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Release Info: Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals Off Baby (24-bit/96khz Vinyl)
Transfered by vertigoswirl, December 2010.
Source: Original usa promo LP>
Table: Micro Seiki MB-15 w/ Shure HI TRACK cartridge & N95HE stylus>
Pre: Yaqin MS-22B*RIAA (w/ NOS GE JG-12AY7 tubes)
Interface: Edirol UA-101 interface (recorded in full 24/192 resolution)>
Software: Sound Forge 10 Pro>
dBpoweramp (flac 24/96)>
Tag * Rename>
Traders Little Helper - md5 & ffp>
Coming off of the liberating heels of 1970's "Trout Mask Replica", Don Van Vliet first changed the name of his band from "His Magic Band" to "The Magic Band" and proceeded to record another tight, vigorous, arrhythmic sonic landscape. Though this album doesn't have quite the free form feeling of its precedessor (which included tape recorder chants, false starts, off microphone chatter, and lots of interesting other random tidbits), it stretches the boundaries of rock music in much the same manner. "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" includes 15 autonomous and amazingly crafted songs. Almost as if someone took the "Trout Mask" sessions, applied a razor to the inbetweens and said "THERE! Those are the songs! Now stop it with all that other nonsense!" In this way "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" sounds like an "organized" and only slightly less spontaneous "Trout Mask". This more structured arrangement may have emerged from Van Vliet's alleged desire to actually start making money from The Magic Band. Apparently the previous drummer left after "Trout Mask" and was lured back by a promise of potential cash. In some ways Van Vliet succeeded. The album climbed to number 20 on the UK charts.
Regardless of its commercial status, this album remains one of the band's true masterpieces. The angular and staccato rhythms of "Trout Mask" clank and crunge here with an equal intensity. The title track finds Van Vliet squacking fervently about removing the labels that society affixes to us distracted folk. Apparently many in the early 1970s read the title saliciously (and lines such as "She stuck out her tongue 'n the fun begun" probably didn't help). But some claim that an executive dubbed the title "obscene" just to avoid having to play the album's surreal promotional film (the original of which now belongs to a museum) on the air. "Woe-is-uh-Me-Bop" provides one of the best examples of Van Vliet's fusion of free jazz and blues. The hilarious world play in "I Wanna Find a Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go" approaches a psychic toungue-twisting level. And "The Smithsonian Institute Blues" continues Van Vliet's theme of humanity's impending downfall - unless we change our ways: "The new dinosaur is walkin' in the old one's shoes" and "All you new dinosaurs / Now it's up t'you t'choose / 'fore your feet hit the tar, you better kick off them old shoes". "The Clouds Are Full of Wine" features Van Vliet's vocals floating rather pleasantly over a layer of cacophony like a bird soaring over a bomb site. And "Flash Gordon's Ape" pulls out all of the stops. A literal typhoon of sound rises up and mercilessly attacks. Somehow it still manages to hold together as a song, incredible as that seems. It definitely leaves an impression at the album's closing.
"Lick My Decals Off, Baby" marks the end of The Magic Band's early extrusions into the avant garde. Beefheart's next four albums gradually toned down his trademark cacophony and angularity. Some fans even accused him of "going commercial". Not until 1978's "Shiny Beast" did Beefheart once again begin to re-explore the musical terrain he left behind here. Why the shift occurred remains open to speculation. And Van Vliet continued to give vague cryptic answers as to why. Regardless, he left behind a string of masterpieces upon his "retirement" in 1982. "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" remains one of them.
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