Whistle Test had Elton occupying the same slot, the programme came in halfway through the set. Not for Queen, however. There was a definite sense that the audience were of secondary importance to the viewers.

Anyway, round about ten in the evening – after interminable amounts of piano tinkling and paradiddling from behind the safety curtain, and round about the same time that we suss that the spotlights putting black flashes in front of our eyes aren`t part of some particularly seasonal stage set but are your actual Beeb TV floodlights – the OGWT theme music starts up and Bob appears in silver grey top hat and tails and the show begins.
And they work so very hard.
If any band epitomises Calvinism in rock it must be Queen.
Freddie seems to quite positively adore the work ethic. In fact, he works so hard onstage that he overdoes it and ODs on his own efforts at times.
He moves about the stage so deliberately, so studiously, waving around and leaning into that absurb stunted mike he uses that every muscle in his body seems rigid with nervous tension.
Freddie doesn`t relax for one moment. He seems completely devoid of any natural rhythmic sense and plays his part with the assumption that if he works hard enough at it it won`t show.


I caught the show a couple of weeks ago in Birmingham and couldn`t figure out what was wrong. Great show, I`d thought at the time. Even told Freddie that. But it was only when I saw Queen at Hammersmith that I figured out what was amiss.
But at least at Hammersmith he didn`t look quite so close to breaking into mid-tour tears on stage.
Now all this obvious effort works to the band`s disadvantage. Although his singing voice is impressively clear and powerful, Freddie doesn`t possess a good speaking voice. His onstage tone is unnatural and almost paternalistic. The stress factor appears to spread itself throughout the whole band.
Brian May, for example, appears totally unnatural when he takes off with some mildmannered brain chordings on “Brighton Rock” with the drum-kit spot behind him – the most impressive stage number, notwithstanding the fact that he`s utilizing a bastardised “Whole Lotta Love” riffs.
Of course, if I walked around wearing the kind of stage clothes Queen wear – they really do have the worst taste of any of the flash-rock bands – I`d be tense and nervous too.

Queen`s main problem, though, is that without their binding the whole caboodle together with musical effect after musical effect and visual effect after visual effect there just wouldn`t be anything left.
TINKLE. TINKLE. Smoke bombs. THUD THUD. Solo. Shift lighting. New number. Dry ice. Change costumes. Put Freddie on piano. Form a little intimate cluster by the drumkit.
But you forgot the soul, lads. You forgot the feeling. You`re the coldest band I`ve ever seen. You got great harmonies and arrangements and reasonable playing but in five years time do you just want to be remembered as a band that had a great stage act?
Oh yeah. And that ultimate contrived encore.
Well, first of all I can go to the Nashville and see any band on any night encoring with a rock`n`roll medley. Secondly, I object when you can`t even infuse it with any fire whatsoever.
Yes, of course they all get up on their feet but come now: most of the audience had been there for three and a bit hours already. Don`t kid yourselves.
And all that prancing about in your kimono to “The Stripper”, Freddie. Knock it on the head. You want credibility and you still come across like an old tart.
Led Zeppelin? You must be kidding. Queen are quite irrevocably Lightweight City.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rory Gallagher, Steve Cropper, Sailor, Paul Bley, Labelle, Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart, The Who.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have regular visits from people reading articles featuring The Who at this site. So for that reason alone it is a pleasure to post an old concert review from the legendary Hammersmith.


The Who


By Steve Clarke

The black monolith (stereolith?) of a PA system towers from floor to ceiling. Onstage The Goodies` Graham Chapman is receiving a hard time from this day-before-Christmas Eve audience, who`re wearing expressions of celebration all over their paper-hatted faces.
It`s the third and final gig of The Who`s Christmas series at Hammersmith Odeon. According to reports Sunday night was great – Monday`s gig a little dodgy. Tonight (Tuesday) they just have to blow everybody`s heads off.
Chapman leaves the audience with a few select profanities. Seconds later, The Who tumble onstage, Moon cartwheeling, and take their positions. Entwistle, a sturdy glitzy carnival with his sequined jacket, is stage right, and Pete`s opposite, wearing a white baggy outfit which looks as if it was pulled on a few seconds beforehand. His face looks decidedly haggard.
Townshend`s arms go into action and his fingers make contact with the sunburst Les Paul, introducing the staccato riff to “I Can`t Explain”.

The music`s okay, but not as powerful as The Who can be. Daltrey`s voice is shot, not as pure as it ought to be. Townshend`s guitar should be louder, but the Entwistle-Moon rhythm section is invincible and pounds along ruthlessly, compelling you to stamp your feet.
Despite these `defects`, spines are tingling and it wouldn`t surprise me if there`s a few wet eyes in the house. Hell, it`s more than good to see The Who onstage at Christmas. All around are faces brimful of joy. I`ve yet to see a band audience relationship like The Who`s; their audiences, no matter what the standard of playing, are always totally entranced by the sheer thrill of seeing Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon on stage together again.
It`s not as if all present grew up with The Who – looking around at the audience, it seems to me that Pete Townshend has no cause to worry whether he`s too old to play rock `n` roll. He might look a little weary, but the spirit which he and the rest of the band project is as young and as vital as ever; “the magic that will set you free” to borrow a phrase.
“Substitute” follows, and like the opening number its lyrics are as relevant today as they ever were. What`s the betting that more than a few guys in the audience are feeling just like that tonight? Into “My Wife”, Entwistle`s excellent song from the band`s finest, “Who`s Next”, follows, and the bassist`s voice is in worse shape than Daltrey`s.


The further into the set, the better the music gets, and by the time of “Tommy” The Who are playing as they should. Townshend has gained the power his playing lacked earlier, and everything that has made The Who arguably rock`s greatest band is being demonstrated here tonight; the pyrotechnics, the dynamics, the band`s attitude towards its audience and its music.
“I`m Free”, “We`re Not Gonna Take It” and “Pinball Wizard” comes as a feast of power chording, and the energy which flows from the band is almost tangible. The first climax of the evening comes with the “See Me Feel Me” sequence, myriads of `lazer` beams being projected from backstage out across the theatre.
The audience erupts, spilling out into the near-stage area.
Introducing “Tommy”, Moon and Townshend had the wit to send the whole thing up, saying it was a piece of classical music when they know damn well it isn`t. Rock opera? Bullshit. Rock and roll isn`t about `operas`, it`s essentially about energy, joy, and most important of all, communication – and this is where The Who are succeeding most of all.
Unlike Led Zeppelin, The Who cry out for an audience to relate to, and there is no barrier between them and their audience. Mostly they`re not about pretensions. They might be a good deal more affluent than their audiences, but get them on a stage and their richness disappears and you know that at one time in their lives, they`ve lived the kind of life most of the audience are now living.

Unlike The Stones, there`s no celebration of evil and no jet-set ambience.
Daltrey might not be such an amazing performer as Jagger, but he is a lot more touchable as he trots around onstage like a toy soldier.
The only time on Tuesday The Who weren`t one hundred per cent convincing was during “My Generation”. I understand why they have to play it, yet when they do it`s as if they realise it`s one damn big lie.
Otherwise it all makes sense.
Part way through the song the band goes into one of their flop singles “Join Together”, and the song is genuinely apt. By that time the audience`s inhibitions have disappeared.
The following “Summertime Blues” is true to the spirit of classic rock `n`roll. Oddly the penultimate number is “Roadrunner”, at the end of which Townshend widens his guitar tone, even turning in a few Beckisms.
Their set closes with “Won`t Get Fooled Again”, a classic post-Woodstock statement. It`s played majestically, climax after climax, and perfectly timed so that balloons and fake snow fall from the ceiling as the music bursts into its final crescendo.
Townshend hurls his guitar at the amps and it`s over.
If you thought rock was dead at that moment in time, you must have been born in the wrong age. Easily the year`s best display of rock `n` roll.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rory Gallagher, Steve Cropper, Sailor, Paul Bley, Labelle, Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart, Queen.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 3, 1976

The writer of this article only presents himself with the name “Miles”. In 1976 people wouldn`t have had a clue about his real identity, but now, in 2017, I just do a quick “google” and find that his real name is Barry Miles.
Mr. Miles is an expert in all things Zappa, and even wrote Zappa`s biography published in 2004. If you are a fan of Zappa you should check it out.
In this article we get an insight into the strange working relationship between Zappa and Beefheart, both having left this planet for good now and we are poorer because of it.
Enjoy this article with two of rock`n roll`s most exceptional characters.



You have just heard Captain Beefheart shattering glass objects with the astonishing pitch of his voice

Actually, it didn`t work. However, something that did work was the re-uniting of THE CAPTAIN and FRANK ZAPPA a few months ago for a tour and an album, “Bongo Fury”. To mark the occasion, MILES recalls the duo`s strange collaborations in earlier times.

The last time the Captain and Frank worked together (until their recent tour) was on “Hot Rats”, September 1969. I know. I was there.
It was 2am and the Captain`s face was green in the fluorescent lighting of the 24-hour snackbar at T.T & G. Recording studios. The edges of the formica-topped tables were serrated with cigarette burns. The room was overlit and bleak. The microwave oven emitted a low hum.
Out the window the magic starlit skyline of palms and the distant Santa Monica Mountains covered with lights was broken only by the floodlit painting on the theatre playing Hair. It was done by Simon & Marijike Koger, “The Fool”, and was billed as the “Biggest psychedelic mural in the world”.
We were taking a coffee break.
“I can break glass with my voice,” said Don (The Capt.) conversationally.
“I once blew out a 1,200 dollar Telefunken microphone.”
I had heard the story.
Don gave a demonstration: “BLLLAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
We inspected the window. Not a crack.
“I`m feeling a little tired.” He looked it.
The door burst open. “What the hell was that?”
Frank Zappa had heard the noise in the soundproof control booth on the floor below.
“We were seeing if Don`s voice could break a window,” I explained, but already Don was thinking about something else and Frank`s sudden entry seemed to have disturbed his chain of thought.

“Come and listen to this track,” said Zappa. “It looks like we`ll be able to put your vocal on tonight.” But Don didn`t think so. His voice was not in top form and it wasn`t till later that he sang “Willie The Pimp” so nice.
Frank was recording “Hot Rats” and Johnny Otis was leading the band: Otis stamped his foot ferociously, just ahead of the beat, revealing beautiful black silk socks held in place by suspenders. His late `50s Tony Curtis hairdo, oiled, black as a Lincoln Continental, bobbed staccato with the beat but not a hair moved out of place.
A little sweat appeared on his brow as he grinned and grimaced with the beat, leaning over and clapping his hands a fraction of an inch from the drummer`s ear. The drummer did not look pleased.
Johnny had been working for the Musicians Union for the past few years but was soon to make a comeback. His massive injection of energy soon made this band rock and it wasn`t long before Frank was twiddling the knobs and explaining:
“I`ll just make a test mix before we go.”
Frank goes out into the studio to discuss the positioning of the microphones:
“We`ll put the Electrovoice there, pointing upwards to catch the sound of the saxophone as it bounces off the ceiling, after bouncing off the wall. That`s how they made it sound so greasy in the `50s…”
The sax player was positioned facing the wall.
Frank`s cigarette burned a brown line in the formica.

He stood alone in the studio with his guitar, his wah-wah pedal and his cans on. Not quite alone, sitting in the far corner, absolutely still, maybe even asleep, sat Don Van Vliet.
Frank played a fine solo, listened to it back and then edited on a new ending.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Gail showed up in the big soft Buick. Steering with the palm of her hand she spun the huge air-conditioned powerbraked and steered monster effortlessly up the twists and bends of Laurel Canyon Blvd until we made the final turn at the top and caught a catherine wheel glimpse of the necklaces of light laid out in the valley below before plunging into the dense foliage which conceals all the inhabitants of Laurel Canyon from each other.
“He`s burned them all,” muttered Frank.
“You didn`t have photocopies?” Frank and Gail talk privately.
“No…Years of work.”
“Are you sure he`s done it?”
“Yep. He told me tonight. He did it two weeks ago.”
Captain Beefheart had burned the only copies of hundreds of the songs that he had written. Frank continued to lament. It was obvious from his distress that Beefheart is just about the only contemporary of his that he regards as a creative genius. Happily a few days later there seemed to be some doubt about whether the songs were really destroyed or not.


Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were to have a business meeting. Hours went by before they emerged and Frank immediately took Herb Cohen, master of Bizarre business, aside for another one. Beefheart and I took a walk out on the back lawn. Georgia, Frank`s Alsatian dog, sniffed around us. It was 4am.
“Everyone is out to burn. All artists get burned.” It seemed as if he hadn`t really grasped what had been going on at the business meeting at all. He looked worried and distracted.
The problem was “Trout Mask Replica”. The Capt. didn`t like the way it was being marketed. “They were selling me like a freak alongside that madman Wild Man Fischer and the GTOs.” At the time Beefheart was not even happy about  the album itself. In a later interview he said: “Zappa wanted to pretend that he had done `Trout Mask Replica`, on which he had done nothing but go to sleep at the mixing board.
“It was way over his head. Not really over his head, just too unstructured and telepathic for him because he`s so formed and regimented…”
Frank did have problems producing the album, such recording techniques as singing in one room with the door closed and having the microphone in the other offended his sense of studio professionalism as well as giving a lot of hiss from the high levels needed.
When I asked him about this example Beefheart maintained: “Well to me, that`s just the way it is.”


Last week I asked him if “Trout Mask” was really a Zappa album.
“No, he let me have completely what I wanted to do on it. He wanted to make it more, you know the way he is, he wanted excellent recording techniques and stuff but I wanted to do it the way it is so… He threatened to remix that album! He`s funny!
“It was released again here you see. I like that album a lot. And I definitely appreciate Frank allowing me that out. Nobody else would have.
“At the time I was naive to money, as I am now, and naive to business and whatnot and I would have liked to have taken a lot longer to put that album out, I would have liked to… but I would have probably ruined it if I`d had the time!” He roars with laughter.
The Zappa-Beefheart friendship is well-known to one and all but just in case you`ve forgotten I`ll run through it real fast:
Zappa invented Captain Beefheart`s name around the time that Beefheart moved to Cucamonga to work with Zappa on those two unlikely projects, a film called Captain Beefheart Meets The Grunt People and a rock and roll group called The Soots, an idea they had first kicked around when they were at Antelope Valley High School out near the Edwards Airforce base, north of Los Angeles.
Zappa had a little studio out in the desert, called Studio Z, and here recorded hours of tape of himself and Beefheart playing together – sounding like early Rolling Stones R & B except with Beefheart`s powerful four and a half octaves roaring over everything.
Zappa now has plans to release them as a 15-record set (of course).

Beefheart: “Just before I came on this tour Frank and I had a get-together thing, a happening. It was really interesting because he was finding out if I remembered these things, and of course I remembered everything.
“I even remember the little mouse that was living in the place he was living. It was a quiet little mouse. We used to feed it cheese.”
Zappa was finally busted for making a pornographic tape and went down for ten days. His little five-track studio didn`t have much business and he was starving.
Beefheart remembers: “I was there when he picked his first guitar up, 15 years ago. That was in the desert – it was over on a little street by the fairgrounds where they have the rodeos and things.”


“I hadn`t spoken to him or seen him for five years. I was up painting and writing and doing all those things and I just hadn`t come down to Southern California. The minute I came down there we went on a big tour. Ha, that was fun! I`d been with a group for so many years that it was nice to get away and be free again with a very intelligent person. A very old friend, let`s see, he`s a little older than me. I think one month. He`s a Sagittarius and I`m a Capricorn.
“I just called him up and told him I`d like to see him and he says, `Well great, come down and hear this album I`m working on`, and I said, `Well, yeah, I`d like to, but I`ve gotten out of the business. I`m not gonna be in the music business anymore`, and he says, `Oh no, you can`t do that`, and I said, `Well I think that`s what I`m gonna do`. So Frank said, `Well come down and hear some records, you know, we`ll go on a tour!`
“I said, `No, I couldn`t do that! I couldn`t do that!` but when I went down he talked me into it real quick, because he started playing the guitar and I thought, `Well, hell. I`m going!` Like the Pied Piper, I mean to hear that thing every night? Hoho! … I think he`s probably the best guitar player on this planet!”

Zappa`s story about the reunion is of course quite different: “He apologised for all the garbagio and asked for a job.” He was auditioned just before Hallowe`en. “He flunked. See, he had a problem with rhythm and we were very rhythm orientated. Things have to happen on the beat.
“I had him come up on the bandstand at our rehearsal hall and try to sing `Willie The Pimp` and he couldn`t get through it. I figured if he couldn`t get through that I didn`t stand much chance of teaching him the other stuff.”
But Zappa tried him again in the spring. “Although he still has trouble remembering words and making things happen on the beat, he`s better. Just before the tour I tried him again and he squeaked by.”
At Knebworth Beefheart was surprised to hear the above. “Imagine there being an audition for people who`ve known one another for that many years. If he did audition me I didn`t notice!”
Well, they say that the first 20 years are the hardest and now that they had so much fun together on the tour, maybe Frank and Don will settle down together with all their holes open and stop bad-mouthing each other.
Brilliant as it is, “Bongo Fury” is only a beginning of what this pair could do together.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all  of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rory Gallagher, Steve Cropper, Sailor, Paul Bley, Labelle, The Who, Queen.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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