Because live performances from Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band during the '80s are a scarce commodity, Merseytrout: Live in Liverpool 1980, which documents the band's European 1980 tour, is a recommended outing. Recommended, that is, if one can listen past some fairly significant production anomalies. The payoff for which is inspiring performances throughout. Touring in support of the Doc at the Radar Station album, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band validate their status as potent modern musicians. Later tracks, such as "Nowadays a Woman's Gotta Hit a Man," incorporate Beefheart's trademark angst -- allowing the newer material to become contemporary with tracks up to 15 years their senior -- "Abba Zabba" or "Dropout Boogie" for instance. This permutation of the Magic Band is able to keep the pilot lit underneath mellower pieces as well. "Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles" is a song that the band unveils effortlessly without losing the intensity and momentum of the previous numbers. This is one reason it becomes frustrating to have the continuity of the performance violated with jarring fades -- both in and out -- of every song. These edits are a presumed necessity to fit the entire show on a single disc. This might account for the slightly sped-up sound of the recording as well. While the semi-tone increase is noticeable, it is in no way as irritating as previously mentioned indexes. As for the actual performance, it couldn't be better. Beefheart is in fine voice and the band is able to hang upon his every syllable as if it just may be his very last -- or at least most profound. Highlights include "Dirty Blue Gene," "Hothead," and a punk assault reading of "Kandy Korn." With a little more care, this could have been one of the most exciting discs highlighting -- not just Beefheart's '80s band -- but his entire career.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer