In 1974, Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) and Art Tripp III (Ed Marimba) left Captain Beefheart‘s Magic Band to form the new band, Mallard. Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame), a Magic Band fan and friend of Mark Boston, financed their eponymous album, Mallard, which resulted in their signing with Virgin Records UK in 1975. A second album, In A Different Climate, was released a year later. On this second album, George Draggota took over on drums from Tripp, John Thomas took over keyboards from John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick. These two with Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Sam Galpin were the band that toured Europe and performed the German TV Show ‘Rockpalast’ on September 7th, 1976.
Mallard ‘Rockpalast’ Setlist:
01 She’s Long And She’s Lean
02 One Day Once
03 A Piece Of Me
04 Old Man Grey /Texas Weather
05 Green Coyote And His Companion
07 Mama Squeeze
08 Back On The Pavement
09 Reign Of Pain
10 Empire State Express
11 Winged Tuskadero
12 Road To Morrocco
13 Big Foot
DG: What made you decide to leave Captain Beefheart and form Mallard?
BH: I needed to get on my own and get out of this form of existence. I was not taking care of my life. It took me six years to be able to say no to the man [Don Van Vliet]. There was so much hero worship, and I needed to breathe and have a life.
DG: Did it give you a bad taste toward the music business?
BH: Not necessarily. I wanted to get away from that situation. It was even the thought of whether I wanted to play music or not.
DG: Was Mallard supposed to be your band?
BH: It was the Magic Band without Don. We figured we had a career, and it was the band that was a spinoff of Beefheart. But here I was the person who’s feeling that I’m going to be the leader because I’m the guitar player. Now, I’m the one who has to write and come up with the music. So, I felt the pressure of that, and I kind of took over as the leader of that band.
The first album was basically a demo tape. I never really considered it an album. It was a demo tape to get a record deal. I thought it was pretty weak. There were some parts of it that were okay. But my intent was that this music was a demo. Virgin bought it and it came out in the U.K. as an album, Uh ooh!
Poor distribution and the subsequent lack of financial success led to the band deciding not to continue. The two albums have been released on CD although it is now deleted and fairly difficult to find.
It took me next to forever to finally track down the 1994 ‘Mallard/In A Different Climate’ release on CD. This is a very highly underrated band and a couple of wonderful albums from a unique time. They sound like a cross between Little Feat and The Factory (with elements of Beefheart thrown in for good measure).