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Captain Beefheart


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Captain Beefheart Lick My Decals Off, Baby album cover
4.02 | 151 ratings | 12 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lick My Decals Off, Baby (2:38)
2. Doctor Dark (2:45)
3. I Love You, You Big Dummy (2:53)
4. Peon (2:23)
5. Bellerin' Plain (3:35)
6. Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop (2:04)
7. Japan In a Dishpan (3:00)
8. I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go (1:54)
9. Petrified Forest (1:41)
10. One Red Rose That I Mean (1:54)
11. The Buggy Boogie Woogie (2:18)
12. The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig) (2:10)
13. Space-Age Couple (2:33)
14. The Clouds Are Full of Wine (Not Whiskey or Rye) (2:47)
15. Flash Gordon's Ape (4:15)

Total Time: 39:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Don Glen Vliet / vocals, chromatic harmonica, tenor & soprano saxes, bass clarinet, composer & producer
- William Earl Harkleroad / electric & slide guitars
- Mark Boston / bass
- John French / drums, percussion
- Art Tripp / drums, percussion, marimba

Releases information

Artwork: Ed Thrasher

LP Straight ‎- RS 6420 (1970, US)
LP Rhino Records ‎- R1 6420 (2016, US)

CD Rhino Records ‎- R2 70364 (1989, US) Remastered by Bill Inglot & Ken Perry
CD Reprise Records ‎- 081227951245 (2015, Europe) As above

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Lick My Decals Off, Baby Music

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Lick My Decals Off, Baby ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART Lick My Decals Off, Baby reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Dobermensch
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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
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.

Review by 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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Here, Captain returns to the troubled waters of " Trout Mask Replica", but not exactly. He now seems to have come in terms of how difficult is running all the time through the hills punching yourself like a least, he found his own cave now, living peacefully with snakes and lions for the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1595309) | Posted by ProckROGue | Saturday, August 6, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 i ... (read more)

Report this review (#642197) | Posted by the philosopher | Monday, February 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 beautifu ... (read more)

Report this review (#119609) | Posted by Atomic_Rooster | Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 "Trou ... (read more)

Report this review (#50581) | Posted by | Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#33473) | Posted by | Monday, May 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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' pla ... (read more)

Report this review (#33472) | Posted by | Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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