Wednesday, July 11, 2012

40 Year Itch: Just A Sea Of Air

After singing on the first three Deep Purple albums, including the hits "Hush" and "Kentucky Woman", Rod Evans was dismissed from Deep Purple who went on to record heavier, more popular ( and more plodding)  albums. After recording a solo album he founded Captain Beyond with Edgar Winter Band drummer Bobby Caldwell and two former members of Iron Buttefly: bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt. Reinhardt has played with future Allman Brothers Bandmates Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley and it was Duane Allman who convinced Capricorn Records to sign the band.

Captain Beyond performing "I Can't Feel Nothin'(Part One)", "As The Moon Speaks (To The Waves of The Sea)" and "I Can't Feel Nothin' (Part Two)"

Captain Beyond's debut, released in July of 1972, offers listeners thirty five minutes of hard rock at its most powerful and precise. Like The Moody Blues albums of the time, songs effortlessly merge into each other.

 In an interview with Classic Rock Revisited, the late "Rhino" Reinhardt ( He passed away in January) talks about the time changes in the lead off track "Dancing Madly Backwards":

“Dancing Madly Backwards” is basically a blues song if you play it in 4/4. I switched it around to 5/4. It is a twelve bar but it has an odd meter to it. I had this riff and Bobby came up with that beat and when we played it together, the song was born.

Captain Beyond is also a blueprint for all the hard rock bands that followed. Some of the apparent Captain Beyond rules I've copped from listening to the album:

1. Don't worry about the lyrics; just sing them like a man.
2. Mix up the meters.
3. Mix up the guitar hooks. No fewer than three a song.
4. Give the guitarist some room!

I don't listen to a lot of hard rock but I hear Screaming Trees in some tracks. Unfortunately Capricorn Records heard a band that could boogie like label mates The Allman Brothers. But as "Rhino" said, that's not what Captain Beyond wanted to do:

We had a big problem with the record company. We put out the first album and they were calling us a ‘Super Group.’ It was just a term being thrown around. We were like “What Super Group? What are they talking about?” After the Allman’s came out with the Fillmore Phil (Walden) came to us and said, “I want you guys to start playing that kind of music.” A year before he thought we were the best thing since sliced bread and we were one of the best things that he had ever heard. I said, “That is not what Captain Beyond is all about. We can’t change from our first album to a second album where we sound just like the Allman Brothers. You’ve already got one of those.” But that is what happened; southern rock was taking over. We had a running battle with Capricorn. We have heard from people who worked at Capricorn over the years that Phil was under reporting how many albums we were actually selling so he could make it look like we were not doing anything, thus, he wouldn’t have to spend any money to pay us. We never even got the gold album that we should have. A lot of things went wrong. After the second album, it was over.

Too bad. But Captain Beyond left us with at least one classic album. Perhaps the best hard rock album of 1972.

Captain Beyond performs "Dancing Madly (On A Sea Of Air), "Armworth" and "Myopic Void"

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