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Track Review: Captain Beefheart ‘Dachau Blues’

Love it or hate it, this music is special.

Abbey Collins

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Captain Beefhart’s Trout Mask Replica recently celebrated 50 years since release on June 16. You could be entertained for hours just reading the varying opinions on the experimental record and never listening to it. People either love this music, hate it or hate it but still respect the unique place it has in music.

The third track off the album, “Dachau Blues” is tornado of waning electric guitars and mellow drums that is hard to get through, but is quintessentially Captain Beefhart.

Trout Mask Replica sounds bad. There is no denying that this is unpleasant to listen to. Through browsing comments on various discussion boards, I found that most lovers of this album have grown an affection over time, or enjoy the record because it is so different from any other music. My ears did not have this same reaction. I imagine this racket is what parents actually hear when they listen to children’s music and proceed to yell at them to turn their music down.

Dachau Blues” is positioned early on the album and opens with horrifying electric guitars that create an organ-esque version of the what sounds like the Jaws theme. I took this as a warning of how scary my listening journey ahead would be.

Just like every other song on the album, the track is a mash up of dirty electric guitars and crashing drums. The arrangement is scattered and sounds like people tuning instruments before a set rather than a completed song. The instruments when picked apart and played alone are upbeat and positive, but the offbeat, mismatched and erratic arrangement turn the mood to frantic and dreadful. If everything was in sync, the sound would loose the wacky charm but become conventional, more along the lines of a classic Beatles song.

There is merit in what seems to be a complete dumpster fire of songs. Captain Beefhart and participating band members carefully crafted and arranged songs to push the envelope and create something new. There needs to be a drive and talent to arrange and play all of these various instruments on completely different beats and patterns. Watch any of their live performances and see that it is not a fluke, but the result of hours of work put into creating unfathomable music.

Captain Beefhart stretched instruments and music and looked to each end of what they can do, thus exploring an uncharted music genre. This album is proof that music can be anything, even a bunch of instruments that do not flow together and changing tempos every 30 seconds.

I don’t believe this album was realeased to be reviewed, explained or even be loved. This work was an expression of the wild mind of Captain Beefheart and the result of his passion for music. I wonder if people are still reviewing this 50 years later, not because this is masterpiece, but because they cannot wrap their head around the fact that someone would dedicate this much time to an album that sounds this bad. Many reviews sound like they are trying to make something out of nothing. These guys would have been on drugs the entire time making this thing, it was the 60s!

I would recommend giving the album a listen to expand your music knowledge and giving the electric mess “Dachau Blues” a go to witness one song that captures the crazy sound of Captain Beefheart. Even though I did not like the song or album, this was a group of people making new music that they were excited about, and I cannot knock them for that.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Abbey Collins is a senior Communication Specialist major at Baylor University in Waco, TX. She loves live music and discovering new artists. She is graduating this fall and plans to pursue a career in media communications.

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