The Magic Band
Back To The Front CD

Good heavens, Experimental Rock is upon us again as the legendary Magic Band rejoin for a tribute to their erstwhile master Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart. And they have recorded "Back To The Front", a 17-track album, to accompany a couple of live concerts in Europe and the USA.

Oh, those days when incredibly long hair, hallucinogens and lengthy guitar histrionics were all the rage - must have been by the end of the 1960ies, when the Peace And Love generation started looking for music a bit more adventurous than the Rock anthems of the day. Along came artists like Frank Zappa and his Mothers Of Invention, Velvet Underground, and of course Don Glen Vliet, self appointed Don Van Vliet/Captain Beefheart, with various incarnations of the Magic Band.

California native Beefheart, an acknowledged eccentric and childhood friend to Zappa, had formed the band as early as 1964, in an attempt to satisfy his intense interest in Rhythm&Blues music. While early recordings like the cover version of Bo Diddley's "Diddy Wah Diddy" nearly flopped, later collaborations with guitarist Ry Cooder and, well, Zappa, proved to be quite successful and made Beefheart and the Magic Band icons of the new underground movement. Even more so in Europe where the band had soon gathered a cult following.

The Captain's strange new approach towards Rock Music, incorporating adventurous polyrhythmic patterns and nonsensical, almost inane, lyrics, reached a peak with the bizarre "Trout Mask Replica", an album produced by Zappa. According to many critics, Beefheart's finest output ever and a real "classic" from the Psychedelic era. It is often described as a crossover between the Blues of, say, Robert Johnson, and the Free Jazz of Ornette Coleman.

Despite a couple of successful follow-up albums, Beefheart live concerts have always been few and far between, and 1982's album "Ice Cream For Crow" marked the end of the Captain's musical output, as he decided to focus on his career as a painter. The Captain Beefheart myth, however, lives on, and, considering the fact that artists like Jah Wobble, The Clash and Coil have been influenced by Beefheart's work, there must be something to it.

Now here's the 2003 version of the Magic Band, restoring songs from highly acclaimed Beefheart albums back to life. For many, this will be the first time they ever witness the musical legacy of the band. Well, be prepared for a massive dose of avantgarde Blues Rock, and, while this may not sound extremely intriguing by today's standards, it is definitely hard to escape the "magic" of the Magic Band.

(rh 06/MMIII)

Label: ATP

The Magic Band restore the Captain Beefheart myth to life