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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 26 July 2000
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Spotlight Kid, blah, blah, blah. I thought I was really cool listening to Spotlight Kid and Trout Mask Replica in my bedroom that time. But let me tell you about the real deal: CLEAR SPOT. Whether you know it or not, this is an all-time classic record. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band take RHYTHM and BLUES and pump it so full of electricity and passion and tenderness and crazy poetry that it just about blows apart. This is music for the heart and mind and body and who knows what else? It has a psychedelic edge that cuts into you with verve. Ever heard a gravel voice like that? Ever been picked up by rhythms and flung clean across the room? This album was made by a bunch of men in the desert. Don't ask me why. Get real. Get clear. Get CLEAR SPOT. 5 thousand twinkling stars.
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on 10 October 2004
If this is the first time you've been tempted to buy Beefheart you've probably had him recommended by a friend whose taste you trust. You should love your friend for you are about to inahbit the world of one the towering geniuses of twentieth century music.
Think of Howling Wolf on Acid and a collection of musicians at the cutting edge of their profession and you aren't even close. But don't get the idea this is incoherency masquerading as avante gardist elitism. Its the real thing and it manages to sound deeply knowledgeable about its Delta Blue's ancestory as well as predicting nearly everything of worth in the history of popular music.
What is so rewarding about these albums is that the more you listen to them the better they get. Beefheart's voice is an amazing instrument and the musicianship of the instrumentalists is more of the quality you would expect in a Jazz outfit.
In terms of single-minded uniqueness I can only think of Hendrix and Tom Waits who are comparable.
Beefheart's is perhaps the least commercialy known of a generation of musicians including the Rolling Stones, The Doors, Janis Joplin and Hendrix who all, in their own way, interpreted the legacy of the Delta Blues in their own way. I think time will show that it is at least arguable that out of this generation his was the most authentic and incindiary.
Buy it and ruin the rest of your CD collection.
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on 15 October 2002
I picked this up about four years ago at a time when I was fed up with hearing variations of a 'standard' type of music and it totally refreshed me to hear something that is at once familiar and yet strikingly new.
Clear Spot is heavy metal blues, 1972 style. It is arguably Beefheart's most "commercial" album (all things being relative), and while it doesn't match the avant-garde oddness of Trout Mask Replica, the application of Beefheart's musical and rhythmical preoccupations into something approaching a standard verse-chorus-verse formula allows the Magic Band to demonstrate just how exciting and fresh 'traditional' song structures can be made to sound. "Low Yo Yo Stuff", "Nowadays a Woman's Got to Hit a Man", "Crazy Little Thing", "Long Neck Bottles", "Big Eyed Beans From Venus", "Sun Zoom Spark" and the title track are taut, tight four-minute bursts of energy. None of them are exactly "blues", but they are certainly the extended family of the blues tradition, with slide guitar leads; harmonica breaks and gravelly, half-narrated vocals.
Part of what makes this album so special is the range of percussive rhythms that underpin most of the "standard" song structures. Long before Paul Simon upped and left for Africa, the Magic Band's rhythm section were producing a "push-pull" effect of contrasting rhythm, similar in effect to the native percussions of Africa and Latin-America. Each player has a definite rhythmic part and the way these parts fit together is the secret of this album. While the songs might sound straightforward, listening to the underlying drum beats and timings really throws you off-guard again, and keeps the music sounding fresh.
You also get the Stax-soul era "Too Much Time", complete with female backing singers and a rasping horn section - possibly Beefheart's most commercial track ever recorded (it got plenty of airplay on the Motown stations until it was discovered that Beefheart wasn't quite the act they thought he was) - and unusually for Beefheart, two love songs. The beautiful "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles", used in the Big Lebowski soundtrack but in context here and all the better for it, and "My Head Is My Own House Unless It Rains", which is in equal parts Delta Blues, Big Star and something else which is undefinable but strangely addictive.
Warner rereleased this album as a double with 'The Spotlight Kid' which isn't in the same league in my opinion, but still offers "White Jam" and "When It Blows, It Stacks" for company. If you've ever wanted to gamble on an album to kick off the mystery of Beefheart, I'd really recommend that this double album is the one to get.
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on 30 April 2008
If you've never listened to Beefheart before - forget the supremely difficult Troutmask Replica that everyone says is his best (It's not)- these two albums should be heard by everyone.
Ethnic rhythms, cajun rifts, absurdly brilliant guitar work and weird lyrics sung by a weider voice - this is simply superb. The most commercial and easily accessible of his recordings, but still some of the best music ever. Superb, brilliant etc. etc.
And if you like this, then there is Ice Cream For Crow, Bat Chain Puller, Doc at the Radar Station, and the iconic Strictly Personal. All by a brilliant musical genius.
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on 20 December 2007
I was going to start off by saying that this is a piece of blues genius but after listening to the album again I realise that it's much much more than that. There are traces of jazz, soul, rock, freak-out, even rap in places. It's certainly more accessible than some of Beefheart's other works but this is by no means a bad thing. I challenge anyone to listen to this without stamping a foot or tapping a finger. In places it's angry and twisted. In others it's simply beautiful.
If you're even curious - buy it.
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on 5 July 2012
A great pairing of two classic albums by Captain Beefheart. If you love the blues, you'll love this CD. The Captain and his Magic Band, cut and paste a mean acid groove and re-invent the blues like you have never and probably will ever hear the likes of again. It's mean, lean and most of all it's fun! Own this music now!
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on 8 January 2014
These two albums come from Van Vliet and his trusty musicians at a time when they were at their brilliant best.
Whilst CB and his band did have a loyal following they never really got the success they deserved.
Add this to your music collection and if you have a decent stereo system just listen. You may find yourself taking a musical journey that leads to his other albums.
The man was a genius who would never compromise his approach to music (or anything else). The world will never see his like again.
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on 19 September 2001
The Spotlight Kid is one of my favourite Beefheart albums, and it's a real back to basics affair after the supreme innovations of Troutmask and the even more stunning Lick My Decals Off. It's a self-produced album and sounds like an old blues record combined with added funk and some typically skewed time-signatures in places. It also contains one of the most blistering guitar solos by Elliot Ingber (aka Winged Eel Fingerling) on the track Alice In Blunderland. The other album on this great value CD is Clear Spot, an album which seems to divide the opinion of Beefheart enthusiasts. Some hail it as a really great record, whereas others find it too polished and veering too much toward the commercial. It certainly is not my favourite Beefheart album, as I find it over-produced (by Warner Bros producer Ted Templeman), with the good Captain seeming to relinquish a good degree of artistic control for the sake of making what was his most commercial album to date (soulful female backing singers on a Captain Beefheart record?). This notwithstanding, it does contain some good songs and is certainly far better than the two albums which immediately succeeded it (Unconditionally Guaranteed, and Bluejeans and Moonbeams).
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on 6 December 2011
Terrific stuff! This double CD is the link between the 60's beat combo sound of Safe As Milk and the unique weirdness of Trout Mask Replica. It's bluesy, jerky, humourous ,spiky, organic and not as overtly commercial as Unconditionally Guaranteed (an album many long-term Beefheart fans loathe). It also includes the famous "long, lunar note" played by Mr.Zoot Horn Rollo. Capt.Beefheart never wanted to contribute to the sameness of everything and he's certainly doing his own thing on these two albums. Buy them and enjoy them for yourself. I can't stop playing them!
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on 25 May 2011
clear spot is,without doubt,my favourite beefheart album. although it is'nt as heavy as 'trout mask',or as commercial as 'bluejeans'(which i also love),it sits perfectly in the middle. a standout album in rock. the fact that you get the equally compelling spotlight kid makes this essential listening. a six star collection!
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