Trout Mask Replica (LP)
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
I don't know that there is anything I can say about this album that hasn't already been said. It is a modern classic which has influenced countless alternative, punk and post-punk bands, an exercise in true rock surrealism and probably the most bizarre thing you could sit through. Four album sides of well-rehearsed weirdness. Probably the most bizarre factor in the story of how this album came into being is Don Van Vliet (Beefheart)'s absolute control over the project. The group rehearsed Van Vliet's difficult compositions for eight months, living communally in a small rented house in the Woodland Hills suburb of Los Angeles. Van Vliet implemented his vision by asserting complete artistic and emotional domination of his musicians. At various times one or another of the group members was put "in the barrel," with Van Vliet berating him continually, sometimes for days, until the musician collapsed in tears or in total submission to Van Vliet. According to John French and Bill Harkleroad these sessions often included physical violence. French described the situation as "cultlike" and a visiting friend said "the environment in that house was positively Manson-esque." Their material circumstances also were dire. With no income other than welfare and contributions from relatives, the group survived on a bare subsistence diet. French recounted living on no more than a small cup of soybeans a day for a month and at one point band members were arrested for shoplifting food (with Frank Zappa bailing them out). A visitor described their appearance as "cadaverous" and said that "they all looked in poor health." Band members were restricted from leaving the house and practiced for 14 or more hours a day.
Anyway, on that note, have a listen.