The Magic Band CD review [ATP/Touch and Go]

Music Reviews
The Magic Band CD review [ATP/Touch and Go]
Jul 8, 2003, 03:51


Back To Front is a tape of rehearsals by “The Magic Band” preparing for an All Tomorrow's Parties appearance. “TMB” would comprise alumni from various incarnations of the group from the earliest to the latest… and no Captain Beefheart. But along with latter-day henchman like guitarist Gary Lucas, the players here do include Mark “Rockette Morton” Boston from the classic Trout Mask ensemble on bass and John “Drumbo” French from the original line-up on drums and vocals; he turns in a spookily convincing impression of his cousin, Mr. Van Vliet, in fact! (That's Beefheart's real name, kids.)

At this point in history I'd like to think it's unnecessary to explain the riches of the repertoire in question which primarily stems from a brilliant synthesis of rural blues and jazz with the more errant, asymmetrical features of the former amplified and bolstered by the latter. This Magic Band's brief was to recreate as faithfully as possible the studio versions of many of the greatest Beefheart originals and they succeed quite nicely at the task. In the case of the instrumental versions of songs that originally boasted vocals it IS cool to be able to focus on the visionary structuring without the powerful distraction of Beefheart's patented vocal presence. As such it's easier to fully appreciate the marvelously trippy rhythms and uproariously obtuse melody lines as well as the complex, multi-directional interactions between the various instrumental parts. But, finally, none of these trump the original recordings, which are all in print. So… duh. [ATP/Touch and Go]

-Howard Wuelfing

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