Trout Mask Replica. I know. I know. This is one of the greatest albums ever created. And it constantly makes the critics “Top Whatever” list ever year. Shit, every week it seems.
But I just can’t listen to it. And I’m not even sure where to start, but I suppose we could start with Captain Beefheart (Don Vliet) himself. The man, who admittedly possesses an Einsteinian creative genius and has a 4 1/2 octave singing range. You read that correctly. He’s a Bass and a Soprano. Suck on that Axl Rose. But apparently in the studio, Frank Zappa told him he could do whatever he wanted. So the good Captain did that. And he recorded a growling two-note Howlin Wolf-ish baritone without using headphones. NOTE: WITHOUT USING HEADPHONES. This puts all of his vocals a couple of milliseconds off the rest of the mix. So initially, it’s an interesting effect. But after, I dunno, 30 seconds it becomes unbearable.
That’s not to say the album isn’t an interesting nor an important achievement. There was no album like it, nor were there any albums to come after it even remotely like it.
But here’s the thing that will make you angry with me: I want you to go buy it and listen to it. Because I think everyone should. And because there’s no doubt there is something in here that is the pinnacle of popular music. You simply know it after listening to it.
When you find it, please contact me and let me know.