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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Grow Fins (Revenant); The Dust Blows Forward (Rhino)

Ben Edmonds, Detroit Metro Times, 7 July 1999

NOW THAT Don Van Vliet’s abandonment of music in favour of his career as a painter appears to be permanent, what are we finally to make of his alter ego, Captain Beefheart? Is he the avant-rock deity so dutifully worshipped by hipsters and other modernistes? Or was he, to use Ray Davies’ blunt assessment, ‘the biggest plater (blowjob artist) in the business’? Two new Beefheart collections – Grow Fins, a four-CD box of demos, alternates, live material and ephemera now available on Revenant Records, and The Dust Blows Forward, a double-disc of career highlights due next month from Rhino – provide an abundance of data for those brave (or foolish) enough to venture into the musical thicket that lies under the good Captain’s hat.

Total word count of piece: 820

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