20 March, 2011

Captain Beefheart - Spotlight Kid & Clear Spot (1972)

Captain Beefheart - Spotlight Kid & Clear Spot (1972)
rock, blues, avantgarde | 2 lp on 1 cd | eac-flac-cue-log-cover | 450MB
The Spotlight Kid
On Spotlight Beefheart took over full production duties. Rather than returning to the artistic aggro of Trout Mask/Decals days, Spotlight takes things lower and looser, with a lot of typical Beefheart fun crawling around in weird, strange ways. Consider the ominous opening cut "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby" -it isn't just the title and Beefheart's breathy growl, but Rockette Morton's purring bass, Zoot Horn Rollo's snarling guitar, Ed Marimba's brisk fade on the cymbals again and again, and more. The overall atmosphere is definitely relaxed and fun, maybe one step up from a jam. Marimba's vibes and other percussion work -- including, of course, the marimba itself -- stand out quite a bit here as a result, perhaps, brought out from behind the drums and the more straightforward work on Clear Spot. Consider "When It Blows Its Stacks," with its unexpected breaks into more playful parts, or "Alice in Blunderland"'s admittedly more aimless approach, but vibing along well nonetheless. Sometimes things do sound maybe just a little too blasé, but Beefheart at his worst still has something more than most groups at their best. Spotlight does have one stone-cold Beefheart classic -- "Grow Fins," an understated number with fine harmonica and a brilliant lyric about getting so tired of his woman that the best option is to take to the sea and fall in love with a mermaid. Another song, though, does have an all-time great title -- "There Ain't No Santa Claus on the Evenin' Stage." Definite fun touch -- the cover photo of Beefheart looking great in a classic Nudie suit, outlined in yellow light to boot.
Clear Spot:
Producer Ted Templeman was a bit of a surprising choice given his firmly mainstream production credits, with the Doobie Brothers already under his belt and Van Halen lurking in the near future. As it turned out, such a combination led to a better-working fusion than might be expected, making one wonder why in the world Clear Spot wasn't more of a commercial success than it was. The sound is great throughout, and the feeling is of the coolest bar-band in town, not to mention one that could eat all the patrons for breakfast if it felt like it. Fans of the fully all-out side of Beefheart might find the end result not fully up to snuff as a result, but those less concerned with pushing back all borders all the time will enjoy his unexpected blend of everything tempered with a new accessibility. "Nowadays a Woman's Got to Hit a Man," besides having a brilliant title, shows the balance perfectly -- Van Vliet serves up his rough asides with all his expected wit and sass, while the Magic Band trade off notes here and there just so. At the same time, the track is strong blues-rock that doesn't pander, with a particularly fierce solo thanks to Zoot Horn Rollo. "My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains" is a great love song, the softer arrangement saved from being too off by Beefheart's delivery. Other winners include the title track, a sharp combination of an off-kilter arrangement for a straightforward melody, the great shaggy-dog story of "Golden Birdies," and "Big Eyed Beans from Venus," a fantastically strange piece of aggression.


-01. "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby" – 4:33
-02. "White Jam" – 2:55
-03. "Blabber 'n Smoke" – 2:46 (Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet)
-04. "When It Blows Its Stacks" – 3:40
-05. "Alice in Blunderland" – 3:54
-06. "The Spotlight Kid" – 3:21
-07. "Click Clack" – 3:30
-08. "Grow Fins" – 3:30
-09. "There Ain't No Santa Claus on the Evenin' Stage" – 3:11
-10. "Glider" – 4:34
-11. "Low Yo Yo Stuff" – 3:41
-12. "Nowadays a Woman's Gotta Hit a Man" – 3:46
-13. "Too Much Time" – 2:50
-14. "Circumstances" – 3:14
-15. "My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains" – 2:55
-16. "Sun Zoom Spark" – 2:13
-17. "Clear Spot" – 3:40
-18. "Crazy Little Thing" – 2:38
-19. "Long Neck Bottles" – 3:18
-20. "Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles" – 2:57
-21. "Big Eyed Beans from Venus" – 4:23
-22. "Golden Birdies" – 1:36

* Captain Beefheart - vocals, harmonica, jingle bells
* Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad) - guitar, slide guitar
* Rockette Morton (Mark Boston) - bass, guitar
* Drumbo (John French) - drums, percussion
* Ed Marimba/Ted Cactus (Art Tripp) - drums, percussion, marimba, piano, harpsichord
* Winged Eel Fingerling (Elliot Ingber) - guitar
* Rhys Clark - drums (on "Glider")
* Captain Beefheart - vocals, harmonica, "wings on Singabus" (apparently referring to the flapping noise you can hear when he says the word Singabus, in "Golden Birdies")
* Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad) - guitar, slide guitar, mandolin
* Rockette Morton (Mark Boston) - guitar, bass
* Ed Marimba (Art Tripp) - drums, percussion
* Orejón (Roy Estrada) - bass
* Milt Holland - percussion
* Russ Titelman - guitar
* The Blackberries - backing vocals


durmoll said...

p: lworld

Uri said...

A great classic!
I had spent quite a few wild nights in my youth with this album.

dewhy said...

The Vinyl is old and worn. CS is still CB's most accessible album. Many thanks!


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