Don Van Vliet’s reputation mostly rests on the mind-bending knottiness of Troutmaskreplica and similar work, but he could also dial down the weird and dial up the blues. 1972’s Clear Spot is his most successful attempt to nail a compromise between groove-driven blues rock and his inimitable creative eccentricities. There’s the title track’s swamp eco-blues, the Stax soul of Too Much Time, the acid rock rush of Sun Zoom Spark, and a couple of delicate psychedelic love songs. Still plenty of surreal tomfoolery afoot, like Zoot Horn Rollo’s slide showpiece Big-Eyed Beans from Venus, and those Little Golden Birdies - look at them!
A good entry point into the Beefheart universe on 180g vinyl.
Vinyl LP £18.99 0081227958459
180g vinyl reissue LP on Rhino.
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Vinyl LP £14.99 2115
180g LP reissue on Rhino.
8/10 Jack 9th February 2015
"Clear Spot" opens strongly and never lets up. And like a good drama, it even climaxes close to the end with the almost visceral "Big Eyed Beans From Venus." This song stands easily next to Beefheart's best material. Its churning guitar, smacking rhythm and wide-eyed vocal spite evoke earlier Beefheart more than anything else he released in 1972. The remainder of the album contains a vast array of unforgettable stampeding rhythms and an almost unsettlingly poignant Beefheart ballad. Give it a listen.
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