Today is my official 4th day of the glorious “Do Nothing” week and as per Monday through Wednesday, the only thing I aim to accomplish aside from a cute healthy breakfast of “bun-less egg sandwich” is this afternoon’s Day 58 of the 100 Day Challenge set to the ‘Lick My Decals, Baby‘ album by Captain Beefheart.
Come to think of if, “Beefheart with Eggs” might be a neat breakfast menu option.
Anyway, this album is the highly anticipated 1970 (released in 1970 on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records label) follow up to 1969’s triumphant ‘Trout Mask Replica’ album. It is often regarded by critics and listeners as superior, and was Van Vliet’s favorite. Don Van Vliet said that the title is an encouragement to “get rid of the labels”, and to evaluate things according to their merits rather than according to superficial labels (or “decals”).
Most of the songs began as piano improvisations by Van Vliet. He would later record extended improvisation sessions on a cassette recorder. Arranger and musical director Harkleroad(who, as rumor had it, replaced ‘Trout Mask Replica’s John French after he was allegedly thrown down a flight of stairs by Van Vliet – shortly after ;Trout Mask Replica; was completed) then listened to these improvisations, picked out the best parts, and pieced them into compositions.
The tone of this album is also a bit darker (co-workers beware), examining environmental issues in some songs rather than simply concentrating on surreal and cheerfully vulgar wordplay. Needless to say, this album to be played when your 12-year-old step-daughter is within ear shot. Whatever the differences, the jagged, complex rhythms and guitar interplay continue to amaze. Those wanting to dig deeper after the essential ‘Trout Mask Replica‘ (which is still on HRH‘s “to find” record list) are advised to begin doing so here.
How can you wrong with such song titles as ‘I Love You, You Big Dummy‘, ‘Japan In a Dishpan‘, ‘Woe-Is-uh-Me-Bop’, ‘I Wanna Find a Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go’, ‘Flash Gordon’s Ape‘, and ‘The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig)‘. Don’t try to think too much into the lyrics though as it’ll likely make your head explode.
More probably, it’s just a scattering of the random mind droppings that is Van Vliet’s stream of consciousness with no real deep meaning intended, definitely making it a wacky listen for my on the mat session this afternoon.