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Music / Doc at the Radar Station

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"I think this might be the best batch yet!"

"If you got ears, YOU GOT TO LISTEN!"
— "Dirty Blue Gene".

Doc at the Radar Station is a 1980 album by Captain Beefheart. Widely considered one of his best, together with Safe as Milk (1967), Trout Mask Replica (1969), Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1970) and Clear Spot (1973). Fan favorites are "Hot Head", "Ashtray Heart" and "Dirty Blue Gene".

The tracks "A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond", "Flavor Bud Living" and "Brickbats" were originally recorded for the album Bat Chain Puller, produced by Frank Zappa, but due to his former manager Herb Cohen funding it with Zappa's royalty checks a lawsuit followed and as a result the album stayed on the Shelf of Album Languishment until its posthumous release in 2012 (before that it was heavily bootlegged, however). Beefheart decided to record most of the material again and spread it on his final three albums, Shiny Beast (1978), "Doc at the Radar Station" and Ice Cream for Crow (1982).


Side One

  1. "Hot Head" (3:23)
  2. "Ashtray Heart" (3:25)
  3. "A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond" (1:38)
  4. "Run Paint Run Run" (3:40)
  5. "Sue Egypt" (2:57)
  6. "Brickbats" (2:40)

Side Two

  1. "Dirty Blue Gene" (3:51)
  2. "Best Batch Yet" (5:02)
  3. "Telephone" (1:31)
  4. "Flavor Bud Living" (1:00)
  5. "Sheriff of Hong Kong" (6:34)
  6. "Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on My Knee" (3:11)


  • Captain Beefheart: vocals, harmonica, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, Chinese gongs.
  • John French: slide guitar, guitar, marimba, bass, drums.
  • Bruce Lambourne Fowler: trombone.
  • Jeff Moris Tepper: slide guitar, guitar, nerve guitar.
  • Eric Drew Feldman: synthesizer, bass, mellotron, grand piano, electric piano.
  • Robert Arthur Williams: drums.
  • Gary Lucas: guitar, French horn

Tropes At The Radar Station

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Hot Head"
    She can burn you up in bed
    (...) She was burnt before she was born
  • Alliterative Title: "Hot Head", "A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond", "Run Paint Run Run", "Best Batch Yet".
  • Badass Boast: "The Best Batch Yet".
    I think this is the best batch yet!
  • Break Up Song: "Ashtray Heart".
    You used me like an ashtray heart
  • Burning with Anger: The woman in "Hot Head".
    She was burnt before she was born
    Burnin' up a storm
    Cause she's a hot head, hot head, hot head
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Making Love to a Vampire With a Monkey on My Knee" has quite a lot for the normally always profanity free Beefheart.
    Gnats fucked my ears 'n' nostrils
    (...) God, please fuck my mind for good
    Oh fuck that thing... fuck that poem... eyes crawl out with maggots
  • Continuity Nod: A Strictly Personal outtake "Dirty Blue Gene" was reworked into a track in "The Spotlight Kid" era, which was reworked into the version we know in the Shiny Beast era, and though it didn't make this LP gave it its name via the line "The shiny beast of thought". As a result, its inclusion on Doc is a callback to that LP.
  • Dem Bones: "Sue Egypt"
    I think of all those people that ride on my bones
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover was painted by Beefheart himself.
  • Evil Phone: "Telephone" which describes a telephone as a horrifying thing, namely "a plastic horned devil". Hilarious in Hindsight seeing that from 1982 on Beefheart would prefer staying at home and communicate through long distance telephone calls with his friends.
  • Harsh Vocals: Beefheart's already raspy voice became noticeably more wheezy and atonal on this album, due to multiple sclerosis affecting his voice.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • "Hothead"
    She was burned before she was born
    • "Run Paint Run".
    • "Brickbats".
    • "Dirty Blue Gene" has a line that could have a double meaning:
    Don't you wish you never met her
    • "Sheriff of Hong Kong"
    She always shows up when I'm up/ but she never shows up when i'm down
  • Instrumentals: "A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond" and "Flavor Bud Living".
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "Telephone", a number about someone who doesn't like telephones, and "Run Paint Run", about running paint.
  • National Stereotypes: "The Sheriff of Hong Kong" makes use of gongs to provide an Oriental atmosphere.
  • New Sound Album: The music sounds far more aggressive than Beefheart's previous albums, very similar to Punk Rock, a style that he actually felt copied him.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title is not mentioned in any of the songs.
  • One-Woman Song: "Sue Egypt".
  • One-Word Title: "Hothead", "Brickbats", "Telephone".
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • "Hothead" about a woman who literally has a hot head of fire.
    • "Brickbats" is an English word for "criticism", but in Beefheart's version its the plural of a literal species of bats.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond", "Flavor Bud Living", and "Brickbats" were originally recorded for the never released but finished album Bat Chain Puller, for Frank Zappa 's label.
    • "Run Paint Run Run" and "Dirty Blue Gene" were both "Shiny Beast" outtakes, the former using even the same instrumental (complete with trombone) and the latter having given the previous album its title. In fact, they songs are even older - early versions from The Spotlight Kid sessions exist too, and "Dirty Blue Gene" was first written in 1967. Other tracks from the LP that are old are "Telephone" (derived from an unreleased "Strictly Personal" instrumental, though the lyrics were new), "Best Batch Yet" (recorded in similar form in "The Spotlight Kid" sessions), "Sue Egypt" (A live jam the group used to play on the Clear Spot tour in 1973).
  • Romantic Vampire Boy: "Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on My Knee".
    Making love to a vampire with a monkey on my knee
    The moon poured hollow down my milky leg
    Splashed still ’n moved
    The wind peed down the willows ’n pricked the needle vine
    The monkey moved a fur shadow… its soot tail curled in twos
    Its lips smiled needles.. its eyes rolled loose
    Her throat broke open… glistened in the dew
  • Shout-Out:
    • PJ Harvey's song "Rid of Me" from her album Rid of Me provides a shout-out to the line "don't you wish you never met her" from "Dirty Blue Gene".
    • PJ Harvey's music publishing company is called "Hot Head Music", after the track "Hot Head" from this album.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Something is moved about at the start of "Ashtray Heart", presumably an ashtray.
  • Take That!: "Ashtray Heart" bashed Punk Rock as the line "Open up another case of the punks" demonstrated. The reason was that Beefheart felt the punks that were influenced by him were flat out copying his style.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Being a Beefheart album, not surprisingly.