Trout Mask Replica

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Perhaps one of the best-known Captain Beefheart albums, a collaboration with FZ. An incredible mix of influences crammed into a double-length album, with a sound that seems to exist outside of most musical styles.

Recorded at Whitney Studios, Los Angeles, CA; April 1969

Released 1969 (US Original) on Straight Records (STS 1053)

Song List

  • Frownland
  • The Dust Blows Forward 'N The Dust Blows Back - Recorded at Beefheart House, Woodland Hills, CA; c. 1969 (engineered by John French)
  • Dachau Blues
  • Ella Guru
  • Hair Pie: Bake 1 - Recorded at Beefheart House, Woodland Hills, CA; c. 1969
  • Moonlight on Vermont - recorded at TTG Recorders, Los Angeles, CA; late 1968 (produced and engineered by FZ)
  • Pachuco Cadaver
  • Bills Corpse
  • Sweet Sweet Bulbs
  • Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish
  • China Pig - Recorded at Beefheart House, Woodland Hills, CA; c. 1969 (produced & engineered by Don Van Vliet)
  • My Human Gets Me Blues
  • Dali's Car
  • Hair Pie: Bake 2
  • Pena
  • Well - Recorded at Beefheart House, Woodland Hills, CA; c. 1969
  • When Big Joan Sets Up
  • Fallin' Ditch
  • Sugar 'N Spikes
  • Ant Man Bee
  • Orange Claw Hammer - Recorded at Beefheart House, Woodland Hills, CA; c. 1969 (produced by Don Van Vliet, engineered by John French)
  • Wild Life
  • She's Too Much For My Mirror
  • Hobo Chang Ba
  • The Blimp - recorded over telephone (vocal) and at Columbia University, New York, 1969
  • Steal Softly Thru Snow
  • Old Fart at Play
  • Veteran's Day Poppy - recorded at TTG Recorders, Los Angeles, CA; late 1968

Original liner information

ZOOT HORN ROLLO: glass finger guitar, flute
ANTENNAE JIMMY SEMENS: steel-appendage guitar
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART: bass clarinet, tenor sax, soprano sax, vocal
THE MASCARA SNAKE: bass clarinet & vocal
ROCKETTE MORTON: bass & narration
DRUMBO: drums [not listed on original liner, only CD reissue]

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART plays tenor & soprano sax simultaneously on Ant Man Bee, simran horn & musette on Neon Meate Dream; ANTENNAE JIMMY SEMENS sing lead vocal on Pena & plays flesh horn on Ella Guru; special guest artist DOUG MOON plays guitar on China Pig;

Produced by FRANK ZAPPA
Arranged by DON VAN VLIET

Engineered by Dick Kunc
Album design: Cal Schenkel
Photography: Ed Caraeff/Cal Schenkel
Special electronic modifications on Captain Beefheart's band equipment by Dick Kunc
Most recent in a long series of contract negotiations leading to an actual signing: Neil C. Reshen

All songs written by Captain Beefheart
© 1969 Words & music copyrighted for the world by Beefheart Music Co. BMI

Added to the CD issue after the words "most recent...":
CD design and restoration: Tom Recchion

Trout Mask Replica - Lester Bangs, July 26, 1969, Rolling Stone

Captain Beefheart, the only true dadaist in rock, has been victimized repeatedly by public incomprehension and critical authoritarianism. The tendency has been to chide C.B. and his Band as a potentially acceptable blues band who were misled onto the paths of greedy trendy commercialism. What the critics failed to see was that this was a band with a vision, that their music, difficult raucous and rough as it is, proceeded from a unique and original consciousness.

This became dramatically apparent with their last album. Since their music derived as much from the new free jazz and African chant rhythms as from Delta blues, the songs tended to he rattly and wayward. clattering along on weirdly jabbering high-pitched guitars and sprung rhythms. But the total conception and its execution was more in the nature of a tribal Pharaoh Sanders Archie Shepp fire-exorcism than the ranting noise of the Blue Cheer strain of groups.

Thus it's very gratifying to say that Captain Beefheart's new album is a total success; a brilliant, stunning enlargeme and clarification of his art. Which is not to say that it's in any sense slick, "artistic" or easy. This is one of the few bands whose sound has actually gotten rawer as they've matured - a brilliant and refreshing strategy. Again the rhythms and melodic textures jump all over the place (in the same way that Cecil Taylor's do). Beefheart singing like a lonesome werewolf screaming and growling in the night. The songs clatter about - given a superficial listening they seem boring and repetitious. It's perhaps the addition of saxophones (all played by the five men in the band) that first suggests what's really happening here and always has been happening in this group's music.

On "Hair Pie Bake One," for instance, the whole group gets into a raucous wrangling horn dialog that reveals a strong Albert Ayler influence. The music truly meshes, flows, and excites in a way that almost none of the self-conscious, carefully crafted jazz-rock bullshit of the past year has done. And the reason for this is that while many other groups have picked up on the trappings of the new jazz, Cap and the Magic Band are into its essence, the white-hot stream of un-"cultured" energy, getting there with a minimum of strain to boot. This is the key to their whole instrumental approach, from the drummer's whirling poly- and even a- rhythmic patterns (compare them to Sonny Murray's on Ayler's Spiritual Unity or Ed Blackwell's on Don Cherry's Symphony For Improvisers), to the explosive, diffuse guitar lines, which (like Lou Reed's for the Velvet Underground or Gary Peacock's bass playing on Spiritual Unity) stretch, tear, and distend the electric guitar's usual vocabulary with the aim of extending that vocabulary past its present strictly patterned limitations - limitations that are as tyrannically stultifying for the rock musician today as Charlie Parker's influence was for the jazzmen of the late Fifties.

1 mustn't forget the lyrics. You certainly won't; the album on a purely verbal level is an explosion of maniacal free-association incantations, eschewing (with the authentic taste that assassinates standards of Taste) solemn 'poetic’ pretensions and mundane, obvious mono-syllabic mindlessness. Where, for in stance, have you heard lyrics like these; "Tits tits the blimp the blimp / The mother ship the mother ship / The brothers hid under the hood / From the blimp the blimp…. all the people stir / ‘n the girls' knees tremble / 'n run 'n wave their hands / 'n run their hands over the blimp the blimp…".

The double record set costs as much as two regular albums, hut unlike most of these superlong superexpensive items it's really sustained, and worth the money, which is perhaps not so much to pay for 27 songs and what may well be the most unusual and challenging musical experience you'll have this year.

Trout Mask Replica - Buddy Seigel, March 25, 1983, Los Angeles Times

Don (Captain Beefheart) Van Vliet was among the most challenging and idiosyncratic of artists to come down the pike in the '60s. Drawing his influences from the blues, free jazz and the avant-garde, he made music and poetry that was at once freakish and tradition-bound, nonsensical and intellectual, recalcitrant and disciplined-contradictions that kept his work consistently compelling from his early days right through his still-lamented retirement from recording in the '80s. "Trout Mask Replica," his fourth album, is perhaps his most celebrated. The two-record set was produced by Frank Zappa, his childhood chum and musical benefactor. Often repellent but undeniably evocative song/poems such as "Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish," "Old Fart at Play" and "Orange Claw Hammer" reach out like acid nightmares or scenes from some early unseen John Waters film. The music is dense and frenzied: Van Vliet's saxophone wails, and fractious time signatures and demented compositions reveal debts to Ornette Coleman, John Cage and Zappa without ever losing their original, visionary qualities. Some may find the album so disturbing as to be unlistenable, but it is a manifestation of forethought and precision masquerading as anarchy: Van Vliet and his Magic Band knew exactly what to play, where to play it and why it works.