Booglarizing goin’ on: the good Don fires up the British Columbia punters – but cherished memories ain’t for everyone.
Continuing their Captain concert series, this time Gonzo lands on a Commodore Ballroom tape from 1973, the first year in Beefheart’s recording life when he didn’t have an album out. That gave the artist a bit of a perspective and fed the energy felt here much more than anything else, because the sound quality of the Vancouver show is far from the best. It shouldn’t deter anyone from relishing Zoot Horn Rollo and Rockette Morton’s guitar exchange, though, which in many a not-so-clear spot overshadows the leader’s roar.
The Captain’s delivery is tight and threatening in the coupling of classic blues “I’m A King Bee” and “Sugar Mama” and he’s hypnotic in the cajun-tinged “Mirror Man,” while the band let their hair down in the swirl of “Alice in Blunderland.” But if they sling enough funk into “Suction Prints” to stoke the fire for the groovy seduction of “Low Yo Yo Stuff” and to add grittiness to “Abba Zabba” where Roy Estrada breaks into a short bass solo, the players and the singer loose – and lose – the impetus on “I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby.” The drive’s back with “Big Eyed Beans From Venus” yet at this point a noise level of the recording makes it accessible only to die-hard fans, the album’s original audience.