To promote the only album they ever made together – Bongo Fury – Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa put together a promotional documentary of their musical lives and times. It contained some obscure material, early collaborations, demos, proto and live versions, as well as official releases. It was broadcast by KWST and other radio stations in the US, on October 1st, 1975 (the day before the official release of their album), and quickly became fodder for bootlegs.
Before ‘The Mystery Disc‘, and long before ‘The Lost Episodes‘, there was ‘An Evening With Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart‘. It provided such a rarity as “Orange Claw Hammer“, my favourite track. Instead of the well-known a capella rap, Don Van Vliet sings the words of this classic ‘Trout Mask Replica’ song backed by Zappa’s driving folk-blues 12-string (Live in the studio). Van Vliet gives an impassioned reading of the song, the result being pure magic. His story of Victorian melodrama and Depression emptiness cuts through to the core much more than the TMR version (The ‘Grow Fins‘ box set is the only release I’ve found it on, though).
Listening to this broadcast, it makes me wonder, perhaps, if there are any other Zappa/Beefheart gems like it lurking about in a vault somewhere?
To listen to the other parts of the Zappa/Beeheart 1975 promotional show:
8 thoughts on “Zappa & Beefheart, Radio KWST, 1975”
Wow. If this is actually FZ strumming the 12-string, then this is one of the extremely rare examples that showcase FZ’s underrated and rarely used skill as a rhythm guitarist. Thanks for posting this!
Part 1 was tasty little treat for a mundane Monday night. Looking forward to the rest!
Fantastic stuff. I bet the original tape is lurking in the vault somewhere.
BTW that’s not a 12-string Frank’s playing, just a normal 6-string. The reason the chords have that simultaneously bright and rich sound is that on the open D major chord (which has a bright sound as the 3rd is at the top) he’s also hitting the open A string; similarly on the C major chord he’s also playing a G on the bottom E string. In both cases this means the bottom note is actually the 5th rather than the root of the chord.
[quote comment=”7338″]Fantastic stuff. I bet the original tape is lurking in the vault somewhere.
BTW that’s not a 12-string Frank’s playing, just a normal 6-string. The reason the chords have that simultaneously bright and rich sound is that on the open D major chord (which has a bright sound as the 3rd is at the top) he’s also hitting the open A string; similarly on the C major chord he’s also playing a G on the bottom E string. In both cases this means the bottom note is actually the 5th rather than the root of the chord.[/quote]
Thanks for your astute ear, C-H, and for correcting my error (is it obvious that I don’t play guitar?). It’s still my favourite version of this song. I just noticed the other day while listening to the Beefheart anthology, ‘Dust Blows Forward’, the Trout Mask version was used while Don’s ‘Bongo Fury’ songs were included in the compilation. Interesting.
C-H: I’m also trying to learn to play this song on guitar. I can’t seem to get it. Can you kindly share what exactly is the tuning and what are the chords being played? Mahalos from Hawaii
Please note that there is no such word as “broadcasted” (sic). It is simply the word broadcast, whether current or past tense. Feel free to check this out properly if you don’t believe me; obviously you didn’t do so earlier. Usage of imaginary words like “broadcasted”, “splitted”, et al, marks you, along with thousands of other online grammar-failures, as an illiterate individual. Sorry, you had your chance to learn to read and write.
Your Elder, thanks for pointing out the grammatical error in this post. Of course, it’s not the end of the world. Every new technology, like the internet, is bound to have a profound effect upon the way language is used and misused.
Unfortunately, your comment also marks you as one rude motherfucker. Sorry, you had your chance to make a good first impression – instead you decided to be a pompous ass.
Well, have yourself a squat on the cosmic utensil, as FZ would say…
Hey “Your Elder”: your immaculate, grammatically-correct-at-all-times weblog, it is online, yes? Show me it! To see it I desire!
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