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Whilst on holiday back in Texas, the news hit that the great Lee Dorman had passed away. If you're a person of Gifted Awareness and True Musical Appreciation, you'll know Dorman. He was the bassist for Captain Beyond, a remarkable rock band from the '70s whose fame — as is all too frequently the case — remained minimal while scores of musical crapheads became far more successful. (Yeah, REO Buffoon, I'm talking to you! And many more!)
Almost a year ago, Captain Beyond guitarist Rhino died — so any hopes of a significant and authentic CB reunion is forever silenced.
Before this goes any further: yes, before Captain Beyond, Rhino and Dorman were members of Iron Butterfly, a band that did achieve some success. Whatever. No Butterfly record comes close to the greatness of the first, self-titled Captain Beyond album, which is a disc that you'll find propped on a dune on the beach of my desert island.
The band lineup on that first CB record also included former Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans and ex-Johnny Winter And drummer Bobby Caldwell, both of whom wrote the extraoridinary material. Side One was an intelligent hard rock masterpiece, and Two was a side-long song-suite of breathtaking energy, beauty and ridiculously accomplished musicianship. (Here is a cool live sample from side one and here, from the same show, is an experpt from side two.)
Caldwell left after that album but the core band remained and recorded Sufficiently Breathless, a neck-snapping shift of direction to what can only be described as acoustic-prog — wherein Dorman wrote all the material. Again, it's a flawless collection of songs, including "Distant Sun," which became their regular show opener.
Ah, well, bands come and go and, ultimately, despite an interesting but flawed third album, Dawn Explosion, with Willie Daffern replacing Evans on vocals, the Captain eventually dissolved.
I know Dorman and Rhino had significant health problems in their later years. I hope they took at least some satisfaction in knowing that their work, while never reaching the audience it perhaps should have, resonated so mightily and enduringly with a loyal band of true believers.
It’s as though the collective skull of America just cracked open and, instead of gray matter leaking out, a mass of cockroaches, centipedes and assorted vermin crawled out and are swarming the streets.