In the early Seventies, avant-garde blues master Captain Beefheart took a detour to record a couple of albums – The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot – dabbling in more mainstream styles. During this highly prolific period, the singer recorded many original tunes and alternate versions that did not make it onto either LP. Now, 14 of them will be released on the bonus disc for the upcoming box set Sun Zoom Spark, which also includes Beefheart’s more jagged-sounding 1970 record Lick My Decals Off, Baby.
Although some of these tracks have made it onto various bootlegs, they’ve never sounded as good as they do here. Below, listen to the newly mastered “Little Scratch,” which finds Beefheart howling about a “cat” who “had a beautiful dish on each arm,” going on amid ragtag rhythms, scratchy guitar and honking harmonica. Beefheart himself played the latter instrument on both of the ’72 LPs, as well as on “Jingle Bells” on The Spotlight Kid and “Wings on Singabus” on Clear Spot.
Other rarities that appear on the bonus disc for Sun Zoom Spark include a sung version of “I Can’t Do This Unless I Can Do This/Seam Crooked Sam” (which interpolates the spoken-word poem “Seam Crooked Sam” that later appeared on Beefheart’s Bat Chain Puller), a different version of “Dirty Blue Gene” (later to appear on Doc at the Radar Station) and an instrumental take on “The Witch Doctor Life” (which would appear on Beefheart’s final album, Ice Cream for Crow).
Sun Zoom Spark will come out on CD, LP and digitally on November 17th.