“Unconditionally Guaranteed” by Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - album review

TJR says

Just 18 months earlier, Captain Beefheart, together with his slaves, had delivered my album of the year with “Clear Spot”. Clearly, a year-and-a-half is a long time in music – rarely has such a magnificent work been followed so tamely. If there had been worrying nano-shades of Doobie Brothers action the last time out, the alarm-bells were full-on blaring here, as team Beefheart went all-out in attack for some of that Rod Stewart dollar. Artistically, it all seems so tacky. The management team were the Di Martino brothers from New York – by all accounts a couple of hustlers who were all about the money. The “ironic” front-cover shot featured Captain Beefheart and two fistfuls of dollars. This shot was used in press adverts with the caption “you don’t have to be weird to be weird”; all of this was very weird indeed. The group were happy to go along with the AOR vibe – by this time they were just desperate to see a meaningful pay cheque. “Unconditionally Guaranteed” arrived in April ’74 and was the first of two new Beefheart LPs to be released on Mercury Records this year.

Upon The My-O-My” is not too bad as a starter, with some nice slide guitar, wavering flute and some sassy brass. The happy-go-lucky “Sugar Bowl” is next and the somewhat banal honky swing is the first sign that there’s trouble ahead. “New Electric Ride” rescues the situation a little, and comes with a cool, insistent bassline groove. I let the lovey-dovey lyrics pass me by. “Magic Be” follows this – it’s a travesty of an excuse of a Captain Beefheart, the sort of soft rock rubbish that you’d expect to hear on a Fleetwood Mac LP. Drummer Art Tripp would later recall: “When the band finally got our album copies, we were horrified. As we listened, it was as though each song was worse than the one which preceded it.” I think Art’s being a tad harsh – “Happy Love Song” bounces back off the ropes, and is a more than decent soul-rocker which, at least, digs in some for the love of Memphis. Alas, the aforementioned three decent tracks are the only worthy pass marks. After his contract with Mercury Records ended at the end of 1974, Beefheart labelled both of his 1974 long-players as “horrible and vulgar”, urging his fans to “take copies back for a refund”. Things were badly falling apart at this stage and, unwilling to tolerate the hardships and abuse any more, the band walked out, just 5 days before a scheduled tour, leaving Beefheart angry and privately devastated. This album is the sad end of a chapter in his compelling story.

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Oct-2016

A1 [02:43] 6.0.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Upon The My-O-My (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Rock
A2 [02:13] 5.1.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Sugar Bowl (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
A3 [03:02] 6.3.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - New Electric Ride (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
A4 [02:55] 4.1.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Magic Be (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Rock
A5 [03:54] 7.0.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Happy Love Song (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B1 [02:19] 5.5.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Full Moon, Hot Sun (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Rock
B2 [03:08] 4.6.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - I Got Love On My Mind (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Rock
B3 [04:51] 5.6.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - This Is The Day (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
B4 [02:49] 4.3.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Lazy Music (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Rock
B5 [03:20] 5.0.png Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Peaches (Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet, Andy DiMartino) Blues Rock / Soul Rock




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