Saturday, 2 March 2013

Top 102 Albums⁺ No 43. Safe As Milk

Top 102 Albums⁺ No 43. 
Safe As Milk - Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

I've been dithering a lot over which Captain Beefheart album to include. It came down to Trout Mask Replica, Clear Spot, Doc at the Radar Station and this. This wins out partly because it was my first but also because the best songs on it are so visceral and exciting. Beefheart's extraordinary voice and his band's bowdlerised boogie and brittle blues accentuated by neophyte guitarist Ry Cooder.

I borrowed this from Morden library in 1985 during "my summer in London." I couldn't give it back. it was far too good. (And anyway I never managed to get my tax back despite a long drawn out game of postal ping pong with British Bureaucracy so I'm probably still owed a few LP's)

At times this sounds like an early blues artist recorded with the benefit of amplification in a modern studio. At others it sounds like an alien trying to compress his cosmic arcana into a form suitable for our limited aural range and even more limited understanding. It also sounds like they had FUN recording it.

I love the way Yellow Brick Road; opens with "a reference tone"; I love the way Dropout Boogie seems to prefigure Devo by a decade; I love the hokiness of the opening of Sure 'Nuff 'n' Yes, I Do; the harmonica on Plastic Factory; I love the humour, the energy, the inventiveness, the VOICE, the SOUND..........

This was originally to be named Abba Zabba, after a candy bar. Appropriate. It's a bit like a sweetshop, although some of the sweets are sour

Just listen. If you're not enjoying it  - CHECK YOUR PULSE!


  1. His singing on I'm Glad from 1.35 to 2.25 is incredible, completely transforming a standard doo-wop song with a howl of anguish. Why can't we have more ads like this:


  2. okay I'm dead! it is another deaf spot for me I'm afraid - I think one of the reason you like it - blues and boogie I just don't get. I do keep trying Trout Mask as it always appears in those top cult lps / most influential bands type charts. ...maybe next time!

    1. It's amazing what people can do on life support machines these days!

  3. Sorry to echo David and I tried really hard with Trout Mask...
    I admire his artistic integrity (recently watched a documentary on his 'retirement'; the capt in the desert throwing paint at a recoiling canvas) but... I just don't 'get' it...

    1. I seem to be failing as an evangelist here. I thought this was the album anyone could like..