Captain Beefheart - Electricity [Yellow Lable - 2008]Electricity is a great introduction to the weird and wonderful world of Captain Beefheart, this double disk set brings together a fine section of tracks from his first two albums and approachable rare odd ‘n’ ends from the same period leading up to his avant classic Trout Mask Replica- without which the experimental music scene of today would be very different place.
This compilation was original released some years ago in a single disk format here it’s been digitally remastered with new liner notes and three rare bonus tracks added on. At this point in his career his material was still approachable yet never the less odd for the time- this collection shows the elements that would develop into the jagged, surreal, discordant collection of tracks that would fill the seminal Trout Mask Replica which anticipate punk, new wave and noise guitar music.
The music here is a lot more blues & 60’s rock based relying on more conventional song structures and melodies than his later work - though he still sprinkles the songs with all manner of different musically genre traits, clever surreal lyrics and musically twists and turns. On his first album safe as milk, of which 8 of the original 12 tracks are featured here, one of the main players in the band was Ry Cooder who presented some impressive passionate, inventive and still fresh sounding today guitar playing. Sadly he only stayed around for one album, but the bands sound developed and changed to different shapes that wouldn’t have so fit his style of playing
A few highlights from the set are; Electricity with Great alien shimmering thermin and pressing, wiring guitar work of Ry Cooder, Yellow Brick road slide guitar and stomping groove, or the second disks manic, bedraggled and surreal ragged blues jam that is Tarotplane and it’s 19 minute playing time that finds some great sharp and discordant harmonica playing and howling and baying at the moon vocals by Beefheart himself. Though it’s all consistent and enjoyable, with none of those not so great fan batting rare tracks that this kind of compilation can sometimes have on it.
An ideal & approachable introduction to one of the musical and lyrical geniuses of the 60’s and 70’s, who’s sound traces can still be heard burning bright in many of today’s experimental musical projects. Roger Batty