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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
30
Doc At The Radar Station
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on December 1, 2016
Melodic and insightful, the good Captain gives us much to ponder on this well produced journey into the questioning mind of Don Van Vliet.

To wit, the first four lines of "Ashtray Heart:"

You used me like an ashtray heart
Case of the punks
Right from the start
I feel like a glass shrimp in a pink pantie
With a saccharine chaperone
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on September 8, 2014
Another great album from Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) and the Magic Band. This album rivals just about any other you can name in his catalog...for me it's neck and neck with " Ice Cream for Crow " in fact i'd be fine if it was a double album, since i usually play them together in the same playlist anyway...
the musicians are top notch, and provide an excellent back drop to Don's varied style of slam poetry, and abstract visions of verbiage and adjectivity...
as much as i love his older stuff from the 70's, it's classic no doubt...but this album and the " Ice Cream for Crow " album stand out as his best work to date.
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on February 21, 2018
Five stars indeed, but then how many stars would you give the stars themselves? A heavy comparison I know, but then where else do you see such whirling chaos of imagination but in those great enigmas of creation? You watch a lion devour an antelope in the blood red dawn of an emerging twilight, a flower blooms and blossoms, the hummingbird sings. How many silent sound waves from that hummingbirds wings? Steady heavy drone of all continuous, time turns another, mother bleeding forth a child. She wails with sorrow so deep it turns to joy. A gravity heart beat then repeat, light-year of miracles between our eyes. Such is the enigmatic trauma of magnificent life. Is it beautiful? It has to be. Or at least it will be. Someday.
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on September 3, 2013
If you're new to Beefheart, and someone recommended this record because they thought you'd like it, then get it -- you'll probably like it.

If you've heard other Beefheart and you dig it, then you'll probably dig this.

This record, what do you say, it's like Picasso's "Weeping Woman" or something, you have to at least listen to it. If it's not your thing, well... come back later.
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on March 1, 2015
If you were a fan of Captain Beefheart then you would want this badly if you didn't already have it.
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on May 28, 2014
As if Captain Beefheart leaves any doubt how great he was, this is one of my favorite. Free jazz to Rock mixed with great dadaist lyrics, truly a classic.
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on February 12, 2016
:D
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on February 11, 2012
Don van Vliet is an unsurpassed genius, and this might be his greatest album. It's the sound of life and movement and energy. Great for getting motivated for exercise.
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on July 2, 2014
Excellent Music. Fast delivery!
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VINE VOICEon March 8, 2016
Don Van Vliet's (aka "Captain Beefheart") musical career swooped in a creative arc that ranged from absolute brilliance, then gradually to less inventive commercialism and then right back to brilliance. With his Magic Band he broke new ground and composed indescribable music that still seems far ahead of its time. This adventurousness took some time and of course made nobody rich. Starting out as a blues singer, Van Vliet eventually yearned to do something different. Very different. "Trout Mask Replica" broke onto the scene with the ferocity of untuned pianos flung into water towers by trebuchets. Its unique Dr. Caligari sandpaper soundscape still divides listeners who squabble and schism over whether he meant it all as a joke or as a poignant artistic statement. Many find it utterably unlistenable. A few years later, the Captain plunged into a thankfully short era of ostentatious commercialism. Perhaps realizing his mistake, he teamed up with Frank Zappa and slowly redeemed his act. Then a brilliant album appeared called "Shiny Beast(Bat Chain Puller)" and things happily returned to abnormal. That creative swoop then curved upwards dramatically in 1980 with the release of "Doc at the Radar Station." This album easily stands among his absolute best and also provides one of the best balancing acts between his room emptying heart attack dissonance and his ingenious hook-laden song craft. The intensity doesn't let up a single iota until the silence at album's end.

Two "hits" open this ineffable masterpiece. The opening riff of "Hot Head" sounds almost conventional, but that doesn't last long. Soon the familiar freakish stratification of thumps, whines, growls and slippery slides dominate. Even lush mellotron intrudes on the mix. Amazing growls from the Captain's tortured larynx fade the song to dust. "Ashtray Heart" also features a similar melding of accessible dissonance to great effect. Asthmatic vocals gasp a twisted angry tale of love gone beyond sour. Somehow it's catchy. Not to mention the unforgettable lines such as "I feel like a glass shrimp in a pink panty," "another day another way someone's had too much to think" and "send your mother home your navel." The band actually performed both of these songs on Saturday Night Live to equal acclaim and bewilderment. Next, a brief and placid instrumental with one of the greatest all-time titles, "A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond" follows. Bellowing and howling open "Run Paint Run Run," probably an ode to the art form that would soon supplant Van Vliet's recording career. Horns blat beautifully in the raucous instrumentation. "Sue Egypt" will stick in the cortex of any attentive listener. Its simple car crash guitar part provides the perfect stark accompaniment to Van Vliet's partially squealed vocals. And more great evocative lines pop up, such as "I think of all those people that ride on my bones." A completely incongruous bridge brimming with mellotron and diabolical reciting miraculously provides the perfect interlude. The song ends on a tiny flourish.

"Brickbats" evokes some of Beefheart's most brilliantly grating numbers, like "Pena." The lyrics whizz by like billboards at hyperspeed. Total cacophony ensues at song's end with repeated skewed barkings of the song's title. "Dirty Blue Gene" may qualify as one of Van Vliet's best overall songs. The guitar sounds like accidentally lit fireworks, flailing in random yet somewhat organized bursts. Many will doubtlessly identify with the refrain "don't you wish you never met her." Incredible. A lugubrious dirge follows in the form of "Best Batch Yet." The song takes some surprising turns when the guitars begin rapidly quacking in descending and ascending patterns to stuttering drums. "Telephone" follows the form of "Brickbats" but with an even more gasping and choking vocal technique. The assault doesn't stop. Another quiet guitar instrumental, "Flavor Bud Living," barely prepares the listener for the six and a half minutes onslaught of "Sheriff Of Hong Kong." A deceptively simple guitar line and drum beat lead into a nearly psychotic landscape complete with shimmering gongs, pounding rhythms and staccato blubbering guitars. It's arguably fair to say that nothing else like this has ever appeared anywhere else. The words fit well into Beefheart's half-nonsense half-poignant poetic. He growls and hisses the Chinese-sounding phrase "wai ni sha yeh" repeatedly along with other furtive imagery. This song can cause mind melds. Finally, F-bombs galore on the equally inimitable final track "Making Love To A Vampire With A Monkey On My Knee." Whooshing sounds and tinkling guitar provide an amazing backdrop to the surreal lyrics, most of which remain unquotable in polite company. The triumphant feel of this song comes from the soaring mellotron and irregularly intermittent crashing crescendos. A wonderfully ragged horn solo works up to the final heroic riff, which resolves itself with solo guitar, just how the album began. What a juicy ending.

"Doc at the Radar Station" may provide the peak of Beefheart's late work. Though all three of his final albums still sound incredible today, "Doc at the Radar Station" has a certain indescribable something that keeps it continuously appearing on "best of" lists and fan favorites. The brilliant cover art, a Van Vliet original, doesn't hurt either. Somehow this album provided enough cheeky wildness to satisfy "Trout Mask Replica" fans but enough relatively accessible structures and hooks to attract other listeners. The punk era still raged at the time of this album's release and that short-lived scene apparently embraced its frenetic berserker music. Beefheart seemed to have come completely out of the shadows again. He toured, appeared on television and generally basked in a new generation's discovery of his musical and artistic experimentation. Redemption came right on time, because Beefheart would only record one more final album, complete with hat tipped in sorrowful farewell, before trading a life of music for one of art galleries and reclusive painting. His medical condition, only fully acknowledged after his death in 2010, may have also played a significant role in this decision. Regardless, he could always say they he quit while on top, because his final three albums - with "Doc at the Radar Station" possibly the best, or at least just as great as the others - showcase the Captain at his absolute best. He definitely left the world with an insurmountable musical legacy.
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