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Captain Beefheart
  the Magic Band.

   This was the second time I saw Beefheart live.The whole festival was a wash out, security collapsed , the field was flooded. but we still had a GREAT time, helped along by the likes of  The  Captain, Dr John and the Grateful Dead. I recently got an audience tape of the Beefheart show. Surprisingly its mostly very good. How anyone could tape in that weather was amazing. The sound of the tape is not exactly pristine, but it brought back that wonderful show to me more clearly.Tape quality starts out fairly muddy, but soon gets to B+ to A- standard.

Bickershaw: Beefheart prevails
Due to various backstage problems (which plague the entire weekend ) the Magic Band have to wait for a full hour onstage before they can get to their instruments and plug into their amps.But once given the go ahead, finally Rockette Morton takes off his coat and divests himself of his gloves ( its COLD )

Pausing for a moment , he reaches down into his guitar case , hauls out his bass and straps it on, then he fits a cigar in his mouth, coolly lights it and steps out in front on his own.

Morton boogies, slamming massive distorted bass chords that send shivers through the crowd, he duck walks the length of the stage. His goatee pushes forward doing a hypnotic little dance as he bends our collective minds with his strange syncopated bass lines, its like watching Lenin on acid .
His introduction done ,the Magic Band come on and join in the fun. Zoot Horn Rollo is bizarre .He's wearing an embroidered overcoat , a giant hat and a pair of fetching women's tights on his pipe cleaner thin legs. He sports a pair of old sneakers to complete the ensemble. The bearded Winged Eel Fingerling on guitar is equally odd , his hair quiffed forward in a bizarre Elvis parody , complete with shades ( handy when its 3 a m ) .

The estimable Ed Marimba attends to his drumming duties whilst wearing a pair of ladies panties on his head, his hair swept up through the crotch holes on either side in a pair of lewd pigtails .

Then Beefheart walks into the spotlight. The band launch into When it Blows Its Stacks -and suddenly the stage is full of boogieing , swaying , dancing musicians who almost bounce off each other in their enthusiasm , the rhythms are as usual , bizarrely catchy , blues based but bent into weird shapes , never quite what the listener expects to hear , they somehow make sense, but only just - its Magic Band music and as such its unique, NO ONE else plays rock music like this band does.

Once the band hit this high they just don't stop. The music attains a level that is impossibly high but the band maintain this for a whole hour ! Its relentless, its manic, it was impossibly fucking amazing folks and those of us who were there were privileged people , amazingly lucky to witness this white hot cauldron of music being played during a freezing cold night on a Lancashire stage during a festival that was coming apart at the seams .

The first fingers of a gray and pallid dawn were breaking through at 4am when the band finished up , they had drained and entertained us all , woken the sleeping , drawn the huddled festival goers from their tents and sleeping bags to the stage to witness one of the best ever sets at ANY festival .






              Yessss indeedy. this was a GREAT performance, although the reviewer sells the Cap'n himself somewhat short. His voice is out of this world. On the ac cappella  Old Black Snake  he just plays with the word"sucking , over and over and over again, stretching it out almost endlessly. Virtuoso stuff. There also was a pretty extended break, where there was a PA problem. That's why he did Old Black Snake just then which showcased his incredible voice. At the time in the crowd the pa was pretty much dead, so when he sang it was more or less non amplified , but such was the power of his voice that even though I was about 20 metres away you could still hear him clearly , quite a feat.
           Beefs stage wear was also impressive, not as weird as Rollo or The Eel, but spectacular nevertheless. As was his custom during the 1972 tour the Capn was wearing his Sun and Moon embroidered cape, very "Spotlight Kid" looking in his black suit and white  shirt. He really was an imposing figure on stage,a massive presence , he would prowl around during the instrumental breaks and one was drawn to him, no matter what other madness was going on around.

The audience recordings
       There are at least two versions of this show. The more widely circulated of the two is the one that appears on the Grow Fins compilation, but there is another , which is unfortunately incomplete , due to a tape speed problem that restricts its listenable length to about 20 minutes. The unfortunate thing is that its a far better sounding tape than the complete show . Does anyone know of any other versions that are in existence.  ?

Known Setlist.

        Rockette Morton's bass solo -

        The Mascara Fake. 

        When It Blows Its Stacks 

        Click Clack. 

        Grow Fins 

        Hobo Chang Ba. 

        Booglarise You. 

        Black Snake. 


        Abba Zabba. 

        Alice in Blunderland. 

        My Human Gets Me Blues. 

        Steal Softly Through Snow. 

        Golden Birdies. 

        Spitball Scalped A Baby. 

 Thus spake the Captain. 
  The Captain addressed us on occasions ,here's the transcript of some of it after Abba Zabba .
"I'd like to introduce the group at this time.
On guitar, Zoot Horn Rollo on guitar.
On bass, Orejon , Orejon on bass.
On drums ,percussion, Ed Marimba. On lights, the Collie , did you see the collie ?  
( I thought this was Comet, but apparently its collie see explanation  ****  below )
On bass , and guitar , Rockette Morton.
Behind the beautiful black be -bops, Winged Eel Fingerling on guitar.
Like to do a composition from the Spotlight Kid , and the Spotlight Kid on spotlight, Alice in Blunderland, featuring Winged Eel Fingerling on Guitar."

  There are a few references to the Spotlight Kid throughout the show, a reference to the spotlight being played on the band from the lighting tower in the audience, which was about where I stood for this show , not wanting to stand in the water which pooled in the front of the stage. 

     At the beginning of the tape after Rockette  Morton's bass solo, there is some weird wordplay on The Mascara Snake. Firstly Rockette, remarks- "'The Mascara Snake""and then during a pause in the solo Beefheart says""And this is the Mascara Fake " Rockette then plays his ass off some more ,pauses and then he says"-"and this is the Mascara for gods sake"The solo finally finishes and then Don says " and this is the Mascara ...."to much laughter from band and crowd alike .

**** "Did you see the Collie "is correct, not Comet as I thought -Chris Jones writes
Re Beefheart at Bickershaw - have consulted with a friend and Beefheart definitely said "You see the collie" Not "you see the Comet". He was referring to a dog that got on to the stage.

This is what my mate Ray (aka Gino) says about it . . .

Beefheart certainly did introduce the collie since this dog wandered on stage just a moment after Don introduced the Magic Band and called out to the Spotlight Kid on spotlight. If you were in the crowd at the back the dog would probably have gone unseen and the aptness of Don's quip would have been lost.

(As a first-time visitor much taken by your site, I can add:)
The collie referred to in the article may well be the one responsible for another remark made by the Captain:
At one stage there was a silence interrupted by a dog's bark ...
To which the good Captain quipped through his mic to the audience:
"D'yer hear that dog? ... He got in for free!"Keep on keeping on!
Best Wishes
Jean-Luke Epstein


This from Chris Jones transcribed from an alternative audience tape to the Grow Fins version

"Why don't you turn off the monitors, we'll do this next composition without the monitors. ??? we don't need the monitors to play. Doh?, oh it's not the monitor. Now everybody's going to know we're human beings. No, I'm just kidding, I'm kidding, I'm kidding."
He then mutters something indiscernible and the band laugh.
"If I had an electric light on right now, I wouldn't take it out for nothing."
"All right, here we go, ah. Zoot Horn Rollo on guitar. A composition, a composition Peon from the album Lick My Decals Off Baby. Rockette Morton on bass this time. Thank you, thank you for waiting


  Just about everything really , as mentioned before , Rockette Morton's entrance was pretty much standard fare in the shows I saw in 1972 but it was one of the most impressive ways to start a show I've ever seen. "When it blows its stacks" and" Booglarize you" are so heavy that its a wonder the band didn't collapse the stage . "Click clack" is wild. " Alice in Blunderland" is stunning, Eel really turning on the guitarwork , which is teeth grindingly good .Likewise the work in "Human gets me blues" is totally demented.Beef picks up his soprano sax during "Steal softly" and rips forth a goodly spew of screeching and a nice little unaccompanied solo which then segues through into "Golden Birdies," which is pretty much immaculate. "Spitball Scalped  A Baby " has a short drum intro and then its the soprano again , about halfway through this the Cap'n says forcefully " leave that alone man, leave those things alone. ".

    I have no idea what he is referring to , although it could quite possibly have been some audience member fiddling with something onstage as by that time the security all had split, as the organizers made the mistake of either paying them for the weekends work or not being able to pay the security at all. Whatever, they all left, so the festival was free from about Saturday onwards.This meant that by Sunday half the local village had joined the crowd, so that during the Dead's set there were old ladies and grizzled miners dancing with the hippies in the mud to the strains of "Casey Jones." .

This new photo of the Magic Band at Bickershaw courtesy of Jules ©

There are some great photos of this show on Detlef Jurgens excellent Captain Beefheart Timeline site
More Beef concerts? go here to Electricity

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