MSO sent over word that The Zappa Family Trust is making the legendary Captain Beefheart album Bat Chain Puller available in its original format for the first time ever.
Recording for the album began in 1976 and was completed but was never released on Frank Zappa's label that Beefheart was signed to at the time, due to "all the usual financial difficulties in the proverbial record business, including breach of contract with the artist, lawsuits with artist management and distribution for the label," according to sources.
Different recordings of some of the songs were released elsewhere, but this will be the first time Captain Beefheart fans will be able to hear the album the way it was intended. The release is available for pre-order here and shipping is planned for the week of February 13.
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART (born Don Glen Vliet)--Zappa contemporary (it was Zappa who named him Captain Beefheart) and sometime collaborator--was an experimental, multi-dimensional artist, notably a songwriter/composer/musician, poet, sculptor and painter. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and The Magic Band released 13 studio albums between 1965 and 1982, when Vliet retired from music to focus on painting.
The players on BAT CHAIN PULLER--BEEFHEART, vocals, harmonica, soprano sax; JEFF "MORIS" TEPPER, guitar; DENNY "FEELERS REBO" WALLEY, guitar; JOHN THOMAS, acoustic piano, Rhodes piano, Mini Moog (bass and effects); JOHN "DRUMBO" FRENCH, drums--had recorded the album at Paramount in Hollywood with Kerry McNabb (who tracked Bongo Fury and Waka/Jawaka) at the direction of FZ management & partner in Zappa's labels, while Zappa was on tour. Unauthorized use of FZ's publishing monies paid the budget but on his return from the road, lawsuits were filed and recording contracts were breached. Ultimately, the original tapes remained the property of FZ when the dust settled after years of litigation between FZ, management and major distribution--and as cassette (!!!) copies got leaked, things got re-recorded for another label and even the album's eponymous title, BAT CHAIN PULLER, got co-opted by a certain journalist and his book publisher.
Extensive liner notes by John French and Denny Walley tell the whole CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and The Magic Band BAT CHAIN PULLER story, including the good, the bad and the ugly between the personalities, the music and the lawsuits. Walley talks about the recording process: "We worked on material for BCP for just about three months. Some of the songs came fairly easy, while others were extremely difficult, requiring intense concentration and long hours of rehearsal…The hardest part about playing with Don [Beefheart] was trying to keep focused and stay in the moment. At rehearsals Don was constantly creating. You could easily become sidetracked when an idea for a song popped into his head. You'd be taken right along with him and before you knew what was happening, two hours would have gone by. I have to say that more often than not great ideas came out of those moments."
John French talks about the long road from the 1976 recording sessions to the 2012 release: "Just when everything seemed right again in the world, the bomb was dropped. Frank had been on tour during the entire time we were rehearsing and recording the album, When he came back from touring, he found that [his manager] had changed all the locks to everything…all of Zappa's equipment, all his archived recordings--in effect, everything, was gone--including the master tape of Bat Chain Puller." BEEFHEART released a few re-recorded versions of the songs on other albums, so BAT CHAIN PULLER sat in the vault. "Finally," says French, "all the proverbial ducks being in a row, I'm honored to be the one picked to introduce to the world the legitimate and original version of the Captain Beefheart album entitled Bat Chain Puller."
1—Bat Chain Puller
2—Seam Crooked Sam
4—81 Poop Hatch
5—Flavor Bud Living
7—Floppy Boot Stomp
8—Ah Carrot Is As Close As Ah Rabbit Gets To Ah Diamond
9—Owed T' Alex
11—Human Totem Pole
13—Bat Chain Puller (Alternate Mix)