Melting Pot

foto © Richard McCaffrey, Michael Ochs Archive & Getty Images

This past Sunday we paid tribute to Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart on Melting Pot, just a day after what would have been his 70th Birthday. As I’ve mentioned multiple times here in the last month, Beefheart was a major influence for me, and a major influence on many artists who I admire and enjoy, especially Tom Waits and The Minutemen. Having done a similar show 15+ years ago, I was mindful not to repeat the past (though I had played what remain my most favorite songs during that show, I did change about an hour of material and mixed the songs up even more), but I did make the same decision to not do this tribute chronologically. What I think this style of mix reveals is the remarkable consistency of both ideas and quality in Beefheart’s music. There are very few artists who recorded during this same period of time (1966-1982), where you’d be able to put music from the winter of their career paired with music from their spring and find that things mix as seamlessly as much of this music ultimately did. What I also found, and this may be a matter of personal taste in terms of the songs I chose, is how Beefheart’s music remained centered in the blues, even when he completely deconstructed the form. If Beefheart had just been a blues revivalist, ala Canned Heat, he likely would have had a much more financially successful career, but thankfully he was interested in pushing boundaries, even in his attempts at commerciality on The Spotlight Kid (1972), Clear Spot (1972), Unconditionally Guaranteed (1974) and Bluejeans & Moonbeams (1974).

As I mentioned at the end of the show, a special note truly has to be made about the role of Beefheart’s translators in his various “Magic” bands, John French, Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston, Gary Lucas and others, who were directly responsible for taking Beefheart’s ideas on how the music should sound and shaping them into reality. The Captain was certainly a genius, but like every other musical/artistic genius he didn’t create alone in a vacuum. Their debt to this music is often unrecognized, so I definitely wanted to acknowledge them in this tribute. I got a number of calls during the show thanking me for it and sharing Captain Beefheart stories, I’d love for that to continue here in the comments section. Two hours isn’t nearly enough time to fully honor the Captain’s memory, but I’m very grateful to have been able to do this show and hope you enjoy it.

Captain Beefheart Tribute on KPFK’s Melting Pot 1-16-2011: First Hour
Captain Beefheart Tribute on KPFK’s Melting Pot 1-16-2011: Second Hour

Captain Beefheart Tribute: 1-16-2011

{all tracks feature Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, except “Willie The Pimp” which is from the Frank Zappa album Hot Rats}

I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby – The Spotlight Kid (Reprise)
Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do – Safe As Milk (Buddah)
On Tomorrow/Beatle Bones N’ Smokin’ Stones – Strictly Personal (Blue Thumb)
The Past Sure Is Tense – Ice Cream For Crow (Virgin)
The Smithsonian Institute Bleus (Or The Big Dig) – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Straight)
Dirty Blue Gene – Safe As Milk (Bonus Cuts) (Buddah)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Ant Man Bee – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
Ashtray Heart – Doc At The Radar Station (Virgin)
Here I Am, I Always Am – The Legendary A&M Sessions (Edsel)
Click Clack – The Spotlight Kid (Reprise)
Owed T’ Alex – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (Warner Bros.)
Veteran’s Day Poppy – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Willie the Pimp – Hot Rats {Frank Zappa} (Bizarre)
Electricity – Safe As Milk (Buddah)
Excerpt from Fallin’ Ditch – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
I Love You, You Big Dummy – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Straight)
Ella Guru – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
The Floppy Boot Stomp – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (Warner Bros.)
Captains Holiday – Bluejeans & Moonbeams (Mercury)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

The Party Of Special Things To Do – Bluejeans & Moonbeams (Mercury)
Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles – Clear Spot (Reprise)
Full Moon, Hot Sun – Unconditionally Guaranteed (Mercury)
Sugar ‘N’ Spikes – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
Tropical Hot Dog Night – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (Warner Bros.)
Excerpt from Pena – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man – Clear Spot (Reprise)
One Rose That I Mean – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Straight)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains – Clear Spot (Reprise)
I’m Glad – Safe As Milk (Buddah)
Grow Fins – The Spotlight Kid (Reprise)
Gimme Dat Harp Boy – Strictly Personal (Blue Thumb)
The Buggy Boogie Woogie – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Straight)
Hair Pie: Bake 2 – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Moonlight On Vermont – Trout Mask Replica (Straight)
Frying Pan – The Legendary A&M Sessions (Edsel)
Ice Cream For Crow – Ice Cream For Crow (Virgin)
Dirty Blue Gene – Doc At The Radar Station (Virgin)
Lick My Decals Off, Baby – Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Straight)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian – Ice Cream For Crow (Virgin)

2 Responses to “Breakdown: Captain Beefheart Tribute on KPFK’s Melting Pot”

  1. Azeem

    This was the best show I heard. Great introduction for folks who have not yet discovered the captain. Love and miss the man.

  2. Michael Barnes

    Thanks for the kind words, I miss him as well and was just happy to have been able to give him a proper tribute.

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