- Hardcover: 880 pages
- Publisher: Proper Music Publishing Ltd (January 11, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0956121217
- ISBN-13: 978-0956121219
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.8 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic Hardcover – January 11, 2010
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If you just want to know about the music, you may find this book frustrating. Containing more than 850 pages of very small print, it drowns the reader in detail.
On the other hand, the obsessional detail is appropriate to the subject matter. It's a fascinating document, and based on an afternoon and evening that I once spent with Don Van Vliet, John French's breathtakingly honest, unflattering portrait of the man seems accurate.
More to the point: I think John French's most recent CD, City of Refuge, is utterly brilliant. And you can download it as an MP3 from Amazon.
Beefheart may be a genius, but this book reveals a lot about his neuroses and his behavior that borders on the psychopathic.
This book is 850 pages long! French really did the job here, documenting every detail of the history of the Magic Band.
It's overwhelming, and it raises the question: If somebody is a genius, how much of his aberrant behavior are you willing to put up with?
This book is a very important historical document.
It's sad that no American company was willing to publish it. It comes from the UK.
Typically, Britain and Europe are more interested in great American music than Americans are.
Gradually over time as the internet promotes communication and as the original players age, a more detailed portrait of Beefheart has come into view during the last 15-20 years than fans of the music had access to previously. It's become clear that the wide-eyed and pleasant public personna that he projected was a type of art - an acheivement of his perhaps up on the scale of his poetic and rhythmic gifts.
So, for those who have been paying attention, is there anything new here? Oh yes. And particularly in regards to the "Trout Mask Replica" experience, which French was central to.
John French does digress at times. He has clearly erred on the side of including, not omitting, details. He has a distinct point of view. Speaking metaphorically, the book is NOT in 4/4 time. The writing succeeds wonderfully in being both provocative and informative.
I am only 200 pages into it. I usually don't write reviews until I'm finished, but I am really enjoying the book and feel an urgent need to turn people onto it before it becomes a collector's item. To repeat: If you're even slightly interested, GET IT NOW.