Friday, 14 November 2014

Sun Zoom Spark, and Fuck You Too: The Problem With the New Beefheart Release (Editorial)

Recently, you may of heard of the new Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band's release on Rhino Records, Sun Zoom Spark, which is essentially a reissue package featuring classic Beefheart albums that were released between 1970 and 1972. However, amidst all the glee and jubilation of a new dose of the Captain, a darker, more familiar side of the music industry is rearing its ugly head - a classic case of artistic use and abuse. 

The abuse in question was brought to my attention yesterday when I saw that the legendary John French, better known as Drumbo in some circles, had posted an update via the Magic Band's official Facebook page. The update follows a series of similarly enraged posts by French, all of which highlight the gross wrongdoings done onto him and the whole of the original Magic Band line-up in general.

The tale is a familiar one in the cut-throat, amoral business of the music industry, Rhino Records, whom are releasing the reissue, shown to be essentially stealing from French and the rest of the original Magic Band by paying no royalties from the music to any of these musicians, whom were responsible for the recordings being released in Sun Zoom Spark. 

This is a story of innumerable tragedies, one which highlights how even the most revered of history's musicians are taken in and churned out by the uncaring, capitalist machine. In my own mind's eye, what I find to be perhaps the most saddening aspect of this situation is the total lack of respect shown to the men whose input is the only reason for their being any music to reissue in the first place.

Furthermore, it doesn't matter if you've crafted, and played on, records which international media barons like Rolling Stone (corrupt and trite as it may be) have included on their list of top 500 albums of all time, you may not necessarily have the capital to support your music even in to this day. 

The Magic Band have, historically, always been poor, especially when creating their most respected works, such as Trout Mask Replica, and not much changes today. John French, and his current incarnation of the Magic Band, are not turning down how-ever-many millions like Robert Plant. They are just honest musicians trying to create the music they and their fans love, and so it is made even more painful for musicians, like French, when records they created are pulling in expensive pre-orders and the like, whilst they must sleep in moth-eaten motels 7 days a week.

So please, abstain from buying this latest corporate attempt to milk the love of honest Beefheart-loving fans for monetary gain, continuing the saga of successfully cashing in on the now almost otherworldly persona of the dead Don Van Vliet, and go and see the Magic Band when you can, buy John French's new autobiography, and try and support the true men anyway you can. 

Make sure to the like the genuine Facebook pages here:
- The Magic Band
The Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band Appreciation Society
The Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band

Aside from that, spread the word of the Rhino Records' transgressions, and make it clear in anyway you can that you don't agree with their treatment of the Magic Band's musicians.


  1. Bottom Line: French (and others whom he would need to make it work) would have to sue Jan Van Vliet to see a cent. Yea, corporate greed sucks, contact your congress person. Looking forward to the release!

  2. One would think that businessmen would have learned by now that it isn't wise to shit in the kitchen. Ah Humanity... so few steps down from the trees