Showing posts with label avant-garde. Show all posts
Showing posts with label avant-garde. Show all posts

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Upon the damn . . . oh, damn

Captain Beefheart is dead. Sh*t.

I happened upon the news tonight on
NPR. I wonder whether it'll get a mention on MTV. I wonder why I wonder, since even back when Music Television actually played music videos, the Captain wasn't in the mix.

Capitalism is one thing. Genius is another. You don't get to be a good capitalist trying to sell people genius. Usually.

HERE'S SOME of what the NPR story said:
Avant-garde musician Captain Beefheart died this morning in California from complications of multiple sclerosis. He was 69.

An all-time favorite of rock critics — and known to readers of lists of the best rock albums of all time as the guy with the hat and the fish face — Beefheart earned a reputation for making challenging music. But his work was, at its root, well-executed blues-based rock.

His given name was Don Vliet — he added a Van in between his first and last names later. He was one of those musicians who sold fewer records than his best-known fans: Tom Waits, members of R.E.M. and New Order are just a few of dozens. The late British DJ John Peel called Beefheart a true genius, possibly the only one rock ever produced.

Mark Mothersbaugh, of the band Devo, calls him one of the all-time greats.

"The Beatles and The Rolling Stones would definitely be in that group of what turned me on about music," Mothersbaugh says. "But I have to say that he made me want to be an artist."

Born in a Los Angeles suburb, the only child and art prodigy was featured on a local television show making animal sculptures as a child. When he was 13 years old, his family moved to the Mojave Desert, where he befriended a young Frank Zappa.

In 1966, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band signed with A&M records and scored a regional hit with a cover of Willie Dixon's "Diddy Wah Diddy." Pretty soon, Van Vliet was writing original material for his band. In a 1980 interview with the BBC, he insisted he was a composer, not a songwriter. And in his band, he was exacting.

"I play the drums. I play the guitar. I play the piano," he said. "I want it exactly the way I want it. Exactly. Don't you think that somebody like Stravinsky, for instance — don't you think that it would annoy him if somebody bent a note the wrong way?"

DON VAN VLIET is dead. Sh*t.

I miss the days when "avant-garde" rarely was a euphemism for "can't play their damn instruments" or, more simply, "noise." And I will miss Captain Beefheart.

Thank God for record albums.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yowl . . . or Crazy in Moloch!

A friend just turned me on to The Shaggs, the 1960s New Hampshire teen-girl group that Frank Zappa proclaimed "better than the Beatles."

Well, better than Yoko Ono's "Kiss Kiss Kiss," anyway.

Above, we hear The Shaggs perform "My Pal Foot Foot." If I were a cynical man, I would say "My Ass Ass, Pal."

Oh, wait. I
am a cynical man.

If only they'd thought to fake orgasms and call it "the bridge," "My Pal Foot Foot" (wink, wink) coulda gone straight to the top of the pops. The Shaggs could have could have made it after all.


if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write the song that will make me a star -- "Ima Go Puke in a Bucket and Call It Vichyssoise."

Lyrically, "Ima Go Puke in a Bucket and Call It Vichyssoise" will be simplistic, yet profound . . . and postverbal. Musically, it will be both "outsider" and "antifolk," with thrash/death-metal overtones. I wouldn't argue if you called it "post-antirhythmic hardcore punk."

ON THE other hand -- turning our musical thoughts back to The Shaggs -- "My Cutie" ain't bad. Seriously.

It's kind of got a pre-B-52s vibe within a folk-rock framework. "I'll give it a 77 and a half, Dick. There's a beat in there somewhere, and dancing is so yesterday's bourgeois rhythmic conformity, you f***ing fascist tool of musical repression."

Now, where's my bucket? For I'm with you in Rockland.

HAT TIP: Michigan Silverback.