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Captain Beefheart - Harpo's Detroit Dec 11th 1980 (CD)

Genre: Experimental rock
Release Date: 28th April 2014

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: GZO104CD
Price: £9.99
Available: In stock


Captain Beefheart - Harpo's Detroit Dec 11th 1980

Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band (1965–1982), with whom he recorded 13 studio albums. Noted for his powerful singing voice with its wide range, Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments. His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition. Beefheart was also known for exercising an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians, and for often constructing myths about his life.

During his teen years in Lancaster, California, Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste and formed ‘a mutually useful but volatile’ friendship with Frank Zappa, with whom he sporadically competed and collaborated. He began performing with his Captain Beefheart persona in 1964 and joined the original Magic Band line-up, initiated by Alexis Snouffer, in 1965. The group drew attention with their cover of Bo Diddley's Diddy Wah Diddy, which became a regional hit. It was followed by their acclaimed debut album Safe as Milk, released in 1967 on Buddah Records. After being dropped by two consecutive record labels, they signed to Zappa's Straight Records. As producer, Zappa granted Beefheart unrestrained artistic freedom in making 1969's Trout Mask Replica, which ranked 58th in Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 1974, frustrated by lack of commercial success, he released two albums of more conventional rock music that were critically panned; this move, combined with not having been paid for a European tour, and years of enduring Beefheart's abusive behavior, led the entire band to quit. Beefheart eventually formed a new Magic Band with a group of younger musicians and regained contemporary approval through three final albums: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (1978), Doc at the Radar Station (1980) and Ice Cream for Crow (1982).

Van Vliet has been described as ‘...one of modern music's true innovators’ with ‘...a singular body of work virtually unrivalled in its daring and fluid creativity.’ Although he achieved little commercial or mainstream critical success, he sustained a cult following as a ‘highly significant’ and ‘incalculable’ influence on an array of New Wave, punk, post-punk, experimental and alternative rock musicians. Known for his enigmatic personality and relationship with the public, Van Vliet made few public appearances after his retirement from music (and from his Beefheart persona) in 1982. He pursued a career in art, an interest that originated in his childhood talent for sculpture, and a venture that proved to be his most financially secure. His expressionist paintings and drawings command high prices, and have been exhibited in art galleries and museums across the world. Van Vliet died in 2010, having suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years.

This extraordinary record catches the Captain at his best; live on styage in 1980 during the tour for ‘Doc at the Radar Station’.

REVIEWS

"...holds and captures the raw essence of a typical Beefheart live performance, with bursts of strident energy and melodic flashes that always surprise. This ultimately is one of those albums that simply defy classification. It's truly in a league of its own. A must for fans of the Good Captain..." Blues Matters, August 2014


Tracks:

Track Listing:

1. Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man
2. Abba Zabba
3. Hot Head
4. Ashtray Heart
5. Dirty Blue Gene
6. Best Batch Yet
7. Safe As Milk 
8. Doctor Dark
9. A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond
10. One Red Rose That I Mean
11. Bat Chain Puller
12. My Human Gets Me Blues
13. Sugar And Spikes
14. Sheriff Of Hong Kong
15. The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back-Kandy Korn
16. Suction Prints
17. Big Eyed Beans From Venus

 



 Review: Rare Captain Beefheart Concert Recording


Captain Beefheart Harpo's 1980

It seems that even the bootleggers had a hard time pinning down the legendary Captain Beefheart (a/k/a Don Van Vliet) since there seems to be a lack of the artist’s live material available for purchase. There are a handful of European shows of dodgy legal (and sonic) provenance released via fly-by-night labels, a misbegotten effort that did little to extend the good Captain’s musical legacy. 

Rhino Handmade had a nice little 1978 vintage radio broadcast available on a limited basis, but there were no authorized live records released during Beefheart’s major label career that I’m aware of…and since the few Beefheart boots and semi-boots appear and disappear without warning, there’s not much available for the collector to spend their hard-earned coin. Thanks to Gonzo Multimedia, however, fans of the Captain have reason to rejoice with the May 13th, 2014 (U.S.) release of Harpo’s Detroit Dec 11th 1980, a 17-track live recording from the infamous Motor City venue and a show that the Reverend likely attended (mass beer consumption has dulled otherwise vivid memories of many Detroit nights).

Captured live on tape during the 1980 tour for their Doc At The Radar Station album, Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band at the time included guitarists Jeff Moris Tepper and Richard Snyder, bassist Eric Drew Feldman, and drummer Robert Williams. While the set is heavy on material from Radar Station, comprising six of that album’s twelve songs, it also includes such Beefheart favorites as “Abba Zabba,” “Safe As Milk,” and “Bat Chain Puller” as part of the set list.

Growing up north of Los Angeles in the desert community of Lancaster, California Van Vliet found a kindred spirit as a teenager with fellow musician and oddball Frank Zappa. He began performing as Captain Beefheart in 1964, joining the existing Magic Band line-up that had been formed by Alexis Snouffer in 1965. Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band released their critically-acclaimed debut album Safe As Milk on the Buddah Records label in 1967, but Buddah execs shied away from that album’s follow-up, Strictly Personal, which was subsequently released in 1968 by producer Bob Krasnow’s Blue Thumb Records.

The third time’s a charm, as they say, and after being dumped by both Buddah and Blue Thumb, Beefheart and crew were signed to Zappa’s Straight Records, where they were provided complete artistic control, resulting in the classic 1969 album Trout Mask Replica. Beefheart and one form or another of the Magic Band would record a total of thirteen studio albums before Van Vliet retired from music after the 1982 release of Ice Cream For Crow. Van Vliet turned to painting as his chosen form of expression, a career that proved to be more commercially successful than music, and in which he was equally as influential.

Read on...


Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work..


Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work..

 Review: Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Live From Harpo's 1980 Gonzo 2014


http://www.criticaljazz.com/2014/05/captain-beefheart-magic-band-live-from.html

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The artist who laid the ground work for the independent creative spirit, Captain Beefheart is back!
  
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
  
Captain Beefheart was an enigma. Fans flocked to him despite the lack of what we would measure today as true commercial success and fellow musicians while admiring his creative bent, occasionally feared him. Harpo's Detroit Dec. 11 1980 is an archival find and one of those rare concert gems that allows you to relive the magic all over again.
  
A friend and occasional musical co-conspirator with the legendary Frank Zappa, Beefheart adopted his new persona in 1964 and the rest is as they say - history. Born Don Glen Vliet his elective vision was a mix of rock, blues, and psychedila with the avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition. A cult following was born to be sure. While the 1969 recording Trout Mask Replica still holds on to a coveted position as one of the 500 greatest albums from the 2003 Rolling Stone poll, Beefheart went on to enjoy a far more profitable career in the art world with his work commanding high prices to this day.
  
The Magic Band were a rotating band of musicians that Beefheart often ruled with an iron fist. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band live captures the ensemble on their Doc at the Radar Station tour. An absolute must for fans and historians!
Tracks: Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man; Abba Zabba; Hot Head; Ashtray Heart; Dirty Blue Gene; Best Batch Yet; Safe As Milk; Doctor Dark; A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond; One Red Rose That I Mean; Bat Chain Puller; My Human Gets Me Blues; Sugar And Spikes; Sheriff Of Hong Kong; The Dust Blows Forward; The Dust Blows Back-Kandy Korn; Suction Prints; Big Eyed Beans From Venus.

 Review: Captain Beefheart Live Portugal review translated


http://vianocturna2000.blogspot.pt/2014/06/review-harpos-detroit-dec-11-1980.html

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Review: Harpos Detroit Dec. 11, 1980 (Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band)

Harpos Detroit Dec. 11, 1980 (Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band)
(2014, Gonzo Multimedia)
(3.5/6)
Don Van Vliet (15 January 1941-17 December 2010) was a musician, singer, songwriter, artist and American poet who was known by the name of Captain Beefheart .Between 1965 and 1982, his work became known by musical ensemble of musicians that accompanied with the suggestive name Magic Band , with whom he recorded 13 studio albums. Remains in memory his powerful voice, hoarse and the ability to play harmonica and saxophone and other wind instruments. Musically, crossed the rock , the blues and psychedelia with a strong sense avant-garde and a great deal of experimentation. He was also known for his dictatorial attitudes about their musicians and the construction of many myths about his life. During his stay in Lancaster, California, established relations with the seminal Frank Zappa who arrived to cooperate on some occasions. As Captain Beefheart began in 1964 with the first line-up of theMagic Band emerged in 1965.'s first album, Safe As Milk , was released in 1967 by Buddah Records . Van Vliet has been described as one of the most innovative musicians of modern music. However both in commercial terms and in terms of criticism never achieved great success, despite maintaining a statute of worship with a significant influence on movements such as new wave ,punk , post-punk , experimental and alternative rock . Historical Overview taken left us approach this work that the British Gonzo Multimedia publishes.This is a rare recording of the concert recorded live at Harpos Concert Theaterin Detroit in 1980, during the tour to promote the album Doc At The Radar Station . Unfortunately, it is not easy from this hard for us to perceive the whole of the collective creativity because of poor sound pickup from the concert.There is much noise, tickets and instruments that are not percetíveis which makes listening to this album a real mess. Therefore, this is not the best historical document to effectively realize the importance and quality of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band .
Tracklist:
1.      Intro
2.      Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man
3.       Abba Zabba
4.      Hot Head
5.      Ashtray Heart
6.      Dirty Blue Gene
7.      Best Batch Yet
8.      Safe As Milk
9.      Dr. Dark
10.  A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond
11.  One Red Rose That I Mean
12.  Bat Chain Puller
13.  My Human Gets Me Blues
14.  Sugar & Spikes
15.  Sheriff Of Hong Kong
16.  The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back
17.  Kandy Korn
18.  Suction Prints
19.  Big Eyed Beans From Venus
Line-up:
Captain Beefheart – vocais, saxofone
Eric Drew Feldman - bass, synthesizers, mandolin, mellotron
Robert Williams – bateria, percussão
Richard Snyder - guitarras
Jeff Tapir White – guitarras
Jeff Moris Tepper – guitarras
Internet:
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO:

 Review: CAPTAIN BEEFHEART: US Review


http://www.thatdevilmusic.com/2014/07/cd-review-captain-beefheart-magic-bands.html

Friday, July 4, 2014


CD Review: Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band's Live From Harpos 1980

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band's Live from Harpos 1980
Don Van Vliet, better known by his stage name Captain Beefheart, is one of those hipster musical icons that a lot of people have heard of, but far fewer have actually heard. A talented multi-instrumentalist (harmonica, saxophone, clarinet) and dynamic singer, Vliet was influenced by the blues and jazz music of his youth, taking his cue from artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and John Coltrane. As a teenager, he would become friends with like-minded musical oddball Frank Zappa, a contentious relationship that began in the 1950s and was on/off until Zappa’s death in 1993. The collaboration resulted in several recordings over the years, including one fine full-length album, 1975’s Bongo Fury.

 

The Magic Band


Taking on the stage name Captain Beefheart, Van Vliet hooked up with the Magic Band, a Los Angeles-based R&B outfit. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (as they were originally billed) recorded a couple of bluesy but unconventional singles for A&M Records that got them dumped by the label. After the Captain shook-up the band’s line-up and brought in guitarist Ry Cooder (then of blues-rock outfit Rising Sons), they recorded the Safe As Milk album for Buddah Records in 1967. Displaying a heavy blues influence, the album would nonetheless offer signs of Beefheart’s future musical amalgam of psychedelic rock, blues, improvisational jazz, and avant-garde experimentation that would result in 1969’s Trout Mask Replica, an album of such enduring weirdness and timelessness that it has influenced countless songwriters and musicians to follow, from Tom Waits to Sonic Youth and beyond.

Beefheart recorded thirteen albums with the Magic Band between 1965 and 1982, when he hung up his microphone for a life of creative contemplation and visual art, a rare case of an influential musician making the leap into the art world, where Van Vliet’s drawings and paintings demanded premium pricing and were exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. During his tenure at the head of the Magic Band, however, Beefheart’s artistic temperament earned him the reputation of being a real asshole. A strict bandleader and notorious cheapskate, Beefheart kept his bandmates in perpetual poverty and frequently abused them verbally and, sometimes, physically.

 

Captain Beefheart's Live From Harpos 1980


Still, due to his recognized genius, Beefheart was able to recruit and keep a number of extremely talented musicians in his Magic Band through the years. Such was the case as illustrated by Live From Harpos 1980, an invaluable document that captures a remarkable performance by Beefheart & the Magic Band at Harpos, a longstanding Detroit concert venue, in December 1980. Touring in support of the Doc at the Radar Station album, which was released in August 1980, the Magic Band that backed up Beefheart in the Motor City included guitarist Jeff Moris Tepper, bassist Eric Drew Feldman, and drummer Robert Arthur Williams, all of which had also appeared on 1978’s Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)album. The line-up on this cold night in Detroit was rounded out by guitarists Richard Snyder and Jeff Tapir/White.

The Reverend attended this show at Harpos; I frequently haunted the club (as well as the New Miami) after getting off work from the Trailways bus station in downtown Detroit. Since it began hosting rock ‘n’ roll shows in 1973, Harpos had become a worthy heir to Russ Gibbs’ legendary Grande Ballroom, hosting shows by artists as diverse as Ted Nugent, Mitch Ryder, Johnny Winter, Cheap Trick and, yes, Captain Beefheart. The club moved more towards heavy metal in the 1980s, and rap/hip-hop in the 1990s (including legendary Goth rapper Esham, the real “Motor City Madman”); best I can tell, they’re still rockin’ at Harpos today. I probably got to the club late; as I wouldn’t have left downtown until midnight, but I wasn’t going to pass up the rare opportunity to catch Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band perform live, even if I don't remember much of it today (after the beer-fueled decade of the '80s).

The set list for Live From Harpos 1980 is appropriately heavy on material from Radar Station, comprising six of that album’s twelve songs, including a growling, snarling performance of “Hot Head” that features some stellar guitarplay with shotgun solos, and Beefheart’s mesmerizing vocals dancing sloppily atop a fractured, circular rhythm. “Ashtray Heart” is of a similar construct, with Beefheart’s scatting vocals be-bopping alongside a syncopated soundtrack and squalls of razor-sharp guitar. The sagely-titled “A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond” is an enchanting, all too brief instrumental with guitars intertwining to create an elegant, classically-oriented soundscape that is atypical for the Captain and his band.

 

Bat Chain Puller


Among its 17 songs, Live From Harpos 1980 also includes several choice cuts from across the band’s storied career. The Delta blues-influenced “Abba Zabba” is a throwback from the Safe As Milk album, a dark-hued stomper with tribal rhythms and the Captain’s best raspy, Howlin’ Wolf styled sandpaper vocals. “My Human Gets Me Blues” dates back toTrout Mask Replica, the song a nifty lil’ slice o’ jump ‘n’ jive with surreal, seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics and a cacophonic symphony as a backdrop. Originally recorded to appear on an unreleased (until 2012) album of the same name, “Bat Chain Puller” landed on Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller); its performance here is all right angles, with raw, primal, often-screamed vocals and jumbled instrumentation that often works at cross purposes with itself.

Also from Shiny Beast, “Suction Prints” is the sound of collapsing buildings, with Beefheart’s tortured saxophone up front, barely escaping from the instrumental barrage of squealing guitars, madcap drumbeats, and thunderous rhythms. In the best Beefheart tradition, it sounds like it was created by a brace of insane criminals who broke out of the asylum and found refuge in a recording studio, each inmate taking out their hostilities and fractured obsessions on the innocent instruments.

 

The Reverend's Bottom Line


The sound on Live From Harpos 1980 is a notch above bootleg quality – hollow, muddy, slightly distorted, and with a bit of echo – most of which is par for the era in which it was recorded, some of which is due to the provenance of the original tape, no doubt (sounds to my ears like a good audience recording). Since Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band never released a live album during the nearly two decades of their existence, however, and as there are only a handful of readily available live Beefheart albums to be found, Live From Harpos 1980 is a welcome addition to the artist’s canon. The performances are singularly abrasive, and thoroughly entertaining, if you’re of a similar mindset (and evidently a small number of us fellow travelers are in that odd position). Captain Beefheart isn’t for everybody, but he might just be for you! (Gonzo Multimedia, released May 13, 2014)
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO:
Harpo's Detroit Dec 11th 1980
CD - £9.99

Lunar Notes - Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experience
Book - £9.99

The Lost Broadcasts
DVD - £9.99

 Review: Captain Beefheart: Live UK review


 

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART And The Magic Band 
Live at Harpo’s Detroit 1980
Gonzo 
Ah, Captain Beefheart. Hate him or hate him, he certainly cut an interesting figure, with his interesting approach to music. And by interesting, I mean “bypassing it totally”. However, there are people out there with malfunctioning ears who like this sort of thing. 
It’s one for the diehards, though, as it’s basically a bootleg. Recorded at Harpo’s, Detroit on December 11, 1980, it sees the “Captain” presenting his aural aneurysms with a band comprising bassist Eric Drew, drummer Robert Williams, and guitarists Richard Snyder, Jeff Tapir-White, and Jeff Morris Teeper. In amongst that there is some mumbling and bellowing, which I assume is the “Captain” “singing”. 
The thing I enjoy most about Beefheart fans is their breathtaking condescension towards people who don’t get it. It’s a joy to wind them up and watch them slowly melt down as you explain to them that there is more musical merit in three minutes of ‘You Could Have Been A Lady’ by Hot Chocolate than there is in the entire Beefheart oeuvre. And, Beefheart fan, I do know what oeuvre means, so don’t wave your second class Arts degree at me. 
Back on the CD, there are things called ‘Abba Babba’, ‘Dr. Dark’, ‘Sugar And Spikes’ and ‘A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond’, soundtracked to the noise of a rutting walrus playing out of tune jazz. Enjoy.
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO:

Harpo's Detroit Dec 11th 1980
CD - £9.99

Lunar Notes - Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experience
Book - £9.99

The Lost Broadcasts
DVD - £9.99

 Review: Capt Beefheart: Detroit Live US review


Album Review: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band — Live From Harpo’s 1980
The late Captain Beefheart is one of those rare creatures. The casual music fan is unfamiliar with his name; a subset of those who know of him have actually heard him; fewer still can make a reasonable claim to actually enjoying his music. 
Appreciate it, yes: I know of quite a few of my friends (certainly not a cross section of American pop music fans) who own Beefheart’s classic Trout Mask Replica. I have an original vinyl copy myself. But neither they nor I play our copies all too often. Beefheart’s music is challenging at best, making few if any concessions to musical convention. Beefheart’s music can be described as a sort of wild, unhinged free jazz/blues hybrid, often featuring the man’s growling vocals (he reportedly had a five-octave range), along with his saxophone. While his band lineup (generally dubbed The Magic Band) followed the standard rock configuration, Beefheart’s music can’t be called rock, not by any reasonable understanding of the term. That said, Beefheart’s critical reputation is stratospheric. 
By 1980, Beefheart (born Don Van Vliet) had entered the second of his most highly-regarded phases; the string of albums released between 1978 and 1982 rank among his best, and those three records – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Doc at the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow actually sold in some quantities as well. Around the time of Doc at the Radar Station, Beefheart and band were the musical guests on Saturday Night Live. And it was days after that SNL performance – December 11, 1980, that Beefheart and The Magic Band appeared onstage at Detroit’s Harpo’s Concert Theatre. The good news is that someone recorded the show: very few legitimate Beefheart live albums exist, and none of those (up to now) date from this fertile period in his career. 
The bad new is that the sound quality is awful. Bootleg enthusiasts – a group that includes myself – may not have such a tough time sitting through this boomy audience recording, but those whose ears are more attuned to studio albums and professional recording techniques might find Live From Harpo’s 1980 tough going. And there’s nothing here that approaches the accessibility of such Beefheart cuts as “Zig Zag Wanderer” (included on the Where the Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets compilation) or “Diddy Wah Diddy” (featured on the 4CD expanded version of the original Nuggetsset). 
Those who do endure or tolerate the dreadful audio quality will, however, find their reward: on this night, Beefheart and band (Eric Drew Feldman on bass and synthesizer, drummer Robert Williams, and three guitarists: Richard Snyder, Jeff Tapir/Whiteand Jeff Moris Tepper) tear through a set that draws both from new and old material. Tunes from his first three albums are performed right along with newer material, including about half of the songs on Doc at the Radar Station. The night’s lineup is quite close to the personnel that recorded Doc six months earlier. 
The brief liner notes offer a capsule history of Beefheart’s career, noting that the man retired from public performance in 1982, less than two years after this recording was made. The liners also assert that “this CD catches the Captain at his best.” That may well be true, but the capture itself is dodgy; owing to the execrable sound quality, Live From Harpo’s 1980 is best left to completists only; everyone else should stick with Beefeart’s, um, more accessible studio output.

 Review: Detroit Live US review


Album Review: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band — Live From Harpo’s 1980

The late Captain Beefheart is one of those rare creatures. The casual music fan is unfamiliar with his name; a subset of those who know of him have actually heard him; fewer still can make a reasonable claim to actually enjoying his music. 
Appreciate it, yes: I know of quite a few of my friends (certainly not a cross section of American pop music fans) who own Beefheart’s classic Trout Mask Replica. I have an original vinyl copy myself. But neither they nor I play our copies all too often. Beefheart’s music is challenging at best, making few if any concessions to musical convention. Beefheart’s music can be described as a sort of wild, unhinged free jazz/blues hybrid, often featuring the man’s growling vocals (he reportedly had a five-octave range), along with his saxophone. While his band lineup (generally dubbed The Magic Band) followed the standard rock configuration, Beefheart’s music can’t be called rock, not by any reasonable understanding of the term. That said, Beefheart’s critical reputation is stratospheric. 
By 1980, Beefheart (born Don Van Vliet) had entered the second of his most highly-regarded phases; the string of albums released between 1978 and 1982 rank among his best, and those three records – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Doc at the Radar Stationand Ice Cream for Crow actually sold in some quantities as well. Around the time of Doc at the Radar Station, Beefheart and band were the musical guests on Saturday Night Live. And it was days after that SNL performance – December 11, 1980, that Beefheart and The Magic Band appeared onstage at Detroit’s Harpo’s Concert Theatre. The good news is that someone recorded the show: very few legitimate Beefheart live albums exist, and none of those (up to now) date from this fertile period in his career. 
The bad new is that the sound quality is awful. Bootleg enthusiasts – a group that includes myself – may not have such a tough time sitting through this boomy audience recording, but those whose ears are more attuned to studio albums and professional recording techniques might find Live From Harpo’s 1980 tough going. And there’s nothing here that approaches the accessibility of such Beefheart cuts as “Zig Zag Wanderer” (included on the Where the Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets compilation) or “Diddy Wah Diddy” (featured on the 4CD expanded version of the original Nuggetsset). 
Those who do endure or tolerate the dreadful audio quality will, however, find their reward: on this night, Beefheart and band (Eric Drew Feldman on bass and synthesizer, drummer Robert Williams, and three guitarists: Richard Snyder, Jeff Tapir/Whiteand Jeff Moris Tepper) tear through a set that draws both from new and old material. Tunes from his first three albums are performed right along with newer material, including about half of the songs on Doc at the Radar Station. The night’s lineup is quite close to the personnel that recorded Doc six months earlier. 
The brief liner notes offer a capsule history of Beefheart’s career, noting that the man retired from public performance in 1982, less than two years after this recording was made. The liners also assert that “this CD catches the Captain at his best.” That may well be true, but the capture itself is dodgy; owing to the execrable sound quality, Live From Harpo’s 1980 is best left to completists only; everyone else should stick with Beefeart’s, um, more accessible studio output.

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