Review Summary: O captain, my captain.Trout Mask Replica
is, and always will be, an incredibly divisive record. Containing 78 minutes of uncompromising, chaotic and often sloppy bluesy destruction, the 1969 classic still
evokes the same reactions out of its audience nearly fifty years later. Whereas a great deal of attention is dedicated to The Magic Band’s magnum opus, its successor is underneath its shadow while featuring a remarkably concise set of songs that molded the Captain Beefheart sound into a highly developed album; perhaps it's the band’s true
masterpiece rather than the album that people still
can’t decide on whether it’s supposed to sound horrible on purpose or not.
Released in December 1970, Lick My Decals Off, Baby
essentially narrows down the freeness of Trout Mask Replica
, confines and refines it into a 39-minute showcase of what The Magic Band could really do when given the right material. And what didn’t
these guys do – the band’s ability to transform Beefheart’s embryonic piano improvisations into full-fledged free jazz/blues improv bursts of incoherent madness is nothing short of brilliant. Lick My Decals Off, Baby
is a special record in the Magic Band canon, emphasizing the prowess of its members and even moreso stressing the staying power of Beefheart’s songwriting in pieces such as the titular track, “Doctor Dark”, “The Smithsonian Institute Blues” and “Petrified Forest”. As a whole, Lick My Decals Off, Baby
is an entire step above Trout Mask Replica
, featuring a set of songs that highlight a more mature and rewarding period in The Magic Band’s run yet doesn’t lose the playfulness or the humor that comes with a Captain Beefheart record.