Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, Paperback

Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica Paperback

Part of the 33 1/3 series

3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


In the spring of 1969, the inauspicious release of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's "Trout Mask Replica", a double-album featuring 28 stream-of-consciousness songs filled with abstract rhythms and guttural bellows, dramatically altered the pop landscape.

Yet, even if the album did cast its radical vision over the future of music, much of the record's artistic strength is actually drawn from the past.

This book examines how Beefheart's incomparable opus is informed by a variety of diverse sources. "Trout Mask Replica" is a hybrid of the poetic declarations of Walt Whitman and the beat writer Gregory Corso, the field hollers of the Delta Blues legend Charley Patton, the urban blues of Howlin' Wolf, the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and the early Southern Californian R&B sound of Richard Berry and the Coasters.

This book illustrates how "Trout Mask Replica", far from being an arcane specimen of the avant-garde, was instead a defiantly original declaration of the American imagination.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Rock & Pop music
  • ISBN: 9780826427816


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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

The 33 1/3 series takes great rock and roll albums and discusses them is depth. This entry concerns Captain Beefheart's avant-garde rock classic. Courrier puts the album in its historical context and discusses the genesis of the music, the recording sessions and the critical response to the released album. It's very interesting to read about Beefheart, an untrained musical polymath interact with his highly trained band and producer Frank Zappa. He drew on blues and R&B along with avant-garde jazz masters like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler to make a unique and original music. Beefheart was also a painter and a sculptor and this artistic viewpoint influenced his musical development. He was a bit of a tyrant in dealing with musicians and the recording sessions were always on the verge of breaking down, but somehow everything came together almost magically into one of the most unusual and fascinating albums of the rock and roll era.

Review by

Most interesting are the author's personal insights into the album, especially on how listening to it is essentially an individual pursuit. It is indeed not something to spin at a party. In all other regards, though, it seems like a summary of Mike Barnes' excellent biography of Beefheart. I suppose I didn't expect much more from such a thin book, but either the Barnes biography or Bill Harkleroad's Lunar Notes are far better on the subject.

Review by

This was an informative, quick read about one strange influential album. The book deepened my appreciation for the Captain's work.