How to buy… Beefheart

This issue of Mojo (November) has a buyers’ guide for Captain Beefheart featuring a readers’ top ten of all his albums:

  1. Trout Mask Replica
  2. Clear Spot/Spotlight Kid
  3. Lick My Decals Off Baby
  4. Doc at the Radar Station
  5. Dust Blows Forward (compilation)
  6. Strictly Personal
  7. Safe As Milk
  8. Grow Fins (compilation of unreleased gems)
  9. Shiny Beast
  10. Mirror Man

Safe As Milk would appear higher than that in my top 10 of any albums, not just Beefheart, and I’m surprised at the poor showing of Shiny Beast, another firm favourite of mine.

This is something which Warner Brothers/Rhino should take note of: people would like to be able to buy Lick My Decals Off Baby. It was last issued on CD 12 years ago and it is high time Warners / Rhino let us feast our ears on it once more.

You can tell Rhino Handmade just how much you would like them to release this extraordinary album at their website. Do refer to the above poll in a magazine which has a very similar target audience to Rhino.

Many thanks to Tom Davidson for the tip-off.


  1. All the record companies concerned will probably wait until Don dies when there will be more publicity and then release anything and everything to make a fast buck ’cause at the end of the day thats all they care about

  2. Still doesn’t make sense to me Dai. Why this particular album? Everything else and more besides has been made available. As for them sitting there waiting for Don to die, let’s not forget that MS, if that is indeed what Don is living with, is rarely a terminal illness in itself. My neighbour is 76,was diagnosed with MS over 40 years ago, and has used a wheelchair for the past 26 years. Don will hopefully be around for quite some time to come.

  3. Shiny Beast is upsettingly low on the list, personally I would rank it higher than TSK\CS. Plus, I think the A&M Sessions are worthy of a place, it may be short, but its very, very sweet

  4. lick my decals lack of release isn’t due to lack of interest on warners side. there is still some legal issue w/ straight. i think the only time it was in print was when restless retro issued it. same story with tim buckley starsailor and blue afternoon. you will notice that vinyl is available and not through warners.

  5. Shiny Beast should be farther up there; indeed my own fee-wing is that Doc ATRS and Shiny Beast are indeed superior to the early stuff, even TMR. Drumbo is alright, Zoot not bad, but the later bands were tighter, especially in regards to stix-work. (Robert Williams?). Drumbo never met a high hat he couldn’t swipe, or a ride he couldn’t smush. He may be better now–I haven’t heard the ATP tracks–but TMR drums were sloppy, man: tho I admit the off-meter stuff must have been challenging.

    BTW I have a Lick My Decals off Baby LP, in good condition. $40.00 or so and it’s yours; 818 area. Also TMR and jazz rarities. Leave note-email here and I’ll get back to ya.

    circle on a spit

  6. trout mask drums sloppy zoot not bad jeeezous somebodies had to much to think any one wanna buy some jaaaaaaaazz maaaaaaaaaaan
    obviously drumbo’s been to the crossroads cause hes hairpie hot now !

  7. john french, even if he werent one of my favorite songwriters, is one of the best and most important drummers ever, and that is in the opinion of many of the best drummers ever. What strange commentary his work receives online in the beefheart world. Somebodies got an axe to grind, with a jealous eye on Drumbo’s throne, I think

  8. Safe As Milk would be much higher up there if I made the list…of course I didn’t make the list…

    So Don has MS?!? What a bummer…I hadn’t heard that…anyone know more about it? For certain?

  9. Another thing…if they’re gonna include comp albumn, why not I May Be Hungry But I Sure Aint Weird ? Or is it a comp album? I was definitely under the impression that it was not a standard album…anyway, it woulda been on my list.

  10. Where’s ice cream for crow?


  11. To people who actually like Trout Mask Replica: apart from China Pig which is the only comprehensible track on the album, could anyone explain what part of the composition actually makes this work creditable. The entire album consists of untuned loops with random trajectories which no one can doubt makes for uncomfortable listening. So I presume their is some craft there that people are looking to which eludes me. Guitars, lead and rythym are just random notes strung together, there could be some merit in the bassist and drummer being comptent enough to keep up with them but thats far from making a song. Which leaves me with only one option, the lyrics. I do see some great vision here but the underlying music makes it so hard to concentrate I give up many times on it. So could someone give an explanation as to why TMR is considered to be their greatest work without patronising. I am a musician myself and and am able to appreciate all the greats but this one eludes me. Any help would be appreciated.

  12. If you can’t get your head around moonlight on vermont and veterans day poppy then i would give up ’cause if the power of these songs dont hit you there aint much hope ,perhaps you are looking at the songs in the wrong way and need to take a different perspective on things

  13. I add my voice to yours Simon. I don’t understand why Ice Cream For Crow never seems to be rated either. Maybe because it’s only considered “half an album” with “Poop Hatch” lifted from the original BCP and the re-recorded “1010th Day” considered inferior to the original? IMO the rest of the stuff more than makes amends, and in any case these two tracks would have languished unheard for years otherwise.

  14. Only just got round to looking at this but Doc at the Radar Station is easily equal to TMR in my not so humble opinion.

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