“Lost” Captain Beefheart performances to be released on DVD

Don Van Vliet, (1941-2010) better known to his legions of fans as ‘Captain Beefheart’ was one of the most enigmatic figures in rock music. Unashamedly an artist, rather than a pop star, he forged his own idiosyncratic furrow through popular culture, producing some of the most innovative and uncompromising music ever committed to recording tape.

Captain Beefheart - Lost Broadcasts

From the age of three he painted and sculpted, and had an obsession with animals and the natural world. As a teenager he was friends with Frank Zappa, and as early as 1963 they recorded a demo under the name ‘The Soots’. Sadly this was unsuccessful, and the world would have to wait a few more years before Beefheart’s own unique take on the blues would be heard by anyone outside his own particular circle of friends. His first album, ‘Safe as Milk’ came out in 1967.

Probably the most important album of the Captain’s career was the Zappa produced ‘Trout Mask Replica’ which was released in 1969. Its mixture of blues, free-form improvisation and heavily structured Van Vliet avant-garde compositions proved too much for many listeners but eventually ensured him a place in the history books. High profile fans of this album include the late John Peel, who would remain a champion of Beefheart’s until he died.

In 1972 Captain Beefheart released two albums; ‘The Spotlight Kid’ and ‘Clear Spot’. He also toured the UK and Europe with the Magic Band, even performing two concerts at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall. On April 12th , in the middle of the European leg of the tour, Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band stopped off at the Beat Club studios in Bremen, Germany to film a session for later transmission. Of the four songs filmed that day only one track has ever been broadcast. The band at that time included: Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) vocals, harp; Rockette Morton (Mark Boston) guitar and bass; Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad) guitar; Orejon (Roy Estrada) bass; Ed Marimba (Art Tripp) drums; and Winged Eel Fingerling (Elliot Ingber) guitar. Author Jon Kirkman describes the recordings: “The session kicks off with a bass solo entitled ‘Mascara Snake’. This short piece was named after a former member of the Magic Band Victor Hayden (Don’s cousin), who had appeared on the ‘Trout Mask Replica’ album. The solo is played by Mark Boston, although at this point former Mothers of Invention bassist Roy Estrada had joined The Magic Band following his departure from Little Feat in early 1972. The other songs in the set here include a track dating back to ‘Trout Mask Replica’ (‘Steal Softly Thru Snow’) and also a track that would be featured on ‘Clear Spot’ some eight months later (‘Golden Birdies’).

Now, over 40 years later UK label Gonzo MultiMedia will be releasing these historic Beat Club sessions on DVD titled ‘Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band – The Lost Broadcasts’. These films have not been seen in over 4 decades and are the complete sessions from April 12, 1972. Only one song was broadcast at the time and then never to be seen again. This DVD contains all the material filmed during that session now available for the very first time.

‘The Lost Broadcasts’ will be released on 18 June 2012.
More info: www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk.

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