Captain Beefheart sings ‘Seaweed Beard Foam Bone Tree’ (and dozens more obscurities)
’Violent white apes in a restaurant with red necks had an uprising…’ (‘Snow Apes’ by Don Van Vliet, via Doyle)
You could spend your whole life on Gary Lucas’ Soundcloud page; indeed, the way things are going, you probably should. There’s heaps of Gary Lucas music—Gary plays Fellini and Hitchcock scores; Gary plays Bob Dylan, T.Rex, Pink Floyd, the Stones, Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, and a Miles Davis/Suicide medley; Gary plays with David Johansen, Alan Vega, Nick Cave, the Andrew Oldham Orchestra, and Kevin Coyne—and there’s slabs of poetry and music by Don Van Vliet.
Even the jaded Beefheart aficionado who can play the harmonica part on “Little Scratch,” the prized outtake from The Spotlight Kid, with her toes and a vacuum cleaner may not know such gems as “The Sand Failure,” “Flat Mattress,” “The I Saw Shop,” “The World Crawled over the Razor Blade,” “Let’s Get to the Good and Go,” “Luxury Crunch,” “Skol in a Hole,” “Hearts Aren’t That Casual,” “Pork Chop Blue around the Rind,” and “Away from Survival,” among others. True, some of these tracks appeared on Rhino Handmade’s Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh (which is hopelessly out of print and retails for about a grand), but some, as far as I can tell, have not appeared anywhere other than in Gary Lucas’ monster sound hoard.
Much of this Beefheart stuff is spoken, but there are fragments of melodies and lyrical ideas, too, and some actual songs. As on “Pork Chop Blue around the Rind” and its second part, “Skol in a Hole,” both recorded in Lucas’ West Village apartment in 1983, Van Vliet has some kind of percussion accompaniment on “Seaweed Beard Foam Bone Tree,” but whether it’s thumbs drumming on a dinner table, tape artifacts or the endogenous thudding of a reel-to-reel I cannot say.
And here’s Gary Lucas playing “Evening Bell” and talking about his time in the Magic Band at the Captain Beefheart Symposium in Copenhagen in 2011:
Previously on Dangerous Minds: