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8 November 2009

Captain Beefheart - 'The Spotlight Kid' (Reprise)

I'm not really a fan of this album though I'm sure if I listened to it a million times I would probably find something to love. It's a stab at the commercial moon, with slower more 4/4 songs and generally less chaos. 'I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby' opens it up and it's like the Captain trying to be Barry White or something. I like the low brassy vibrations when he sings deep but the jerkoff rhythm feels a bit too , I dunno, careful? A song like 'Blabber and Smoke' actually misuses the marimba, in my opinion, and Van Vliet sounds like he's singing from the end of a weird tunnel. The dark guitar riffs and slightly too clever and the plodding rhythm section actually sounds slick. There's elements to enjoy -- 'Click Clack' and 'Grow Fins' are a demented interlude in the middle of side 2, and even the more accessible songs are still charming if you like the whole general Captain Beefheart thing. A few of the brighter riffs, such as in 'Alice in Blunderland', are pleasing in the same way that I don't mind hearing a band like Deerhoof, yet a far cry from the self-swallowing rhythmic monster I know this band is capable of. And the solos are positively alien to the Beefheart aesthetic, if you ask me -- this is not a 'jam band'. It's funny how Unconditionally Guaranteed and Bluejeans and Moonbeams are completely reviled by everyone, including Beefheart himself, while The Spotlight Kid is still considered part of the canon. I've only heard Unconditionally once and barely remember it, but I don't think it was all that much more 'inside' than this one. Not that commercialism in itself is a negative thing - but after the massive highs of Decals and Trout Mask it's hard not to be disappointed. The cover says everything though, and I wonder if this had some demented weird artwork instead, then I might enjoy it more.

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