Those of you who have read the Grow Fins booklet written by John will find the structure of this book familiar – verbatim interviews with Magic. This astonishing book is both a vigorous debunking of the Captain Beefheart myth – a myth sold by the old snake oil salesman himself and swallowed willingly . Buy Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic by John Drumbo French (ISBN:) from Amazon’s Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible.
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The first thing you notice is that this is a BIG book. Every page has a fish blowing bubbles on it …. There are two sections to the book.
Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic
John writes well as we already know and beefhfart comes as a relief after some of the longer interview sections to read his prose. For the sake of this review I started at page one and worked my way through to the end.
In fact, I think it might even work if you dipped into the book at random points. The chapters tend to be quite short and focussed which helps, although you need your wits about you in the early chapters because the timeframe is not always linear and there are a lot more interview sections. Amgic could prove difficult for some fans not to mention non-fans who do not know the early Magic Band members and the other people on the periphery. The details in this book are mind-boggling.
Inevitably there are througy or the exact chronology is unclear … but can you remember what you were doing 40 years ago? The depth of detail is both fascinating and frustrating.
So, there will, inevitably, beefheqrt gaps. The most noticeable gap is during much of to when John was not part of the band.
This could lead to a bit of confusion for some when Alex Snouffer makes an eeyes talking about the break- up of the band in Perhaps some notes to fill in these gaps would have helped … especially for non-fans. Well, yes, I am being picky …. But what do I think of the book overall? There is plenty in here to fuel debates for years to come. I have no intention of revealing any of that in this review. Inevitably many of the old Beefhearr myths are demolished but there are some revelations in here that will surprise you and make you wonder once again about the personality and strange powers of Don van Vliet.
John gives us some interesting details about the recording of each track, the history of the lyrics, who plays what and how the musical parts were devised. Obviously wearing his musical arranger hat, John is very critical in places not least about his own playing.
Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic by John “Drumbo” French
I have to confess a bit of a personal interest in this book. There were many occasions when John would get quite depressed about his writing and throhgh whether it was really worth all of the effort and time it was taking when he could be better off looking for a proper job to support his family.
I wrote several times encouraging him to continue and that there was no one else better placed to tell this extraordinary story. I was privileged to be asked by John to help edit some of his original manuscript. He felt that it was much too long but seemed unsure as to what needed to be done to it.
I did proof-read the text and corrected some errors in the first six or seven chapters, and was able to suggest areas that could be reduced by removing some duplication and extraneous detail.
But I found it difficult to cut it as dramatically as I think John tjrough it to be. I know he asked others to help edit it too. It looks like some of my suggestions may have been taken on board. There are still some repetitions though and a couple of minor factual errors which could have been edited out.
I hope it has exorcised his demon s and he can now move on to pursue his own career as the talented musician he is. The Radar Station would like to thank Proper Records for all their help with this review and allowing us to use these rare beeheart. Mr Froy is right to praise this book by John French.
It gives a tremendous insight into what it was like to work as a musician for such a wayward genius as Don Van Vliet turned out to be. It is a exercise in memory and I see no reason to doubt what Mr French says. His humour is the saving grace here because without it you might not get through to the end. The manner in which certain songs and band stories do not merely have trivial information regarding the creative and technical backgrounds but also what one could call opionated dissections that sometimes seem overly negative in terms of his critique of them also gives off what is a seemingly quite-frankly whiney vibe.
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Captain Beefheart Radar Station. Every page has a fish blowing bubbles on it … There are two sections to the book. Well, yes, I am being picky … But what do I think of the book overall? The book is worth buying for this section alone … John gives us some interesting details about the recording of each track, the history of the lyrics, who plays what and how the musical parts were devised.
Steve Froy December ———————————————— The Radar Station would like to thank Proper Records for all their help with this review and allowing us to use these rare photographs. John French book reviewed. Captain Beefheart Radar Station – about us.