Top positive review
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almost the intended masterpiece!
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.