on 12 May 2008
I grew up with my older brother bringing new, interesting and sometimes disturbing or challenging sounds into our house. The good Captain fell into the later category but although it was challenging to my young ears I absorbed it and began to really like it. The problem really lay in the fact that it was HIS music and not mine.
Later, after the ironically titled Unconditionally Guaranteed and Bluejeans and Moonbeams seemed to signal the Captains decline I came across this, Shiny Beast on its release. This was my own Captain Beefheart album and it was terrific!
It kicks off with Floppy Boot Stomp and story about a hick farmer competing with the devil for his soul. In other hands this theme has produced rather cheesy result but Beefheart infuses this song with menace, although it is clear who will win as the farmer nonchalantly brings his floppy boot down to the ground.
Harry Irene were a couple who ran a canteen, apparently and a very casual and laid back song it makes too.
Candle Mambo is a lovely gentle song that creates a warm feeling that sets up the next song beautifully. Love Lies is about betrayed love that packs a real emotional punch.
The climax of the album is Suction Print which is a real stormer.
Shortly after getting this album I saw it in the Children's' Section in John Menzies, I had a vision of a small child emerging from his bedroom with horns and a forked tail after he had been bought this album by an unsuspecting parent.
I really love this album so much so that it took me years before I warmed to his final two albums although I now really like them too. Buy Shiny Beast, you just have to own it!
on 6 December 2002
the single minded, satellite guided, genius of don van vliet a.k.a. captain beefheart! originally described as a psychedelic/ blues/free jazz artist with a totally unique voice, the good captain had three distinct periods in his musical career.
1. the aformentioned psychedelic blues (a&m) origins.
2. the bulk, and probably best of his output, the reprise catalogue.
3. the virgin years.
to appreciate what this album represents you need to know the underlying history, so here goes...
frank zappa owned the original bat chain puller album and insisted on remuneration for the release of the tapes. beefheart, at this time, couldn't afford to release what most affictionados consider his ultimate album from (paymaster) zappa (his old buddy?). bootlegs of the original album exist and are incredible listening.
virgin stepped into the captains' career, this album was the first result, it's a shiny beast indeed! most of bat chain puller appears (re-recorded) here, although, i have to report that the overall experience of this album is a very different "beast" compared to the original concept.
surrounded by probably the best "magic" band ever (the best batch yet), coupled with the best recorded sound ever, don was arguably at his musical zenith around this period.
indeed some of his very best work can be found on virgin, unfortunately though, his only commercially orientated, poor releases make up a lot of virgins' beefheart catalogue. shiny beast provides insights into (mostly) the very best, but also the worst aspects of this true genius. a couple of albums later, (van) vliet retired from the music world to concentrate on his art and poetry. if you're new here (the virgin years) jump one album ahead to doc at the radar station, a monster of a record that's definitely countable amongst his greatest works, also containing elements of the ill fated bat chain puller project (or go to the reprise releases if you're really new to the man; clear spot, spotlight kid, lick my decals..., trout mask, etc!). also, check out the a&m years, then come back to THIS (but DO come back).
don van vliet has a uniquely wonderful way with words, music, and art. shiny beast encapsulates high art, brilliant poetry, and incredible, inspiring, unique music. once touched by beefheart you'll remain smitten.
on 23 March 2009
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band is essentially an act for rock theorists, loopy wordsmiths, far-out outsiders, former fans of the Fall, and those who saw him live back in the day.
"Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)" encapsulates everything that is irresistible about Don Van Vliet and his well-trained crack squad of long-suffering musicians. Frantic, signature-bending instrumentals, free-association Howlin' Wolf vocals delivered with inspired lunacy and abandon and oddly infectious (even pretty) melodies.
Just look at the range!
From the freaky outback nightmare of instrumental "Ice Rose" to the mounting insanity of "Owed T'Alex" (with that terrifying piratical "ah-ha-ha-hargh" refrain) and the speaker-unfriendly "You Know You're A Man."
Or how about the semi-disco dystopia of "When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mommy" with its incestuous chorus, or the bouncing joys of "Tropical Hot Dog Night?"
The title track, entitled simply "Bat Chain Puller," is exceptional. The drum beat (which sounds incredibly modern, almost like a rap beat) is reported to have come from Vliet's windscreen wipers. The lyrics are simply outrageously funny and delivered with gusto from "rock's only dadaist" (not my words, hence the quotation marks).
Beefheart never made enough money from his music. Give him some. He deserves it with albums as outstanding as this.
P.S. I recommend newcomers start with "Trout Mask Replica" (separates the Beefhearts from the Weakhearts).
A truly amazing journey.
Possibly, I repeat, possibly Beefhearts finest hour.
A mesmerising ride through the highly original sounscapes of the Captain.
Great Band playing great music.
Go on, open up and let it get you.
on 25 April 2014
This was released later than the other Captain Beefheart albums i have. I had never heard of it and despite the positive reviews i wasn't expecting much. Played it once and was unimpressed. Played it again and again and again, now can't get enough. Love the Latin dance tracks (Tropical Hot Dog Nights and Candle Mambo) but all the tracks are good apart from the pretentious Apes-Ma. Zappa's music is good but sterile. Bite into beefheart and let the juices run down your chin!
on 17 June 2010
I agree with one of the other reviewers on here, this could be Beefheart's finest album. It's almost like being part of a deranged, fantastic sounding, ritual, if that makes any sense. If it doesn't, I'm sure you'll make up your own analogy. It's a great album, if you love Beefheart, you will love this, there is no doubt about that.
"When I see mommy, I feel like a mommy!"
Not quite sure what he means, but he sounds brilliant.
on 25 July 2007
This was the Beefheart comeback album after the, so I've heard, disappointing `Bluejeans and Moonbeams'. It was his eleventh studio album and, in my opinion, is his fourth great masterpiece (I haven't heard `Lick my Decals off' yet). If you don't own this and you love Beefheart then this is absolutely essential. There's no doubt about that. This is a masterpiece. Also, if you own no Beefheart albums then this is an alright place to start, though you'd probably be best off getting `Safe as Milk', read my review for that, or better off doing what I did and just jump right into the deep end with `Trout Mask Replica', that greatest album ever.
The music contained within this masterpiece is pure genius, pure Beefheart, pure mayhem, and a call back to the days of `Trout Mask Replica' and `Clear Spot', in terms of its variety and the complex music on show. There are tracks that you could almost dance to, `Tropical Hot Dog Night', and tracks that you can chill out (sort of) to, `Harry Irene'. Also, typical Beefheart, there are tracks you simply have to just sit there and try to figure out how the mans head works. And trust me, you will spend a lot of time just sitting there in awe. Some of the songs on this album I've listened dozens of times and they still blow me away.
Even though this isn't the original Magic Band lineup, the new guys do a great job. After just the first song it becomes obvious that these guys knew exactly what they were doing, and they managed to easily, it seems, handle the great Captains demanding music. On songs like `Ice Rose', one of the albums two instrumentals, the other being the exquisite `Suction Prints', the new Magic Band blast out contrasting rhythms and melodies with such control it hurts your head. On songs like `Bat Chain Puller', the title track, and my personal favorite, `When I See Mummy I Feel like a Mummy', they effortlessly break down all musicals walls, enter another dimension, and that's where we are hearing this album being played from. But please remember I am a Beefheart fanatic so this is all hyperbole. You might hate it. If you already like Beefheart though, I'm telling you you'll love it, and if you do hate it then all you've lost is ten quid. Actually that is quite a lot of money, isn't it? Well, you'll probably love it so it's worth it.
To summarize, I think this album is a masterpiece and one of his best and most wonderfully messy albums. If you love Beefheart then there's no excuse not to get it, but even if you haven't gone fully down that rabbit hole yet there still might be something here for you if you're adventures and love madly dissonant guitar music.
on 20 January 2007
This is a seminal beefheart album. It has some of his most influential material in it, his use of instrumentation, his bizarre counter-melodies and his legendary lyrics still have echos in his contemporaries such as Frank Zappa.
A perfect album for the first time Beefheart buyer.
on 11 February 2009
Up to expectations which were understandably high. There is still no beating 'Safe as Milk' so, if you haven't got that, get it first then give this a whirl (that is if you haven't got 'Trout Mask Replica')
on 21 April 2012
I could go on and on raving about this album, but if you've never heard anything by Captain Beefheart and you fancied checking out some of his stuff, START HERE. The best of the bunch. Bat chain Puller, When I see a Mommy I feel like a mummy, Harry Irene, are all classics tunes you'll just keep playing. It's a definite 10/10 Don't get me wrong the man hasn't made a bad album in my opinion, but this is just something in a different class. Check out Ice Cream for Crow too. Have a tropical hot dog night! :o)