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Captain Beefheart


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Captain Beefheart Strictly Personal album cover
3.42 | 109 ratings | 12 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ah Feel Like Ahcid (3:05)
2. Safe As Milk (5:27)
3. Trust Us (8:09)
4. Son of Mirror Man -- Mere Man (5:20)
5. On Tomorrow (3:26)
6. Beatle Bones 'N' Smokin' Stones (3:17)
7. Gimme Dat Harp Boy (5:04)
8. Kandy Korn (5:06)

Total Time: 38:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Don Glen Vliet / vocals, harmonica, composer & arrangements
- Jeff Cotton / guitar
- Alexis Clair Snouffer / guitar
- Jerry Handley / bass
- John French / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Tom Wilkes

LP Blue Thumb Records ‎- BTS 1 (1968, US)

CD Liberty ‎- 7243 8 29654 2 8 (1994, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Strictly Personal Music

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Strictly Personal ratings distribution

(109 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Strictly Personal reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was the album that Beefheart disowned, the second to be released but the third to be recorded. On this album he was moving from his blues roots towards the extraordinary Dada free jazz/rock/blues/otherworld hybrid of Trout Mask Replica. His gripe was with the production - Bob Krasnow, the producer, remixed the original tapes without Beefheart's knowledge, adding lots of phasing and psychedelic effects in an effort to appeal to the more -ahem - 'turned on' young listener.

Despite the good Captain's reservations this is still a very good album, not his best but nothing to be ashamed of. The album kicks off with an eccentric blues number, Ah Feel Like Ahcid (originally Ah Feel Like Ah Said), loosely based on a Son House song and featuring some of his finest harmonica work. The remainder of side 1 was taken up with churning electric blues rock, with a disappointingly muddy sound. There are some wonderful slide guitar breaks, and Beefheart's lyrics are as crazed and lucid as ever when they're audible. The second half of the album is a lot stronger - On Tomorrow is the closest thing to psychedelia on the album, while Beatle Bones and Smokin' Stones is a witty sideswipe at the British invasion with a reference to 'Winged eels' that became the stage name of a future member of the magic band. Gimme dat Harp Boy is a lumbering, stomping piece of swamp blues featuring Beefheart talking, wailing and shouting through his harmonica (in addition to playing it like a man possessed). Apparently it was inspired by a blues rock harpist who Beefheart was highly unimpressed by. The album closes with Kandy Korn, another piece of Ur-blues with the amps all turned up to 11 and smoke pouring out of the mixing desk.

This is definitely worth picking up if you're a fan, and the original mixes were released on a CD called 'I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird' a few years ago if you want to make the comparison.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Third album chronologically recorded but second released, this album is the side companion to that delayed Mirror Man (it even shares a track with it), but two things differentiate it: this one is much more concise and to the point and Beefheart refused to acknowledge the "re-mixed" version that was released. If one has to choose one of his two full-blown bluesy albums (one could say progressive blues rock - if that etiquette ever existed), I would advise this one as it represents Beefheart's madness better.

I have rarely read a so accurate description of Beefheart tracks than the one of my friend Chris Gleeson (except for the muddy sound), so please feel free to read it once again. This is maybe my favourite CB&HMB record, and I do not feel bothered by the mix since I never heard the "un-de-mixed" version.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I love Cpt. Beefheart's debut, but this, second, album is a bit different. Still rooted on the same blues, music there is simpler and more weird at the same time. Even if you will easily recognize Van Vliet's vocals and general music atmosphere, I am missing there some musicality was presented in debut.

This album is REAL avant-garde. Freaky mix of screaming lyrics, sharp bluesy dirty sounds, minimalistic arrangements (very punkish in moments), distorted instruments sound. Well- known fact is album producer Bob Krasnow added plenty of "fashionable" psyche-space effects and strange sounds, which often are out of place ( but really make freaky atmosphere even more crazy).

Placed between two great albums (in time), this release is not of the same level. Very interesting for Cpt.Beefheart fans, I can't recommend it for newcomers. Better start from excellent debut, and then ( if you still will have interest) go to "...Replica...". But for those with deeper interest to Van Vliet music, this album is really one from "must have" list.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars OK, my second take on ol' Captain Beefheart's work. But what about these awful vocals ? Who the hell is singing. Him ? Well, OK then, he's not into Symphonic Prog, where things have to be smooth and mellow. This is one of the most purest genres in terms of self-expression.

Raw, unpleasant, but when you're in a mood on music like this, it's very rewarding. Of course, musically, it is terrible. Virtuosity is not to be expected. Blues element is still present (especially Gimme Dat Harp Boy) and some tracks are very difficult to listen, even if you know what's going on and that this will be no easy listening. Using loud-speakers has proven as a great move. Listening this to headphones only caused my head feel dizzy with headache. Without them, it's OK.

3(+), mark of something bigger. My reunion with Captain Beefheart. Successful one.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars Dodgy production values harm this album quite a lot but not through the universally condemned phasing as most reviewers have commented.

Whereas the follow up 'Trout Mask' was far more jaggedy, 'Strictly Personal' sticks to the blues roots that Don Van Vliet grew up with. 'Strictly Personal' was apparently disowned by Van Vliet himself due to the generic late 60's psychedelic production by Bob Krasnow who added lots of this phasing business. Pleasingly for me I'm a big fan of such technological tweakery.

Disappointingly this same technology damages some of John French's otherwise excellent drumming. Everything sounds a bit gritty and muffled but not enough to distract.

This isn't bad at all, although nothing jumps out at you in the way things do with "Trout Mask'. As decent an entry into the cryptic world of Beefography as you can get. On second thoughts - there is no easy point of entry.

This is just a bit too 'bluesy' for my taste. Just wait till the acid truly kicks in next year, you'll be in for a big surprise.

A good primer for the monster that was to follow.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Strictly Personal' - Captain Beefheart (4/10)

An album that may be more famous for the drama surrounding it than the actual music itself, Captain Beefheart's 'Strictly Personal' was Van Vliet's second album, although the man later disowned it. Before Beefheart would hit his streak with 'Trout Mask Replica', this album and the debut 'Safe As Milk' represented his musical vision; an odd blend of psychedelia and blues. In a fairly similar direction as was the debut, Beefheart is slightly less successful here, creating an album that is rather disjointed, raw and aimlessly experimental. Fans of the man's work will almost surely love what 'Strictly Personal' has to offer, but as a relative outsider to the man's work, I can only see this as a mixed accomplishment, as Beefheart's better work was still to come.

The drama of 'Strictly Personal' arose when the entire album was mixed differently, without Beefheart's knowledge or permission. The engineer added much more of a psychedelic sound behind it, and one can only imagine that this was to help it appeal to a wider demographic of youthful listeners at the time. Well known for his controlling personality when it came to the music he was making, Beefheart was enraged, and effectively disowned the album. This would lead to him taking an even more active role in his music creation, in turn leading to the release of such a unique statement as 'Trout Mask Replica'. As 'Strictly Personal' stands though, it is a rather incoherent album, even for its time. In a way, it is fortunate that the mixing permitted so many more psychedelic effects, because I can only imagine that the album may have felt even more plain without them.

The majority of the music here is a drug addled wander, featuring something I might best describe as 'acid blues'. There are some more psych-leaning tracks here as well, like 'Trust Us'; an extended jam that sounds like Jimi Hendrix. Then there is even a parody of psychedelic music here, in 'Beatle Bones n' Smokin' Stones', which is little more than the vocals of Beefheart paraphrasing well-known Beatles lyrics and butchering them through what might be best labelled as 'bad humour'. Beefheart's voice is an integral part of what 'Strictly Personal' is about, and his singing does seem to be conducive with blues. His voice does have a very gravelly sound to it that can be difficult to enjoy at times, but it is very distinctive, which seems to be one of the most major selling points about Beefheart's music.

Although this album may have been more of a shock when it was released almost half a century ago, there is little to justify the album's incredibly aimless feel. There is some nice psychedelic charm here and the more bluesy moments can be enjoyable, should one be in the proper mood for them. From my own ears though, it feels more like a rough demo hinting at potential than anything else.

Review by Warthur
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.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Blues psychedelic slamming jams, with the best vocalist of experimental rock music - links to traditional roots guitar music and the future of the genre. The production aspects don't ruin the songs as Don Van Vleit felt at the time. The band is experimenting with the deconstructed rock eleme ... (read more)

Report this review (#2921998) | Posted by hamishgavin | Saturday, May 6, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I think Captain Beefheart's Strictly personal is nice predecessor to amazing and unique Trout mask replica. It has a strong bluesy feel and some hints of what was coming next. Even though music here is pretty strong I think Bob Krasnow's production is quite horrible and the idea of putting Ah fe ... (read more)

Report this review (#171956) | Posted by PurpleCobra | Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4.4 I would say... I love Captain Beefheart and this album has a strong blues-y/jazzy feel to it..the first song starts off with a scream/growl by don van vliet.. and that, alone, made me happy :D.. I love the first song. This album is VERY GOOD.. but not good enough to be "Essential" or a "ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#112974) | Posted by Marlena | Wednesday, February 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am only familiar with the original vinyl mix, which I've always thought was a tragically bungled affair. The allegedly "psychedelic effects" often simply make the band sound like they're playing in an airplane hanger or echoey gymnasium. They simply aren't well executed "effects" even by t ... (read more)

Report this review (#50498) | Posted by | Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 4.5 The mere fact that this is a progression from the amazing Safe As Milk debut is enough for it to be a masterpiece. Indeed it is an amazing album. Don Van Vliet said that it was sabotaged, thanks to Bob Krasnow adding his beloved effects to (usually) the instrumental parts of the album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#38122) | Posted by | Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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