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Safe As Milk

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

1967

Buy At Rough Trade
Safe As Milk
Album Summary

Safe as Milk is the debut studio album by American music group Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, released in June 1967 by Buddah Records. A heavily blues-influenced work, the album features a 20-year-old Ry Cooder, who played guitar and wrote some of the arrangements. Before recording Safe as Milk, the band had released a couple of singles through A&M Records, and it was to this company that the group first proposed their début album in 1966. They presented the label with a set of R&B-influenced demos, which the label felt were too unconventional and decided to drop the band. Beefheart later said the label dropped them after hearing the song "Electricity" and declaring it "too negative". A&M's Jerry Moss thought the content too risqué for his daughter's ears. This, plus Leonard Grant's severance as manager, added to the discontent. The band instead turned to Bob Krasnow, who was then working for Kama Sutra Records; he recruited them to record for the company's new subsidiary label, Buddah. Meanwhile, Beefheart had been secretly planning changes to the Magic Band's line-up—a practice common throughout the group's existence. The group that recorded the two A&M singles had consisted of Doug Moon and Richard Hepner on guitars, Jerry Handley on bass, and Alex St. Clair on drums. Hepner had already left, and Beefheart was keen to replace Moon with Ry Cooder, who was then playing with Gary Marker and Taj Mahal in the Rising Sons. These and other changes resulted in a Magic Band with Handley on bass, St. Clair on guitar, and John French on drums, with Cooder providing additional guitar parts. Cooder's arrival had been swayed by Marker, who had spent time with Beefheart and had been given to believe he would produce the album; in fact, Marker was only engaged in demo recording. Don Van Vliet has said that the title "Safe as Milk" is a sarcastic reference either to the contamination in women's breast milk, either with the pesticide DDT or radioactive strontium-90 in different published interviews.

Wikipedia

Rating

3

Votes

10739

Genres

  • Rock
  • Blues

Reviews

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Tue Oct 11 2022
5

Ok, this is pretty damn brilliant and wild fun. Absurd, but rooted in the familiarity of blues and r&b, so much of the sound is a real romp. I’ll need to give it another listen or two in order to process more of the lyrics. After a second listen, I’m really blown away. Favorite tracks are Sure ‘Nuff Yes I Do, Electricity, Yellow Brick Road, Abba Zaba, and Plastic Factory. Beefheart has an intense, rumbling voice with great charisma. The music is played brilliantly, whether it is a rootsy blues, or a lurching and leaping number with changes in time, tempo, and attitude. Gonna need to spend more time with this band.

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

The only Beefheart album I knew before this was Trout Mask Replica, so I wasn't expecting something so... accessible? But still, some pretty experimentally fun stuff here!

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Fri Mar 01 2024
2

I don’t know if “Safe as Milk” means that you’re safe or unsafe

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Wed Oct 05 2022
5

First album of Captain Beefheart might be his best. Combination of blues and psychedelic rock: very accessible but still far from being straightforward. Favourite track: Electricity.

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

So eclectic, at some points made me feel like I was in one of those dreams where you can't tell if it's a nightmare or not. Like any minute something will go wrong but it never quite does.

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Mon Dec 05 2022
5

Quite the introduction to Captain Beefheart. Definitely need to hear more of him. This shit is cool.

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Fri Dec 30 2022
5

Oh Captain my Captain! The thing that really annoys me about Trout Mask is that is completely overshadows the rest of his his exceptional output. Lennon loved this record and for two good reasons: great song writing and a great performance by the band. He sets the template for so much pop music to come, he's got a fine ear for melody does Don, but he also know how to create the right feel through the performance. We often think about the context in which these 60's records appear, and this must have sounded amazing to 1967 ears. So much of what he's doing with each and every genre on this record has now become part of the modern soundscape, but back then, oy vey! Ry Cooder is Al Kooper's music doppelganger, whenever he pops up, he does to great effect. I don't think he's ever been on a bad record, what a player. And who has been listening to this record in their sheds eh? I'd count young Tommy Waits and those two kids from Akron Ohio known as the Black Keys as dedicated fans of this album amongst many others. And I wonder if Georgie Harrison started thinking about doing his thing on the slide after listening to this (might be why he asked Delaney to show him how to do it). Each song is splendid, a truly great record.

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Thu Jan 19 2023
5

About as good as it gets. First track 'Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do' has one of the greatest opening lines in rock music. The run of 'Electricity', 'Yellow Brick Road', Abba Zabba' and 'Plastic Factory' is remarkable, packing in more than many bands do in their careers. 'Abba Zabba' is one of my favourite songs of all time - there's one point where Ry Cooder's guitar simply glides. Beefheart sounds utterly demented, utterly in control. There was no need for any blues rock after 'Plastic Factory', it's all there, right there.

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Mon Feb 06 2023
5

I bought this album a few weeks ago. It's funny because for years, I avoided Captain Beefheart like the plague, just because of the hoax/scam/swindle that Trout Mask Replica is (at least to my ears). I think I'm an open-minded person, but there's a limit to the sort of musical nonsense one should be exposed to. And affecting some sort of conceptual pretension to justify the barrage of sheer crap that this other record is is NOT an acceptable solution for me. I'd rather plug my ears with toilet paper, thank you. In other words, Thelonious Monk, my ass (to refer to a stupid comparison I've often read to describe Beefheart's hoax here). Trout Mask Replica is just an interesting footnote in the pages of music history, not an essential album you must absolutely listen to. I'll fight tooth and nail anyone who says the contrary. Even a genius like David Lynch (who once said he loves this record). The thing is, it was a stupid mistake on my part to start my exploration of Beefheart's repertoire with this particular album. As it turns out, I really like what Beefheart and his "magic band" did before TMR (*Safe As Milk*) and after it (*The Spotlight Kid*). The grassroots yet twisted tunes of *Safe As Milk*, especially, have something quite addictive to them. Beefheart's growl on this collection of blues songs serves them right--as in opener "Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do"--just as said growl nicely contrasts with the stellar musicianship of the band (including a young Ry Cooder, or so I hear). I also enjoy the stylistic asides this record go through, especially the more psychedelic cuts or that mock doo wop soul ballad that "I'm Glad" is. And my oh my! "Electricity". What an incredible track! Here is the sort of experimentation that can be both haunting and mesmerizing. I know David Lynch has been listening to this song as well (there's a literal quote of Von Vliet's delivery of the song's chorus in the Twin Peaks movie, for instance). And here I certainly won't contend with man's genius. This song and its incredible instrumentation is the cherry on the cake here. And its inclusion in *Safe As Milk* finally reconciled me with anything Beefheart. Except Trout Mask Replica, of course. Maybe with more *real* groove and a theremin, as in "Electricity", I would have liked that other album. Too bad Von Vliet never thought of that. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: less than 700, I've temporarily lost count here Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens:  approximately a half so far (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: a quarter Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): the last quarter

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Mon Jul 24 2023
5

Got into this a good decade or so ago, needs a couple of listens to appreciate how great it is, while also being pretty accessible straight away. I love the fact that Dropout Boogie is followed immediately by I'm Glad, two songs that couldn't be more different to eachother. The listener settles back and relaxes into the silky soul. And then wham! Electricity wallops them in the face. So many bangers. Fucking magical album.

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Tue Nov 14 2023
5

incomprehensibly pretentious just the way I like it - 10/10

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Fri Jan 27 2023
4

Pretty good, but I sure they'll never make a dime. 4 stars.

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Tue Aug 23 2022
3

good album, I can understand its importance

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Wed Oct 05 2022
5

Didn’t know what to expect, loved this.

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Mon Oct 24 2022
5

Absolutely fantastic album. Five stars. Gets a pretty regular rotation from me.

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Thu Apr 13 2023
5

This album stands the test of time! Straight ahead blues rock Crank it up and ENJOY the Captain!!!

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Sun May 14 2023
5

I debated whether to listen to the stereo or mono releases of this album and then decided to try both. I was surprised at the difference - the stereo presentation opens up the songs and I the difference was a lot more than I expected. This is one of those bands I kept hearing of over the years but I didn’t have any sense of what their music was like. The blues are strong here and I liked that part, but the more rock guitars and other interesting bits (like a theremin!) really hooked me. I didn’t think this was my style of music but Captain Beefheart may have made that thought obsolete. I guess I like my blues with a hit of acid. I listened to this four times in a row and each time liked this more and more. Fantastic!

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Sun May 14 2023
5

I've heard of Captain Beefheart a lot but had not ever listened and expected something much weirder. This is a charming, fairly unweird, blues-rock album and I liked it very much.

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Thu Jun 15 2023
5

Safe As Milk is probably the most accessible Captain Beefheart I’ve listened to but that doesn’t mean it lacks weird. I’ve always enjoyed this album, bluesy, Jammy, quirky. Beefheart even slows it down and gets romantic on I’m so Glad. This is a 5 star

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Fri Aug 11 2023
5

Didn't expect it to like it this much. Sounded raw and heavy and at other times like soul. Good stuff.

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Mon Oct 09 2023
5

A great Blues Rock record. I like the energetic first half of the record more but the rest is still fantastic!

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Wed Nov 08 2023
5

A very pleasant mix of the Doors, Animals, and Ben E. King. Got completed for playing it and will definitely listen again. 4.75

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Thu Nov 09 2023
5

I only knew "so glad" which is a song I really liked, but the rest of the album was great too! Seems like quite a progressive sound for 1967, I can see how it has gone on to be very influential.

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Fri Nov 10 2023
5

Its a great album, altough it can be a little hard to listen if the person are not used to prog/jazz/experimental. But for me its amazing.

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Fri Nov 10 2023
5

"Zig Zag Wanderer" - a bop, "I'm Glad" - a sad banger. Cpt. Beefheart & His (indeed) Magic Band had absolute range with this album. Loved loved it!

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Wed Nov 29 2023
5

This is the only Captain Beefheart album I thoroughly enjoy. Stuff like Trout Mask Replica is too experimental for me. I like him more when his weirdness is tethered to traditional form. Here he’s still strange and unique and unpredictable, but he’s matched with songs that are catchy and flat out rock. This is one of my favorites of the Nuggets psychedelic garage rock era.

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Thu Dec 21 2023
5

On the surface, it can seem like this album is solid blues inspired rock. A closer listen will reveal experimental rhythms, chromaticism, and avant garde lyrics. This album feels like a joyous fever dream and is very much a product of its time. Having said that, I think this album is brilliant. Its grooves pull you in and its, melodies and rhythms keep you there. I'm not sure what to make out of much of the lyrics, but I suppose that's the fun of avant garde music.

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Wed Jan 17 2024
5

Now this is the kinda music ppl in the 70s did drugs to. Captain Beefheart's Wikipedia page is an interesting read, he was an eccentric guy and a musical innovator. You can hear the early beginnings of punk rock mixed in with blues/jazz. It's such a cool and unique sound, I think this opened the door for a lot of experimental stuff coming in the years after. I'm Glad ❤️❤️❤️ Electricity💜💜 Zigzag Wanderer 💜💜

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Thu Jan 18 2024
5

Amazing album I never knew existed. Reminds me of Ty Segall or KGLW

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

This is one of my favourites, I had already heard this plenty of times, but it's so delightfully off-kilter, him being best mates with Frank Zappa means Beefheart is more than a bit out there in his musical approach. This is classic 60s avant-garde rock, but don't take that to mean it's hard to enjoy, the music is fantastic all the way through.

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Mon Jan 22 2024
5

Oh man, I really tarred this with the "Trout Mask Replica" brush and have barely listened to it, on the assumption it's avant-garde AF. It's actually really accessible and I'm digging it a lot! Will definitely be revisiting. Fave tracks - "Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do" and "Zig Zag Wanderer" are great openers. "Electricity" and "Abba Zabba" are the true highlights though.

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Mon Jan 22 2024
5

What a blast this album is. Putting this on high rotation for sure. Fave track is easily Electricity. Zig Zag Wanderer, and Abba Zaba are highlights too. I can see why people seem to be into I'm Glad and I'm sure it'll grow on me.

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Fri Feb 02 2024
5

What. A. Ride. Did not expect what came through my headphones when I put this on. I’m a sucker for a steel slide guitar and a gravelly blues voice. Loved how the songs seemed to grow organically, like they all sat down and someone came up with a riff or had a little fragment they were fiddling with and suddenly there’s a full blown jam session. 5/5 magic beefhearts

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Fri Feb 02 2024
5

I was introduced to Capt Beefheart in college through Trout Mask Replica, which I anticipate seeing in this list. Weird, challenging album. Entirely unique and honestly haven't heard it in ages. I was introduced to Safe as Milk about a year afterwards (2005 or so). I was shell shocked by how much more accessible the album was and truthfully genius. You can clearly here where the band is going and where their influences came from. A wonderful blues album that gets slightly more acid laced psychedelic as it goes on. The CD reissue tracks are clearly unfinished but if you wrap the album up after the Autumns Child you have a wonderful and cohesive 12 song run. The Grown So Ugly cover also inspired me to listen to the Black Keys, which is definitely a positive for the early Black Keys work. Top Tracks, Zig Zag Wanderer, Where there's woman, Grown so ugly

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Wed Mar 27 2024
5

Having heard Trout Mask Replica before this album, this one seems almost genteel with something resembling conventional form for a lot of the album. You can see the demon horns of experimentation start to peek its way in right from the beginning, but hasn't gone off the deep end until Frank Zappa's guidance with Trout Mask Replica. Heavily blues influenced, with some R&B variation thrown in. Some of it feels like it could be Psychedelic but it lacks the reverb-spacey sound for the guitar. Among my faves: I'm Glad sounds almost doo-wop/50's soul.... Yellow Brick Road sounds kind of like CCR... Autumn Child sounds the most like a psychedelic song... The 3 instrumentals: On Tomorrow, Big Black Baby Shoes, and Dirty Blue Gene, as well as Trust Us, all start showing that going off the deep end that was greatly explored in the next album.

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Sat Apr 06 2024
5

For a second was scared it was Trout Mask Replica - then realised this is the record I like - it’s stellar start to finish. Love this album.

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Fri May 24 2024
5

Blues rocks master work, one of the best

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Mon Jun 03 2024
5

this is built for more than background music and I might have to come back to it. but even tired, this is interesting and fun to listen to :)

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Fri Jun 07 2024
5

Always wanted to listen to Captain Beefheart so this is a fantastic opportunity! This is wonderful blues rock with an artsy bend to it that clearly influenced a lot of following acts, including his contemporary Frank Zappa. Long live Beefheart!

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Sun Jun 16 2024
5

Till now, the only Beefheart album I'd ever listened to was "Trout Mask Replica", and like most, I always found it intriguing but inaccessible and impenetrable, no matter how many times I subjected myself to it. This album, though, is solid. Actual tunes, great bluesy vocals with a hefty dose of soul, and some excellent guitar riffs. I'll becoming back to this one.

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Wed Jun 19 2024
5

i love this album. Captain Beef is severely underrated in my opinion.

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Fri Sep 02 2022
4

A "comfortable listening" example of it's genre

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Fri Sep 02 2022
4

Good album, good tracks that keep the interest. I feel is loses it's way a little near the end but the first half is solid R&B

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

I think that this is the truest acid music. The fact that he and Zappa would compete shows through already in this album. Good stuff, maybe a hair too disjointed for a 5.

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

Realizing that only knowing this band from Trout Mask Replica was a very limited impression. This is some great 60s electric blues (with some theremin & such thrown in) and I’m here for it. HL: Zig Zag…, I’m Glad,

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Fri Sep 09 2022
4

Good album - mix of traditional and innovative.

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Fri Sep 16 2022
4

A perfectly okay blues rock album. Not particularly crazy. "Electricity" stood out for whatever reason. Riding very close to the line between 3 and 4

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Wed Sep 21 2022
4

This was nothing like their other album on this list, and that's a great thing. Best track: Safe As Milk - Take 5

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Thu Sep 22 2022
4

If John Lennon thinks your milk is safe enough to be placed on his fridge doors, then it's good enough for the rest of us. Safe as Milk provides a plentiful introduction into the madness that occupied the brain of one Don Van Vliet; a madness that would coagulate into creating one of the most infamous albums ever recorded. But that had yet to be seen as this album fits into neat pockets of R&B musings and fledgling psychedelic rock, showcasing that the Magic Band can remain in the game while being simultaneously out of it. This milk is safe enough for me. Favorites: Sure 'Nuff 'n' Yes, I Do, Zig Zag Wanderer, Call on Me, I'm Glad, Abba Zaba, Where There's Woman, Grown So Ugly, Autumn Child, Safe as Milk - Take 5, On Tomorrow, Trust Us - Take 9.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

I realize it’s not ground breaking now. But imagine being on a ton of acid at some club and this band comes on and just blows your top off. That’s be fun…..

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

This was dope! Solid bluesy classic rock with some wacky elements and a wicked howl on vox. Other beefheart stuff is a lil too chaotic jazz rock for me to have enjoyed it. Side bar, there was a bit on the Mark Maron show (I think that was a thing?) where he was like I needed a project so thought I'd try to get into Captain Beefheart, but I was so nervous buying it at the record store cuz I'm not cool enough and everyones laughing at me. But he buys this album (I'd guess it was this one, don't remember) and then hes at a taqueria afterwards and the cashier is like "Oh I love Captain Beefheart, Safe As Milk is a great starter album". Haha kind of how I feel.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
4

4.5/5. I love this album. It comes from my favorite era of music, and is in my favorite style. While it is kind of out there, I still find it great.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
4

Some very cool stuff in here. Not something I would listen to regularly, but some very important ideas.

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Fri Sep 30 2022
4

What can I say, Captain Beedheart it's an absolute legend

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Mon Oct 03 2022
4

A lot less weird than Trout Mask Replica which I still kind of struggle with, but still an absolute freakshow of a record. Delightful stuff

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Wed Oct 05 2022
4

Great album. Not one I play often, but always enjoy it when I do.

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Wed Oct 12 2022
4

i liked this a lot! have been recced beefheart before, i’m gonna listen to more now

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Wed Oct 12 2022
4

Really solid album. Not the kind of album I seek out for a relisten but glad I heard it. A fun blend of blues jazz and that 60s instrumental avant garde

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Wed Oct 12 2022
4

I like the rhythm tracks to every song, especially the bluesy guitar - I thought maybe I would have enjoyed it more if the Captain's vocal delivery was dialed back a bit, but without that weirdness it would have been just another 60s psychedelic blues album. As it is, It's a brave and eclectic for 1967.

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Sun Nov 06 2022
4

nooniin vihdoinkin 60 luvun albumia joka nappaa... vähän originaalimpaa soittamista kun viimeset viisi vittu 60 luvun amerikka liibalaaba max 2min biisit hey everybody beatles kopio paskaa. vaihtelee laatu kyllä tässäkin aika paljon albumin pyöriessä konsanaan mutta paskimmatkin on parempia kun nEV ITU alkaa vituttaa.... maito se turvaa on on on.. juokaa että luut kasvaa hoh hoh hoh.... parap biisi autumn's child

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Fri Nov 25 2022
4

"This is the first album of Captain Beefheart, one he did before getting signed on Bizzare records of Zappa and being given complete creative control." Mislim da je sve rečeno s tim. Ovaj bend da ne pišem cijeli naziv je jako poznat po "Trout Mask Replica", pogotovo u glazbenoj grupi u kojoj sam, već sigurno 5-6 godina se zna spominjati taj album, ma i više, u posljednje vrijeme ne, ajde. Ali odatle znam za njih. Ovaj album sam ove godine dao poslušati, i svidio mi se. Normalniji je album, to je sigurno, blues je jako prisutan i taj stari, analogni zvuk, ne znam kako bi opisao - mi se jako sviđa. Abba Zaba mi je favoritna sa albuma, ima još ponekih, ali se uvijek ove sjetim pa ću ju napisati evo sada upravo. '67 godina is fucking stacked with classics!

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Wed Nov 30 2022
4

Really good rockabilly album Love the voice in certain song

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Fri Dec 02 2022
4

Only knew the weird, brilliant Trout Mask Replica of Beefheart, was surprised by this more traditional debut album. Was pleasant surprise. The last bonus track Korn Ring Finger is addictive, had to play it over and over

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Fri Dec 30 2022
4

A lot of the Captain’s work is difficult to deal with. However this, their debut album, is user-friendly. Musically, it takes no prisoners. Lyrically, it’s not always easy to decipher, but it’s far easier than what was to come on future lp’s. Ry Cooder has a lot to do with the quality of this recording. Both his playing & arranging. The album kicks arse from the opening tracks, Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do & Zig Zag Wanderer, which is one of Beefheart’s most covered songs. It’s very blues-influenced but, like most Beefheart, manages to maintain it’s very own flavour.

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Mon Jan 09 2023
4

captain beefheart vs lieutenant lambchop and the battle for manx throne. this is the kind of beefheart that we can actually listen to and in fact enjoy.

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Mon Jan 09 2023
4

I really enjoyed this, until the instrumentals. Those really dragged on personally. Saved tracks: Zig Zag Wanderer, Abba Zaba, Autumn's Child

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Wed Jan 18 2023
4

Bra skiva! Svår att få lust att sätta på p.g.a. 70 min längd men så fort man börjar lyssna går tiden snabbt

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Wed Jan 18 2023
4

Love this album. Great bluesy, soulful and out-there songs that too often get overshadowed by their outrageously out-there subsequent works. I’d like to give this a 5, but I feel that as a whole it doesn’t quite reach that level. It is quite close, however

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Wed Jan 18 2023
4

Gold de baa gåå såå håårtt

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Wed Jan 25 2023
4

I'll be honest, I couldn't always tell what they were signing, but somehow liked it anyway.

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Fri Jan 27 2023
4

This is with a caveat. I assume Trout Mask Replica will be on the list. I would only include one Captain Beefheart release and that would be it. Safe as Milk introduced the Captain's odd, avant guard version of blues-rock. This is more "commercial" than the releases that would follow. It is very strange and explosive at times but is still mainstream. I don't play Captain Beefheart often, but this is compelling, challenging rock.

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Wed Feb 01 2023
4

I'm familiar with trout mask replica, so I feared the worse, but this wasn't half bad, I quite enjoyed it. Definitely worth a second listen.

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Mon Feb 13 2023
4

Momento maravilhoso de sonoridade poderosa com guitarras se destacando no blues se tornando rock clássico. Ainda provocou a audição do disco de trilha sonora Lawless com a versão do Mark Lanegan para Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do.

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Sun Feb 26 2023
4

This guy must've been on so many drugs that it's near unimaginable, that's the only way I could understand coming up with an album like this. It's almost like nothing I've heard before and yet, there's something about it that keeps me listening.

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Fri Mar 03 2023
4

Ik kende alleen Trout Mask Replica van Captain beefheart dus ik deed al m’n riemen vast toen ik deze op zette. Verrassend genoeg een zeer toegankelijk blues album met genoeg hoogtepunten. De weirdness van Trout Mask Replica is een stuk minder op dit album te luisteren, ondanks nog wat absurde teksten na.

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Thu Mar 09 2023
4

Oh they are a Doors cover band In the end a lot of fun, but not what I expected from their name.

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Fri Mar 10 2023
4

Rating: 7/10 Best songs: I’m glad, Yellow brick road

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Thu Mar 23 2023
4

Definitely not for everyone. If you're a Beefheart fan (and I am) this is a great album. He eventually quit making music and changed to being a visual artist because (supposedly) he could never get the musicians to play the music the way he heard it in his head.

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Sun Apr 09 2023
4

Ok I will bite on this one and go never listened, did listen, very listenable. All over in barely 30 mins and some actual tunes and great guitar (courtesy Ry Cooder) to go with DGV's ultra raspy vocals. Hard to believe it would two albums to go from this to Trout Mask Replica.

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Mon Apr 24 2023
4

Great album, way ahead of its time. 4.5/5

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Wed Apr 26 2023
4

Interesting, innovative album that still holds true to it's R&B roots

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Fri Apr 28 2023
4

It's no Trout Mask Replica, but it'll do. "Safe As Milk" is funny as titles go. Wikipedia says that there was a ton of controversy with this album, and it eventually led to the band getting dropped by A&M. Without listening to the lyrics, this is a "safe" album. Musically it fits with its era. Safe. The lyrics are humorous. There's a lot of personality in this collection of songs. I love its sense of whimsy.

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