Album Title: Waxed Oop
Performer: Fast 'N' Bulbous
Label: Cuneiform Records
Play Time: 50'02"
When is a tribute band not a tribute band? Guitarist Gary Lucas and The Microscopic Sextet's alto saxophonist Phillip Johnston adapt the music of Captain Beefheart (with original material) for their second outing as Fast 'N' Bulbous. The octet's Waxed Oop recalls both Beefheart's torrid output and a loosely knit open mic night. Things get rowdy, things fall back, things get rowdier still!
Though Lucas is a former Magic Band member, his take on the old curmudgeon's (and reportedly serial band abuser) bludgeoning sounds doesn't stick to formula. In fact, if no one told you Fast 'N' Bulbous was performing Captain's Beefheart repertoire, you might never guess. Sure, F'N'B give off the bluesy scronch ("Dropout Boogie") and animalistic rhythms ("Smithsonian Institute Blues") of such Beefheart classics as Trout Mask Replica or Safe As Milk. They also blow smoke up their arse in meaningless improvisations and tortuous solos ("You Know You're A Man"). "Well" is a lovely breather as Lucas issues arcing dreamlike guitar delays over alto and baritone swells and drummer Richard Dworkin rumbles mallets below. On another note, F'N'B's four-piece horn section adds a fresh dimension to Captain Beefheart's material. So does Robin Hitchcock's clever impersonation of the old barrel-chested master on "China Pig". Extra kudos to Lucas for a stunning solo version of "Sure Nuff 'N' Yes I Do" which lends the album much breadth. Ultimately, Fast 'N' Bulbous fails to find that Captain Beefheart magic though which John French's aka Drumbo's excellent City of Refuge achieved in spades. But in revisiting his ghost, they create something worth pursuing - next time.