This was the first time I saw Beefheart and he and the Magic Band were just brilliant. They played one of the most magnificent sets of music I had ever heard . A major attraction however, was the strangeness of the band and its figurehead. Of course being a long term fan of Trout Mask Replica and the earlier albums, I was expecting some eccentricity of dress and behaviour. The reality however, was something else again. Nothing could have truly prepared me for the audio visual onslaught delivered by this crew of misfit genius's.
The attire varied
from the majestic to the downright loony. The majesty was supplied by
Don Van Vliet , resplendent in his magnificent embroidered sun and moon
cape and tuxedo. The loony element was catered for fully by Ed Marimba,
wearing his long hair through the leg holes of a pair of women's panties
in a strange parody of a viking helmet. Zoot Horn Rollo and Winged Eel
Fingerling were pretty weirdly attired as well , sporting multi coloured
coats and trousers. Rockette Morton veered towards the magnificent in
his natty hat and suit , but this combination of attire was pretty mind
Of course, when we get to casualty we find there is a huge queue and as we have limited time before we have to be at the show, there is some degree of concern as to whether we can make it on time . However, Rodger is driving and has now become really worried about his foot , so we have no choice but to wait it out ,as its some distance between the two venues and we will not make it on foot. Charlie, as is his wont, decides to make a nuisance of himself and by exaggerating how bad Rodger really is and pestering the nursing staff he ensures that we get seen to quickly and thus arrive at De Mont in time to get ourselves tickets .
We are not down the front , but we are only about 12 rows back ,right in the middle ,so we get a nice view of the proceedings .There are no problems with Rodger being frisked by security, as they are distracted by his bandaged foot which is now without a shoe , as well as my attire of bowler hat and giant size 20 woman's striped coat with six inch wide heliotrope and khaki stripes which I have worn specially for the show. They are really taken by The Skull, who has a shaven head and proto skinhead attire. He always looks as if he is up to no good, even though he is essentially harmless.
So whilst the Skull is arguing with the security guys the rest of us take our places and Rodger , being somewhat paranoid as to the degree of interest being taken in our weird attire ,slides the deck under the row as Rockette Morton hits the stage and blows us out of our seats with his massive bass solo. The show is fabulous, the place is rocking with the combined output of six of the best musicians on the planet and we are screaming for more as well as giving a standing ovation by the end of the gig.
This is the set list from the show .
The MAGIC BAND prance, stumble ( but do not fall ), twist, leap, shooglenifty, caper,blast, carouse, rouse, sublimate, roister ,blabber and SMOKE . They are indescribably good and surpass all our wildest dreams . So out we stumble into the night , absolutely floored by this incredible music and wanting to hear the glories of the evenings music preserved in pristine form on our state of the art Phillips tape deck. Rodger did manage to flip the tape at some time during the evening and he is pretty confident that he has captured it all.
However , when we go to listen to the tape , it becomes clear that we should have been better equipped to carry out the task, as the results sound as though they were recorded in a toilet next door to the venue whilst the flush is being used. The floor was not the best place to put a device that was low fi to say the least ,as the music is muffled and one can hear foot shuffling and crowd noise far better than one can the music .
Unfortunately , the tape sucks, so bang goes Rodger's idea of being the Robert Stigwood of the bootleg set .We listen to it a few times, but the quality is too naff to bother with. Like an idiot I do not make a copy on my reel to reel.
During the course of the next few years I lose touch with Rodger, Charlie and the Skull, which means I also lose touch with the whereabouts of the tape. As far as I know Rodger keeps it, but no one bothers to make a copy , as most of us do not have tape decks in those days .
So now , 26 years down the road and back to reality, I ask myself ......
Is this tape still around,mouldering in a bottom draw amongst Rodger's old socks,has it pride of place in his tape collection, been remastered , digitalised , equalised and through wonders of technology , been restored to a state of the art recording ? Or ( horror of horrors )has it been wiped so Rodger's kids could listen to their fave Spice Girls albums when out for a spin in the car .. ....?
If the tape is still around , is it worth listening to ?
I need this tape, even it is absolute trash, but even if I did ever hear it, deep down , I know I'll never be able to fully recreate the ectasy of that first time I heard The Magic Band . But if I could I'd close my eyes and bring back visions . Visons of Ed Marimba , his monocle reflecting back the colours from the lights, his hair, in two pigtails, stuffed through the legholes of the pair of ladies panties that adorned his head , like some warped aviator helmet.Visons of Rockette Morton, in snappy loud suit, striding onstage and laying down the most bass bomb solo you ever heard in your life. Visions of Zoot Horn Rollo, his spindly legs dwarfed by the huge coat he wore on his upper half ,busy Booglarising our collective souls. Visions of Winged Eel Fingerling , wide eyed and reckless, flying all over the stage in his wild abandon to the music .Visions of the stocky Orejon, he of the Mothers and Little Feat, pinning it all together with his rock solid bottom lines, the Bill Wyman of the Magic Band , still, whilst all around him was a frenzy . But above all , I'd conjure up visions of the gifted Captain Beefheart, whose voice just broke me up SO much , that it was almost hurtful to hear him at times, so much emotion and soul was contained therein ......
It was an amazing performance , by an amazing band , playing incredible music and putting on an incredible theatrical show , which was rarely matched by anyone else . Those of us who did attend any of their concerts in the late 60s and early 70s should feel honoured to have been able to live through those wonderful musical events ,which will probably never come our way again.
Since this article
has been written I have come into possession of a tape of the show,
which is fairly good quality- so its definitely not Rodgers copy ....)
The beginning bass solo
quality is dire,but the rest is distant , but listenable - more detailed
info and links to other 1972 shows here
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