Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
Ice Cream For Crow Backing Tracks

Studio Sessions
Warner Bros. Recording Studios, North Hollywood, California
June-July 1982

The last Beefheart rarity I got lately from a friend who wants to stay anonymous. I didn't know about these instrumental versions before, these tracks are not the rehearsal tape form ICFC sessions, hre the tracks are nearly finished, several tracks starts with somebody counting.
Otherwise the same story as with the other outtakes: the tapes were made for a former band member in order to learn the tunes. Our guy got his tape directly from him, transferred the tapes to CDR using a stand alone CD burner.
Track 13 was damaged by maybe 65 diginoise scratches. It took some time but the problem could be solved by editing the track with Wavelab pencil.

Thank you very much again to Mr. Anonymous!

Lineage: Studio->1st gen tape->2nd gen tape->Fostex X-1 Portastudio->CDR->CDR->Wavelab->WAV->Trader's Little Helper->FLAC Level 8

01. The Host, The Ghost The Most Holy-O (2:25)
02. Ice Cream For Crow (5:35)
03. Cardboard Cutout Sundown (2:38)
04. Witch Doctor Life (2:43)
05. The Past Sure Is Tense (3:05)
06. Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat (4:48)
07. Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian (6:02)
08. Witch Doctor Life (2:38)
09. Ice Cream For Crow (4:43)
10. Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian (5:08)
11. The Past Sure Is Tense (3:28)
12. Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat (4:54)
13. Witch Doctor Life (2:43)

Total length: 50:57.40

Don Van Vliet: vocals, harmonica, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, chinese gongs, prop horn/kazoo
Gary Lucas: guitar, steel-appendage guitar, glass finger guitar, national steel dualion
Cliff Martinez: drums, percussion, shake bouquet, glass washboard, metal drums
Richard Snyder: bass guitar, marimba, viola
Jeff Moris Tepper: guitar, slide-guitar, steel-appendage guitar, acoustic guitar

Producer: Don Van Vliet
Engineer: Phil Brown

Cliff Martinez: Yeah! I've tried to think about the logic behind it all, the feeling, the emotion that was created, and what effect all at tension had on the music. When we went into the studio, I felt very much like I was in tune with the spirit of the music. The music always struck me as being, well, brilliant, melodic, angry, incomprehensible, with an undercurrent of humor. That was sort of the pressure, the tension that there was to play the part. You never really had the feeling of confidence. Everything had this real raw edge to it. You played every note like it was the last note you were ever going to play. lt demanded this kind of superhuman intensity, and that got on the record. We always discussed playing with this superhuman energy and the almost angry feeling that came across in the music. Maybe that's deliberate or maybe it's just a by-product of the way you feel after working with this man. The mindset you were in translated into the music. I never played anything with more energy, I mean, I played in a bunch of punk rock bands which was supposed to be high energy and angry. But that was never quite as close as the Beefheart thing. lt was always played with a spirit of anger and extreme high tension energy. lt seemed to benefit the music. bather that was intentional or not, I don't know.
(Grow Fins booklet)

Scott McFarland: I talked to someone who was there at the sessions and they described how Don basically ignored all advice from the engineers and gave the record a flat 2-dimensional (Don's conception of it) sound. It only makes sense that it would be a source of frustration for the engineers. I mean, let's face it, Ice Cream is exceedingly flat in sound, and Doc is too. Had Don ceded some of the reins in the studio, these recordings might be even more amazing. Personally, I think one of the reasons that Trout Mask stands out as such a masterpiece has to do with Zappa & his team's efforts to capture the sound of the band accurately and crisply.

Robert Williams: Phil Brown was the engineer on Ice Cream For Crow. Cliff Martinez told me that on the first day of recording Phil took a baffle and placed it two inches in front of the kick drum. I guess Phil was more concerned with microphone leAKAge than giving the bass drum a chance to breath. Now he's trying to suffocate us all with his scathing remarks about Don. I'll tell you one thing, he was God damned lucky to have the chance to work with Don in the first place. He should be grateful. "Boo hoo! Don yelled at me!"

Rick Snyder: His lack of formal musical training was his own enemy and his greatest asset. It was his nemesis insofar as it presented him with little or no vocabluary with which to communicate to musicians on their terms (e.g., at one time he instructed the drummer, Cliff, to play a beat that he had just given him "as if (he) was juggling a plate full of B.B.'s". Don really meant for him to play it in free time, without concern to making the downbeats of the phrase occur at regular intervals -- but he couldn't say it that way!). At no time could Don request of any of us that we play a specific note by name (e.g., "play an E flat there") -- he would instead whistle it, play it on a harmonica or, in a fit of exasperation, grab the neck of your instrument and percussively hit the fretboard with his hands in search of the note he was looking for. He frequently assumed the responsibility for any difficulty we were having, apologizing for not being able to tell us, in musical terms, what he was asking us to do. Armed, as it were, with a distinct lack of musical convention or vocabulary, Don was conversely able to create some of the most remarkable artistic "compositions" (he never called them "songs"), as if the noises made by our instruments were little more than colors to be applied to a canvas of air -- nothing more, nothing less.
In fact, the only time that we had an outright disagreement was when he instructed me to cut my hair (which I was quite fond of at the time), stating that if I insisted on keeping it long that I would not be allowed on either the album cover shot or the video, saying that I looked like "somebody's old aunt" with hair of such length. I eventually yielded, but not without a certain amount of grief on my part. A small price to pay ...
(Justin C. Sherill: Interview With Rick Snyder)

Rick Snyder: Light Reflected Off The Oceands Of The Moon, to the discerning listener, is in fact the same backing track for Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat, albeit with a bunch of Don's horns slapped on top of it and without the fade-out that brings "... Garland ..." to its close.
Ice Cream For Crow was, unfortunately, a bit of a rush job. The band, once again reshuffled, had to learn the material for this album and record it in a matter of months. There was little opportunity for the band that played on this record to acquire the intensity and volatile chemistry that the preceding band had attained through life together on the road, something which I view as a 'missed opportunity' of the highest order.
The only stuff that there might be would be alternate mixes and/or takes of Ice Cream For Crow tracks. A viola part which Don had asked me to dub on top of the title track was scrubbed in the final mix. There was, in my opinion, a better basic track for Witch Doctor Life than the one that was used. There are a few moments on the album that cry out for remixing, especially the last part of The Past Sure Is Tense where the guitar and harmonica parts seem to have been pushed just a little 'too' far over the edge. Oh, well ... if Don wanted it that way, then that way shall it be.
To anticipate the question, there were no recording sessions post-Ice Cream For Crow. That was the "swansong" -- or should I say, 'crowsong'?
( Posted by Ted Alvy)