Normally I wouldn’t dip back to write up a bootleg that’s a decade old, but copies of this title – one of the greatest, and most widely copied, Beefheart boots ever – appear to be back in circulation. Plus, there aren’t any Beef reviews on the Wacks site, so consider this review a necessary plugging of a gap.
It’s speculative whether or not someone has actually copied the 1994 release; pirates rarely go to the trouble of reproducing a digipak, instead copying the art into a jewel case design. Most likely some old stock surfaced.
The long and tangled tale of this superb line recording’s trajectory from fan tape to multiple vinyl and CD boots is painstakingly outlined on the Beefheart fan site Electricity (http://www.freewebs.com/teejo/live/81birth.html#2lp2 will take you to the Don’s Birthday Party entry), from which I copied the tracklisting above along with the quote below. Bottom line: purchase on sight before it disappears again. The sound quality, the loose-limbed performance and the sharp front sleeve graphics make it an essential addition to any serious Beefheart collection. – OSWALD
JEFF MORIS TEPPER jeff tapir / white jew * guitar * slide guitar
RICHARD SNYDER midnight hatsize * guitar * slide guitar * bass guitar
ERIC DREW FELDMAN black jew kittaboo * bass guitar * keyboards * synthesizer * mandolin
ROBERT WILLIAMS wait for me * drums * percussion
DON VAN VLIET captain beefheart * vocals * tenor sax * soprano sax * harmonica
guest GARY LUCAS ** national steel dualion
“The sound, though mono, is just like a live album. The mix is good and it is a great show, very relaxed. It is from a concert recorded on Beefheart's 40th birthday at the Showbox, Seattle in January 1981. It is a series of highlights with the audience singing "Happy Birthday" and Beefheart complaining about the "urine colored lights" and the "horrible smoke smell". The music is brilliant as well with a Hot Head / Ashtray Heart like a giant mechanical snake dancing on the stage and “Safe As Milk” taken at top speed, which at one point appears to float in the air on guitar riffs which you feel this final Magic Band could keep playing till they pulled the plug. Just awesome. If you are a Beefheart fan and never heard this, you're in for a big treat!
“1994 Bootleg CD DON'S BIRTHDAY PARTY on Tuff Bites, cat.no. T.B. 94.1008. FABRIQUÉ EN LUXEMBOURG with this amazing sleeve illustration by J. Saurer. Although it appears to have been dubbed from the vinyl this is a great sounding though mono CD. Credits say "These songs were recorded live at Showbox, Seattle, January 15th, 1981" - this was Beefheart's 40th birthday. The show is complete. This is my favourite bootleg and it is a great show, very relaxed - a bit too relaxed during ‘Bat Chain Puller’ where Beefheart appears to have wandered away from the microphone when he is supposed to be singing, so they have to start again!”