Captain Beefheart

Introducing Captain Beefheart

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Introducing Captain Beefheart is an oddly named compilation assembling highlights off of Strictly Personal -- which goes back to 1968, on Liberty Records in England -- and Unconditionally Guaranteed, Bluejeans & Moonbeams, Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Doc at the Radar Station, and Ice Cream for Crow, dating between 1974 and 1982 for the Virgin label. Essentially, that odd spread of music is the Captain Beefheart material that EMI U.K. owns. The stylistic jumps are considerable, though there's an edgy consistency to the material that allows the collection to hold together despite its leaps back and forth across 14 years of development, with gaps where the artist's chaotic contractual relationships with Buddah and Warner Bros. come into play. The Strictly Personal sides "Safe as Milk" and "Gimme Dot Harp Boy" fit together amazingly well with the rest despite their much earlier recording dates and their rawness -- they're a good jumping-off point for material that ranges from the stream-of-consciousness blues of "Making Love to a Vampire With a Monkey on My Knee" to the softer, more commercial sensibilities of "This Is the Day." The Virgin material sounds superb, and the earlier Liberty stuff slightly less so.

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