Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Magic Band - 1: Oxford, UK - June 6, 2005 (Sundazed, 2011)

Musical polymath Captain Beefheart my have left this mortal coil, but his music is more influential than ever. The Magic Band was the name of Beefheart's backing group and some members of that shifting group of musicians have reunited to play Beefheart's music, first on a studio album called Back to the Front and then a tour of Europe that resulted in this live album from the UK, recorded in 2005. Beefheart gave nicknames to most of his musicians and they are kept here, with the band being John "Drumbo" French on vocals, drums and harmonica, Denny "Feelers Reebo" Walley and Gary "Mantis" Lucas on guitars, Mark "Rockette Morton" Boston on bass and Michael Taylor on drums. French was an originally a drummer, but he is an extraordinary and charismatic front man and his Beefheart like growl is uncanny, like he is channeling the man himself. His deep powerful vocals dominate the first half of the concert, wailing through Beefheart classics like "Dropout Boogie," "Diddy Wah Diddy" and the ominous "When it Blows Its Stacks." The guitarists take charge on the second half of the concert, throwing off sparks and shards of music, with a couple of purely instrumental tracks, and providing the energy for early favorites like "Electricity." Everything comes together in the encore performance of "Mirror Man," where the band swirls and sways through some of the wildest music imaginable while French gasps and moans the lyrics. A fascinating ending to a potent and enjoyable album. Oxford UK June 6 2005 - amazon.com

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