First, total accountability: this is not "the" Magic Band. This is the group Don Van Vliet assembled with the help of his manager when the original Magic Band had literally walked out on him over financial disputes. No Zoot Horn Rollo or Winged-Eel Fingerling here, folks. This tour was in support of Unconditionally Guaranteed, it and its successor, Bluejeans & Moonbeams were supposed to be commercial breakthroughs for Captain Beefheart, and the gig took place at the Royal Theater in Drury Lane in 1974. The albums were recorded and produced very commercially, but the money never fell down from heaven -- or flowed from punters' pockets, either. The band -- guitarists Dean Smith and Fuzzy Fuscaldo (from Baby Huey's band), bassist Paul Uhrig, drummer Ty Grimes, keyboardist Michael Smotherman (he and Smith had played with Billy Joe Royal in his brief stint as a country music star), and reeds and woodwinds veteran Del Simmons (who had played with Glenn Miller) -- were given a set of rather stripped down blues and rock arrangements to manage the material. "Mirror Man" became a blues jam as much as "Abba Zaba" became a straight-ahead rocker; "Full Moon, Hot Sun" could have been the Allman Brothers with the Captain singing lead; "Sugar Bowl" is a rollicking soul tune with a great sax solo by Simmons, who takes it right outside one second and honks like a war walker the next. Smith is a killer slide player, but very straightforward. "Crazy Little Thing" has some true Beefheart voodoo in it, but it's still a funky blues tune. "Keep on Rubbin' (Mighty Crazy)" is a freaky ribald slippery blues boogie that goes on for over ten minutes. There is a version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" here that is truly of another world, sounding like a polka band playing New Orleans jazz. You're getting it, aren't you? This is not top-notch Captain Beefheart. That said, there are some truly interesting moments here, and most of this set is enjoyable. And let's face it, any unreleased Captain Beefheart is worth hearing once or twice right? OK. The bonus on this set is a "Capitol Radio Concert Ad" that is, if not compelling, at least humorous. ~ Thom Jurek
20657MCaptain Beefheart - Live: London 74 (CD)http://oldies.scdn5.secure.raxcdn.com/i/boxart/large/85/094636857725.jpg?v=427.9825.18USDDiscontinuedEMI ImportCDPop-RockCaptain-Beefheart2007-05-08
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