Captain Beefheart - The Early Years 1959 - 1969 (European Bootleg, 1995 )
A nicely packaged European bootleg bringing together a whole bunch of rare and unavailable Magic Band goodies. Much of the content has since been included on the Grow Fins box set and Zappa's Mystery Disc CD but there are a couple of items here that are still not available commercially.
Overall the sound is pretty good although the Avalon tracks are not as good as they could have been (still great to get the very rare 'Blues Jam' track included though).
For a change this is a boot that has been compiled by a real fan and this shows in the sleeve notes which I'll include here:-
"The first track in this collection is probably the earliest recording of Don Van Vliet, recorded in a classroom at Antelope Valley College/High with Zappa on guitar and Beefheart on Vocals.
'Teenage Maltshop': believed to have been recorded circa 1963/4 at Zappa's Cucamonga studio Z, as part of a Teenage Opera, offered to Dot Records but turned down because of the distorted guitar. 'Metal Man...' also recorded in Studio Z in the main studio, but with Beefheart outside in the corridor to the studio singing whatever words were scribbled on the walls!
'Avalon Ballroom' 1966 was the first CB & Magic BAnd, probably CB, Doug Moon, Jerry Handley & Paul Blakely. This shows the influence of Howlin Wolf - he even says people have requested a Wolf song before singing 'Evil'.
'Frying Pan Acetate': An alt version. predates release on A&M.
'Almost Grown': Is an unreleased variation of a Chuck Berry song, & 'Call On Me': A much slower version than as released on Safe As Milk.
The 'Moody Liz Acetate', although very similar to the recently located Strictly Personal OT found by Sequel, is a White Label test Pressing with a similar as released version of 'On Tomorrow'. An item this fan would give my right arm to own.
Possibly more exciting is 'Korn Ring Finger'. Why this was not included on the Sequel CD amazed me ... An excellent track that you hope will never end.
This brings us up to the 'Trout Rehearsals' - they sound if they were made to be a part warm-up to the actual recordings. You can hear Don in the back throughout blowin his Sax from different parts of the room experimenting with the sound on 'Hair Pie' Variations. It was said by Beefheart that although the album was recorded very quickly, the amount of work that must have been put in by all the band members; to get to a stage where the instrumental backing was rteady for Beefheart to sing over these complex rhythms is awe inspiring ... & how he actually managed to add the vocals only he knows.
The immediate contrast between 'Moody Liz' & 'Korn Ring Finger' from the S. Personal Ots is extraordinary especially considering there is barely a year between the recordings ... 'Ella Guru' is a sheer delight to hear in its instrumental form, as are others on the CD.
These are not the digital recordings of the 90s ... But to be 'a fly on the wall' whilst one of the most amazing albums was being prepared for an unsuspecting public, & to hear some of the Early Years of Mr Don V Vliet playing with an equally very young Mr Zappa is a treat. We have included hopefully some of the rarities that maybe, just maybe will entice someone to try to dig into the vaults & find these hidden gems.