The sound quality of Safe As Milk is something that has been discussed in one way or another quite a bit over the years. Why does it sound the way it does and which release is the best version available? Some (but not all) of the issues can be traced back to the way the album was recorded in the first place. Ry Cooder and Gary Marker have both been critical about the way Bob Krasnow and Richard Perry took the recording out the superior eight track Sunset Sound Studios and moved it to the four track RCA Studios to the detriment of the overall sound
Before the recording of the Safe As Milk album there was a studio session where a number of demos were recorded produced by Gary Marker which became known as the Safe as Milk Demos, or the Buddah Takes or the Disneyland Demos. March [?] 1967 Original Sound Studios, Los Angeles, California Producer: Gary Marker Track List Sure Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do Yellow Brick Road Plastic Factory Electricity Abba Zaba (Follow links above to hear the songs on Youtube) The story behind the demos The band finally left the desert and moved to Los Angeles, to a rented place off Armor Road in Laurel Canyon, in
Rising Sons were a band that included Ry Cooder, Gary Marker, Taj Mahal, Kevin Kelley and Jesse Lee Kincaid. Their various 1964-66 recordings for CBS were never released. As a live band they drew the attention of Don Vliet who berated Doug Moon saying he should play slide like Ry Cooder. The 20 year old Cooder played slide and bass on the Safe As Milk album as well as arranging several songs most notably ‘Grown So Ugly’. Taj Mahal played percussion on ‘Yellow Brick Road’. Gary ‘Magic’ Marker was involved in the early production work on Safe As Milk, as well as playing occasional bass
Although Beefheart is probably renowned for being perversely anti-commercial or non-commercial (which ever way you want to look at). That wasn’t always the case. The early band when it started back in 1964/65 wanted to make it big just like all the other young guys in countless bands getting together across the States and the rest of the world. A hit record, money, girls … yes, they wanted it all too. With the release of Diddy Wah Diddy in April 1966 they could have broken through into the big time nationally if the east coast hadn’t been sewn up by the Remains version of the
[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Bob Palmer, taken from the April 1971 edition of Jazz & Pop News.[/alert_box] Ry Cooder, with his group, and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, bowed to the New York Press at Ungano’s in mid-winter. Both are among the more progressive Warner/Reprise acts, though their use of musical traditions accounts in part for their unique sounds. Cooder, on first, played a brief set composed entirely of country blues pieces from the 1920s and 30s, originated by Blind Willie Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, and others. His bottleneck guitar, and his mandolin styling as well, were classic in that he approached his material as
Quarterly focusing on Ry Cooder, often featuring plenty of Beefheart as well. Visit the Rylander website.
Elaine Shepherd’s classic BBC documentary, introduced and narrated by John Peel. Completely wonderful, a 50 minute joy: Reviews, articles, blog posts, etc. relating to The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart. When the film was first screened by the BBC, it was followed by the Anton Corbijn / Don Van Vliet short Some YoYo Stuff.