Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

At the risk of perceived heresy and the threat of great bodily harm from the unwashed army of Beefheart lunatics out there, I have to say I really don’t dig much of the great man's post-“Lick My Decals Off, Baby” (1970) stuff. Listening to "Doc At The Radar Station" all the way through for the first time just confirms it. Granted, it’s from 1980, and a few folks’ll tell you that the Captain was beyond relevance at that point – but you’ll also get a number of partisans ready to pigpile you for questioning anything outside of "Bluejeans and Moonbeams" (the one no one likes). I heard "Doc" years ago & it really bugged me; all the herky, addled avant-blues of his first 4-5 records was muddled with a sort of by-the-numbers patented "Beefheart" vibe that it was clear to me then (and more so now) that he was caught red-handed milking his own persona for the few remaining folks that cared at the dawn of the eighties. Some of it’s so stupendously, calculatingly daffy and Zappa-like grating (like the godawful “Telephone”) that I can’t even listen all the way through. What’s worse, this or ZOOGZ RIFT? Help me, I can’t choose. Let me state for the record that there's a little good on "Doc" as well, like the thumping opener "Hot Head", for instance, and a lot of the harsh instrumental dissonance, but when it comes to the great Captain a 20% "good" ratio is exceptionally sub-par - particularly when I can listen to "Trout Mask" and "Mirror Man" and "Strictly Personal" back-to-back & want to immediately hear them all again (I haven't actually tried it, but I'm pretty sure it might happen). Wanting to fill in the gaps and get a compleat Beefheart collection, just to say you did it? Hey, it's your money, esse!