Wednesday, October 3, 2012

40 Year Itch : Captain Beefheart Sells Out?

What does Don Van Vliet , The Doobie Brothers and David Lee Roth have in common? The answer is producer Ted Templeman. For Captain Beefheart's second album of 1972, Templeman somehow talked the  avant-garde dictator into trying something  accessible. The result is not only my favorite Captain Beefheart album, Clear Spot , but probably the easiest way to turn the casual rock fan onto the Captain. It's also his most romantic album and his biggest seller, peaking at #191 on the Billboard 200.

   With its horn section and backing vocals by the Blackberries, "Too Much Time" sounds like a great Van Morrison cover. That's your golden wedge. Now turn your friends onto the gorgeous "My Head Is My Only House Until It Rains".

Things get wilder but they never challenge listeners the way Trout Mask Replica does. Unfortunately his most famous album is probably the first one people hear...and the last one.

Legend has it, Don Van Vliet wrote all the songs on Clear Spot on I-95 between Boston and New Haven. But several of the songs, including the title track were leftovers from Spotlight Kid. Still, I love the idea of the Captain writing "Too Much Time" as he rode past the Guilford, CT exits where I was growing up that year.

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