Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Moonlight in Vermont

Listening to Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart. I think it may be the best album ever made.

Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about let me attempt to give some means of understanding my position while acknowledging the inability of the reader to listen to what I'm talking about.

(For some samples of tracks you could always go to Amazon or your iTunes store - but neither of these will offer relief. Good luck finding it.)

I think it sounds like free jazz mixed with delta blues.. Or you could picture what happens if you mix Robert Johnson, the Velvet Underground and Ornette Coleman together with Bob Dylan writing lyrics. And what's not cool about that?

(For the record I like all of the above mentioned artists. I like Dylan's lyrics, Coleman's jazz, Johnson's blues and the Velvet's rock noise. If you do not you may not like this particular offering. But then again it doesn't have to have your approval to be great, does it?)

Of course, he said with a self-satisfied academic guffaw, most people liken his work to Frank Zappa's. Yet Beefheart goes way beyond Zappa's work. Not that Zappa is exactly absent - he shows up as producer and you can hear him talking on some the tracks recording the album.

I should mention that the album was recorded in about 5 hours. That's not due to the seeming chaos of the album, which does sound raw. The band had practiced the songs for more than ten hours a day for months on end in "cultish" conditions.

Someone said that this album was the closest thing music had produced to parallel modern art.

That's why I love it. It is not easy listening. Look at Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Almost everyone loves this album. Millions will claim that it is the best album ever made. Yet what are its accomplishments, besides having 13 nice tracks? It showed that pop music could attain a status of art. It showed that the 'fab four' girl crushes could make something universal and enjoyed by everyone. That a pop album could win the grammy for best album.

(For those who follow such things it might also be noted that Bob Newhart once won album of the year. I like Newhart, but jeez. The grammies have a bit of a reputation for travesties.)

(For those of you keeping track this is the fourth parenthetical.)

Perhaps I shall metamorphose this blog into an area for fiction as well as music, movie, and book criticism. We shall see.

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