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


Captain Beefheart


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4 stars this album is fascinating. i wish it would be re-released so that it can be enjoyed by whomever chooses to listen to it. this is not easy listening. in fact, this might be one of the hardest bands to get into. highlights of this album are i love you, you big dummy, doctor dark, bellerin' plain, and space age couple. it sounds a bit rough and unpleasant at times, but with repeated listens it becomes very good.

get it if it ever comes back.

Report this review (#33472)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars ProgArchives tries to dissuade reviewers giving 5 STARS; citing too few albums merit such. LMDO,B unequivocally rates 11 STARS (+) as a true masterpiece of rock-n-roll and the genre-defying avant-garde to which Beefheart (more than his Magic Bands) aspired. What we have here (unreleased on CD, as yet: PLEASE SOMEONE reissue this icon of ROCK AS ART on CD!), is the esteemed Captain Beefheart (nee Don Van Vliet) elevating the then nascent and flowering juggernaut of rock music to the pantheon of ART. Mr. Van Vliet did likewise with TROUT MASK REPLICA yet with much less finesse and dynamic range. While TMR sounded like a caveman's paroxysm of rock-n-roll ejecta mimicking vaguely a pop band trying to play Coleman-style free-jazz, LMDO,B finds the dear Captain uttering and caterwauling his trademark grunts of apopletic free-verse in-n-around this version of The Magic Band's now more highly refined "music". Now, these or any musican's would never have arrived at this herky-jerky brand of marimba-laden quirk rock without the manic and insightful cauldron that is the brain of Captain Beefheart. Apocryphal tales tell of the "cult- like" conditions in which the Captain wrought his will upon the Magic Band in what amounts to mental badgering to play the sounds that quite likely haunted Van Vliet like the creatures that also sprung from his pens & brushes simultaneously (Van Vliet now enjoys a successful painting career as an avant-garde artist of the visual stripe). He admonished players to play percussive sounds that evoked "a cat rolling down the stairs in a cardboard box" and other non-academic exhortations. And DESPITE (or maybe BECAUSE OF) the tyrranical influence upon the Magic Band (s), LMDO,B rises to the apogee of Beefheart's masterpiece, not Trout Mask Replica. The sheer driving force of neo-blues romps like "Smithsonian Institute Blues" not only takes the listener through the paleontological recesses of Van Vliet's interests but actually has hip-thrustingly great rhythms: who knew you could dance to Captain Beefheart!?! Other toe-tappers like "Woe Is Uh Me Bop" or the title track not only are ripping rockers, but delineate a blue-print for RIO/Prog/Artrock that has yet to be equaled (but has been paralleled by Don's buddy Zappa or weird-rockers The Residents). Off-kilter time signatures relentlessly throb to twin guitars and some of the hardest bass and drums TO THIS DAY. Beefheart warns us in the title track that "this song AIN'T no sing-song"; and most people must have thought this meant NO MUSIC where actually the converse is true: here is the newest, most PROGRESSIVE form of this little American invention we call ROCK. All you symphonic/keyboard/synth-swell afficionados better run for your ABBA-esque carillons of key chimes bliss, for as Beefheart belts out traffic-jam volumes of sax in I LOVE YOU, YOU BIG DUMMY, the mountain comes tumbling down with the rolling rocks of drum crashes and a heartbeat bass that throbs in the temples to remind you that not only is prog rock cerebral: GREAT prog rock also gushes out from the loins like a crazy, horny giant. The music on this album is intelligent, beautiful, chaotic, complex, VERY AMERICAN and too much to understand by most humans. When it hits you, though, it's as if a musical Cupid has speared your heart with an arrow of mighty, miasmic sausage and twisted your appreciation around to the visceral mindfulness that Captain Beefheart has so graciously painted into our earholes. Wake up & listen!

signed Agnes Steck, bassist for MEATWOOD FLACK

Report this review (#33473)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think a lot of Beefheart fans like to argue about whether this record or the more famous "Trout Mask" is Van Vliet's best. I personally prefer the sprawling mystery of weird corners of "Trout", and I think the other reviewer Eric hit the nail on the head in saying "Lick" is similar to "Trout" only much more focused, and yes "angrier" too. Or at least, the sound here is definitely more aggressive "tear-your-head-off" where "Trout" has a more psychedelic hazy relaxed feel to it. So I suppose if you love the approach of "Trout" but want the "sillyness" removed, then this is definitely the one for you. Though I tend to prefer the "hypnotic" Captain to the "screaming" captain, so I have a hard time considering this one to be really all THAT great. I can't quibble with the approach as a whole, I guess it boils down to I think about half the songs are excellent, but some just seem "noisy and screamy" for the sake of "noisy and screamy."

NOT a good starting point forthe uninitiated, *unless* you are the type of person who loves John Zorn / Boredoms type of obnoxious craziness. (In that case, start here, but then you probably already knew about this LP!)

Of course for Beefheart fans, this one is absolutely essential.

Report this review (#50581)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars After his career summit Trout Mask Replica, Beefheart set the bar a little higher and came close to succeeding. Overall this album is a little more raw and aggressive (but by some strange way also more refined), but is this not what Beefheart is all about?

Miles away from the classic progressive records of the era, Beefheart was standing in a class of its own with only high school classmate Zappa standing close to him (can you imagine being in that classroom as a teacher or even as a student?;-). In some ways, when listening to Japan In A Dishpan or the Flash Gordon Ape finale, Van Vliet is closer to Coltrane in his free-jazz period than rock, but he does not have the same discipline. One of the things I find with Beefheart albums is that the role of HMB musos is frequently under-estimated (even if it clear that Van Vliet IS CB&HMB), but they are really all excellent at their role and the album would not be the same without those precise musos, especially Art Tripp.

Although Agnes's review is rather a little too enthusiastic (I think she forgot we were on a prog site), her review remains excellent, and she describes the feeling better than I could ever do it, so please do read her review (but skip the first five lines). The 15 short tracks (outside the 5 min finale, the next longest track is 3:35) are following each other at such a frenetic pace, that is does make you dizzy to keep track of them, so it is better to let the full mass of the album shock, hit, maim, wound, butcher, cut, kill and bury you and not fight it. "Uncanny meisterwerk" would have said Mr. Citystart.

BTW, I believe a few of the other reviewers are badly informed about the state of release of this album in CD format, since the copy I used to review this album dates from 1989 and was released through Rhino records. And it seems to me never had problems finding classic Beefheart albums in record bins.

Anyway, LMDO,B is surely an eccentric, unsettling, dumbfounding, stupendous album and if blues was ever progressive, it would start with Beefheart records such as this one and its predecessor.

Report this review (#67712)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best avant-prog albums of all time, truly the Captain's lost masterpiece. This is very similar to the Captain's album Trout Mask Replica, in that both feature the same noisy, strangely rhythmic band arrangements, to even stranger songs, with the Captain's highly irregular but beautiful vocals (he truly is one of the greatest singers in music history, as far as deliver is concerned). The differences are that this album is shorter and much MUCH more focused. That is to say that the compositions are less abstracted and more fully developed (especially the instrumental jams). While Trout Mask contained several sub-par tunes, I would rate every song on this album as 4.3 stars or higher.

Since it is impossible to describe the music on this album and do it justice and because others have and will describe the music adequately, I will focus on the lyrics. It seems on this album that while the Beat influence is still prevalent in his phrasing and delivery, he has started to incorporate Black Mountain poetics into his lyrics, which is wonderful in my opinion. Of the Black Mountain poets, to my ears, the most influential on the Captain in this album was Ed Dorn, though bits of Robert Duncan can be detected. Dorn shows his influence in the conversational tones the Captain utilizes while simultaneously rhyming forest and Dinosaurus. Duncan's influence is more subtle, but perhaps more profound. The themes and content of this album, as well as the thought development in his lyrics shows an interesting application of "field poetics" which were developed by Duncan for his "Structure of Rhyme" sequence.

Well, I won't get any more technical than that, but trust me when I tell you that the Captain has gained several ounces of sophistication and intelligence without losing the biting blues that was his passion. The lyrics and the composition and arrangement of these songs is so tight compared to Trout Mask that, while I give both 5 stars, must say that this album is truly on a different level, as the natural progression from Trout Mask (just as Trout Mask was the natural progression from his dirty delta blues roots). I can tell that a lot of hard work and high-quality weed went into crafting this superb album, but beware; it seems to rarely be in print, so steal one if you have to (ok I don't really advocate felonious activities, but if you see it for under 60 USD, then buy it if your an avant-garde, blues, or just a plain ol' Captain fan). Oh yeah, if you havn't been initiated into the music of the captain, then I don't recommend this album to start with, try Trout Mask if your feeling adventurous or Safe As Milk if your not as confident (though it is much, much tamer than Trout and Lick).

great stuff!

Report this review (#119609)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Beefheart's finest hour. This is better than Trout Mask Replica and ever so slightly more accesible as well. It is nothing short of criminal that this album has been out of print for so long. When it is in print it doesn't stay in the marketplace for too long. Sad, because more people need to hear this album. This is also a unique album in Beefheart's discography because instead of having two guitarists Art Tripp(ex-Mothers Of Invention) replaces one of them by playing marimba. Art is actually playing lines that were written for guitar! Beefheart (aka Don Van Vliet) produced this one himself, and I prefer what he did here to what Zappa did on TMR.

At first listen the music you will find here(and on TMR) sounds like a punk band attempting to play jazz. Only Art's marimba playing sounds like the work of someone who knows what they're doing. But in fact this music is written to sound the way it does. If you pay close attention you can hear how complicated this music is and how talented the musicians are who perform it. Only Beefheart's own harmonica and sax playing may be not top quality, and some of the most avant/free jazzy/noisy parts of the album are because of his playing. Although Van Vliet wanted people to think that it was him alone who created all this music, guitarist Bill Hackleroad and drummer John French had a big influence on the final product. I actually think French's drumming on TMR is a lot more crazy and shows better how good of a drummer he was. But overall the music here is more consistent and flows better. A lot of the album is not as bluesy as some of the stuff on TMR(and Beefheart's vocals are also less bluesy in general).

This is generally avant-rock with a strong free jazz and Delta blues influence, although there is a healthy dose of 20th century classical composition here too. You can hear the latter occasionally in the guitar and marimba parts. The title track kicks things off and includes the immortal line: "She stuck out her tongue and the fun begun"(sung in Beefheart's Tom Waits-before-Tom Waits style). Van Vliet has a wide vocal range but his singing in general is pretty weird. The only time here where he sounds 'normal' is on the only song that comes closest to being mainstream, the bluesy shuffle "The Buggy Boogie Woogie". "I Love You, You Big Dummy", "Woe-Is-A-Me-Bop" and "The Smithsonian Institute Blues(Or The Big Dig)" are *almost* catchy in their own weird way.

"Peon" and "One Red Rose That I Mean" are instrumentals that feature nothing but guitar and bass. They sound vaguely like the acoustic instrumentals Steve Howe did with Yes, or the little acoustic ditties that Tony Iommi did on Sabbath's '70s albums. Except more angular and dissonant than either example. The other instrumental here, "Japan In A Dishpan"(namechecked in a Sex Pistols song), is a wild boogie-woogie free jazz piece. Beefheart's lyrics are poetic in a weird and avant way. You can hear some of those lyrics in the controlled chaos that is "Petrified Forest". Beefy and the Magic Band do more in this under-two-minute song that most bands would do in a 20-minute epic. Must be heard to be believed. Not a good place to start with Beefheart(try Safe As Milk or Clear Spot), but his best nonetheless and a solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#304750)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Basically a continuation of 'Trout Mask' and equally as bonkers. 'Decals' however is far more concise (at 39 minutes), less 60's sounding, more polished and a fair bit darker in atmosphere. It's also tighter and more complex in its construction. It flows better and is easier to get into than the previous album and it's good hearing Don chortling away to himself while singing 'I Love You Big Dummy'. Poor Don...

John French's drumming is fantastic and so off kilter I'm astounded everyone else could keep time. I'm also surprised he remained on board considering he wasn't even credited on 'Trout Mask'. What on earth went on inside Don Van Vliet's damaged head?

I was lucky to get hold of the cd version of this in 1995 when it was like finding the treasure of the Sierra Madre. I still don't think it's been re-released yet which is a disgrace when you consider some of the rubbish that's reared it's ugly head again over the past few years. (No point in naming names and making a target of myself!)

Probably the peak of the Beef's recordings. Another 5 star album... damn, I must be getting soft in the head these days.

Report this review (#403507)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars On Trout Mask Replica, Beefheart exploded music into sharp, jagged fragments. On Lick My Decals Off Baby, he rebuilds it in his own image, refining the approach on Trout Mask Replica and returning somewhat to conventional musical structures and presentations - but always and absolutely on his own terms. The result is an album which might not quite be as 100% out-there as Trout Mask, but it's simultaneously more developed and nuanced on the one hand, and (very slightly) more accessible on the other.

Abandoning the "bush recording" production job - actually, this has better production values than any Beefheart album preceding it - the album teases out the hidden charms that the abrasive Trout Mask obscured somewhat, and comes up with an approach which would characterise the better post-Trout Mask Beefheart albums (basically all his subsequent albums with the exception of Unconditionally Guaranteed and Bluejeans and Moonbeams). And it's just *catchy* in a way that most of the Trout Mask material isn't - I've often caught myself humming Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop to myself in idle moments. Another Beefheart masterpiece.

Report this review (#461011)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Some albums just defy categorization. Some square pegs won't fit into round holes no mattter how hard you push them. Lick My Decals Off Baby is one of those albums that is nearly impossible to quantify. But what the heck, I'm going to write a short review anyway.

To put it in one sentence, this is a raw, aggressive, awkward and eccentric combination of blues and prog. Melding blues and prog seems a nearly impossible task, yet the good Captain and company have worked hard to produce something that somehow approximates that. The rawness and the awkwardness are intentional. Like all good artists, Captain Beefheart uses that to yank out of us of our expectations to confront his work in a totally different light. The frankly weird lyrics serve the same function.

There is some really good stuff on this album. I'm quite fond of the title track, I Love You Big Dummy, Woe-is-uh-me-Bop, One Red Rose That I Mean, Space Age Couple, and most especially the sublime The Smithsonian Institution Blues. Smithsonian is an unforgettable track. If you haven't heard that, you are missing something. If you've heard it and don't like it (quite possible with any of the Captain's work) you need to listen to it again. Come on down to the big dig!

This will not be everybody's cup of tea. The album is challenging, but not challenging in the way that us traditional proggers expect. And that's the point. The album takes us out of our expectations (whether you are a prog fan or not, you are unlikely to expect this if you are unfamiliar with Captain Beefheart.) It dares us to embrace it. It assaults our eardrums. But if we can accept music beyond what we will expect, we will find it rewarding.

And isn't that what prog is all about?

I'm giving this three stars. It's a very good album, but I find it hard to claim that every real progger should have it. This fails to meet what we expect from prog as a genre, although it is infused with a progressive spirit. 3 stars.

Report this review (#463624)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
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.

Report this review (#475448)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lick my Decalls off is as confronting as it's title! Captain Beefheart had already shown incredible ugly experiences within music in the Trout Mask Replica and this is it's logically follow-up. The most elements in the music are the same, but the band is playing more tight and the percussion is more interesting. There are also some very nice xylophone parts.

The Captain ain't no easy listening experience; this is hardcore prog. This record is together with the Trout Mask Replica the hardest music to get into at the time and I don't know if this inaccessibility level is ever beaten! The reason that it is so hard, is because the Captain and it's crew - the Magic Band - are champions in the polyrhythms and is quiet intens. The vocals are dark and ugly sometimes and the music itself is seldom symphonic, but most of the time it is dark and frustrating.

The reason that I do like this music so much is because of all the difficulties in it. The bass, the drum, the percussion and all instruments play out-of-the-box creating a weird atmosphere. This music is full of surprises. I also do like the avant-garde saxophones and strange rhythms. It took me some time to appreciate it, but after this hard work a masterpiece approaches!

In comparison with the Trout Mask this music is somewhat more proto-punk. If all the strange elements are dismissed you will find a punk basis sometimes. Also the xylophonist is doing a great job on this record. This album is somewhat better because of the somewhat higher quality level of the individual songs.

I do recommend this record for everyone who likes the Trout Mask and everyone who wants to hear the boarder between music and garbage! Not for the faint-off hearted. An avant-garde masterpiece it is.

Report this review (#642197)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 | Review Permalink

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