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Captain Beefheart - Strictly Personal CD (album) cover


Captain Beefheart



3.42 | 105 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
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.

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |


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