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Captain Beyond: Live In Texas, October 6, 1973

Captain Beyond, the very name conjures up images of some costume clad superhero of comics past. However rather than a hero of superness, CapB were in fact a super-group. Former Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans, Johnny Winter's Group drummer Bobby Caldwell and the Iron Butterfly pairing of bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt releasing their self titled debut album in 1972. The results being a release crammed with pulsating 70s rock that the likes of Deep Purple, or Uriah Heep would have been delighted to call their own, although there's also an undoubted US tinge in the style of say Creedence Clear Water Revival. A year later and with Caldwell having moved on and the line-up expanded to include keyboards and percussion, Sufficiently Breathless was the next Captain Beyond offering, showing a startlingly different approach to its predecessor through an almost Santana like jazz inflection. Possibly due to this surprising about turn, tensions then began to build within the band, causing Evans to declare himself out, before briefly they broke up in early 1973. However later the same year the original four were back together, supporting King Crimson as they toured across America. It is from these dates that Live In Texas, October 6, 1973 comes, finally sating the thirst of Captain Beyond fans desperate for an official live release from a band who always had a reputation as a must see act.

Unsurprisingly, given the history, this tour saw Evans, "Rhino", Dorman and Caldwell concentrate on their debut release, with six tracks coming from the Captain Beyond album, while only two were from Sufficiently Breathless. In total this release lists fourteen separate tracks but factor in that a lengthy guitar solo and extremely lengthy drum solo count as two. Then add in that "Mesmerization Eclipse" comes twice in the running order due to appearing either side of Caldwell's kit efforts and that the on stage "Introduction" also receives its own "track", and that only leaves "Pandora's Box (It's War)", which is a spoken word anti-war poem by Evans and a storming cover of the Hendrix standard "Stone Free", as the other actual songs. However the album still runs at over an hour, leaving only one stumbling block as to whether you'll want to invest in a release that offers an interesting insight not just into Captain Beyond, but American heavy rock of the early 70s (could you imagine any support act actually reading a seven minute poem to an audience mid set and lasting twenty seconds on stage these days??). That blockage being that in truth the sound quality of this album is ropey at best and plain awful at worst. That said there's an energy and vibrancy to this performance which undoubtedly conveys exactly why songs like the pulsating "Frozen Over", or driving stab of "Dancing Madly Backwards (On A Sea Of Air)" are so strongly revered and why there's still a massive demand for anything Captain Beyond related. However there's no getting away from the fact that at times the vocals slip into a distorted mess, the guitars swirl and sway between reed thin and full force, or that the in between song chatter is almost inaudible. Back in 2002 the band themselves released a live offering called Far Beyond A Distant Sun - Live In Arlington Texas, which was rapidly pulled due to sound and CDR quality issues, while a trawl round the net will also find a live album with an identical track list to this one called Frozen Over, that also now seems impossible to actually buy.

So on that basis the decision is yours. If you need to hear Captain Beyond live, then I've no doubt Live In Texas will meet your needs, even if the sticker on the CD case stating "Official Bootleg - For Dedicated Fans Only" is very accurate. If you've never sampled this band then can I suggest you start with Captain Beyond, before moving onto the 1977 Dawn Explosion album with Willy Daffern on vocals, before going back to the less steady Sufficiently Breathless. If at that stage you still hanker for more CB (and you may well will), then Live In Texas is where you should head.

Track Listing
1. Intro
2. Distant Sun
3. Dancing Madly Backwards (On A Sea Of Air)
4. Armworth
5. Myopic Void
6. Drifting In Space
7. Pandora's Box (It's War)
8. Thousand Days Of Yesterday
9. Frozen Over
10. Guitar Solo
11. Mesmerization Eclipse
12. Drum Solo
13. Mesmerization Eclipse (Reprise)
14. Stone Free

Added: June 10th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Cleopatra Records
Hits: 2999
Language: english

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Captain Beyond: Live In Texas, October 6, 1973
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-06-10 17:58:58
My Score:

Patchy, bootleg quality audio in spots aside, Live In Texas, October 6, 1973 is a must have for any serious fan of cult prog/hard rock act Captain Beyond. This supergroup came and went awfully quickly, their brilliant debut and two underrated subsequent releases are basically all the documentation we have of this groundbreaking band, save a few boots, which probably is what we have here, and a filmed live performance. Playing mostly material from the debut plus a few from their second album Sufficiently Breathless, this live set also included '70s staples like drum and guitar solos, plus an odd but still intriguing spoken word poetry reading from Rod Evans backed by Larry 'Rhino' Reinhardt's guitar effects, titled "Pandora's Box (It's War)", which ultimately ends in pure musical chaos as the whole band chimes in for what can only be described as the Captain Beyond version of Jimi Hendrix' "Machine Gun" (different song obviously, same effect).

Though there are drop-offs in sound every so often, for the most part the audio quality isn't all that bad (I've heard worse), and the band is in fine form, Evans sounding powerful and in his element, while Rhino, drummer Bobby Caldwell, and bassist Lee Dorman create plenty of drama and tension, no surprise when you consider that these guys all came from acts like Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, and the Johnny Winter Group. The booklet comes with complete info on the band and some photos, so it's probably the best live document of this band we are ever going to see and for that, kudos to Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records.

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