CAPTAIN BEEFHEART — Trout Mask Replica

Jazz music community with review and forums

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART - Trout Mask Replica cover
3.88 | 12 ratings | 3 reviews
Buy this album from MMA partners

Album · 1969


A1 Frownland 1:39
A2 The Dust Blows Forward 'N The Dust Blows Back 2:04
A3 Dachau Blues 2:21
A4 Ella Guru 2:23
A5 Hair Pie: Bake 1 4:57
A6 Moonlight On Vermont 3:55
B1 Pachuco Cadaver 4:37
B2 Bill's Corpse 1:47
B3 Sweet Sweet Bulbs 2:17
B4 Neon Meate Dream Of A Octafish 2:25
B5 China Pig 3:56
B6 My Human Gets Me Blues 2:42
B7 Dali's Car 1:25
C1 Hair Pie: Bake 2 2:23
C2 Pena 2:31
C3 Well 2:05
C4 When Big Joan Sets Up 5:19
C5 Fallin' Ditch 2:03
C6 Sugar 'N Spikes 2:29
C7 Ant Man Bee 3:55
D1 Orange Claw Hammer 3:35
D2 Wild Life 3:07
D3 She's Too Much For My Mirror 1:42
D4 Hobo Chang Ba 2:01
D5 The Blimp (Mousetrap Replica) 2:04
D6 Steal Softly Thru Snow 2:13
D7 Old Fart At Play 1:54
D8 Veteran's Day Poppy 4:30


Effects [Flesh Horn] – Antennae Jimmy Semens (A4)
Bass Guitar – Gary "Magic" Marker (A6,D8)
Instruments [Musette], Horns [Simran Horn] – Captain Beefheart (B4)
Guitar – Doug Moon (B5)
Lead Vocals – Antennae Jimmy Semens (C2)
Saxophone [Simultaneous Tenor & Soprano] – Captain Beefheart (C7)
Narrator – Antennae Jimmy Semens (D5)
Voice [Intro] – Frank Zappa (D5)
Bass Clarinet, Vocals – Mascara Snake, The
Bass Guitar, Narrator – Rockette Morton
Drums [Uncredited] – John French
Slide Guitar [Glass Finger Guitar], Flute – Zoot Horn Rollo
Slide Guitar [Steel Appendage Guitar] – Antennae Jimmy Semens
Vocals, Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone [Saxophones Played Simultaneously] – Captain Beefheart

About this release

Straight – STS 1053 (US)

Recorded At – Sunset Sound Recorders,Whitney Recording Studios and The Magic Band House

Thanks to snobb for the addition


More places to buy jazz & CAPTAIN BEEFHEART music


Specialists/collaborators reviews

Well I assure you sir, this thing sucks (Don Van Vliet on selling a vacuum cleaner to Aldous Huxley)

Of the many albums that sit gathering dust, undisturbed in the rack yet are routinely adored by their house proud owners, it is perhaps Trout Mask Replica that best represents the disingenuous litmus test for hipster candidates of 'high' office everywhere. What's odd about its assimilation into the pantheon of 'maverick genius' constructions is that it's not even a rock album at all but rather, a free jazz inspired stream of consciousness 'f.u.c.k the lot of you' diatribe that has more in common with a Cecil Taylor arranged 'To Have Done with the Judgement of god' by Antonin Artaud than an unrequited love letter to any Howling Wolf. That's hardly a picnic with your childhood sweetheart and s.h.i.t.s.u puppy of course but it's still unnerving how far removed from the predictable lumpen plod of rawk (psychedelic, blues or otherwise) this album deviates at its furthest outreaches.

And therein maybe lies the key: Most rock fans including your reviewer get rather uncomfortable when their steady diet of cyclic rhythms and anticipated releases from harmonic tension are not resolved in a timely fashion. Listening to such music is tantamount to a delicately balanced guessing game. If I guess correctly what's coming next too often, I'll get bored and lose interest: If I cannot discern any anticipated patterns I'll dismiss the music as too chaotic or random as too few of my guesses are correct. That's probably why I heartily loathe Cecil Taylor, John Zorn, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, et al as such aesthetic considerations are completely irrelevant to their art. This says more about my limitations as a listener and failing to understand the stimulus to hand but all the same, I want to like this malarkey but unable. We're also habitually guilty of confusing texture with content e.g. there might be a sax on Brown Sugar but that doesn't make it any closer to Jazz than Rock. The textures at play on Trout Mask Replica have lured many an unwary critic into believing that the electric slide guitars, amped bass and drums menu is consistent with a delta blues themed psychadelicatessen and are invariably frustrated when the Captain and his troops steadfastly decline to serve up such a dish. The only place where texture and content are in accord is perhaps on Hair Pie Bake 1 where Beefheart's solitary soprano sax is redolent of the sort of uncharted musical landscapes of Anthony Braxton. It also explains why so few echoes of Beefheart are present in the music of his avowed wannabees, disciples and acolytes from within the republican realm of rawk like the Residents, Devo, Pere Ubu, Tom Waits, the Fall, PIL etc. The cynical among us would hazard that this is just egregious name-dropping which also lassos Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and anyone else who was considered a bit 'out there' but has crucially just died into the R'OK Corral.

The best Captain Beefheart impersonation I have ever heard is probably from Edgar Broughton circa Sing Brother Sing in 1970 but here's the rub, the unwitting approximation by a completly sh*t faced English actor Oliver Reed on Michael Aspel's chat show from 1984 comes a pretty close second. You are cordially invited to check out the 'You Tube' footage at your leisure. Tread very carefully when using 'derangement of the senses is the gateway to wisdom' as an educational paradigm kiddies. (The playgrounds of the US are littered with casualties on a daily basis)

Don Van Vliet's lyrics are at best, inscrutable surrealistic glossolalia and at worst, when they even approach bad beat poetry, crassly and glibly asinine:

Dachau blues, Dachau blues those poor Jews Still cryin' 'bout the burnin' back in World War Two's One mad man six million lose Down in Dachau blues, down in Dachau blues

We know that the good Captain enrolled as an art major in his youth but dropped out after less than 12 months. Draw your own conclusions if you will but thwarted artists with distinctive facial hair have never done the world many favours.

It seems that like Mark E. Smith of the Fall, the Captain ran his erstwhile Magic band circa 1969 similar to a dark satanic mill owner where dissent was treated with ridicule, physical violence and privation in no particular order. The published testimonies of band members appear to attest to the rather unpalatable conclusion that their Don was an uber controlling c.u.n.t of Mansonesque proportions. Revisionist apologists for this alleged behaviour start to sound like those clueless soccer pundits defending a leg breaking tackle who posit that 'without his underlying psychopathic and sadistic nature his talent would have been thwarted by mediocrities' Try telling that to the lads when they've been neither paid or fed for their unaccredited efforts and have to play a man down after their captain's red card for hacking down his own team. (Apologies for milking the footie metaphors there a tad)

I've also never understood why Zappa's mix is so heavily weighted in favour of Beefheart's vocal as most of these conspire to practically drown out the music and only serve to make prolonged listening a considerable chore. That's a shame as all told, there is much innovation and prescience buried in the bowels of this frankly appalling production to warrant a deeper appreciation of the creative input of the assembled Magic band.

There is some speculative evidence to suggest that the Captain refused to record his vocals using traditional headphones and therefore his delivery is commensurately out of sync with a backing he could only hear via the latency of speaker bleed. Being out of time deliberately would at least require some effort methinks? Anointed if you do, anointed if you don't. (He can't lose)

Long story short: This album isn't really a 'best fit' for any particular genre oriented appreciation site. It is too far removed from the prevailing evaluation criteria and is one of the few purported 'rock' albums deserving of being placed firmly in the 'other' basket.

Members reviews

Beefheart's early-era albums - Safe as Milk, Mirror Man, and Strictly Personal - twisted and warped the blues. Trout Mask Replica blew it apart. Given a sparse, raw production job by Frank Zappa, who occasionally pops in with bemused-sounding commentary and directions, the album is proof of two things: first, that Beefheart was a true avant-garde genius in terms of the songs he dreamed up for this album, and second that the relevant lineup of the Magic Band were geniuses when it came to interpreting and actually performing the material!

Although on the first approach the album sounds like an incoherent mass of sound, there are in fact subtle variations build into it; Moonlight On Vermont and Veteran's Day Poppy were recorded a while before the rest of the album, and are very slightly more approachable than the rest of the material, several songs consist entirely of spoken word poetry from Beefheart, and on "The Blimp" the Magic Band take a rest and the Mothers of Invention provide instrumental backing. On the rest of the tracks, the name of the game is strange, angular rhythms played apparently out of sync - but as you listen patterns begin to emerge, the different instruments blending in and out of each other and creating a sonic labyrinth that is, for those who enjoy it, a sheer delight to explore even decades after the fact. Not only the purest expression of Beefheart's personal vision, but a keystone album in RIO and avant-prog. Trout Mask Replica proved that music doesn't have to sound melodious to be moving; sometimes, it doesn't even need to sound like music.
This album is a landmark plain and simple... This album has even adopted a tag for many different albums...for example, if I were to say that an album was a Trout Mask Replica, it means either you love it and completely understand it or you don't understand it at all and can't see any artistic merit in it.

This album does seem to be a bit of a joke at times to be honest, with Beefheart (and Zappa) being slightly smug and parodying many different things...but just like me (with Hitler's Brain), we can secretly repsect all forms of music...and parodying them is a good way to start.

This album is a bit of a joke...but it's a great joke. And also it takes a few listens to get into (it took me 3 I think)

The songs take on many forms, from avante garde jazz songs, word poems (bit like Gill Scott Heron, but with more poetic stupidity), weird narrative parts and just plain oddness...and it really is experimental music at its best.

I really don't know why I like it so much, I just do (I was recomended to them by my dad actually, cause at that time I was getting into Zappa)

1. Frownland - Great offbeat jazz arrangment. Beefhearts vocals are amazing. 10/10

2. The Dust Blows Forward 'N The Dust Blows Back - I did a parody of this type of song actually, ...Some interesting images being brought foward. The hissing ambient sound, which usually would annoy me, is actually quite calming. 10/10

3. Dachau Blues - It's odd trying to make a song about a concentration camp haha...Grreat lyrics and some evil vocals from Beefheart. 10/10

4. Ella Guru - The pop song of the album. Beefheart manipulates his voice so well. 10/10

5. Hair Pie: Bake 1 - Very noisy instrumental. Very experimental noises from the clarinet are heard. Its quite unlistenable, but soo good. 9/10

6. Moonlight On Vermont - I love the guitar work on this song. Quite bluesy, but still great. 9/10

7. Pachuco Cadaver - The arrangment is so crazy but it works so well. I love the ending instrumental. 10/10

8. Bills Corpse - Another crazy ranting song. Great lyrics. 9/10

9. Sweet Sweet Bulbs - Maybe a bit too crazy at times. Interesting arrangment. 8/10

10. Neon Meate Dream Of A Octafish - He really has a way with words. Great lyrical palletes. 10/10

11. China Pig - I don't like blues...but I do like this song. 9/10

12. My Human Gets Me Blues - Very in your face. Beefhearts voice really does make you want to listen and grabs your attention. 9/10

13. Dali'sCar - Very discordant and noisy. But such a step foward for guitarists. 10/10

14. Hair Pie: Bake 2 - Very jazzy. 9/10

15. Pena - Love how the vocals where pitched. Interesting lyrical images. 10/10

16. Well - He could read the phone book. 10/10

17. When Big Joan Sets Up - I love how the song goes from absolute nuts. 10/10

18. Fallin' Ditch - I love all the crazy nonsensical intros. The song itself sounds a bit too similar to the rest of the album. Although I do like the crazy time changes. 8/10

19. Sugar 'N Spikes - A little bit more contemporary. The ending is pretty impressive. I love the crazy scatting. 9/10

20. Ant Man Bee - A bit like dark skiffle. 9/10

21. Orange Claw Hammer - So hypnotic with some nice lyrics. 10/10

22. Wild Life - Such a crazy arrangment. Very Tom Waits. 10/10

23. She's Too Much For My Mirror - I love how rhythmically odd this song is. 10/10

24. Hobo Chang Ba - Interesting vocals. Great time changes through out. 10/10

25. The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica) - Obvious Zappa instrumentation. Great crazy arrangment though. 10/10

26. Steal Softly Thru Snow - Very crazy and interesting arrangment. 10/10

27. Old Fart At Play - Such a great way with words. 10/10

28. Veteran's Day Poppy - Amazing ending. The instrumental is very diferent to the whole album. Quite King Crimson. 9/10

CONCLUSION: Everyone who I've reccomended this album has really liked it. And I reccomend it all to you

RIP Captain Beefheart

Ratings only

  • Peacock Feather
  • Fant0mas
  • Phrank
  • nebol
  • historian9
  • rat
  • bytor2112
  • Ponker
  • chrijom

Write/edit review

You must be logged in to write or edit review


Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
Buy this album from our partners
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

A Different Riff : Minnock Sings Shire Vocal Jazz
Buy this album from MMA partners
Yong Yandsen / MAB189 / Richard Allan Bates : Cryroom Jazz Related Improv/Composition
Buy this album from MMA partners
Glass Mirror Jazz Related Improv/Composition
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

The Song Is You
js· 15 hours ago
Love Will Find a Way
js· 15 hours ago
"First Light " - Das Kapital
js· 1 day ago
Is There Love In Outer Space?
js· 1 day ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions


Latest Jazz News


More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us