Friday, 16 October 2009

Album Review With No Home

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This should probably be on my music blog. Or elsewhere. Or nowhere. I don’t know. I need to offload it somewhere. So here seems a good place. See me after for cheap Viagra tablets.

Captain Beefheart – Safe as Milk (1967)

For a man as unmusical as Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, to have lasted fifteen years in the music business without succumbing to madness is one of nature’s most baffling questions.

Of course, Mr. Vliet had a head-start in the madness stakes. A child prodigy, Vliet looked set on a prestigious career as a sculptor and artist, until he met a certain Mr. Frank Zappa, who introduced him to the howlin’ outback of ghouls, freaks and assorted dark alleys of blues music. The temperamental artist manqué enjoyed a youth of maternal mollycoddling in his Californian home before taking his Howlin’ Wolf impression out into the world at large, forming The Magic Band.

Following the local success of the cover ‘Diddy Wah Diddy,’ the band were snapped up as the next hottest blues band, and marketed as thus on their debut album, Safe As Milk.

For some people, this album is about as much Captain Beefheart as they can stand. His music from here goes onto abandon the seemingly structured, tight, fast and blues-based sound presented on this album into a form of formless, Dadaist aural assault masquerading often as visionary genius.

For now however, we have this landmark album, released in 1967, notable for its star turn from Ry Cooder on guitar. His unique sound can be heard right from the off on the ultra-cool opening bars of short stomp ‘Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do’. From here on, a range of inspired influences permeate the album – a soundtrack to Vliet’s favourite music and sounds.

The range of this classic album is stunning. There are angular flourishes of psychedelia – the thundering ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ to the bongo-bashing mysticism of ‘Abba Zaba’. Tributes to doo-wop and soul bridge the gaps between the art-rock cacophony, while peppy pop songs such as ‘Yellow Brick Road’ and crunching blues rockers such as ‘Plastic Factory’ keep proceedings eye-socket-bulging.

The stand-out highlight is ‘Autumn’s Child’ (above) with its dramatic theremin build-up and bowel-shifting chorus that splits the brain into fourteen different shards of incomprehensible awe.

So that’s about it. A timeless rock classic and the end of this review. See me after for cheap Viagra capsules.

7 comments:

  1. I was a fan of Beefheart both at the beginning and near the end of his recording career, somehow stupidly wandering off in the middle years (some excuse about having my own band and doing my own music and not wanting to listen to anyone else in case they corrupted me - I should have taken the corruption, I might still be playing).

    Those only catching some of his later work never knew he had such good roots.

    A very good and accurate review here my friend.

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  2. Can you send the viagra by post please.

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  3. Hey Mike. Beefheart's middle years are somewhat disappointing. Probably for the best you missed out. What was the name of your band, if I might probe?

    Viagra en route.

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  4. My first fling was 'The Art Attacks" - after 2 gigs the band went on, I didn't.

    The second, and slightly more enduring, was "Found Our Marbles" - latterly, as oft' happens, just "Marbles".

    I suddenly took a dislike to second hand beer and retired to my recording studio (read bedroom and tape recorder).

    Ah fame, how fleeting you can be!

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  5. You've gotta love the internet! I just did a google search and found a 1996 interview with two of the guys from Art Attacks. I was mentioned as "I don't remember the name of the other guitarist. He knew a Beach Boys number".
    Buggers!

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  6. Ha! Sounds like they truly valued your musical contribution. I wonder if the Found Our Marbles guys at least remember your first name...

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  7. The Art Attack guys (and a girl) were Royal College of Art students, stuck-up egomaniacs everyone of us. It started as a joke for a talent contest, but the others took it serious. How could anyone play punk and take it serious eh?

    Marbles were real friends from further back, we'd shared more than music and we played what we loved.

    I wasn't dedicated though, I had other things and careers in mind. We all lost contact over the decades, but I'm sure those that didn't get Alzheimers remember me.

    Twas heady days, we mingled with most of the British (and visiting US) music Hall of Fame people.
    One of my other friends, Neil Murray, went on to have a very illustrious career in rock music. Shame we only played together and not played music together, but he was already at too high a standard for me! :)

    You could say that I was either charmed or stupid in those early decades, each time I experimented with another life style I reached a position of mingling with the either successful or soon to be succesful, and I never took advantage - always wandering off for something else/new.

    The other buggers were always more serous or dedicated, whereas I was always just playing.

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