Easter Morning, 1969… Frank Zappa calls up Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band and tells them the album he is producing for them is done. The Captain instructs the band to dress in their Sunday best clothes before they all go to the studio and listen to the complete finished work for the first time. By all accounts, the experience tiptoed between celebratory and downright religious.
Trout Mask Replica is a touchstone in the history of recorded music. The mix of dada absurdist blues and previously unexplored experimental avenues has long been praised as one of the greatest albums of all time. As so eloquently put by John Peel, “If there has been anything in the history of popular music which could be described as a work of art in a way that people who are involved in other areas of art would understand, then Trout Mask Replica is probably that work.”
In full partnership with the Zappa Family Trust and to celebrate the relaunch of the seminal Bizarre label imprint, Third Man Records is proud to announce its 36th Vault package focused squarely on Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica.
Out of print on vinyl for nearly ten years, this remaster was helmed by industry legend Bob Ludwig and cut by the estimable Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Utilizing crystalline-quality safety masters kept in the Zappa family vault for decades by the trustworthy Joe Travers, the audio here is positively glorious. Every last skronk breathes full life into the room. Every twisted guitar figure uncurls onto paths previously unpaved. Every last bark and howl shines resolute through the vast emptiness of your mind.
Previous countless Trout Mask Replica repressings used scans of scans of scans of the cover image, but for Vault Package #36 the original Cal Schenkel cover photo has been tracked down and reproduced here at its clearest — its resolution from the original release in 1969. If you’ve only ever seen a jpg online or fuzzy, smeared-looking CD issues from the 90’s, be prepared to be wowed by the fully engaging spectrum this iconic image casts. This 2xLP is pressed on heavyweight 180-gram fruitcake fish-scale colored vinyl for that full-on frenetic feeling.
The French-only 7-inch single of “Pachuco Cadaver” b/w “Wild Life” will also be included as part of this overreaching package. As the only single ever pulled from this admittedly dense album, this is the first time EVER that “Pachuco Cadaver” has been repressed and comes wonderfully housed in a replica glue-pocket picture sleeve and pressed on a white colored vinyl. ALL vinyl in this package is lovingly pressed at Third Man Pressing’s state-of-the-art plant in Detroit, Michigan for that extra-special attention to detail.
Additionally, Third Man Records has undertaken the creation of the first ever replica trout mask. Much in the spirit of the cardboard cutouts included in original copies of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album, this mask will be a hit at Halloween parties and Duchampian celebrations for eons to come. If that’s not enough, Third Man has commissioned an impressive, striking fabric patch that reproduces the Trout Mask cover art, an insignia that will signify any wearer as a follower in the Captain’s army.
And if that’s not enough, the revered illustrator Jess Rotter of Rotter and Friends has run the Trout Mask cover through her inimitable style and cooked up an inspired line-drawing rendering that beautifully graces a sturdy, durable tote bag to hold all these wonderful sundries in.
Finally, as a testament to the inspiring life of Don Van Vliet, Third Man has lovingly printed Jack White’s epitaph for the man in glorious, psychedelic silkscreen broadside wonderment. Fitting in the LP jacket and fitting as a tribute, this evocative poem was originally published in March 2011 issue of MOJO Magazine.
While Trout Mask Replica kicks off the partnership with a bang, do be on the lookout for even more avant-garde and mind-bending works in the future coming from the Bizarre/Third Man unification. Minds will continue to be blown, barriers will be destroyed, verbiage will be significantly hype-worthy.
Subscriptions to the Vault are live NOW and are open through April 30th. Don’t miss out. SUBSCRIBE HERE!