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Captain Beefheart - Strictly Personal CD (album) cover


Captain Beefheart



3.42 | 91 ratings

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2 stars Consisting of a tighter, leaner recording of material produced during the same sessions as the sprawling Mirror Man, Strictly Personal should have been a great album - but there is one factor which overshadows the music to this day, and which makes this a divisive one amongst Beefheart fans.

That's Bob Krasnow's use of phasing and other "psychedelic" effects on the music. Whether or not Beefheart knew and approved of this is an open question, but if he wasn't averse to the idea before, he certainly decided it was a big mistake afterwards - on all his subsequent recordings he would be averse to studio trickery and manipulation of his recordings, preferring to capture the Magic Band's sound as rawly as possible.

In fact, it isn't the band that suffers the most from Krasnow's studio magic but Beefheart himself; the echo effects applied to him are so heavy that for half the album he sounds like he's singing from the bottom of a toilet and his harmonica sound is almost entirely ruined. Where Krasnow does let up, as on Gimme Dat Harp Boy, his delivery is as powerful as ever. As for the Magic Band, they've reached the halfway point between the comparatively accessible Safe as Milk and the esoteric Trout Mask Replica, recognisable blues-rock licks beginning to disintegrate and come apart at the edges. The lyrical material is veering heavily towards the extremely dadaist material of Beefheart's later career; sure, Trust Us is easy enough to follow, but there's depths to Beatle Bones 'n' Smoking Stones (aside from it being a response to Strawberry Fields Forever) that I've still not managed to fathom. There's good material on this album, but it's sorely hampered by the production. Probably one you should leave until later in your exploration of Beefheart's sonic world.

Warthur | 2/5 |


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