Captain Beefheart: Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972 (Rhino) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. VincentCaptain Beefheart

Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972


Jan 09, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent Bookmark and Share

Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, was singular to the point of deserving a place on the period table of the elements, and Sun Zoom Spark provides evidence for such a case. The box set collects three early-‘70s albums (1970’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby; ‘72’s The Spotlight Kid; ‘72’s Clear Spot) and a disc of outtakes.

If 1969’s Trout Mask Replica is Beefheart’s experimental masterpiece and most legendary reference point, Decals could also be argued as his best record. With its complex arrangements, drum-tight musicianship, and Van Vliet as the fearless leader and spigot spilling wonderfully jarring poetic fragments, the record is as refreshingly undated as the moment it first exited the pressing plant.

Beefheart inched toward broader acceptance for Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot, with both containing scattered jewels, if not representing his peak. Still, fans should take to this set, as sung in the “Harry Irene” outtake, “like props to aviators.” (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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