17. Captain Beefheart, 'Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972'
Here are the three years in which howler-composer-autocrat Don Van Vliet came closest to commercial breakthrough, with the greatest of his Magic Bands, after the epic dada of 1969's Trout Mask Replica —embedding his vocal ire, eccentric sexual metaphors and lyric obsession with the ravaging of the environment in deceptively conventional electric R&B. Lick My Decals Off, Baby, from 1970, was a furious concision of Trout Mask's sprawl; 1972's The Spotlight Kid and '73's Clear Spot shaved the jutting angles and whiplash rhythms into cutting riffs and hardy grooves. The disc of unissued outtakes is most welcome, although it is a disappointment that this set is not also credited — as nearly all of Beefheart's original albums were — to the Magic Band, without whom his music was genius awaiting earthly translation.