Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (1969)
Chaos. Pure chaos. The Buñuel and Dalí of rock music all rolled into one charismatic drifter, Don Van Vliet (A.K.A. Captain Beefheart) stitched together different instrumental parts in completely ill-fitting, atonal, wonky ways for a bewildering, sometimes excruciating, and utterly unique sonic experience. Oddly enough, unlike his friend Frank Zappa, Beefheart absolutely invested his unguarded heart and soul (and gravelly voice) in this demonic jazz-blues madness, making the whole thing the most confounding spirited romp to ever be played. Its defiant discord and ugliness absolutely shattered the limits of traditional pop and rock forms, making way for numerous future genres.
What’s more, this exercise in asymmetry and patience is two whole grueling LPs long, which is more than enough reason for the casual listener to stay away. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its charms – despite its rambling, tangled nature, most of the songs are a lot more cohesive than you’d expect from someone throwing together audio tracks at random. And of course it’s still a huge touchstone for lots of avant-garde rock. Listener beware!
Key tracks: “Moonlight On Vermont”, “Ant Man Bee”