In the earlier days of this blog, I might have published a tribute to Captain Beefheart within a week or two of his death. But the stress of keeping my career afloat takes a heavy toll, leaving little in the way of time, energy or enthusiasm for much else. Even those few co-workers who care have stopped asking, “So, are you ever gonna post that Beefheart live tape you keep talking about?”
Certainly, the two young men — children really — who threw their cassette recorder into the back of their mom’s pickup thirty years ago and drove to Hollywood on a whim didn’t have careers to worry about. Blissfully jobless, they were in a perfect position to take advantage when they found out that Captain Beefheart’s sold-out December 1980 engagement was being extended to a third night. And tickets were still available!
It was a revelation for the two boys to see the Captain’s classics performed right before their eyes — just as it was a triumph to witness Beefheart himself, delivering cryptic between-song asides and withering insults to hecklers like a sermon on the mount. And our two heroes did it up right, too. With a minimum of necessary cassette fumbling, they captured both sets on tape.
My friends emerged from their adventure with a true treasure in tow. It’s just a crappy audience recording on a beat up old cassette, but we committed that show to memory. Naturally, it wound up preserved in my collection. And now it seems a bit of a rarity. This isn’t the best recording from that three-night stand. The second Friday set is already widely distributed. But nobody seems to remember that hastily-added Sunday night. I had forgotten about it myself, until I found the flyer and saw the third date scrawled along the side. Then it all came back to me.
Hair Pie / My Human Gets Me Blues / Nowadays A Woman’s Got To Hit A Man / Hot Head / Ashtray Heart / Dirty Blue Jean / Smithsonian Institute Blues / Best Batch Yet / Safe As Milk / A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond / One Red Rose That I Mean / Dr. Dark
Hair Pie / My Human Gets Me Blues / Hot Head / Ashtray Heart / Dirty Blue Gene / Best Batch Yet / Safe As Milk / I’m So Fucking Happy / Bat Chain Puller / Sugar And Spikes / Sheriff Of Hong Kong / Instrumental