Various Artists

Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish: A Tribute to Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

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Tribute albums are always tricky business; the dilemma is usually summed up by artists either being overly reverential, or in reinterpreting the song they manage to destroy it. When the tribute is to an artist as singular and idiosyncratic as Captain Beefheart, the stakes go up because the nature of the work doesn't generally lend itself to reinterpretation. Don Fleming and Dacaer Pinga & Black Alaska avoid this by performing tributes that weren't written by Don VanVliet, although both songs are more a tribute to Beefheart's experimental spirit than anything resembling his music. As a general rule, the more faithful renditions here are the ones that work the best (Mike Watt, Jad Fair), although there are exceptions, like Miss Murgatroid's version of "Neon Meate Dream of an Octafish." The ones that really stumble simply take some lyrics and graft them to excessive skronk, as in the case of Vig ESP and Dapper. Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish is quite a mixed bag, with tracks that range from excellent to awful. This one is for Beefheart completists and fans of the performing bands only.

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