Feb 12

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


What began as Happy Dance ended as Fiery Inferno Dance.

The Balancing Act (1986)

Captain Beefheart (1967)

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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