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Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals Off, Baby CD (album) cover


Captain Beefheart



4.07 | 143 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Lick My Decals Off, Baby' - Captain Beefheart (8/10)

Although it is certainly arguable as to whether 'Trout Mask Replica' was Don Van Vliet's most complete artistic statement, it is indisputable that that record is what the man will be remembered for. As with all artists who release something so massive, the pressure is on to release something that will potentially top it, lest the hungry fans be disappointed. While 'Lick My Decals Off, Baby' is fairly obscure when compared to 'Trout Mask Replica', I would have to say that the album addresses many of the problems that I had with Beefheart's so-called masterpiece, and improves upon his infectiously original sound. The music here is still challenging, but Beefheart has refined his beast of music enough to provide a relatively complete album experience.

Beefheart's idiosyncratic mesh of experimental blues and jazz is largely defined by its patchiness and feeling of being all over the place. With the first three albums that Beefheart released, the songs were scattered, even if they did showcase the man's genius. 'Lick My Decals Off, Baby' may not have the ambitious structure and interludes to help tie the album together as a masterpiece like 'Trout Mask Replica' did, but the album does feel like an improvement musically. Although the bluesy riffs and vocals are still darting around like flies and there are enough ugly sounding notes to make a pug blush, Beefheart has consolidated his songwriting, condensing the compositions into something a little more recognizable. One of my biggest gripes with 'Trout Mask' was the fact that the songs felt more like snippets rather than fulfilled pieces of music, and 'Decals' fixes this somewhat. The songs still negate structure and pursue a strange jam formula, but the subtle melodies are more vibrant, and there is alot more here for the casual listener to grab a hold of.

'Lick My Decals Off, Baby' is a surprisingly good sequel to the exhausting 'Trout Mask Replica', and while it may lurk underneath the shadow of the third album still, it ironically is a more musically enjoyable and coherent piece of work than 'Trout' ever was. An excellent experimental bout from Vliet, and quite possibly my favourite album of his.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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