Beefheart Knows no bounds: Top 5 Captain Beefheart Covers

captainbeefheartDon Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, born Don Glen Vliet, was an artistic and musical visionary from the early 60’s to the early 80’s. While not the biggest commercial success, he and his Magic Band’s cult following helped keep his hugely significant influences alive through many of the rock, punk, new-wave, post-punk, and alt-rock bands and musicians that we listen to today. While a Beefheart tribute album, Fast ‘n’ Bulbous – A Tribute To Captain Beefheart, was put out in 1988, you won’t find many of those artists here. These covers are hidden on 7-inch records, special editions, and studio albums. These are some of the best you’ll find. Please tell me how you feel about Captain Beefheart and also if there are any covers that I missed. A wondrous weirdo to inspire other weirdos, Captain Beefheart’s legacy lives on through many musicians.

5. Joan Osborne – “His Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles”

The odd man on Early Recordings, this seems to the only studio recording on the album. Brought to us on Beefheart’s Clear Spot. Osborne takes the song in a direction that give is a sultry, tribal vibe. It’s subtle and it just so happens to rock too.

4. Sonic Youth – “Electricity”

This is the one song on the list that was actually recorded for Fast ‘n’ Bulbous – A Tribute To Captain Beefheart. “Electricity” comes from Safe As Milk and was also featured on Sonic Youth’s 2007 deluxe version reissue of Daydream Nation.

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3. The Kills – “Dropout Boogie”

Placed on the special edition of The Kills’ debut album Keep On Your Mean Side, “Dropout Boogie” shows what Beefheart looks like with sex appeal. Alison Mossheart and Jamie Hince have no problem turning this Safe As Milk cut into a greasy garage rocker.

2. The White Stripes – “Party of Special Things to Do”

Heavy, fuzzy, and blusey are the best way to listen to The White Stripes. It’s perfect for us that the Stripes have provided that here. Part of the Sub Pop singles club, “Party Of Special Things to Do” – off Beefheart’s Bluejeans and Moonbeams – comes pared with two other Beefheart songs, “China Pig” and “Ashtray Heart.” This 7-inch had a limited pressing number of 1,300 records on half red, half white vinyl. It marks the only time The White Stripes released anything on Sub Pop records.

1. The Black Keys – “Grown So Ugly”

One of the most fun tunes to belt out on the guitar, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney really had something here. Recorded for their third – and one of the best – studio albums, Rubber Factory. “Grown So Ugly” is a very fun and energetic take on this Safe as Milk tune. Plus, the end of this Keys cover had Auerbach soloing like mainiac with bend after bend. Easily my number one Captain Beefheart cover.

Photo credit: By Jean-Luc (originally posted to Flickr as Captain Beefheart) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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