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Archive for the ‘Josh Lieb’ Category

geniusSOUNDTRACK: CAPTAIN BEEFHEART AND HIS MAGIC BAND-Trout Mask Replica (1968).

trout–Fast and Bulbous.
–Bulbous yes, but also tapered.

This is an infamous disc in the history of music.  Which surprises me, as I can’t imagine many people have ever listened to it in its entirety.  I learned about it though my Frank Zappa fascination (he produced the record).

This disc also holds some kind of fascination for fiction writers.  I recall an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 (yes, of course I watched it) in which a new character was introduced.  He was a cool hip indie guy and I thought he was finally a cool character on a show I was getting rather sick of.  But because he was different, he was of course mocked.

He is first mocked for keeping his records in alphabetical order (and come on, anyone with more than 50 discs has to, it’s not a sign of weirdness, just common sense).  And second he was mocked for owning this album (picture a 90210er say Captain Beefheart?).  Of course, later on, he goes on to commit murder or arson or some other thing, thereby proving that alternative music is only for psychopaths, but heck, when has TV ever lied to us?

And now, this disc is a favorite of the hero of this book (which is what prompted me to bust out the disc and give it a listen).

And so wow, what a weird album.  Even 41 years later this record is still waaay out there.   The disc opens with “Frownland.”  And how to describe it?  The left speaker is playing sort of free jazz guitar chords.  The right speaker is playing a wild atonal guitar solo with a thumping bass.  In both speakers you get all over the place (but rather quiet) drums and the good Captain himself singing in a voice that could have inspired Tom Waits.  And the Captain’s song would be a very catchy melody if it had anything to do with what everyone else was playing (which it doesn’t).  And the whole things lasts for under 2 minutes.  There’s 28 songs not unlike this one, for a total of about 75 minutes.

Some other treats: a wild skronking horn solo on one song.  There’s also a song about the Holocaust.  And there’s even several music-free spoken word “poetry” readings.  And of course, the aforementioned bulbous quote.

Amidst this chaos are three songs that are more or less songs in the conventional sense, “Moonlight on Vermont,” “Veteran’s Day Poppy” and “Sugar ‘n Spikes,” meaning they have verses and choruses and whatnot.  But even those are still pretty far out and won’t be (and haven’t been) on the radio anytime soon.

Word is that this is a hugely influential disc and it lands on all kinds of Best Album Of All Time lists.  I can see that it has influenced a few people over the years (Devandra Banhart comes to mind), but still.  This is the kind of music you put on at a party when you want everyone to go home.

[READ: November 6, 2009] I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President

I heard about this book when Jon Stewart gave it a big plug on The Daily Show (the author is one of the writers for the show).  After many of the “heavy” titles that I’d been reading, it was a delight to read something that was purely comic.

And it was very funny indeed.

The book reminded me in many ways of Artemis Fowl (if Aretmis hadn’t turned over a new leaf–and without the fairies, of course).  In fact, I’m not entirely sure what the age group for the book is.  The main character is in seventh grade (and the language is very mild, certainly suitable for kids).  But when I found it in the book store, it was in the adult section.  So, I’m not entirely sure where to place it.

Anyhow, the premise here is that Oliver Watson is an evil genius.  Evil here doesn’t mean psychotic or sociopathic, he doesn’t want to kill people.  He just wants things to go the way he wants.  All the time.  And he is usually quite successful.  He is, after all, one of the top 5 wealthiest people in the world.  And he’s only in 7th Grade. (more…)

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