Captain Beefheart

SUN ZOOM SPARK: 1970 TO 1972

Rhino Records

In the legendary Captain Beefheart discography, attention usually focuses on the carefully wrought, experimental music heard on Trout Mask Replica. As a consequence, the three stellar albums recorded soon after—Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid, and Clear Spot—are often overlooked.

Rhino intends to change that with a limited edition four-disc collection that revisits the albums Captain Beefheart (aka Don Van Vliet) recorded with the Magic Band in the early Seventies. It includes all three albums, which have been remastered for the first time, as well as an entire disc featuring 14 previously unissued outtakes from that era. SUN ZOOM SPARK: 1970 to 1972will be available on November 17 for a suggested list price of $59.98 on four CDs and $99.98 on four LPs. The set will also be available digitally.

Recorded over a couple of weeks in the summer of 1970 at United Recording Group in Hollywood, Lick My Decals Off, Baby was released the following October. One of Van Vliet’s favorites, the album represents the apex of his dissonant style and includes such standout tracks as the quirky-funny “I Love You, You Big Dummy” and the exquisite solo guitar piece “One Red Rose That I Mean.”

It was followed by The Spotlight Kid, which was recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles during the summer of 1971. It features a more barebones, blues-rock sound on songs like “Click Clack,” “I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby” and “Alice In Blunderland.” Lester Bangs wrote in Rolling Stone (March ’72) that Beefheart had struck the balance between “intensely personal type of statement” and “mass appeal,” praising the album for its “wit and genius.

Soon after, Clear Spot was released. Recorded in the summer of 1972, the albumintroduced several standout tracks, such as the vulnerable love song “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains,” the soul ballad “Too Much Time,” and the pulsing “Big Eyed Beans from Venus.”

The fourth and final disc in SUN ZOOM SPARK includes 14 unreleased tracks and is a trove of alternate versions, rehearsals and outtakes from the sessions for The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot. The disc reveals just how much some songs evolved before being released. Among the highlights are a sung-version of “I Can’t Do This Unless I Can Do This/Seam Crooked Sam,” which became a spoken-word performance on Bat Chain Puller; a raucous, off-kilter version of “Dirty Blue Gene” that pointed the way to the final version on Doc at the Radar Station; and an instrumental rehearsal of “The Witch Doctor Life” that is nearly unrecognizable compared to the version heard on 1982’s Ice Cream For Crow.

SUN ZOOM SPARK: 1970 to 1972

Track Listing

Lick My Decals Off, Baby (October 1970)

  1. “Lick My Decals Off, Baby”
  2. “Doctor Dark”
  3. “I Love You, You Big Dummy”
  4. “Peon”
  5. “Bellerin’ Plain”
  6. “Woe-Is-uh-Me-Bop”
  7. “Japan in a Dishpan”
  8. “I Wanna Find a Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go”
  9. “Petrified Forest”
  10. “One Red Rose That I Mean”
  11. “The Buggy Boogie Woogie”
  12. “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig)”
  13. “Space-Age Couple”
  14. “The Clouds Are Full of Wine (not Whiskey or Rye)”
  15. “Flash Gordon’s Ape”

The Spotlight Kid (January 1972)

  1. “I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby”
  2. “White Jam”
  3. “Blabber ‘n Smoke”
  4. “When It Blows Its Stacks”
  5. “Alice in Blunderland”
  6. “The Spotlight Kid”
  7. “Click Clack”
  8. “Grow Fins”
  9. “There Ain’t No Santa Claus on the Evenin’ Stage”
  10. “Glider”

Clear Spot (November 1972)

  1. “Low Yo Yo Stuff”
  2. “Nowadays a Woman’s Gotta Hit a Man”
  3. “Too Much Time”
  4. “Circumstances”
  5. “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains”
  6. “Sun Zoom Spark”
  7. “Clear Spot”
  8. “Crazy Little Thing”
  9. “Long Neck Bottles”
  10. “Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles”
  11. “Big Eyed Beans from Venus”
  12. “Golden Birdies”

Out-takes

  1. “Alice in Blunderland” – Alternate Version
  2. “Harry Irene”
  3. “I Can’t Do This Unless I Can Do This/Seam Crooked Sam”
  4. “Pompadour Swamp/Suction Prints”
  5. “The Witch Doctor Life” – Instrumental Take
  6. “Two Rips in a Haystack/Kiss Me My Love”
  7. “Best Batch Yet” – (Track) Version 1
  8. “Your Love Brought Me To Life” – Instrumental
  9. “Dirty Blue Gene” – Alternate Version 1
  10. “Nowadays a Woman’s Gotta Hit a Man” – Early Mix
  11. “Kiss Where I Kain’t”
  12. “Circumstances” – Alternate Version 2
  13. “Little Scratch”
  14. “Dirty Blue Gene” – Alternate Version 3

 

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