I'm not going to bang on about Don Van Vliet's recent, premature passing, except to say that the world already seems a grimmer, greyer place knowing that he's not busying himself out in the middle of the desert someplace, throwing paint at a canvas & chuckling to some cryptic private joke... As Tom Waits told The Guardian last week, "Once you've heard Beefheart, it's hard to wash him out of your clothes. It stains, like coffee, or blood."
By way of tribute, here's the original & unreleased Bat Chain Puller album in EXCELLENT quality (i.e. infinitely better than Ozit's woeful Dust Sucker collection a few years back). This earlier, less acerbic version of 1978's Shiny Beast LP was recorded in early '76 by an economy sized Magic Band comprising John French (drums), Moris Tepper (guitar), Denny Whalley (guitar) & John Thomas (keyboards). Eliot Ingbar & Bruce Fowler had both left the band at the end of Beefheart's extensive '75 Bongo Fury tour & were therefore absent, though Fowler rejoined in time to appear on the re-recorded Shiny Beast renderings of these songs.
Provisionally intended for release on Frank Zappa's DiscReet label, the semi-completed Bat Chain Puller tapes were frustratingly caught up in protracted legal goings-on between Zappa & manager Herb Cohen & "temporarily" shelved. Beefheart, however, had already sent a cassette to Virgin Records' London office to see if they might be interested in releasing the album in Europe. A few dubs were subsequently handed out to sympathetic journalists, & inevitably bootlegged, before a deal had been finalised, hence...
Rest in peace, Captain.