This review was taken from the 2nd January 1971 edition of Melody Maker.

Already, I’m thinking that this is the Captain’s most satisfying album to date.

“Safe As Milk” was a very good, every-so-slightly spacey rock album; “Strictly Personal” was ruined by phasing; and “Trout Mask Replica” tended to be a little unwieldy, despite several flashes of brilliance. But from the first note, “Decals” discovers and maintains a balance which rarely wavers, right up to the final reed squeak of “Flash Gordon’s Ape”.

It’s difficult to decide whether the unnamed musicians are geniuses or complete beginners, but from the evidence of several tortuous unison passages I’m inclined to believe that they’re the former. Much of the playing consists of that odd, jerky, out-of-sync style, with the lines weaving and clashing so right that it can’t be accidental, and it’s too complex to be purely intuitive.

There are some nice riffs, like “I Love You, You Big Dummy,” which has some demented harmonica and an hilarious Beefheart vocal, and the subdued, slightly menacing “The Buggy Boogie Woogie”. Two tracks, “Japan In A Dishpan” and “Flash Gordon’s Ape,” have Ayleresque saxophones, but maybe “Peon” is the most extraordinary cut: it’s an instrumental featuring acoustic guitar and bass, who play together so perfectly that I can’t believe the piece wasn’t written out. If it wasn’t, there’s an umbilical between the musicians brains.

I can’t think of anything wrong with this album: it’s got fine rock and roll, insane blowing and singing, and some of the most amazing lyrics (or perhaps I should say word-progressions) in the world. The lyrics in fact sound as if the Captain writes one word at a time, following each one up with the most suitable word regardless of meaning, placing more importance on sound.

Whatever, it works, like pretty much everything he does.

Leave a Comment »

Popular topics:

1977 | 2017 | Alex Snouffer | Anton Corbijn | Art Tripp | Bat Chain Puller | Benjamin Horrendous | Big Eyed Beans From Venus | Bill Harkleroad | Bluejeans and Moonbeams | Bongo Fury | Byron Coley | Captain Beefheart The Biography | China Pig | Clear Spot | Collaborations | Covers | Creem Magazine | Dave Dimartino | Death | Denny Walley | Derek Laskie | Diddy Wah Diddy | Dirty Blue Gene | Doc At The Radar Station | Don Aldridge | Down Beat | Encounters in the wild | Eugene Chadbourne | Exhibitions | Frank Zappa | Freddy Bannister | Gary Lucas | Gary Marker | Graham Johnston | Grow Fins | Herb Bermann | Ice Cream For Crow | Interview | Jan Van Vliet | Jasper Leach | Jeff Cotton | Jerry Handley | Jimmy Carl Black | John French | John Peel | Knebworth | Knoedler and Co | Kristine McKenna | Legendary A&M Sessions | Lester Bangs | Lewis Taylor | Lick My Decals Off Baby | Los Angeles Times | Magic Band reunion | Mark Boston | Michael Traylor | Michael Werner Gallery | Mike Barnes | Mirror Man | Mojo Magazine | New York Times | Nulsh | Old Fart At Play | Orange Claw Hammer | Orange Claw Hammer (band) | Outtake | Pachuco Cadaver (tribute album) | Pamela Des Barres | Retirement from music | Revenant | Rhino Handmade | Robert Palmer | Robert Williams | Rolling Stone | Ry Cooder | Safe As Milk | Samuel Andreyev | Shiny Beast | Sounds | Spotlight Kid | Steal Softly Thru Snow | Steve Froy | Strictly Personal | Sugar 'N Spikes | Sundazed | The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart | The Dust Blows Forward | The Independent | The Lost Episodes | The Wire | Through The Eyes Of Magic | Tom Waits | Tragic Band | Tributes | Trout House | Trout Mask Replica | Unconditionally Guaranteed | Victor Hayden | Wha?
Captain Beefheart Radar Station - about us