Captain’s Holiday

by John Holbo on August 11, 2016

I’ve always been of the ‘McCartney is tooooo sweet’ school, though I’m aware he has tried to recapture that “Helter Skelter” grit and growl periodically down the years. Well, I just discovered his 2008 Fireman album, Electric Arguments, which is a terrible name for an album, which got some critical attention at the time but I missed it. I think a few tracks are pretty darn great. Beefheart-y beefiness, even if Paul’s pipes were built to shine at the high end. He isn’t exactly Howlin’ Wolf. But the boy can sing. Track 1

That sounds like a cross between:


Track 2 is also good, “Two Magpies”. [Just go forward in that YouTube playlist.]

More Beatles-y. Some of the other tracks I don’t like as well. Track 3, “Sing The Changes”, is very Traveling Wilburys-ish, which is kind of weird as that was George’s gig. I keep expecting Roy Orbison to break in, quavering on top. And then Tom Petty and Bob Dylan to do something very awkward.

After that, I like the album less. But it’s ok.

Well anyway, the first track, in particular, reminds me, in reverse, of what Beefheart was up to in ’74: trying to figure out what the hell the 1970’s were about, producing something that was maybe a bit too McCartney and Wings and Bluejeans and Moonbeams for it’s own good. Although there’s some good stuff in there!



George de Verges 08.12.16 at 3:01 am

Where’s the Wolf?

What did Belle think?


mrearl 08.12.16 at 2:53 pm

Wolf is there, enjoying the sincerest form of flattery in Beefheart’s “Grow Fins.”

And while The Traveling Wilburys do have a certain “drunks under a lamppost” flavor, it’s obvious a good time is being had by all, and that’s enough to make the first album a keeper.

Besides, I always crack up at Tom Petty’s absolutely deadpan, “When somebody plays . . . Purple Haze.”


phenomenal cat 08.12.16 at 4:59 pm

“What did Belle think?”



Suzanne 08.12.16 at 5:11 pm

Macca also sounds pretty rugged, for him, on the early B-side “I’m Down.”

He used to channel Little Richard to good effect back in the day.


P O'Neill 08.12.16 at 6:42 pm

By the way, short and funny interview with him in NYT yesterday


Don Grimm 08.13.16 at 12:27 am

Don Van Vliet was way ahead of his time. The music could be difficult and inaccessible at times, but if you ever saw the Magic Band in those days (70’s), they were the hottest jazz band in the world. I saw them play several times in the 70’s and couldn’t believe how different and wildly powerful they were in a live setting. Look on You Tube and watch them play on SNL in the 80’s. New Yorkers watching Hothead and Used Me Like an Ashtray Heart and being just stunned by the raw power of the band. I believe them to be the greatest band of that era by a large margin and I’m not joking. Little Feat opened for them in Phoenix back in those days and it was laughable to compare the musicianship and ensemble playing of the two bands. Commercially viable, no. Great, yes.


John Holbo 08.13.16 at 2:38 am

Beefheart is the best! I would have loved to see that band live.


Lee A. Arnold 08.13.16 at 12:03 pm

Think I may have found a beefy heart who creates in IDM breakcore! Had to listen to this twice then I was forever totally hooked. Melody starts around 1:10, and verse and chorus kick in around 1:50. Lyrics are charming and sweet actually:

Tim Exile, “Fortress” (2009)


Dave Maier 08.13.16 at 1:42 pm

Yes! I remember seeing the Magic Band on SNL in 1980 doing “Hothead” and being blown away. That’s a great record too (Doc at the Radar Station). Also great and in that same vein is Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), which I think is the immediately previous one.


Nick 08.13.16 at 5:33 pm

Don, there’s the video footage of Ashtray Heart from SNL on – it’s a cracker!

(You didn’t used to have to sign in to watch it which is a pain. But if you hit the stop button in your browser at the right time you can avoid the redirect…)


Don Grimm 08.14.16 at 10:02 pm

Nick at 10: Thank you.

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