Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982 [ENHANCED CD]
Genres: Alternative Rock, Special Interest, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Grow Fins is an impeccably assembled, lavishly produced, epic fanboy love poem to one of popular music's least popular and most influential geniuses, Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart. Packaged in a hardcover accordi... more »
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Grow Fins is an impeccably assembled, lavishly produced, epic fanboy love poem to one of popular music's least popular and most influential geniuses, Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart. Packaged in a hardcover accordion folio that recalls the 78-rpm era, five CDs of demos, acetates, concert recordings, video footage, and radio broadcasts are packaged alongside 112 densely annotated, highly illuminating pages of previously unpublished text and photos that leap from trainspotting minutiae to insider revelation. The sound has been cleaned up considerably, but the set is essentially the world's coolest bootleg. The upshot is that if you love Beefheart's music, you're likely to have already one-clicked it, but if you are looking for an introduction to his idiosyncratic and totally addictive music, you should hear Trout Mask Replica, Lick My Decals Off, Baby, and Safe as Milk first. This set traces the various permutations and exhilarating development of the Magic Band, from bluesy garage punks to otherworldly, thoroughly orchestrated avant-Delta/skronk/rock avatars of the Trout Mask sessions to the rejuvenated new-wave-era group. Insights into the Magic Band's working method abound, notably with the earliest recordings of Trout, in which they're rougher sounding and mostly instrumental, although their exacting precision disproves the legend that the music was banged out in a free-form free-for-all; clearly, it was a laborious effort. The video footage from Cannes Beach, France, in 1968 and the Detroit "Tubeworks" show in 1971 is priceless. The radio appearances on disc 5 are also thrilling; Beefheart plays solo harp and sings relaxed, spine-tingling a cappella songs. After beginning John Lee Hooker's "Black Snake Moan," which shows off Beefheart's infamous, multi-octave range, he stops in the middle, informing a Boston radio host, "I just can't get it through this microphone--it's too little." --Mike McGonigal
After such a long wait, what a vile disappointment.
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Nearly a decade ago, WHRB-FM in Cambridge, MA did a 24-hour Beefheart orgy (including -- how obnoxious can you get? -- calling Don at home). Seems that some of the personalities involved in that extravaganza had a hand (or flipper) in this, which causes my eyes to roll back white and pupilless in the manner of an impossibly confused zombie posing the following question: Why? Why waste our precious time and piasters, gentlemen? And ultimately, why, out of the truly vast and incongruous richness of unreleased Beefheart material out there (I've heard it), as teeming with unidentified flora and inexplicable fauna as must Australia have been to the first white man to set tainted his foot upon its shores, why, why, why did you choose these particular tracks? The contents of GROW FINS are neither representative of the full Van Vliet ouevre, nor are they by any means the best available versions. Five CDs was far too many; CD#2 is just obnoxious, that second "Electricity," the brilliant but unnecessary "Korn Ring Finger" (unnecessary because it's on the Buddah reissue); the Trout Mask rehearsals should have been edited down to about half; and where's "Well Well Well" with Rockette Morton on vox? Where's the other vocal treatment of "Flash Gordon's Ape"? Why not the poems from the Italian bootleg CD, why not "Light Reflected..." for the noodly sake of completionism, why not a sampling of the rest of the Avalon Ballroom stuff, the stuff we haven't ALREADY heard on a million bootlegs? Etcetera, etcetera. Point being, this is in many ways an insult to, and an advantage taken of the fans, and you're probably better off sacrificing this particular itch by going to www.beefheart.com and downloading a CD or two's worth of the spiny but flavorful rarities to be found growing there. ****By the way: the best way to torture obstreperous Beefheart fans is to make up 'unreleased' sessions which never actually took place, describe in a breathless rush the pristeenly tightwired tomfoolery of the material (a fetal version of "Clear Spot" in slow-as-honey waltz-time; a song called "Exactly What Yuh'd Have If Yuh Didn't Have Nuthin' Uh'tall" featuring the Captain playing five clarinets simultaneously, a sung treatment of "Apes-ma," ad nauseum), promise to dub them a copy or burn them a CD, and then give them a wrong phone number. Guaranteed."
Break Out the Cash and Grow a Fin!
x | USA | 03/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although the price of "Grow Fins" is steep, this set is essential if you are a fan of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Although they could have fit discs one and two onto one disc, I don't care. Although they could have added more video cuts or even some "clean" copies of Beefheart gems for which we have been waiting years (e.g., "Bat Chain Puller" original album), I don't care. Although the Trout Mask Sessions disc is filled with endless meaningless studio chatter, I don't care. Why do I not care? After listening to and absolutely loving the music on this set for several days now, I realized that despite its limitations, had this set been a bootleg costing twice the price, I still would have happily paid the cash and felt great about my purchase. The reason for my gleefulness is precisely because Don Van Vliet and his comrades produced such powerful, engaging music that I'll happily devour whatever scraps of music or studio chatter that they left behind. For the uninitiated listener, "Grow Fins" might not be the best place to start your journey into the world of Beefheart, but it isn't the worst, either. The music on the discs reveal a vast array of stylistic textures, showing how the band developed their music from their blues-oriented beginnings to their avant-garde blowouts of the early `70s. The video clips on Disc 4, although a little grainy, are wonderful examples of the early Beefheart and Magic Band. There are additional highlights on the other discs. On Disc 1, the demo of "I'm Glad" is absolutely gorgeous, as it showcases Don's incredible ability to use his voice with a rare tenderness. The blues-based songs on the disc show that the Captain Beefheart band was arguably the best blues band of that period. Unlike the numerous British bands that were butchering classic blues songs in that period (e.g., Yardbirds, Stones, among many others), Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band played the blues with technical and aesthetic authenticity. The version of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" on Disc 2 absolutely smokes. Disc 3 offers a penetrating look into the making of the classic "Trout Mask Replica." While there is a lot of insignificant studio chatter, many of the instrumental jams provide insight into how the songs developed over time. (Some of the studio chatter is hilarious, such as Don's discussion of how Herb Alpert uses overdubs on his albums. As a fan of postmodernism, I appreciate that it is often when nothing seems to be happening that everything is happening.) Although the final "Trout Mask" album sounds pretty chaotic to many people, it is actually highly cohesive when compared to the demos on "Grow Fins." My overall impression of "Grow Fins" can be summed up as follows: When is the next box set of rare Beefheart material going to be released?"
Revenant does it again
Mike M | Philadelphia, PA | 06/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very seldom is an artist as perfectly matched to a label as Captain Beefheart and Revenant. Revenant's reputation for outstanding releases in such fringe areas as early country blues and experimental jazz is perfectly suited to tackling a unique artist like Captain Beefheart. Here's who should get this box set:1) Revenant fans - Its their first box set and they won't let you down.2) Captain Beefheart fans - The unreleased tracks, demos, live tracks are amazing. And there's pc quicktime movies of concert footage!3) Trout Mask Replica fans - You haven't heard Trout until you heard the sessions presented here.4) Fans of Sun Ra/Zappa/electric Miles/Albert Ayler/Sonic Youth/Pere Ubu or any other noisy skronk music. A beautiful followup to this would be a DVD/VHS video release of Captain Beefheart concert footage."