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Captain Beefheart Paperback – Jul 2000

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.



Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704380730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704380738
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 3.4 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,723,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Barnes gets the story, and with the full participation of those brave musicians who attempted to interpret Beefheart's sometimes otherworldy methodology.' The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mike Barnes was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Mojo and Wire. He plays the drums. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
Mike Barnes spent 5 years researching the life & art of Don Van Vliet & those associated w/ him thru various editions of Magic Bands & companions. He has done a good job in making something well worth reading, hard to put down, that compliments the best music ever made. He doesn't try to make Beefheart a saint or run him down either, just tries to paint a balanced even picture which is difficult since DVV was rarely balanced or even. Of course getting the facts staright is near impossible since Don would always speak laterally in another dimension in interviews, always wanting to make his story even more interesting than it already was. Normally song by song analyses don't work but here I think Mike's observations are well thought out & helpful, I never really understood Hobo Chang Ba for instance until now. There are a few pages of photos hidden in the middle & the cover photo by the great Cal Schenkel. Whislt Don himself did not collaborate on the book project, luminaries like Bill Harkleroad [Zoot], Gary Marker & Alex St Clair did & many opinions are presented. Overall, it's well done & it reminds of the greatness of the music, whilst the chapters about his temporary decline in 1974 were slightly depressing. A thorough enough discography is included @ the back too. If you are someone who is obsessed or curious about the poetry, painting & energy of DVV, I say "if you got eyes, you gotta read it!".
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Fenelon on 29 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
Barnes is to be admired for attempting to demolish some of the layers of myth surrounding Don van Vliet - admittedly, Beefheart built most of them himself!
His biography is strongest on Vliet's early years, his curious friendship with Zappa, and the early albums - it starts to fall apart a little after the two "commercial" albums and treats the later recordings as being little more than a coda made up of existing material.
There is some interesting and rather moving content on van Vliet's post-retirement life as a painter.
All in all, a biography that doesn't fawn over van Vliet, that tries to be reasonably objective, that tries to debunk some of the more absurd myths and treats his words and music seriously. Pretty much mandatory reading for any real Beefheart fans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wm B. Cundiff on 25 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
A must have for Don Van Vliet fans. This book does an excellent job exploring, explaining and questioning the legend of Captain Beefheart. No easy task, given all of the colorful exaggerations and off the wall statements Van Vliet has thrown at the press, or anyone else interested or inquiring about his life or art(s), over the years. Wonderfully compliled, and interesting throughout. It is also carefully compassionate towards Van Vliet's reclusiveness, and his painting career. There is an obvious respect for Van Vliet and the decisions he has made. Don Van Vliet is a true artist in every respect, and this book is a wonderful document of his life and accomplishements as a musician, poet, painter, and legend.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Roach on 14 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Captain Beefheart is a thorough book by an articulate author whose researches I felt I could trust. This was one biography I didn't want to put down because the story of Don Van Vliet and his various Magic Bands is a great story. Nevertheless, I do have a pretty serious gripe with Mike Barnes's book, and that is that Mike is not a great story teller. While Don Van Vliet stands as one of the most lateral-thinking artists of the 20th Century, the author approaches Van Vliet's story in a singularly linear fashion. Once the fascinating tales of Van Vliet's youth, the early days of the Magic Band and the Trout Mask sessions have been told, the book settles into a repetitive album-by-album formula: Don getting a band together, rehearsals for a new album, recording, a track-by-track description of the album, how the album was received, the tour. And then back to Don getting a band together for his next album...

In his poetic descriptions of each track, Mike Barnes makes a valiant attempt to capture in words something for which words are hopelessly inadequate. However, I felt that these track-by-track descriptions were particularly unnecessary and tedious because nothing can do justice to Beefheart's music except the music itself.

As an admirer of Captain Beefheart and as a musician, this book was a must for me. The details of recording, song-writing and performance kept my interest, though I can't imagine that these aspects of the book would appeal to anyone other than musicians. What also kept me going to the end was the Beefheart story itself, which shines through the book's shortcomings; and despite the shortcomings, this is a good book. While Van Vliet the man must be an extraordinarily difficult subject to capture in a biography, Mike Barnes undertakes the task with assurance and exercises sound critical judgement throughout. Still, this is probably for musicians and hard-core Beefheart fans only.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Turner on 29 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mike Barnes tackles a notoriously difficult subject: a critical biography of the often recalcitrant, latterly reclusive Don Van Vliet, alias Captain Beefheart. The project, of course, is rendered even more difficult by the mythos surrounding the Beefheart persona and the encyclopaedic attention to detail cherished by fans. Barnes tackles this task with astuteness and insight, meticulous research and a determination to get to the heart of the story. As biographies go, this one is not afraid to be critical and genuinely throws some illumination on its subject.

The only missing element is, of course, an interview with the man himself, but that was hardly likely to happen, for a number of reasons. Mike Barnes does a very good job with this book.
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