Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band “Bat Chain Puller”

The musical career of Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart is possibly one of the oddest and most unique to come out of a major label setting and to reach a wide audience. Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic, ABC, Virgin, A&M, Epic and Reprise; Captain Beefheart worked with many respected labels and Frank Zappa was the man who he would regularly work with either in production or musical form around the releases on those labels. This would hold true for the album that would have been his tenth album, the Frank Zappa produced Captain Beefheart full length Bat Chain Puller. Virgin Records and DiscReet had feuded over the production of this album with Frank Zappa as he found out the label was using his own royalty checks for production costs into this record. The label had already began sending out review copies of pre-mixes and the litigation caused a lawsuit and a move of both Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart from the label.The albums master tracks for the final mix down process were held by Frank Zappa and this was the leading cause of the lawsuit. The album would never be officially released to the public and would remain untouched by the owners of the masters for over 40 years.

The mix of Bat Chain Puller that made it out into bootleg form and into the public have been the only glimpse of this very rare period for Captain Beefheart. Bat Chain Puller was given reprisal in some shapes and forms when Captain Beefheart moved labels to Warner Bros. Records, releasing the critically acclaimed full length Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). Guitarist Moris Tepper would be the only musician to be carried onto this revamped version of the original ideas that make up Bat Chain Puller. Frank Zappa would however, not be producing this record. With the rights of the music for the unreleased official mixes of the original Bat Chain Puller owned by the FZT, it was only a matter of time before they launched this pivotal piece of history for the world to properly enjoy.

FZT has proudly assembled one of the greatest Frank Zappa productions in Bat Chain Puller, released this year to high expectations and meeting them on all accounts. Stripped down to a five piece and dubbed the Magic Band, Bat Chain Puller features Denny Walley on guitar, Morris Tepper on guitar, John French on drums and John Thomas on keyboards with of course Captain Beefheart providing lyrics, vocals, whistles and various instruments. His unorthodox, untrained style is unleashed like any other Beefheart record, with the backing band providing experimentalism at its most calculated, slide neck gut bucket blues, Broadway style musicals, heavy rock and even shades of pop.

Beefheart’s trademark beat poet style meets the growling darkness of Howlin’ Wolf on Bat Chain Puller, a record that is as musical as it is not. It’s always a challenge to summarize a Beefheart album, but if you love the early Beefheart sound along with the flourishing ideas that came from the Bongo Fury Frank Zappa album they did together, Bat Chain Puller is something you will love. Captain Beefheart went four years without releasing a record (Bluejeans & Moonbeams 1974 – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) 1978) and the official release of Bat Chain Puller is a much needed filling of this gap.

-Erik Otis

Captain Beefheart
Bat Chain Puller

  1. Bat Chain Puller
  2. Seam Crooked Sam
  3. Harry Irene
  4. 81 Poop Hatch
  5. Flavor Bud Living
  6. Brick Bats
  7. Floppy Boot Stomp
  8. Ah Carrot Is As Close As Ah Rabbit Gets To Ah Diamond
  9. Owed T’Alex
  10. Odd Jobs
  11. Human Totem Pole
  12. Apes-Ma
  13. Bat Chain Puller (Alternate Mix)
  14. Candle Mambo
  15. Hobo-ism

Buy Bat Chain Puller from Captain Beefheart from

Captain Beefheart ‘Bat Chain Puller’ French Chorus TV Show 1980

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