Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Captain Beefheart

  • The Spotlight Kid [Reprise, 1972] B+
  • I'm Going to Do What I Wanna Do: Live at My Father's Place [Rhino Handmade, 2000] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Spotlight Kid [Reprise, 1972]
Cap's much-bruited commercial bid turns out to have all the mass appeal of King of the Delta Blues Singers, complete with modernized terraplane and an avowal of primitivism in which the Kid threatens to "Grow Fins." All the primordial themes are here--sex, love, poverty, destiny, ecology--and the Howlin' Wolf imitations are as dense and heartfelt as the music. Still, Robert Johnson cuts him, and primitivism is rarely better the second time around. Maybe the Stones could cover "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby." But if this were all it's cracked up to be, that wouldn't be the only candidate. B+

I'm Going to Do What I Wanna Do: Live at My Father's Place [Rhino Handmade, 2000]
Title protestations to the contrary, Don Van Vliet promos like a good touring artist should, supporting a near-great album that 22 years later has left the catalog (for the nonce) as nine de facto bonus tracks reprise his illustrious underground career. Live on this November night, his music was slacker and more forceful than on the studio Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). His anointed helpers weren't improvisers, not hardly. But they were a fairly magic band. B+

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