069 - Captain Beefheart - Unconditionally Guaranteed (1974) (with Tim Howd)


Manage episode 293675309 series 2373979
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During his 18-year career as a musician, Don Van Vliet, better known by the moniker of Captain Beefheart, never experienced major levels of commercial success. Despite the cult following that he commanded, and an eventual long and storied legacy of innovation and influence upon future art and progressive rock acts, he and his famed Magic Band backing group were always struggling to get by financially. Their records were critical marvels, but were slim on sales.
As the 70s progressed, Beefheart made multiple attempts to allay this lack of commercial success by gradually tempering his signature sound back. This meant less abrasive, frenzied, and surreal arrangements and lyrics, and more relaxed tempos, standard rhythms and simple love songs. These attempts would not bring Beefheart the mainstream clout he desired, but would turn off his cult following, and alienate the Magic Band themselves.
In 1974, a particular nadir was reached with the release of the record Unconditionally Guaranteed, which traded the experimentation of beloved albums like Trout Mask Replica and Safe As Milk for generic, un-challenging, over-simplified 70s blues rock. Critics shunned it, fans detested it, and the Magic Band would quit shortly after the album's release in a huff. Even Beefheart himself would disavow the record, encouraging fans to get a refund if they bought it.
Will we feel the same way? That's what we aim to find out on a new Jukebox Zeroes, in which Lilz and Patrick welcome return guest Tim Howd of The Only Humans. Join them as they go track-by-track, trying to find the signature weirdness and scrappy charm missing from Unconditionally Guaranteed.
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