Over half a century ago, the guitarist formerly known as Antennae Jimmy Semens – simply known as Jeff Cotton these days – parted ways with Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band.
During his tenure between 1967 and 1970, the Magic Band established themselves as heroes of the underground psychedelic rock scene following the release of Strictly Personal (opens in new tab) in 1968, and the avant-garde masterpiece Trout Mask Replica (opens in new tab) in 1969.
An earlier Beefheart recording from 1967 featuring Cotton titled Mirror Man (opens in new tab) was released in 1971.
That year, the guitarist appeared alongside his old friend Merrell Fankhauser on Mu (opens in new tab)’s self-titled debut album.
The pair later relocated to Maui, Hawaii where Cotton still resides.
For the past 50 years, little has been heard of the talented musician who teamed with fellow guitarist Bill Harkleroad – aka Zoot Horn Rollo – on the Frank Zappa-produced Trout Mask Replica.
Finally, Jeff Cotton is back on the scene, with his debut solo album – The Fantasy of Reality – slated for release on August 12th via Madfish.
The expansive 22-song album’s lead single, “Does It Work for You?” has now been released and is accompanied by a music video featuring close-up footage of Cotton's signature slide work.
“I sincerely hope that you experience some of the ‘old magic,’ and pick up on the lyrical positivity,” says Cotton.
“We’re all in this together. And because there’s never been a time quite like this, it is good that we remind one another that, in spite of it all, love is our ‘reality.’”
Featuring unmistakable guitar hallmarks of the late ‘60s Beefheart era, “Does It Work for You?” sets the tone as the new album's opening track.
“'Does It Work for You?' is basically the theme of the album,” Cotton told Guitar Player.
“It’s in the lyrics: ‘What we see, is it reality/Or is it really fantasy?’ This really sets the tenor of the album.
“I’m thinking that Magic Band fans will like the song because it’s pretty involved musically.
"It has a strong Delta blues influence, and it’s spoken, which is something Don [Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart] did a lot too.”
Pre-order The Fantasy of Reality by Jeff Cotton here (opens in new tab).
Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
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