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Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic Hardcover – January 11, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Proper Music Publishing Ltd (January 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956121217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956121219
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Harkleroad on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just received John French's book "Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic"
WOW!
What an effort, but that shouldn't be a surprise. John has always been a very dedicated hard working guy.
The reason I am writing this is because if you care anything about the history of that band go buy this book!
An incredible amount of detail and work went into this project, his memory blows my mind.
If anybody should collect on anything about "The Magic Band" it should be John.
Get the book and find out why!
Bill Harkleroad
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Format: Hardcover
This is as intimate and as detailed a book about Captain Beefheart (and, specifically, the making of TROUT MASK REPLICA and other classics) as we are ever likely to get. EYES OF MAGIC is almost the exact opposite of LUNAR NOTES, which had some interesting material but raised more questions than it answered. The one drawback, and it's a big one, is that this is the UNADORNED TRUTH about what went on in the Trout House and elsewhere in "Beefheart Land," and it's not a pretty picture. If you love Beefheart and his music, your feelings may be somewhat more complicated after reading. One positive is that Frank Zappa comes off much better than expected (certainly more so than in his recent bio) and compared to Don seems almost saintly. (Almost!) The best thing I can possibly say is that this book is filled with stories, anecdotes, and information you have NEVER HEARD OR SEEN BEFORE. What more could you ask? Other reviewers might quibble about typos or lax editing, but for the Beefheart fan, the Meat far outweighs the potatoes. Thank you, John, for taking this obviously difficult journey in getting this book done; it is nothing less than a gift to musical history.
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Format: Hardcover
Let's get this out of the way right now - if you consider yourself a Captain Beefheart fan (or even a Frank Zappa fan), John French's new book is essential reading. Nowhere else have I ever encountered such a well-researched, deeply probing, articulate and insightful account of the musicians to come out of the Mojave Desert region of California in the 1960's. It just so happens that Don Van Vliet and Frank Zappa were two of the most well-known of those musical figures, but many others along the way helped to give birth to the revolutionary sounds the fans usually associate with just those two names. John French - as the longtime on-again, off-again drummer for Captain Beefheart's Magic Band - gives the reader of his book the kind of insight only someone who came from that scene could possibly give. The high level of research that has gone into this work is just staggering. French includes many interviews with other important figures (Jim Sherwood, Denny Walley, Bill Harkleroad) who either support or sometimes contradict his own recollections - at once adding a splendid complexity and clarity to the overall narrative. All of this is presented in a scholarly, yet (and this is important) also entertaining way - his wit and dry humor that caused this reader to laugh out loud more times than I can count. And considering the intensely stressful experience of being the drummer (which included a LOT more than just drumming) for the Magic Band - it is indeed magical that Mr. French was able to keep his sense of humor intact! We are all the better for it.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting for this book for quite some time now. Until this book came out, there hasn't been much information on the making of the famed Trout Mask Replica, among other albums. This book delivers! The great thing about it is that almost every band member has an interview or some sort of line in this book. You really get to know the band members and feel their pain and frustration having to deal with a man like Van Vliet. The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because it has a tendency to digress and drag on for a while. Still, a must have for any die hard Beefheart fan.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dear Drumbo, We love your music & all the pain you endured working with Don but I got to ask; DID YOU EVEN THINK TO HIRE AN EDITOR. This 'book' rambles on & on with large meaningless chunks of interviews with some guy or another who went to high school with Don & can't quite remember what kind of shoes he wore. Do not let a cover & pages fool you, this is not a book. It is endless pages of notes & interviews with absolutely no cohesion at all! And its dull as hell. A masterful musician, one of the few truly innovative drummers of all time & I am sure a really nice man, John French is not an author. Boom, for real.
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Format: Hardcover
I got three things out of reading this massive but fascinating volume. First, it was like reliving my teen childhood as we not only experienced many of the same places, but some of the same people. Second, it was a chance to get inside one of my favorite bands and learn what went on behind the scenes. Third, it was a psychological profile of a paranoid schizophrenic with severe control issues, and the effect he had on some of the young musicians under his thumb.
John French was one of those young impressionable teens that came under Don Van Vliet's (aka Captain Beefheart) spell. Through John's eyes, you see how he let himself be manipulated. First it was because he was happy just to be in such a cool band. However, after the thrill wore off, he became enslaved to a cult-like atmosphere as Captain Beefheart tried to control every aspect of the musician's lives as he painted his sound palettes which by all accounts, had no bearing on the rules of music. While this created one of the most unique bodies of work, there were also consequences with the personalities and self esteem of the young musicians under his thumb.
If you think this work is just sour grapes, it is not. Though John brings up some horrific behavior by Van Vliet, he also clearly still has an admiration and love for the man. Also, a lot of the story is told through interviews with other band members and associates and they confirm more than contradict everything John says.
Though he could have bailed after a few months at the Trout Mask house (where the real abuse started), he still believed in the music, and kept at it out of sheer perseverance despite how Beefheart treated him.
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