Nona Hendryx And Gary Lucas – The World of Captain Beefheart

❉ This collection of Beefheart covers will likely surprise you and delight you.

“If you’re a long-time fan of the good Captain’s entire catalog, you’ll enjoy these new interpretations. While this collection leans towards the more accessible side of the Beefheart canon,  Lucas and Hendryx don’t shy away from the explosive surprises in songs like Sun Zoom Spark and Sugar ‘n Spikes.”

Gary Lucas was a member of the last incarnation of Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, and he once told the inimitable Captain (Don Van Vliet), whose bluesy, gruff vocals were often compared to Howlin’ Wolf’s, that he could hear a Black Woman in Van Vliet’s singing. “You got it, man,” Van Vliet replied, delighted. “You nailed it, that’s so hip.”

So it’s no surprise whatsoever that Nona Hendryx’s vocals are a perfect match for Van Vliet’s material on The World of Captain Beefheart, bringing out the deep soul in selections covered in this tribute to the late Captain. Hendryx is best known to the public as one-third of Labelle (Lady Marmalade) in the 1970s, but has always leaned toward the arty side of the musical spectrum, working with Bill Laswell’s Material, Peter Gabriel, and Talking heads in her years after leaving Patti LaBelle’s trio. The bisexual Hendryx doesn’t gender-swap any of Van Vliet’s relationship-based lyrics, which gives songs like Her Eyes Are A Million Blue Miles a welcoming passion and sensuality for all listeners.

While this collection of covers leans towards the more accessible side of the Beefheart canon – and despite his reputation for atonal skronk and abrupt time changes, the majority of Van Vliet’s work is actually far more melodic than not – Lucas and Hendryx don’t shy away from the explosive surprises in songs like Sun Zoom Spark and Sugar ‘n Spikes, with Lucas’ slide guitar approaching the intensity of a buzzsaw at times.

“The bisexual Hendryx doesn’t gender-swap any of Van Vliet’s relationship-based lyrics, which gives songs like Her Eyes Are A Million Blue Miles a welcoming passion and sensuality for all listeners.”

A solid rhythm section comprised of Jesse Krakow (bass) and Richard Dworkin (drums) provide the solid propulsion and hairpin shifts of tempo required by Van Vliet’s music, while Jordan Shapiro’s keyboards provide textures that place songs like “I’m Glad” squarely in the southern blues and R&B traditions of Atlanta and Muscle Shoals.

If your only exposure to Beefheart has been through his most famous – and famously inaccessible – work like Trout Mask Replica, what you hear on The World of Captain Beefheart will likely surprise you and delight you. If you’re a long-time fan of the good Captain’s entire catalog, you’ll enjoy these new interpretations. And if you’re simply a deep soul and blues aficionado, this may open the door to his world for you, just as it says on the tin. And no matter what, you and your earholes are in for a good time.


❉ Nona Hendryx And Gary Lucas – The World of Captain Beefheart (2018, Knitting Factory) Click here to buy!

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