Home Read Classic Album Review: Captain Beefheart | Dust Sucker

Classic Album Review: Captain Beefheart | Dust Sucker

Long-buried ’70s recordings from the iconoclastic icon see the light of day at last.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


It’s been two decades since Dada bluesman Don (Captain Beefheart) Van Vliet stopped making records — but that hasn’t left dedicated fans empty-handed.

In the past few years, several excellent archival releases have filled the gap, including the recent live set I’m Going to Do What I Wanna Do and Grow Fins, a five-CD box of unreleased fare. Here’s another essential artifact for the faithful: Dust Sucker, a set of long-lost studio tracks from 1975 and ’76. Originally recorded for release as Bat Chain Puller, these tapes ended up buried in a barrage of lawsuits, though similar-sounding new versions turned up on 1978’s aptly titled Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) and later Beefheart albums. Finally hearing the original articles on this supposedly authorized (but bootleg-quality) release — augmented by a septet of live cuts from the same era — is the equivalent of reading the first draft of a novel by one of your favourite writers: Technically, it may be a little rough around the edges at times, but the historical value and sheer creative energy on display more than make up for it. Dust Sucker probabaly isn’t the place to start your Beefheart collection, but it is an indispensable addition to the catalog of one of rock’s true innovators.