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Captain Beefheart: Sun Zoom Spark 1970–1972

Album Review

Box set of ‘low yo yo’ blues and more from Don Van Vliet’s fertile post-Trout Mask period.

When John Peel first hammered Trout Mask Replica on the radio 45 years ago that album was mainly seen as another freak assault from Frank Zappa’s Bizarre stable. Now it’s hailed as one of the last century’s greatest avant-weird albums while Beefheart’s inevitable posthumous legend after his 2010 death has been joined by the truth emerging about the unbelievably harsh treatment he dealt his Magic Band.

While Trout Mask usually gets singled out for attention, many, including the Captain himself, consider its 1970 follow-up Lick My Decals Off, Baby his best album. Ex-Mothers drummer Art Tripp had joined on marimba while guitarist Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) took over from John French as musical director, constructing the songs from cassettes of Beefheart pounding a piano. 


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