The World of Captain Beefheart, out November 10th via Knitting Factory Records, is a comprehensive overview of the man also known as Don Van Vliet’s towering legacy, re-imagined and infused with new blood by vocalist extraordinaire Nona Hendryx and avant-guitar legend Gary Lucas. This isn’t the pair’s first tribute to the eccentric artist, having starred in a symphonic Beefheart Tribute with Amsterdam’s famed 65-piece Metropole Orchestra at the Paradiso a few years ago. The album was co-produced by Gary and Jesse Krakow and recorded at EastSide Sound in NYC.
The World of Captain Beefheart strikes a fine balance between the more bluesy and groove-accessible songs in the good Captain’s oeuvre and the more extreme, darker and weirder side. The former is well represented by “Sun Zoom Spark,” “Too Much Time” and “Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles” from Beefheart’s 1973 Clear Spot album, “When It Blows Its Stacks” from 1972’s The Spotlight Kid, “Sure ’Nuff ’n Yes I Do” and “I’m Glad” from Safe as Milk, and “Tropical Hot Dog Night” from 1977’s Shiny Beast. The latter is explored via “When Big Joan Sets Up” and “Sugar ’n Spikes” from 1969’s Trout Mask Replica, and “The Smithsonian Institute Blues” from 1970’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby.
Nona Hendryx is a longtime fierce admirer of Don Van Vliet’s music, and possesses the huge voice and the commanding stage presence necessary to do full justice to repertoire that originally featured Beefheart’s unforgettable multi-octave voice. Although she’s best known as a funk/soul great thanks to her long tenure with international hitmakers Labelle (as well as the group’s antecedent, Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles) as well as her own excellent R&B-rooted solo outings, she is no stranger to experimental rock territory, having been featured as guest vocalist with cutting-edge ensembles including Talking Heads, Bill Laswell’s Material, and Jerry Harrison’s Casual Gods.
Gary Lucas first made his mark as an incendiary, visionary guitar player on the final last two Beefheart albums, Doc at the Radar Station (1980) and Ice Cream for Crow (1982). A world-renowned instrumentalist and Grammy-nominated songwriter and composer, Gary has released over 30 acclaimed albums in a variety of genres—including last year’s tribute to the soundtracks to Max Fleischer’s cartoons: “Gary Lucas’ FLEISCHEREI”— which was chosen as one of the Best Albums of the Year by DownBeat. Gary also collaborated most significantly with the late Jeff Buckley, co-writing “Grace” and “Mojo Pin”, the first two songs on Jeff’s 2-million selling “Grace” album.
Today Glide is premiering the duo’s rendition of the song “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do”. Captain Beefheart’s take on “New Minglewood Blues” is a raucous, gutbucket blues number, and Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas stick close to it, however, Nona’s vocals add a soaring soulful exuberance that is further enhanced by a rollicking boogie woogie piano. Just like Captain Beefheart did with this classic blues staple, Hendryx and Lucas put their own distinctive touch on the song and turn it into a beautifully chaotic free-for-all, giving us a taste of what will hopefully be a lively tour.
The World of Captain Beefheart will be released November 10th on Knitting Factory Records. For more music and info visit garylucas.com.