Trout Mask Replica was released in June 1969 on Frank Zappa's newly formed Straight Records label. By this time, the Magic Band included guitarist Bill Harkleroad and bassist Mark Boston. However, Van Vliet had also begun assigning nicknames to his band members, so Harkleroad is better known as "Zoot Horn Rollo," and Boston as "Rockette Morton," while John French becomes "Drumbo," and Jeff Cotton is "Antennae Jimmy Semens." According to Van Vliet, the 28 songs on the album were quickly written in a number of milliseconds, though band members have stated that he worked on the compositions for roughly 3 weeks using a piano as his writing tool. Drummer John French took the parts, transcribed them to musical notation, and assigned them to each instrument. The group rehearsed Van Vliet's difficult compositions for eight months, living communally in conditions drummer John French described as "cultlike". The Magic Band was holed up in Van Vliet's home in Los Angeles, restricted from leaving the house, eating very little, and practicing for 14 or more hours a day. Van Vliet wanted the whole band to "live" the "Trout Mask Replica" album. When the time finally arrived to record, the band was able to knock out the pieces flawlessly and lead to a very brief recording process. 
The 28 songs on Trout Mask Replica draw on blues music, Bo Diddley, free jazz, and sea shanties but the relentless practice blended the music into an iconoclastic whole of conflicting tempi, harsh slide guitar, loping drumming, and honking saxophone and bass clarinet. Van Vliet's vocals range from growling blues singing to frenzied falsetto to laconic, casual ramblings. His lyrics often seem impenetrably strange and nonsensical, but closer examination actually reveals complex poetic use of wordplay, metaphor and all manner of references: music history, American and international politics, the Holocaust, love and sexuality, Steve Reich, gospel music, conformity. Although the album was effectively recorded live, Van Vliet recorded much of the vocals whilst isolated from the rest of the band in a different room, only being in partial synch with the music by hearing the slight sound leakage through the studio window.
Van Vliet used the ensuing publicity, particularly with a 1970 Rolling Stone interview with Langdon Winner, to promulgate a number of myths which have subsequently been quoted as fact. Winner's article stated, for instance, that neither Van Vliet nor the members of the Magic Band ever took drugs, but guitarist Bill Harkleroad later discredited this. Van Vliet also claimed to have taught both Harkleroad and bassist Mark Boston from scratch; in fact the pair were already accomplished musicians before joining the band.
TRACKLIST: 1. Frownland 2. Dust Blows Forward 'N The Dust Blows Back, The 3. Dachau Blues 4. Ella Guru 5. Hair Pie: Bake 1 6. Moonlight On Vermont 7. Pachuco Cadaver 8. Bills Corpse 9. Sweet Sweet Bulbs 10. Neon Meate Dream Of A Octafish 11. China Pig 12. My Human Gets Me Blues 13. Dali's Car 14. Hair Pie: Bake 2 15. Pena 16. Well 17. When Big Joan Sets Up 18. Fallin' Ditch 19. Sugar 'N Spikes 20. Ant Man Bee 21. Orange Claw Hammer 22. Wild Life 23. She's Too Much For My Mirror 24. Hobo Chang Ba 25. Blimp, The (Mousetrapreplica) 26. Steal Softly Thru Snow 27. Old Fart At Play 28. Veteran's Day Poppy