Archive for Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , on December 18, 2010 by 30daysout

Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart

Don Van Vliet, the avant-garde singer/musician known as Captain Beefheart, has died in California at the age of 69.  Captain Beefheart – with and without his Magic Band – was a mainstay on the Warner-Reprise Loss Leader samplers, and it’s tough to pigeonhole his music.  Blues, rock, soul, country and some classical and jazz influences managed to seep into his work at various times, mostly at the same time.  It’s perhaps meaningful to note that Captain Beefheart was a frequent collaborator with Frank Zappa.  Captain Beefheart was one of a kind.

Captain Beefheart obituary on NPR

Top 14 Reasons Why Captain Beefheart Was A True American Genius, from L.A. Weekly

MP3: “Bat Chain Puller”

MP3: “Ella Guru”

MP3: “Tropical Hot Dog Night”

MP3: “Safe As Milk”

MP3: “Ashtray Heart”

MP3: “Debra Kadabra” (live)

MP3: “Hard Workin’ Man” (main title song from the movie Blue Collar)

MP3: “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” (from The Big Lebowski)

Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by 30daysout


When The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook appeared in early 1969, the liner notes said, by way of explanation, the sampler’s goal was “hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”  People like Jethro Tull, the Pentangle, Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, even Tiny Tim.  Warner Bros. Records, founded in 1958, was just beginning to hoist its freak flag, and in just a few years the label’s roster would be the cream of the crop.

And so the ride began: with L.A. street freak Wild Man Fischer’s “Songs For Sale” introducing “My Sunday Feeling” by Jethro Tull.  Eleven years later, the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series ended on the sampler Troublemakers with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols snarling, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Well, no.  The 34 Loss Leaders samplers that appeared between 1969 and 1980 formed my musical tastes and exposed me to artists I would never have dreamed of seeking out, to people who may have been just a little too adventurous even for early-Seventies radio.  I remember calling up my local AM pop station and smugly asking the DJ to play some Zappa and the Mothers, or that flip side by the Beach Boys, only to get the response, “What?”  The Loss Leaders made me cooler than the disc jockey!

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 2

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by 30daysout

thebigball schlagers

I didn’t really think through how I was gonna do this series of blog posts: Warners released about 34 of these LP samplers between 1969 and 1980, sometimes springing three or four of ’em in one year.  I don’t have all of them, so maybe I will try and survey them year by year.  After the success of the first three samplers in 1969 (there was a single-disc collection we didn’t mention last time), Warners kept goin’ in the new decade with The Big Ball and Schlagers!

The label called these samplers “Loss Leaders” because while they obviously took some money and resources to produce and advertise, and they were selling them for a very cheap price (basically one buck an album) the company stood to lose money on the records.  But they were an awesome promotional tool: mixed in with songs that were already hits and soon-to-be hits were selections from artists on the label that were a little tough to market.  The samplers were a good way to put a taste of their tunes in listeners’ ears.  If not for the WB/Reprise samplers, I probably would not have heard people like Joni Mitchell, John Cale or the Youngbloods.  Samplers were certainly the first place I heard Little Feat, Black Sabbath and many others.

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