Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Up until now I'd been largely unimpressed by bands that dared to cover the work of Don Van Vliet, and why wouldn't I be? It's so unique that by definition it becomes almost impossible to copy. Imaginary Records released one of their late 80's tribute albums (also coincidentally called Fast 'n Bulbous) and even prestigious names such as Sonic Youth and XTC failed to hit the spot. More recently the Neon Meate Dream tribute achieved what the untrained ear said Beefheart was all along, and made it unlistenable.
Fast 'n Bulbous though, are a completely different kettle of squid. For a start they feature Magic Band guitarist Gary Lucas so they're already at an advantage, but the band itself is the brainchild of alto saxophonist Phillip Johnston whose arrangements pay such attention to detail that it's obvious he truly loves the music he's working with
You can read up on the rest of the band and their background here
They have now released two collections of Beefjazz covers and both are excellent. Whilst it's mostly note for note where it counts, the power of the instrumentation takes it way beyond what the original Magic Band achieved. In some ways I imagine that they hit the highs which Van Vliet was trying to get to right from the start. I'd like to think of him sat painting in his trailer by the Pacific Ocean gently nodding along.
Take a listen to Kandy Korn and tell me that the ending isn't immense.
Fast 'N Bulbous - Kandy Korn
Buy the albums
Pork Chop Blue Around The Rind (2005)
Waxed Oop (2009)