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Captain Beefheart - Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972 4LP
Limtied Edition 4LP box set on 180 gram vinyl.
Finally! As of 2014, Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid, and Clear Spot had needed a proper remastering treatment for quite some time when Rhino came to the rescue, remastering all three in one fell swoop as Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972. As if that weren't enough for fans, they added an entire bonus disc of outtakes and alternates as well. The albums themselves are fairly different from each other. Lick My Decals followed directly after Trout Mask Replica and is the closest there is to Trout Mask's sonic assault. On the other side, Clear Spot's horn charts, backup singers, and Ted Templeman production were probably catchy enough for actual radio success (well, maybe in a better world). The Spotlight Kid is pitched somewhere in between. However, it's all prime Beefheart. The band is always in sync, Don's voice sounds great (as does his harmonica playing), and it's all got that unique rhythmic sense. The bonus material doesn't disappoint either. It's all from the Clear Spot and Spotlight Kid sessions and sounds fantastic. The alternates of songs that were on the albums are interesting but not revelatory, but hearing these early versions of songs that appeared on later albums is pretty fascinating. This version of "Harry Irene" predates both the Shiny Beast version and the Bat Chain Puller version. The two takes of "Dirty Blue Gene" are quite interesting as well, not just because they're significantly different than the version that ended up on Doc at the Radar Station but also because they're significantly different from each other (the third take is quite a bit more aggressive, with a really cool guitar tone at the end). "Pompadour Swamp" is a great guitar instrumental that ended up as "Suction Prints." It's hard to believe some of these cuts were left off originally, but albums were shorter back in the day. They make this set pretty close to essential for longtime fans (as if the fantastic sound weren't enough).