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Captain Beefheart | Under Review | review | dvd | Lollipop

Captain Beefheart

Under Review (MVD)
by Brian Varney

The second in a series of documentaries dealing with two of the most critically-acclaimed and commercially-underappreciated bands of the rock era (the other covers the Velvet Underground). These documentaries are of special interest to me because, despite my status as a full-blown geek more or less dictating that I love or at least pay lip service to these bands, I've never enjoyed listening to the music of either very much, try though I may. At one time, I've owned probably seven or eight Beefheart LPs, but I sold them back long ago and I've never once regretted it.

However, the continued importance attributed to these artists compels me to re-examine their legacies at somewhat regular intervals, and these documentaries give an opportunity to do just that. Each film follows the band's career more or less chronologically, with a bit of background information on the main players provided when necessary, and tells the stories through a combination of voiceover narration, critical comments from band members (though it should be noted that Captain Beefheart himself is not interviewed), friends, producers, fellow musicians, artists, and a few rock critics, along with a nice selection of rare performance footage.

The films provide a reasonably in-depth analysis (this one runs almost two hours), and even if there's not much new information for the hardcore geeks, the performance footage is enough to make these films worthwhile. Newcomers will get a nice overview of each artist's career, along with an abundance of suggested albums and tracks. I can't say either film changed my mind about the artists, but I do have a couple of albums I need to hear again, particularly the mid-period Beefheart stuff like Clear Spot.


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