Sunday, 20 June 2010

My Top Favourite 350 songs of all time. #344

Captain Beefheart. A name to strike fear in the hearts and minds of the adventurous pop fan. I’d always presumed he would be a bit like Zappa, a self-satisfied riot of supposedly ironic bigotry and smug musical pastiches. So he wasn’t someone I set out to listen to. I’d see his records at the houses of people whose tastes I’d precociously learnt to automatically distrust. I’d shanted (passim), I would not be dining at the Heart of Beef.

Until one Saturday evening maybe twenty years ago, a blissfully early time of day for John Peel to be broadcasting. After some mumbled nonsense about the defensive frailties of Liverpool that afternoon, this extraordinary noise belched forth.

Like a field recording from some LSD-baked shack in the Ozarks, The Dust Blows Forward and the Dust Blows Back depicts random scenes from an episode of Little House On The Prairie directed by David Lynch. Sewing machines, grain silos and naked fishermen letting the cool wind get to their bollocks. There’s no musical backing, just the sound of Beefheart’s frazzled, grizzlish drawl warping over scratched vinyl.

Listen to this and it’s not hard to imagine a young Beck being both traumatised and inspired enough to plan similar manoeuvres one day himself.

The album it comes from, Trout Mask Replica, is one of those records that crops up in Critics 100 Albums to Hear Before You Die. It isn’t. It’s mostly unlistenable shit. This, though, is the shizzle.

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