Sunday, April 10, 2016

Captain Beefheart - 1968 - Strictly Personal

Captain Beefheart
Strictly Personal

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

- Captain Beefheart / harmonica, vocals, guitar, main performer
- Alex St. Clair / guitar
- Mark Marcellino / keyboards
- Antennae Jimmy Semens / guitar
- Jerry Handley / bass
- John French / drums
- Don Van Vliet / vocals, arranger, writer

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.

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