Don Van Vliet, (1941-2010) better known to his legions of fans as ‘Captain Beefheart’ was one of the most enigmatic figures in rock music. Unashamedly an artist, rather than a pop star, he ploughed his own idiosyncratic furrow through popular culture, producing some of the most peculiar and uncompromising music ever committed to vinyl. From the age of three he painted and sculpted, and had an obsession wityh animals and the natural world. As a teenager he was friends with Fran Zappa, and as early as 1963 they recorded a demo under the name ‘The Soots’. Sadly this was unsuccessful, and the world would have to wait a few more years before Beefheart’s own peculiar take on the blues would be heard by anyone outside his own particular posse of cronies. His first album, ‘Safe as Milk’ came out in 1967, and Hunter Davies’ eponymous biography of The Beatles notes that John Lennon was an early fan. It is not surprising considering that the primal rock and roll that Lennon idolised and the peculiar surrealchemical blues of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, had much the same cultural genesis. Probably the most lauded album of the Captain’s career was the Zappa produced Trout Mask Replica which came out in 1969. Its mixture of jazz, blues, freeform improvisation and heavily structured avant-jazz weirdness proved too much for many listeners but ensured him a place in the history books. High profile fans of this album include the late John Peel, who would remain a champion of Beefheart’s until he died. In 1972 Captain Beefheart released two albums; ‘The Spotlight Kid’ and ‘Clear Spot’. He also toured the UK and Europe with the Magic Band, even performing two concerts at the Royal Albert Hall as part of an extensive British and European tour. On the 12th April, in the middle of the European leg of the tour Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band stopped off at the Beat Club studios in Bremen to film a session for later transmission. Of the four song session filmed that day only one track has ever been broadcast. The band at that time included: Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), vocals, harp. Rockette Morton (Mark Boston), guitar/bass. Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad), guitar. Orejon (Roy Estrada), bass. Ed Marimba (Art Tripp), drums. Winged Eel Fingerling (Elliot Ingber), guitar. Jon Kirkman describes the recordings: “The session kicks off with a bass solo entitled ‘Mascara Snake’. This short piece was named after a former member of the Magic Band Victor Hayden, who had appeared on the Trout Mask Replica album. The solo is played by Mark Boston although at this point former Mothers of Invention bassist Roy Estrada had joined The Magic Band following his departure from Little Feat in early 1972. The other songs in the set here include a track dating back to Trout Mask Replica (‘Steal Softly Thru Snow’) and also a track that would feature on Clear Spot some eight months later (‘Golden Birdies’).