Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
New York City, NY
January 25, 1971
Aud -> ? -> tape (2nd gen) -> Wavelab 3.0/Timeworks Mastering EQ -> cdr -> shn
01-Alice In Blunderland (7:27)
02-Bass Interlude/When Big Joan Sets Up Theme (0:32)
03-When Big Joan Sets Up (6:50)
04-Hair Pie: Bake III (2:05)
05-My Human Gets Me Blues (4:02)
06-Hair Pie: Bake II (0:34)
07-I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go (2:04)
08-One Red Rose That I Mean (2:15)
09-Abba Zaba (3:34)
10-Japan In A Dishpan (1:23) cut
12-Flash Gordon's Ape (11:03)
Captain Beefheart/Don Van Vliet: vocals, tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, harmonica
Rockette Morton/Mark Boston: bass guitar, guitar
Drumbo/John French: drums, percussion
Zoot Horn Rollo/Bill Harkleroad: guitar, slide guitar
Winged Eel Fingerling/Elliot Ingber: guitar, slide guitar
Ed Marimba/Art Tripp: marimba, drums, percussion
We also had a lot of connections outside of the normal rock crowd of musicians. Don was friendly with people
like Ornette Coleman. I remember one particular occasion when Don was visiting Ornette and we were going to
pick him up to take him to play this gig the band was playing at a Manhattan club. With us was the writer
Langdon Winner and we were both in this taxicab with my three guitars in the back and Don's horns and stuff.
So, we pull up to Ornette's house on Prince Street, and I step out of the cab to go up to knock on the door.
I'm standing there and all of a sudden I notice that Langdon's standing behind me because he really wants to
go up to meet Ornette. And then we both turn around and notice the cab driver driving off with all of our
instruments! And there goes my 1950's three digit Stratocaster - it was $360 or something, a Telecaster,
Don's Mark IV Selmer Soprano and Tenor saxes. It was some bucks leaving in that cab! I don't blame Langdon
for it, but I thought he was staying in the cab.
I ended up having to buy a guitar at a hawkshop, and borrowing another guitar from someone in the audience
and of course with my very aggressive right hand technique I was ripping the strings off the bridge pieces
- it was tough! It had to be the gig where Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman
had come to see us and I'm out of my mind because those were my idols!!!
[Bill Harkleroad: Lunar Notes]
Ry Cooder, with his group, and Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band, bowed to the New York Press
at Ungano's in mid-winter. Both are among the more progressive Warner/Reprise acts, though their use of
musical traditions accounts in part for their unique sounds....
Beefheart's Magic Band is a legend in its own time. Their set was a bare indication of their capabilities,
but it did demonstrate the free ensemble style they have developed. The band played with a crashing, rolling
motion, rocking but without any heavy handed emphasis on bar lines. Beefheart's incredible penetrating voice
was a bit contained, but right on with a few songs and some recitation. His band is far into his conception,
and together they are creating the most advanced pop music of the decade, with roots both in the blues and in
the New Jazz.
[Bob Palmer: Jazz & Pop News. April 1971]
Eventually the crowd moved into the main room to hear the music. Ry Cooder went on first and did a brilliant
twenty minutes. There was a long wait between sets because of the amount of the Captain's equipment. The
current Magic Band is made up of Rockette Morton (bass), Zoot Horn Rollo and Winged Eel Fingerling (guitars),
Drumbo (drums) and Ed Marimba (marimba and drums). Marimba wore a China Theatre of Operations WWII cap and a
black and white 40s bathrobe. He looks something like the actor who played Prince Baron in the Flash Gordon
serials. Morton, with a antennae of greased hair sticking from the top of the head, lunged to the apron of
the stage and thunked out a bass riff on his double necked guitar. Marimba plunked away. Morton retreated,
lunged again, played again and the two guitars joined in. Drumbo slapped at the snare. Suddenly they all came
together. You have to hear the Captain live or listen to his albums; his dogwhistle music is further out than
most ears (including mine) can hear. I was reminded of the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in Paris
in 1914 when the audience went mad because they thought all music, the very idea of music, was being attacked.
Stravinsky goes down easy today but it took the world awhile. So it is with The Captain. He stood between one
of the guitarists and Morton, holding a 1934 coloring book, smoking a cigarette and looking out over the
audience as though he was chairing a board meeting or watching troops storm the beach. Then he advanced, put
his mouth around the microphone and bawled out the words to I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe 'Till
I Have To Go, gesturing with his cigarette hand. He sang two verses and retired quietly back to the amps, where
he plugged in his electric soprano sax. When he came back again he put the bell of the sax over the mike, drew
in his breath and let it all out, fingering the sax like a piccolo.
Suddenly the tune stopped. No one was quite sure it had, and by the time they realized it and began to clap the
band was into its second number which climaxed with a drum duet between Drumbo and Ed Marimba. He flow a final
sax chorus, the band quit and as the Captain stepped back the mike fell out of its holder. The Captain picked
it up and said into it, "Webcor, Webcor. Thank you." He and the band departed the stage. Jan Van Vliet came out
and gave her husband a hug. The audience looked at each other, wondering how long it would take to figure out
what had just happened to them. For me, I figure it'll take about five years.
[Joel Vance: Capt. Beefheart A Day In The Life. Hit Parader. August 1971]
The first time I heard a recording was the week Trout Mask was released. A person played it for a group of us
mostly as a joke. He wanted us to hear The Blimp, and Old Fart At Play. Soon after that though, another friend
who was really into Beefheart took us into Manhattan to hear him live at Ungano's, which was a very small club.
I wasn't 10 feet from the stage and what I experienced that night changed my musical existence forever. Drumbo
- Artie Tripp - Rockette Morton - Zoot Horn Rollo. Just that would have been to much for me...................
......but the Captain..................Christ, he was awesome. Ed Marimba (Artie Tripp) came out on stage first
and opened a silver cigarette case, took out a cigarette, lit it, and then proceeded to tap on the cigarette
case into the microphone. In the middle of what seemed to me to be the most amazing percussion demonstration I
had ever seen, Rockette Morton came onto to the stage to play along with this. Next Drumbo followed by Zoot
Horn Rollo in a one piece clown costume. When they were finally all playing, out walks Beefheart. He walks
right up to the microphone, sticks his clarinette right on the mic and starts blowing the most ungodly sounds.
I was changed that night. I don't know any other way to explain it.
Don Van Vliet about Ungano's:
should it be called the 'periscope' instead of 'Ungano's? I don't have a thing for
small clubs, nor do I have a thing for big clubs. I don't care that much about wee-wee.
[Child's Garden Of Beefheart. Changes Vol. 2 #23. March 15, 1971]
Don Van Vliet 10 years later:
"Hey, man, take a look at these," Captain Beefheart exclaims, holding some slides up to the
bare bulb in his dressing rooms at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. "These are some pictures!" Taken by a local
freelancer, the slides show Beefheart standing at the microphone, blowing his soprano sax. "These were taken in
1969 at Ungano's, the first time I came to New York" he exclaims, and it's hard not to do a double-take. In 11
years, Beefheart appears to have aged hardly at all.
[John Morthland: Captain Beefheart. Music & Sound Output. May/June 1981]
I saw Beefheart for the first time that night at New York City's Ungano's. (Basement club -- 200 person
occupancy, closed down a few months later.) I'd been a fan since Trout Mask Replica, and had had my head blown
off seeing the band live at Ungano's in New York City in 1971. I found out 20+ years later, while interviewing
Gary Lucas on a radio show I was doing in Cambridge, that that show was his first Beefheart experience too.
How did you get involved with Don Van Vliet?
I was a fan originally. I knew his records up to Trout Mask Replica and I admired him a lot. When I was a
freshman at Yale University, in 1971, I saw that he was making an appearance in New York - his first on the
East Coast - so some friends and I drove down to see him play in a little mafia club called Ziggalano's. We went
into the club and they were playing Flying by the Faces over the p.a. I'll never forget: Don came out before
the show and said: "Will you please take off that music? How dare you think that people want to hear this music.
I mean, really, let's have some concern for the audience here". I liked his spirit because he was bucking up
against the corporate rock thing - this was Warner Brothers' attempt to push another of their artists at the
show. Anyway, they came out and demolished the house and my head, I remember thinking: "God, if I ever do
anything professionally, I would like to play with this guy". It just seemed to kind of go with musical
achievements; he was just killing everybody.
[Andrew Bennett: Guitar God & Monster. Your Flesh #26. Summer 1992]
One spot I remember us being well-received is Ungano's, a club in Manhattan where young listener Gary Lucas
became very impressed with Bill Harkleroad's guitar playing.
[Bill Harkleroad] sounded great. He did One Red Rose That I Mean, and that's what convinced me to want to be in
that band. I heard that and thought, "Man, that is the hippest thing I have ever heard in music." I said to
myself, "If I ever do anything in music professionally, I'm going to play with this band." I made a promise to
myself. I swear to you, that is a fact. I was completely blown awy, I thought it was the hippest form of
expression of music I had ever heard. That show just completely changed my life. Don didn't look too happy. He
walked out grimacing, kind of tense looking.
Don's attitude probably had something to do with the fact that earlier that evening he and Bill had all their
instruments stolen when Bill stepped out of a cab and it quickly drove away with the gear still in the trunk.
[Grow Fins linernotes]
I built my playing as a single-string Rock/Blues guitarist with heavy British Invasion influences. Then, I
discovered Captain Beefheart's -- Don Van Vliet's -- music, and this was the big shift in my development and
evolution as a guitarist. Hearing that, it was, "What are they doing? I've never heard a guitar played like
I went to see him play his debut gig in New York City when Lick My Decals Off, Baby came out. Warner Bros. had
him tour; it was an artist development project and they had Ry Cooder opening for him. This really rocked my
world. It was the most incredible band and the music they were playing was sheer ecstasy. I remember thinking
to myself, "If I ever do anything in music, I want to play with this guy." I made a vow with myself to pursue
this. Everybody in the band exuded charisma -- it was really heavy.
[Steven Cerio & George Petros. Interview with Gary Lucas. Seconds Magazine. April 1996]
The first time I saw him perform I was just transfixed. To me it was the pinnacle: so complex and yet so
beautiful and effortless and fun-loving. And Beefheart himself was a magical personality: he had a very
refreshing iconoclastic attitude - like an early punk - and his comments to the audience used to crack me up.
I remember him yelling at people who were sitting down: "Get up, get up, I'm older than you."
[Beef Encounters. Independent on S