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Feb 12

The Balancing Act / Captain Beefheart: “Zig Zag Wanderer”

The Balancing Act -- New Campfire Songs

What began as Happy Dance ended as Fiery Inferno Dance.

The Balancing Act (1986) 

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Captain Beefheart (1967)

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Today on Cover Friday we have obscure band covering cult artist — The Balancing Act, a great but little-known late ’80s band hailing from Los Angeles, covering Captain Beefheart, that legendarily bizarre blues-jazz-skronk-rock musician, so great but so difficult to get a grasp on. “Zig Zag Wanderer” is about as close as Beefheart generally came to a straightforward pop song. It appeared on his 1967 debut album, Safe as Milk, and things only got weirder from there. Oddly, it doesn’t appear that this song was released as a single, from what I can tell, although it seems like an obvious choice for that era. But Beefheart’s anti-commercial nature made it a moot point whether anything made an impact on the charts.

The Balancing Act was a great, acoustic-based (but not folk) band that existed for all-too-brief a time, from 1986 to 1988, releasing three great records in the process. They took their acoustic sound and applied it to slightly off-kilter songs, and although they wrote most of their own songs, “Zig Zag Wanderer” fit perfectly into their sound. It appeared on their 1986 debut EP, New Campfire Songs — just 6 songs, but every one of them fascinating. I believe it’s only available now as a combo CD with their second album, Three Squares and a Roof. If you like the sound of this cover, don’t hesitate to seek out any of their albums, as their originals are equally as good (and often even better).

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