Saturday, September 5, 2015

doc at the radar station

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band came out of the colored land to mix up the best batch yet, burnin' up a storm with the ex-extract hocus pocus avion of an ashtray heart.  Don Van Vliet had gone into semi-retirement (again) after the release of Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) in 1978, living in a trailer in the Mojave desert working on his painting.  'Doc at the Radar Station' was recorded at Sound Castle Recording Studios in Los Angeles during June of 1980 with  Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) on vocals, Chinese gongs, harmonica, soprano saxophone, and bass clarinet;   John French on slide guitar, guitar, marimba, bass, and drums (on "Ashtray Heart" and "Sheriff of Hong Kong");   Bruce Lambourne Fowler on trombone;   Jeff Moris Tepper on slide guitar, guitar, and nerve guitar;  Eric Drew Feldman on synthesizer, bass, mellotron, grand piano, and electric piano;  and  Robert Arthur Williams on drums;  with  Gary Lucas adding guitar and French horn.  Van Vliet also did the painting on the album cover.  

Van Vliet would express:   "[I'm totally pleased with] every note. I did the whole thing, and it’s one of the first times I’ve been able to do the whole thing. It’s exactly the way I want it to be...This I did for $40,000, this album I just did, 'Doc At The Radar Station', I mean quick (clicks fingers). I like to move quick, and I knew exactly what I wanted done, and I done it, and that was it. The band played good...It pleases me [that the majority of the rock audience would probably find you very, very difficult to listen to], because of that momma heartbeat, that bom, bom, bom, it’s so boring, it’s so banal. I mean it’s so hypnotic, I don’t want to hypnotise anybody, I just want to play. I mean I want things to change like the patterns and shadows that fall from the sun...I’ve done a lot for drum – I mean I’ve written on every drum bit I’ve ever done – every note. I play the drums – I play the guitar – I play the piano. I want it exactly the way I want it – exactly. Any composer, I would think, would want it that way...I mean they play it, because I’m a composer, and they play my compositions. They play ‘em very good...I mean, other than the fact that they’re excellent players, they’re great players. I’m doing the music, I want it exactly the way I want it – and I don’t deviate at all. Don’t you think that somebody like Stravinsky, for instance, don’t you think that it would annoy him if somebody bent a note the wrong way? Or used a purple bow on a violin, when you want a red bow, or a green bow? Being simplistic, I mean there’s a lot of other colours..."

"Ashtray Heart" on SNL

"Hot Head"  on SNL

live in Paris, November 1980

Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man
Best Batch Yet
Dirty Blue Gene
Safe as Milk
Flavor Bud Living
Bat Chain Puller
Big Eyed Beans From Venus

'Doc at the Radar Station'
full album:

All tracks written by Don Van Vliet

Side One
1. "Hot Head"   3:23
2. "Ashtray Heart"   3:25
3. "A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond"   1:38
4. "Run Paint Run Run"   3:40
5. "Sue Egypt"   2:57
6. "Brickbats"   2:40
Side Two
1. "Dirty Blue Gene"   3:51
2. "Best Batch Yet"   5:02
3. "Telephone"   1:31
4. "Flavor Bud Living"   1:00
5. "Sheriff of Hong Kong"   6:34
6. "Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on My Knee"   3:11


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