Unmasked Don down in Sorbonne rocking his marbles off on the Trotskyists request.
Given the scarcity of Don Van Vliet’s official concert products, any legalized bootleg is bound to draw fans’ attention, but this one may actually cross over to a wider audience thanks to its fairly decent sound quality and the span. Here’s a nice cross-section of Captain’s recorded output – with no reference to Beefheart’s recent Mercury albums but with hopeful renditions from yet-to-be-unreleased “Bat Chain Puller” including its title chug of a track – delivered by his new ensemble. The quartet kick it all into gear by picking up the “Trout Mask Replica” theme of “Hair Pie: Bake III” and the groove of “Suction Prints” yet don’t bother much with further crunch, once their leader cuts into the “Low Yo Yo Stuff” chant, renders “Electricity” funereal or taps into the “Abba Zabba” brilliant mojo.
Whether the French crowd gets the sharpness of poetry recitals such as “The Dust Blows Forward And The Dust Blows Back” or Morris Tepper’s twang for “A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond” is debatable, but there’s no escaping the rare catchy blues of “Grow Fins” or the heavy funk of “Click Clack” before the drift gets duller, if humorous. As a result, “My Human Gets Me Blues” ups the idiosyncrasy of Beefheart’s performance and “The Blimp” rolls out a bout of hysteria, while “Owed T’Alex” – titled “Carson City” here – crawls so creepy it jars, as does “Pachuco Cadaver” on the upbeat terms. Still, “Big Eyed Beans From Venus” has a bastardly charming ring to it and reveals a genuine, often hidden from non-fans, greatness of the Captain. Warts and all, a nice snapshot of him in action.