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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Captain Beyond

Live In Texas - October 6, 1973

Review by Gary Hill

Captain Beyond is a legendary band. They released only three albums and they are incredibly well received amongst those who have heard them. I love all three albums. The group was basically a super group with lots of great musicians. They produced exceptional music. Yet they went largely unnoticed. There was never an official live album. This, though, had been released as a bootleg in the past. Well, now it has been released officially. It does have the bootleg issues of rather poor sound quality. Still, from both the performance point of view and the historical importance this is highly recommended. It’s not the kind of thing you can listen to without thinking about the sound problems. That said, it’s the kind of thing you can enjoy despite them. I am very happy to have this. It would be great if they come across some other live material down the road, but for now, Captain Beyond fans rejoice. There’s a new disc from the band to get and enjoy. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro

Someone introduces the band and then “Voyages of Past Travelers” is played from the second album as an introduction. I love that piece of music and I can’t imagine them being able to play it without doing the recording. I have to say that I have a really special relationship with the tune because I sped it up on a turntable to hear what was being said and now can hear it as if it’s at normal speed. “I’m very astounded you have nothing else to do,” indeed.

Distant Sun
The vocals seem a little high in the mix here and there’s some feedback and a little distortion, but otherwise this is a great rendition. The bass guitar can really be heard in the backdrop. There is sort of a cool jam band vibe to some of this. The guitar solo section is particularly cool.
Dancing Madly Backwards (On a Sea of Air)
Although this live rendition can’t touch the studio version, it’s still a great tune. It’s rather magical and I’ve always been a fan of the guitar work on this. It holds up extremely well here. The killer off time section later is great here, too.
Armworth
This has always been one of my favorites from the first CB album, and while this rendition still has a lot of magic, I think it loses a little something here. The pieces are present, but the overall tone is changed, making this land a little closer to jam band sounds. Mind you, even in this rendition, it’s a killer. I just prefer the studio version.
Myopic Void
Spacey and trippy, this definitely loses something here. That’s because a lot of the subtleties are sort of hard to hear (or even missing). Still, it’s cool, even so. When it builds out from the more atmospheric to more rocking, it works better. When it works back out into “Dancing Madly Backward” it’s triumphant.
Drifting in Space
This is a smoking hot jam that’s really a great groove. It’s one of the more energetic cuts here.
Pandora's Box (It's War)
I’ve never heard this song before. It’s kind of a trippy Captain Beyond meets Hawkwind kind of thing based on lots of harmonics. The vocals come in fairly late and are spoken. Later it gets a more rocking vibe in short bursts of sound. There’s a killer hard edged jam later in the piece that feels familiar.
Thousand Days of Yesterday
And, here we come back to the first album. This performance suffers a bit from the sound quality. Still, it’s cool, either way. I’d have to say that the vocal performance on it rivals (and might even surpass) the studio version.
Frozen Over
Here we get another smoking live rendition that suffers a bit from the sound quality. There’s a lot going on here and they manage to capture most of the studio magic despite the sound issues.
Guitar Solo
As this guitar solo starts off it reminds me a lot of Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like I Do.” Of course, the talk box has a lot to do with that. The solo works through some changes and variations as it continues. At times it turns towards Hendrix. There’s a section later in the cut that really makes me think of the first Black Sabbath album. Noisy chaos takes it out.
Mesmerization Eclipse
This rocker from the first album is quite cool here, but does suffer a bit from the sound issues.
Drum Solo
Truth in advertising, here we get a drum solo. I’ve never been a big fan of drum solos and while this one is not bad at all, it leaves me a bit uninspired. If drum solos are your thing, your results will likely vary. I’d have to say, though, with the actual drum solo weighing it at well over ten minutes in length, it might tax the patience of even some die hard drumming fans. And, after a little name check, he starts back up again for a while.
Mesmerization Eclipse (Reprise)
When they power back into this tune, it’s pretty noisy for a time. Then it resolves out into the song proper to bring things back to form.
Stone Free
Here they turn in a smoking rendition of the Hendrix tune. It’s hard to believe they didn’t write this because it really sounds like Captain Beyond and not Hendrix.
 
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