Since the release of the Grow Fins boxset - the first officially sanctioned overhaul of the much bootlegged Beefheart archive - in the late 90s, all manner of semi-legit cd reissues, cash-in biogs, and cheapo merchandise have surfaced in the declining music retail market - even more so in the first few weeks of 2011 following the good Captain's passing the previous December.
With few exceptions, these products of dubious authenticity and questionable quality are best avoided. Despite several concerts from Beefheart's final 1980/81 tour being usurped by amateur labels for the hard earned cash of the ardent fan, here's one concert I would snap up should it ever appear in physical format.
Live albums can be a mixed affair, often sourced direct from the soundboard or professionally sweetened in the studio to a commercially viable standard, usually emaciating the warts 'n all sound as experienced by a member of the audience. But this audience recording is of such exceptional fidelity, listening to the show on headphones it genuinely feels like you were actually there on the night! When the audience cheers ecstatically to the dying tremeloes of Big Eyed Beans From Venus it courses through your veins like a strong coffee on the morning after a heavy night on the real ale.
It's hard to conceive that this was recorded on a bog standard radio-cassette player of the time, so I can only assume that a student enrolled on a sound engineering course must have had access to the uni's state of the art recording equipment. Or maybe it was simply the acoustics in the venue were so good and the taper just happened to be in the right spot to authentically capture a truly great Magic Band performance on the night.
Whatever the source origination, any Beefheart fan hearing this show for the first time will not be disappointed.
1. Bass intro-Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man 2. Abba Zaba 3. Hot Head 4. Ashtray Heart 5. Dirty Blue Gene 6. Best Batch Yet 7. Trust Us 8. Flavour Bud Living 9. Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles 10. One Red Rose That I Mean 11. Untitled poem 12. Doctor Dark 13. Bat Chain Puller 14. Old Fart At Play 15. My Human Gets Me Blues 16. Sugar 'n Spikes 17. Sheriff Of Hong Kong 18. Suction Prints 19. Big Eyed Beans From Venus.
Technical (!?) note: Box player doesn't support wma format, but as the sound quality was so great (even at a low bit rate), I left the files as they are. Besides, this blogger never even owned a Walkman - let alone an ipod - so mp3s are kinda wasted on me.