Luis Spinetta and the Legend of Capitan Beto

The Formation of Captain Beto

Luis Spinetta was the preeminent architect of Argentinian rock music in the early 70s, initially playing for local bands, he made commercial debut with the band Almedra and the album of the same name in 1969. At the time he was only 19; a genius, his music contained a certain experimentalism and virtuosity unseen in Argentina. One may theorize that his musical genius is due to his exposure to American and British music (specifically Hendrix and Bowie), unique among his contemporaries. Spinetta's Capitan Beto is the product of the cultural reformation of Buenos Aires, a new cultural middle class now unrestricted by the dictatorship of Juan Carlos Ongania.

Capitan Beto and Almendra

Spinetta's first album Almendra carries with it the sentiments of the time, it is urban and psychedelic, reacting to and resisting against the oppressive culture of the past. Formed in a band with three other young men it achieved unprecedented success, addressing themes novel to the city. The band was short-lived as Spinetta took a hiatus to Europe where he became more focused on the philosophical implications of rock music. After returning, Spinetta formed Pescado Rabioso, a more blues rock oriented band.

Capitan Beto and Pescado Rabioso

Pescado Rabioso is the Blues Rock band created by Spinetta almost immediately after returning from Europe, it expanded past the hard rock displayed in Almendra, seeking a more refined, groovy aesthetic. The political messages remained the same, distinct rebellion to Argentinian authority; paired with this was a greater antagonism of the music industry, resulting in legal troubles that led Spinetta’s solo album Artaud to be released under the band’s name.

The Philosophy of Captain Beto

Capitan Beto is what I describe to be an aesthetic and a character of Spinetta, something that he formed after his return from Europe. While his years in Pescado Rabioso were politically tame, his solo record was a brilliant folky departure from the blues rock that had proven to be so successful. Capitan Beto as a character first formed during this time, he is sentimental, he is rebellious, and he is Spinetta. Much of the songs on this solo album focus upon love, how to find it and how to keep it. However what is most prominent in the album is his rebellion to the music industry, represented by the pamphlet passed out with the album’s release.

The Music of Captain Beto

There's something special about Spinetta's music that seems untracable in origin; for instance his singing is amazing, but it isn't what gives makes his music so amazing. Every album, while different, gives me the same feeling when I listen to it, its a form of qualia which I legitimately cannot describe and can only be experienced. The closest thing i can describe is the fffect it has on me, the listener. Regardless of how abrasive or emotive the sound the band makes, I always feel very calm and happy listening to him.

Capitan Beto and Invisible

Invisible was the last of Spinetta's mainstream efforts in the strain of Prog/Art-Rock he was known for, and in this era, he is at his most brilliant. Taking influence from Soft Machine and other bands stemming from the Canterbury scene he points the music in an ever grander direction. The first track of the album and by far the most famous is 'El Anillo Del Capitan Beto'. The song tells the story of Heriberto 'Beto' Aguirre, a classic superhero defeating cosmic enemies in a saga of epic events. In spite of his immense power, he longs for connection to others as he drifts through space, lost without a compass and direction. In his essence Capitan Beto is a monument to the need for cooperation and the rejection of atomization.