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10 November 2009

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - 'Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)' (Warner Bros.)

The return to form, always slightly disappointing once you've heard bootlegs of the original Bat Chain Puller, but still pretty solid. 'Tropical Hot Dog Night' shows how bouncy Latin rhythms and brassy trumpet accents can coexist with the growling freakazoid Van Vliet from ten years earlier. There's a bit of gasping and wheezing but the vocal range is still there, and I dig the pervy undercurrent here because it's all bit creepier when he's a bit older and the 70's have (mostly) happened. It's a compromise, sure, but it feels genuine to me. When I listen to this I feel pretty good, but not insane; 1978 was a downer time for a lot of people and it's funny to think about this coming out alongside the Ramones, Television, and other edgy youth music. There isn't a whole lot of attitude here, as the focus seems to be more about precision. I like it crispy. 'Apes-Ma' is a genteel reminder of the man's poetic gift and such an awesome coda to this record; flip it over and start again cause 'The Floppy Boot Stomp' feels nearly epic. 'When I See Mommy I Feel Like a Mummy' is a top-tapper that reminds me of the really guttural, viscious rawk from Lick My Decals Off, Baby. 'You Know You're A Man' is supposed to be like that too, but it just reminds me of a more awkward, limp version of something that Devo did much better in their Hardcore days. I usually skip 'Harry Irene', another dud track, just because the trad sieve loses me; the wavering warbling voice as well ... I dunno, it works in other songs but this feels like some more of the Buster Poindexter style - not DVV's strength. Except for when he shouts 'What's the meaning in this?' because I still haven't figured it out. The lineup doesn't feel quite as gelled, perhaps because there's so many different instruments on it. Jeff Tepper is the only Beefheart guitarist who I can really recall - Ed Marimba is limited to just the marimba and percussion though he could slice out guitar riffs pretty fucking nicely too. I guess using real names here was supposed to show some sort of maturation or maybe they did that on the two records I skipped owning too; but the tucked-in shirts?

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