Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Knebworth Don

Since my last Captain Beefheart post I've been hit with all manner of suggestions as to which Beefheart boots are worth hearing.
There are some links in the comments to the post, kindly provided by Zigzagwanderer, the best being BBC sessions, 1968, which is both good quality and a good listen (here's a direct D/L link if you can't be bothered to click your way back to the original post, but are maybe half-heartedly interested enough and will give it a listen seeing as it's just a few words back).

What I've got here came to me as a CDR, merely titled Knebworth Magic Band, 1975.
It suffers the Beefheart curse, I'm afraid, that being pretty poor quality; but this is interesting enough to put up despite its dodgy sound as it truly is a great set, and captures the more accessible Captain; the one who after Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby (his best!) suddenly became accessibly hip, producing The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot; albums that expanded his audience somewhat.

The quality varies during the recording; I'm not sure if the taper was moving around or whether it was a particular windy day - from my own experience of The Knebworth Festival (1978) I distinctly remember sounds emanating from the PA were very prone to being blown about; of course them were the days before dynamic and drilling outdoor sound systems; them were the days when the stacks were four times the size but half the oomph.

The instrumentation comes across pretty well, and the a capella 'Orange Claw Hammer' I think is if anything enhanced by it's distance and breeze effected delivery.

I guess by looking at the line-up, this set no doubt took place in the afternoon.
Floyd were headlining, and I assume in 75, Floyd fans probably wouldn't have been that up for the Magic Band's's curious syncopations or the Captain's growling delivery (and he really does growl, the opening 'Moonlight On Vermont' sounds like he's loaded on methadrine.
Perhaps he was...).

Beefheart does indicate an odd reception at one point, suggesting the audience could at least act drunk, to at least pretend they're beatniks (can't imagine that going down too well with a 75 Floyd audience), but he backs down and reveals that he's 'only teasing'.

I couldn't find out too much about this performance, except John French (Drumbo) who was mysteriously absent from the recording of Clear Spot, was back in the band, but playing guitar, no longer drums (Guitaro?); lead slide duties were taken up by Elliot Ingber; which is another reason for posting this, as The Winged Eel Fingerling, as he was known, is someone who's going to make an appearance in my next post.

So not the best recording, but if you're hard enough, well worth a listen.
With a bit of fiddling of the bass and treble, my CDR through the hi-fi doesn't sound too bad; although it makes Cem cringe something rotten; but then women often have a problem with Beefheart.
I can't for the life of me work out why that is....

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Live, Knebworth Festival, 1975.

Moonlight On Vermont
Abba Zabba
Orange Claw Hammer
Dali's Car
When it Blows it Stacks
My Human Gets Me Blues
Alice in Blunderland
Beatle Bones 'n' Smokin' Stones
Gimme Dat Harp Boy
I'm Gonna Booglarize You
Sam With the Showing Scalp Flat Top
Big Eyed Beans From Venus

CD rip to mp3s
Breezy Blues here

(As the set makes no reference to Unconditionally Guaranteed or Bluejeans & Moonbeams I haven't either.
Nuff said!)


zigzagwanderer said...

Hi Roy ,
Thanks for this , not perfect but a huge improvement on the crappy tape I bought in the early eighties .

derek.eder said...

Interesting and well written story about Elliot Ingber Roy!

I would like to see more written about him. Eliott is somewhat of a mystery man, at least on the internet.

It looks like you actually met Elliot, "Deep Throat" style (i.e., Watergate dark parking garage, not Linda Lovelace!)

All my bests,

Derek Eder