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Track Review ‘Frownland’ – Captain Beefheart

It’s different, period.

Robert Frezza



If the music of Don Van Vliet — aka Captain Beefheart — was popular today he’d still be considered avant-garde, but folk music at best. There is nothing else that comes to mind that he’d be grouped under. That’s how eccentric his third album Trout Mask Replica sounded upon release in 1969.

He effortlessly blends R&B and jazz elements into his body of work is a raw art form. Take “Frownland” for example. It’s almost like he was influenced by grassroots with this song. He touches upon and experiments with rock and blues and the guitar sounds are featured in such a distorted way that it makes it a difficult tune to even hum along to.

The lyrics show Beefheart’s dedication to his optimistic attitude. He sings, “My smile is stuck/I cannot go back to your frownland.”

The song keeps on headed into an uplifting tone lyrically mentioning an invite to a friend to come along to reach positive thoughts in his homeland, or his own version of happiness.

Even though Trout Mask Replica, was not a commercial success, the album ranks number 58 in Rolling Stone magazine’s Best 200 albums of all time. Frank Zappa, who produced the album, helped to create the album’s unconventional sound.

The song is different, period.

It cannot be packaged and sold under one specific genre—that is how music should sound. It’s easier to make music today and package and sell it to an audience more than ever due to genres and radio friendly hits, but who knows how today’s listeners would react to Trout Mask if it was a new release in 2019.

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.

Robert Frezza is a music journalist based out of NYC. He has interviewed Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, Garbage, Nine Inch Nails, among many more. He enjoys interviewing musicians.

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