The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot CD
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These two albums, which appear on one CD in reverse chronological order, capture Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart consolidating his position here as the greatest surrealist white bluesman of the 20th century. The Spotlight Kid is relatively subdued and rambling by Beefheart's standards, with his Magic Band never quite lifting off. That said, "White Jam" is poignant in a Mad Hatter sort of way, while "I'm Gonna Booglarise You Baby" and "Click Clack" more than pass muster. The earlier Clear Spot, however, may well be Beefheart's finest album. Stax horns jostle with Zoot Horn Rollo's zig-zagging slide guitar, with producer Ted Templeman keeping all the deranged lateral musical thinking of "Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man" and "Sun Zoom Spark" tightly ravelled up for maximum impact. Moods range from the bizarrely soulful "Too Much Time" to the spacebound bottleneck frenzy of "Big Eyed Beans From Venus". --David Stubbs
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
If you're even curious - buy it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Two classic Beefheart albums, 72's 'Clear Spot' a semi-successful attempt to iron out the rougher edges of the Captain and His Magic Band. Read morePublished 2 months ago by kaypea
Got 'em both on vinyl but not played 'em for years, now I'm playing them all the time. Alice in Blunderland! Fantastic!Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Two great albums and I really enjoyed listening to them on Youtube, but when I received this CD the sound quality was so bad it was difficult to listen to - all the songs were... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ali Baabaa
Wow. There's only a few albums I would take with me to my desert island but clear spot is definitely one of them.Published 12 months ago by Ken jones