October 11, 2009 – 3:58 am

Captain Beefheart aka Don Van Vliet R.I.P. 1941-2010: Click here

Click here: The Odyssey Of Captain Beefheart, Rolling Stone’s 1970 cover story
(with thanks to Ernie Clark)

The studio jam. The excuse of every lazy musician to waste studio time while trying to spark an idea worth recording. But for some, it was magic.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

The Spotlight Kid Outtakes 1971-1972 [Revision 3, March 2009, 3CD]

Generally excellent studio recordings. Details below.

It all started here with this quote from the Captain to NME’s Roy Carr:
Don Van Vliet: I was thinking warm and nice when I did that one (The Spotlight Kid) and I feel that it has all come through. Actually, though there are only ten tracks on the album, we recorded thirty-five songs altogether.

(Roy Carr: Svengali Zappa And A Horrible Freak Called Beefheart. New Musical Express. January 12, 1972)

So where were the rest? In 2005, a triple CD containing what were outtakes and sessions for The Spotlight Kid emerged. It was a tasty revelation of the Magic Band hard at work. Then earlier this year, the third incarnation of these sessions appeared online, sounding better than ever. This time with the following note:

“Finally, this is how the sessions from 38 years ago surfaced. A very friendly DIME fellow who wants to stay anonymous sent his collection of Spotlight Kid outtakes… Every Beefheart fan has his own version, but this time we are talking about a known 2nd gen!

“A former band member received the tapes on getting the gig, they were made for him in order to learn the tunes. Our guy got them directly from him, he transferred the tapes to CD-R using a stand alone CD burner, no editing or mastering in this step. What I got are FLAC files directly ripped from the CD-R. The sound quality of the tracks is astonishing… You have to hear them!”

It was signed off cryptically - “Shared by ‘unknown’.” You’ll be happy to learn the quality is exceptional.

What you get though are a rambling of ideas cooked in the studio while jamming. Writer Pete Mulvey describes them as “two C90s, the first of which contains a range of material most of which does not make the album, but gets resurrected on a future release.”

As for the second tape, Mulvey said the music was “more extended, instrumental-based stuff, reminiscent of those tapes of backing tracks”. He said “some are rambling runs, seven minutes of ‘Drink Paint, Run, Run’ and 25 of a blues-based jam which contains the words ‘Sun Zoom Spark’, along with ‘Key To The Highway’ and ‘Baby Scratch My Back’.”

“Hard to hear such work-outs without thinking that if anyone came up with the key phrase, new sound, or decent rhythmic touch, then Beefheart would incorporate it. If not, they take place simply to loosen fingers. If so, the musicians’ claims to have had more than a hand in the writing could carry a little weight,” Mulvey concluded.

We will add that the years when these were recorded were a progressive time. Experimenting with sound as with chemicals was the order of things. To hear them now is to hark back to a different era before precision, computer and digital tools became integral in recording studios. No more time for the hippie or gonzo type. The suits would have been running the sessions recording the titles of every track to ensure “copyright, copyright, copyright”.

Unfortunately, aside from titles and fading memories, no one really knows who composed what. Beefheart’s stylistic rhythms are there but so are the distinctive virtuoso playing of his band. As Mulvey pointed out, “if only (Beefheart)… could have bolted some lyrics onto these, there would be an unreleased album fighting to get out”.

But band members had a different view of these sessions. Referring to The Spotlight Kid, drummer John French has said, “At the time I hated that album… A lot of that stuff was really boring to play, because it was so simple and it wasn’t going anywhere. For another thing a lot of the tracks were just so slow… We just hated it.” Guitarist Bill Harkleroad has said “the music was played and recorded anaemically… the band had been beaten into submission and played like mummies.” This would support the view that it was Beefheart who dominated the sessions.

Highlights include the “twenty-five minutes of Pompadour you can hear pleasure in the band’s playing that does not stay the course to the ‘Shiny Beast’ version.” During this period, Beefheart and band were immersed in the delta blues. Later when Beefheart discarded his rock star pose to paint, it was for landscapes and rural, primitive expressionism.

But for now, relish the moment in 1971. With thanks to all who made this possible, including “unknown” and laryddave for the artworks and comprehensive pdf file.
- Professor Red

(Pete Mulvey wrote extensively on The Spotlight Kid Outtakes in fanzine Steal Softly Thru Snow #6)

The Spotlight Kid & Pompadour Sessions
October - early November 1971. Recorded at The Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Acoustic Blues Session, early 1972. Probably recorded at Amigo Studios, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood, CA.

The three CDs were assembled with the chronological order of the sessions in mind. The pdf file that you can download contains 24 pages of info regarding personnel and very detailed information of the differences of each track. The liner notes assembled by “Jazzfan” are incredible for their insight and entertainment.
Click here to download 24-page pdf file. (1.4MB)

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1 (76:13m)
Track 101. Drink Paint Run Run (7:28:977) (1) excellent sound quality (10.2MB)
Track 102. Seam Crooked Sam (Version 2) (2:18:290) (1) excellent sound quality (3.1MB)
Track 103. Dirty Blue Gene (Version 1) (2:54:642) (1) stereo, excellent sound quality (4.2MB)
Track 104. Sun Zoom Spark (Version 3) (4:12:283) (1) excellent sound quality, 4,5% slower (6.1MB)
Track 105. Kiss Me My Love (2:38:779) (1) excellent sound quality (3.6MB)
Track 106. Funeral Hill (Version 1) (6:46:236) (1) excellent sound quality, 2% slower, 0:50 longer (coda uncut) (9.8MB)
Track 107. Harry Irene (2:51:164) jazzy guitar version (1) excellent sound quality (3.9MB)
Track 108. Open Pins (5:41:854) (3) improved sound (7.8MB)
Track 109. Dual & Abdul (2:44:970) (1) excellent sound quality, 5% faster (4.0MB)
Track 110. Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian (Version 2) (3:05:670) (1) new version, excellent sound quality (different guitar outro) (4.5MB)
Track 111. Balladino (2:27:607) (1) excellent sound quality (3.3MB)
Track 112. Clear Spot (Instrumental) (4:46:150) (2) improved sound (6.9MB)
Track 113. Circumstances (9:09:407) (1) new track, excellent sound quality (marimba, harmonica, different to Clear Spot o/t) (13.2MB)
Track 114. I’m Gonna Booglarize You, Baby (Instrumental) (5:54:142) (1) excellent sound quality (8.1MB)
Track 115. Low Yo Yo Stuff (Instrumental) (6:08:188) (1) uncut, excellent sound quality (8.4MB)
Track 116. Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian (Version 1) (4:11:118) (1) excellent sound quality, 4, 5% faster (5.7MB)
Track 117. Little Scratch (Version 2) (2:53:510) (4) improved sound (4.2MB)

Disc 2 (70:24m)
Track 201. Suzy Murder Wrist (3:47:285) (1) excellent sound quality (5.2MB)
Track 202. U Bean So Cinquo (2:51:291) (1) excellent sound quality (3.9MB)
Track 203. The Witch Doctor Life (3:51:869) (1) excellent sound quality (5.3MB)
Track 204. Little Scratch (Version 1) (4:48:648) (1) excellent sound quality (6.6MB)
Track 205. Flaming Autograph (4:44:098) (1) excellent sound quality (6.8MB)
Track 206. Love Grip (4:48:176) (1) excellent sound quality (6.9MB)
Track 207. No Flower Shall Grow (5:44:902) (1) excellent sound quality (8.3MB)
Track 208. Best Batch Yet (Version 1) (3:40:819) 3 takes (1) excellent sound quality (5.0MB)
Track 209. Your Love Brought Me To Life (4:10:338) 2 takes (1) excellent sound quality (5.7MB)
Track 210. That Little Girl (5:18:342) (1) excellent sound quality (7.2MB)
Track 211. Campfires (5:47:664) (1) excellent sound quality (7.9MB)
Track 212. Well Well Well (1:57:587) (1) excellent sound quality (Lick My Decals Off Baby o/t) (2.6MB)
Track 213. Funeral Hill (Version 3) (3:55:744) (1) excellent sound quality (5.7MB)
Track 214. Seam Crooked Sam (Version 1) (2:15:360) (2) improved sound (3.3MB)
Track 215. Alice In Blunderland (3:55:727) (2) improved sound (5.7MB)
Track 216. Funeral Hill (Version 2) (3:17:453) (2) improved sound (4.5MB)
Track 217. Best Batch Yet (Version 2) (2:14:814) (2) improved sound (3.0MB)
Track 218. Dirty Blue Gene (Version 2) (3:14:470) (2) improved sound (4.4MB)

Disc 3 (52:16m)
The Acoustic Blues Session mono (1) excellent sound quality, less bass, 2.1% faster and Pompadour Session (1) excellent sound quality, 3,8% slower
Track 301. Pompadour I (13:54:520) 2 takes (20.0MB)
Track 302. Pompadour II (12:41:308) 5 takes (18.3MB)
Track 303. Sun Zoom Spark (Version 1) (8:03:536) (11.0MB)
Track 304. Scratch My Back (1:51:574) (2.7MB)
Track 305. Blues Medley (7:16:838) (10.5MB)
- Down In The Bottom (Howlin’ Wolf, 1961)
- Key To The Highway (Big Bill Broonzy, 1941)
- Grandpa Don’t Love Grandma No More
Track 306. Sun Zoom Spark (Version 2) (8:28:741) (11.6MB)

Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) - vocals, harmonica, jingle bells
Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad) - guitar, slide guitar
Rockette Morton (Mark Boston) - bass, guitar
Drumbo (John French) - drums, percussion
Ed Marimba (Art Tripp) - drums, percussion, marimba, piano, harpsichord
Winged Eel Fingerling (Elliot Ingber) - guitar

Click here: Captain Beefheart - Shiny Beast Demos 1978

Captain Beefheart’s The Spotlight Kid (1972) has been described as his attempt at mainstream acceptance after the critical high points were reached with Trout Mask Replica (1969). If mainstream was where he was headed, then he was ahead of the curve. The Spotlight Kid is a bluesy album that in ‘72 was not in sympathy with the hard rock of the times. Try it yourself. Buy it here.

  1. 29 Responses to “JAM WITHOUT EXCEPTION”

  2. What a gem! Now this is what we have come to love and expect from the BigO!! Beefheart is in a class of his own. This stuff is truly awesome. When is the 3rd cd available??

    By lanzarishi on Oct 11, 2009

  3. Great fucking Stuff of Beefhart!Top I like it more from Beefheart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By Udo on Oct 11, 2009

  4. Hey guys, thanks for all the great music!!

    By Yosoy on Oct 12, 2009

  5. Excellente soundo qualms… Beef digs potatoes.

    By Timmy on Oct 12, 2009

  6. Out done yourself with this gem mate :)

    By Ryan on Oct 12, 2009

  7. Greetings from Costa Rica!

    Thank you very much. This is the kind of material that makes me visit your page over and over.

    Thanks again.

    When are you gonna post the Bowie stuff shown on the homepage? That would be great! Specially the Alternate Honky Dory!

    By Boschini on Oct 13, 2009

  8. I am trembling. This is it! I always knew this was out there and now here it is in my ears. I now find myself wishing for flac versions…but from nothing but dreams to this is absolutely making my day, week, year, etc. What is it about Beefheart that elicits such joy from such raw, rough scrape and scrabble? Yes, indeed, thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I’m going to grow me some fins…

    By Polterzeitgeist on Oct 13, 2009

  9. wow wow wow! BigO RULES!

    Lost Captain Beefheart from my favorite period! Too bad my two favorite Beefheart songs (Click Clack and Blue Million Miles - also from these sessions)are not here….can we possibly hope for more of this?

    By Walter on Oct 13, 2009

  10. Excellent!
    This man & Frank Zappa are fantastics genius!

    By Rochacrimson on Oct 13, 2009

  11. Amazing insights into HIS processes. When asked the top 5 rock performers ever I say Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Beefheart and really agonise over the 5th. If asked for top 3 I say Beefheart and struggle for other two!!!

    By mirrorblue on Oct 15, 2009

  12. But if asked greatest album ever that’s easy - Forever Changes by Love. Debate …

    By mirrorblue on Oct 15, 2009

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    ..and no debate, mirrorblue. Forever Changes is the one for me too. Beefheart and Dylan in the top 5 as well.

    By James on Oct 15, 2009

  14. Awesome, awesome, awesome stuff, BigO. You rock!!

    By Kevin on Oct 21, 2009

  15. This was Beefheart’s best collection of musicians at their peak. As enjoyable as a new record. Thank you for adding to the canon.
    Dada lives and sqawks.

    By mystere on Oct 23, 2009

  16. thank you so much for this.
    Spotlight Kid was the first Beefheart LP I bought back in 1972, played it non stop, still love it, so to hear all the amazing music on this is just fantastic
    thanks again

    By dj fern on Dec 31, 2009

  17. The dust blows forward ‘n the dust blows back.

    RIP Captain

    By Sking on Dec 18, 2010

  18. thanks…I`ll never ever forget the first time I heard orange claw hammer…smiled like a marsh hen sneakin` up on a cranberry ever since..
    r.i.p. captain.

    By sluggo on Dec 18, 2010

  19. Sad to learn this morning of this man’s death … his legend lives on in the hearts of people still around.

    By Canute on Dec 18, 2010

  20. So sad to lose this genius. Saw him a few times over the years, never disappointed (except maybe 1974). I have always believed he was right up there with Hendrix, Dylan, Beatles, etc. as a genuine mould breaker in music.

    By TonyB on Dec 18, 2010

  21. Fantastic stuff!
    Though saddened by the report of the Captain’s


    By john auker on Dec 18, 2010

  22. Best Music Ever.
    Rest in peace, Don.

    By Aking on Dec 19, 2010

  23. yet another gem. you guys rock. thanks

    By tony on Dec 19, 2010

  24. Very sad when i saw various news on web.

    By Rochacrimson on Dec 20, 2010

  25. More than Mere Man (Mirror Man)

    By Rex on Dec 20, 2010

  26. Thanks so much for this fantastic behind-the-scenes document.

    By Rat Serum on May 16, 2011

  27. Anyone else having link issues? They go to “bigOmag” instead of bigOzine…..

    By Don Crouch on Oct 13, 2016

  28. Love it….saw Beefheart a couple times at Pepperland and at Winterland…..maybe a couple other times.Met him while living in Humboldt and this was my favorite time period(Clear Spot)…saw a couple Magic Band rehearsals before they became Mallard.Anyway….love this to pieces….great job.RIP Don and also Ted Alvey.

    By russ on Oct 13, 2016

  29. Must have missed this post on previous ups, glad I got it now. Many thanks BigO and all involved

    By bing bonggong on Oct 13, 2016

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