A long-lost Captain Beefheart album is to finally be released, on what would have been Don Van Vliet's 71st birthday. Bat Chain Puller was recorded in 1976 but shelved later that year, due to a dispute between Frank Zappa and his former manager, Herb Cohen. Bat Chain Puller was originally intended to be the follow-up to 1974's maligned Bluejeans & Moonbeams, after Vliet recruited a new band. Zappa produced the sessions, and tracks like Owed t'Alex and The Floppy Boot Stomp made it all the way to Beefheart's label, Virgin, as well as several journalists. Unfortunately that's as far as things got. When Zappa sued Cohen, Bat Chain Puller was caught in the litigation and the album was shelved. Although many of Bat Chain Puller's songs were re-recorded for subsequent Beefheart releases, the original record has only been available among fans, as a popular bootleg.
So titled because the original album, simply titled Bat Chain Puller, had to be ditched and rerecorded after a legal tuzzle involving Frank Zappa's manager, Shiny Beast turned out to be manna from heaven for those feeling Beefheart had lost his way on his two Mercury albums. Then again, what else could be assumed with a song titled "Tropical Hot Dog Night" that sounds like what happened when Beefheart encountered Miami disco and decided to make something of it?
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