When I first heard Trout Mask Replica, I about puked. What is this shit, I thought. People I met talked about it in glowing terms — not just anybody, mind you, but people I genuinely respected when it came to their musical tastes. Well, I figured, everybody has their own little watchimacallits.
And then came Lick My Decals Off, Baby. Its reputation preceded it, and a preview of its music at a concert, I was told, would make it all clear.
And you know what? It did.
You know, those guys actually stood up there and played that music. And when it was over, I couldn’t wait for the album.
As it turned out, the album was even better. Approachable, easy — enjoyable, even — to listen to. The first thing that grabbed me was the instrumentals. “One Red Rose That I Mean” is a lute song for 20th-century instruments. From a formal standpoint, musically and rhythmically it is all wrong, but once you’ve heard it, you cannot deny its logic. Then, there are the songs. “I Love You, You Big Dummy” really rocks out, but not overly. Play it for a bunch of young kids, and you’ll see that they pick up on it immediately. It’s like a blues, except that it leaves its formal structure behind before it even starts.
I had the rare good fortune to talk to the Captain recently about his music, and noted that I hadn’t really understood Trout Mask. “That’s OK,” he said, “just put it on and then go back to doing whatever it was you were doing, and it’ll come to you.” Well, what I was doing was sweeping the floor, so I had my doubts, but I did it anyhow.
Damned if it didn’t push the broom. You ought to get Lick My Decals Off, Baby and see what it can do for you!