Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cranium Classics

Good god. At the request of Lefty, I broke out my copy of Ice Cream For Crow to present "Ink Mathematics" to the peoples. The Captain and his Magic Band do angular, they do free, they do poetic, they do crazy. They do advanced calculus and abacus action. Quantum. I remember being in junior high school, driving around "partying," and making requests to one of the local college stations to play "Tropical Hot Dog Night" off of Bat-Chain Puller, which was recently re-issued on disc. This is another one that was once difficult to find on disc, though I think that problem has been remedied of late. I know it rarely makes anyone’s list of favorites by the Captain, but if I had to pick, I think Ice Cream For Crow, his last (after which he packed it in, big time, retiring to the Mojave desert to paint), is the Beefheart record I like best. I remember the Captain making an appearance on the David Letterman show at about this time. He sipped from a bottle of Perrier that he held in a crumpled paper bag. Letterman asked about his name and Beefheart said something about the fact that they clip the beaks off of penguins at the San Diego Zoo. "I’m beefing my heart to the people," he told Dave. They showed a clip from the video ( !) for "Ice Cream For Crow." Moris Tepper, who went on to play with Frank Black and Tom Waits, plays on this record, as does one-time Red Hot Chili Pepper drummer and film scorer Cliff Martinez. Gary Lucas plays on it as well. Lucas still plays Beefheart music in tribute form. I saw Lucas in Hartford a few years back performing duets with Chinese pipa player Min Xiao-Fen, who I first heard on WFMU years ago. The two did Chinese pop songs from the 1930s (check out "Please Allow Me to Look at You Again" from The Edge of Heaven). If you’ve never heard Min Xiao-Fen play from the classical pipa repertory, "Ambush From All Sides" is a blistering Jimmy Page-esque conjuring of the flying arrows of battle.

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