Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Magic Band - Back To The Frontdotdotdotdot
artworkOne of the great enigmas of rock 'n' roll is/was Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. Often difficult, frequently brilliant and angular, the music of this genius and his stalwart band were adopted by the intellectually self appointed hip and the genuinely adventurous. This new CD from the band without the Captain contains fresh recordings of songs done over the years. many are instrumentals. It's not surf by any stretch of the imagination, yet it is compelling instrumental music in the grand unique tradition of this mighty band.
Picks: My Human Gets Me Blues, Abba Zabba, Alice In Blunderland, Steal Softly Thru Snow, On Tomorrow, Hair Pie, I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have Go

Track by Track Review

My Human Gets Me Blues dotdotdot
Machine Blues (Instrumental)

Right off the top, the Magic Band play a mathematically angular and trying piece of music that has a strange attraction to it. Not pretty, but not ugly either, "My Human Gets Me Blues" is both attractive and annoying. Its mechanical structure seems fluid and stilted at the same time.

Abba Zabba dotdotdotdotdot
Candy Bar Blues (Instrumental)

From Safe As Milk, the first released album by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, comes one of the most endearing and enduring of all of this band's songs. Tribal drums, grindy guitar, gutty sound. This song works really well as an instro! Magical!

Alice In Blunderland dotdotdotdot
Industrial Blues (Instrumental)

One of the more accessible tracks from the legendary Straight Records days, "Alice In Blunderland" is amazingly powerful and animalistic in instrumental form. There's even some double picking here, though it's in sub-metal blues form. A powerful piece of music.

Steal Softly Thru Snow dotdotdot
Voiceless Poetry (Instrumental)

Yikes. A song that was essentially a narrative over angular music comes outta the shadows as an instro (poem deleted), and stands on its own two edges. This is difficult music for the fan, and it's compelling and dramatic.

On Tomorrow dotdotdotdotdot
Electric Hippy Blues (Instrumental)

From the stunningly powerful Strictly personal album comes this voiceless rearrangement of "(We're All Brothers) On Tomorrow." Tribal drums, twisted guitar licks, angular power, and magic at every turn. Amazing!

Hair Pie dotdotdot
Cook's Surprise (Instrumental)

I can't say that I liked this the first time around, and here it's merely better recorded. Way too difficult for me. Since this is a reworking of "Hair Pie (Bake 1)," perhaps it's better titled "Hair Pie (Bake 2)."

I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have Go dotdotdot
Mathematical (Instrumental)

This is another mathematically correct song that's simply outside the pale for me. It doesn't flow like "Abba Zabba" or "I Wanna Booglarize You" or "Big Eyed Beans From Venus."