Über Captain Beefheart
Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart's magnum opus, is either the greatest embodiment of Dada art on this side of the Atlantic, or a gluttonous indulgence (a parody even) of 1960s psychedelic excess. Compounded by his famous distaste for rehearsal and a predilection for syncopated rhythms, Don Van Vliet's bizarre songwriting sensibility makes this album -- as with nearly everything in the Beefheart oeuvre -- insurmountably odd. It's about as "accessible" on a first listen as Mt. Everest in a blizzard (during a Sherpa strike). Despite this difficulty, or perhaps because of it, his recordings possess cachet with critics and have had an incalculable effect on the direction of modern rock. Direct lines of influence can be drawn from Beefheart to eccentrics such as Tom Waits and Pere Ubu's David Thomas, while many musicians, whose work seems to have little in common with Van Vliet's, nonetheless cite him as a profound inspiration.