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fish-eye spoon #1
[ August 2001 ]
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART AND THE MAGIC BAND
Ice Cream For Crow
All words and music by Don Van Vliet
Produced and arranged by Don Van Vliet
Engineered and mastered by Phil Brown at WB Recording Studios, N. Hollywood, CA
All tracks published by Singing Ink Music (BMI)
Cover photograph: Anton Corbijn
Cover painting: Don Van Vliet
1.    ICE CREAM FOR CROW [4'33]
2.    THE HOST THE GHOST THE MOST HOLY O [2'25]
3.    SEMI-MULTICOLOURED CAUCASIAN [4'20]
4.    HEY GARLAND, I DIG YOU TWEED COAT [3'11]
5.    EVENING BELL [2'00]
6.    CARDBOARD CUTOUT SUNDOWN [2'37]
7.    THE PAST SURE IS TENSE [3'20]
8.    INK MATHEMATICS [2'40]
9.    THE WITCH DOCTOR LIFE [2'38]
10.  "81" POOP HATCH [2'37]
11.   THE 1010TH DAY OF THE HUMAN TOTEM POLE [5'43]
12.   SKELETON MAKES GOOD [2'18]

CROW was the final album Don Van Vleit produced as "Captain Beefheart", the nom de muse during Van Vleit's 18-year development into and reign as one of the kings, grandfathers, or secret uncles of most contemporary genres which connect at some point with what is presently called "Americana" and "Jazz".

THIS MONTH'S FISH-EYE SPOON SONG REVIEW:
Ice Cream For Crow
    The collection opens with the snaky, muscular, and heavily funky title track.  It's more or less an ass-kickin' 1-4-5 Blues rave, with irregular and distinctly Beefheart-y phrase durations.  Two distinct slide/rhythm guitars (one cleaner and ringing-dominant, one buzzier and lower-midrange-playing more repetitive anchoring riffs) wrestle and shoot past each other like motorboats playing "Chicken"; while the primary accent shifts, somewhat unpredictably, between odd and even points on the song's rhythmic continuum. The basswork is confident and bouncy, with a 'fixin' to fall off the trampoline' feeling - EQ'd into something rubbery and farty. The drumming is post-Drumbo - heavy on the tom toms, accenting often on 2, the bright tapping hi-hat being the component I'd be hanging my own ear on as a band member keeping apace with the whole.
    The instruments provide a color-field on which Beefheart aspirates dualities and spews contrasting visuals of black ('crow', 'panther') and white (vanilla? 'ice cream') objects and images, as well as other stark, oppositional juxtapositions of noun, verb, and adjective.  This record has been panned by some as "weak" in the vocals.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  It is raggedier and more 'emphysimic' than much of Van Vleit's output, but certainly not all of it. If you recall the tone and rasp of "Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on my Knee" from Doc At The Radar Station; it anticipated the voice that most populates these songs. It's a favorite Don timbral mannerism of mine, which he could make happen as a younger man, then could only do by 1981.  24 seconds before the song ends, Don tears into a fine, wheezy harmonica/mumbled non sequitur outro.