Saturday 9 July 2022


In early 1968 Captain Beefheart & his Magic band toured the UK. DJ John Peel was keen to get them in for a session on his co-presented radio show 'Top Gear'. The problem was work permits, they were American and could only play if a US radio station offered a reciprocal booking for a British act. The second problem was US radio didn't do live sessions.

BBC Producer Bernie Andrews came up with an idea to get round this and told the government department, the Ministry of Labour, that as the name implied they were a touring band of magicians! They received permission as a 'Variety' act. 

The first session broadcast on 4 February, was notable for it being the first time Peel had presented the Top Gear show on his own. Other acts in session, that appeared on the show were Tomorrow, the Moody Blues and repeat sessions by Jimi Hendrix & Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Engineer Dave Tate recalls having to suspend a microphone over the prone Captain who insisted on singing 'Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do' lying on his back.

The two sessions were re-broadcast over consecutive nights 6-7 March 2001. Thanks to a listener's tapes of the original broadcast. The BBC had a habit of wiping the master tapes, so it's likely that this will be the best quality available. Don't hold your breathe for an upgrade - not even this 'touring group of magicians' could produce the master tape from a hat.

Grateful thanks to Prof. Stoned who has mastered these recordings and made them available with the best possible sound (given the limitations of the source).

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - BBC Sessions 1968
[A Prof. Stoned Comp 2021] 16bit/44.1khz (CD Quality)

Session #1:

01. Yellow Brick Road
02. Abba Zaba
03. Sure 'Nuff & Yes I Do
04. Electricity
05. John Peel Outro (from 2001 rebroadcast)

Recording: Maida Vale, Studio 4, London UK; Wednesday 24 January 1968
Broadcast: BBC Radio 1 'Top Gear'; Sunday 4 February 1968
Producer: Bernie Andrews & Engineers: Dave Tate/Bob Conduct

Session #2:
01. Beatle Bones 'N Smokin' Stones
02. Safe As Milk
03. Kandy Korn
04. Trust Us
05. John Peel Outro (from 2001 rebroadcast)

Recording: 201 Piccadilly, Studio 1, London UK; Monday 6 May 1968 (except Tr. 01: TTG Studios, Hollywood, CA; November 1967)
Broadcast: BBC Radio 1 'Top Gear'; Sunday 12 May 1968
Producer: Bernie Andrews & Engineers: Pete Ritzema/Allen Harris

The Band for both sessions:
Don Van Vliet (Vocals, Harmonica) / John French (Drums) / Alex St. Clair (Lead Guitar) / Jerry Handley (Bass) / Jeff Cotton (Guitar)

Total time: 33m56s
All tracks are Mono


Research for this Comp: Prof Stoned/JWB
Mastering: Prof Stoned
Thanks: John, Eugene, Colin H.

v1.0: 18-09-2021

All of the songs are unique BBC recordings except “Beatle Bones” which is rough mix of the “Plain Brown Wrapper” version. Both sessions are not in the BBC archives anymore, so this has been sourced from various off-air recordings. The lofi quality fits the music very well and this is the best these tapes have ever sounded (plus finally in the correct speed!). These were two seminal sessions and it is important that they are once again made available. Nothing sounded like this before, and nothing ever will.

Out Here Over There (CDr, Unofficial) Head 1998
2001 BBC broadcast of a private collector's tape



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