Amougies (Belgium), Festival Actuel
28 October 1969
source: audience recording (mono)
So here it is at last - Captain Beefheart's set from the last day of the Amougies festival. When I seeded the compilation of Frank Zappa's Amougies jams, I wrongly assumed the tracks featuring Zappa had all be officially released. In fact that wasn't the case. The only tracks available commercially are tracks 2 and 3, but track 6, which also features Zappa, was left off my compilation. So here it is, available for the first time ever I believe. In order to comply to DaD's rules, I've had to leave out tracks 2 and 3 - sorry !
I've added below a few quotes from band members borrowed from the internet, to get a clearer idea of what the atmosphere was like at the festival, and for this concert in particular... I'm sure fans will enjoy the opportunity of hearing the "Captain Bullshit" incident for real.
Lastly, the usual reminder about the sound quality - the tape recorder used was way below modern standards and the sound is nowhere near "professional" quality. This reservation aside, however, this is simply an unbelievable document of a legendary festival, and so our hearfelt thanks to the taper, JJB, for recording this at the time, and for allowing me to seed it here.
Bill Harkleroad: All I can remember is playing in front of thousands of people huddled together in sleeping bags at three in the morning in this huge circus tent. It's 27 degrees out, and there's frost on my strings! It was Don, Victor, Mark, me and Jeff Burchell on drums. Frank was sitting in with us, because he was supposed to be the festival MC - a difficult job when he spoke no French and most of the audience spoke no English. Having Frank play with us made me a little more nervous than normal. I think we played 5 tunes - the five tunes Jeff knew and that was it. Pretty weird flying us all the way over there and playing one gig!
Don Van Vliet: We had a good time. I don't know, what they were doing; they were throwing what looked like birds nests at us, and then one fellow out of the audience - between one of the compositions - said my name was Captain Bullshit, and I said: "well, that's all right baby, you're sitting in it." You know what I mean? I don't know if he was an American; I'm not sure, because he was using early Gary Cooper movie talk. Like "yep", things like that. I think they did well in five days and moving it from France to Belgium. But it was awfully cold... the people in the audience, I don't know how they did it. I think it was probably pretty nice for them to leave their bodies... but the amplifiers were blown out by the time we got to them, and we need clarity for that, and there wasn't any. I don't know. I hope they enjoyed it. I enjoyed it.
FZ: It was really miserable - a few tents and the people began to turn up from nowhere and they turned on the PA and that worked and they turned on the lights and they worked, and the groups actually began to play and by God they had a pop festival. And then they looked at it and realised that they had to keep on for five days. I was asked to join the festiva1. They first of all asked for the Mothers to play but there weren't any Mothers of that time, so Pierre Latt¸s who I had known for some time, asked me to co-host the festival, but when I arrived there I found that most of the people spoke French and they wouldn't know what the fuck I was talking about so it was useless for me to introduce the groups. So Pierre suggested that I might play with some of the groups. But I was at a great disadvantage because I didn't have my own guitar...
1. introduction (4:45)
2. She's Too Much For My Mirror (2:17) [deleted]
3. My Human Gets Me Blues (4:15) [deleted]
4. Wild Life (3:54)
5. Hobo Chang Ba (2:23)
6. When Big Joan Sets Up (w. Zappa) (20:16)
Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) vocals, tenor & soprano sax, bass clarinet
Victor Hayden (The Mascara Snake) - bass clarinet
Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo) - guitars
Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) - bass
Jeff Burchell (The Imposter Drumbo) - drums & percussion
Frank Zappa - guitar (1/2/6)
bonus - from Day 2 (Oct 25)
Alexis Korner & The New Church
5. unknown (8:16)
Alexis Korner: vocals, electric guitar & mando guitar
Peter Thorup: vocals, guitars & harmonica
Ray Warleigh: alto sax & flute
Nick South: bass