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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Charlie, Beefheart: Frustrated & Awake

posted by on January 22 at 18:07 PM

Charlie is back. The Blacklight Kid. You may remember him from his Zappa / Electric Flag and Pink Floyd reviews. He’s in 8th grade now at a school in Shoreline and he has a gigantic crate of vinyl. Charlie is razor sharp smart. Imagine him by the time he’s a senior. Here is his latest review:

Captain Beefheart’s - Lick My Decals Off, Baby


The 1970 release, Lick My Decals Off, Baby is a long way from Safe as Milk, Beefheart’s 1967 release. Lick My Decals Off, Baby is dangerous.

It is a beautiful experiment that breaks all bounds and is a musical adventure of marimbas, saxophones, and song names like “Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop”, and “The Buggy Boogie Woogie”, but what did you expect from Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band?

In songs, like “Doctor Dark”, and “I Wanna Find a Woman that’ll Hold My Big Toe Till AI Have to Go” it seems like they have lost all sense of musical direction and are going to crash. The moment you try to feel the beat and get into the songs, it syncopates out of control and it’s hard to keep up. When I listened to the record for the first time I didn’t like it, but after listening to it again I discovered that the confusion is what makes it a good and unique record.

Songs like “I Love You Big Dummy”, “Bellerin’ Plain”, and “Smithsonian Institute Blues” help you find your way through the tangled labyrinth of sound on this record and reacquaint you with the music. The instrumental “Peon” is a refreshing relief from the cacophony of surrounding songs.

“I Love You Big Dummy” also features a screeching harmonica performed by Mr. Don Van Vliet himself and is the perfect accompaniment to his own rough villainous voice. Ed Marimba a.k.a. Art Tripp playing the marimba on “Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop” is truly awesome.

The Captain along with his Magic Band delivers a revolutionary record that can frustrate and awaken the listener. It took me a while but finally I realized that Lick My Decals Off, Baby is, even in today’s standards, insanely eccentric and wonderful.

-Charlie W.

The kid is in 8th grade.

Here’s a commercial for the record that was banned from TV. When asked by the record company as to reasons for not accepting the spot, KTTV station manager Charles Young said, “I just don’t like it. I think it’s crude and don’t want it on my air. Let’s say I find the commercial unacceptable and let it go at that.” When asked for a specific reason, Young declared the album title was “obscene.”

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hire him please. certainly leaps and bounds above anything that is typically read in this space.

Posted by charlieformusiceditor | January 23, 2008 9:28 AM

Beefheart, up to maybe...say Clearspot, always seemed to me to be the ultimate WASP "art" assimilation, regurgitation of the blues. And as confusing as he may be, I don't think Beefheart did anything that confused HIM, ever, he was a control the point he dictated a lot of what the band played, note for note, at least so I've heard.

Posted by nipper | January 23, 2008 10:44 AM

Once Charlie found out that Zappa and Beefheart were friends, he liked the Beefheart a little more. I think that is what really changed his mind about the Decals album.

Associations help. Subconscious ties leading to a fictional empathy and imagining of conversations and scenes that might have taken place. Like Zappa and Beefheart were in the studio, Zappa presented Beefheart with a delay pedal and out of them messing around with it, a song was born.

Also, the album you don't like on first listen - then like the more you hear it, is an interesting classification of album.

Posted by trent moorman | January 23, 2008 11:45 AM

It's great to read him, probably the coolest 8th grader currently writing about music, venture into better territory.

Posted by Dougsf | January 23, 2008 12:09 PM

I hear you Dougsf, I'm looking forward to the next Charlie pick. But he's into what he's into, and that's sort of the beauty to me. He does have an Insane Clown Posse poster on his wall though, which made me lose a little hope, because Charlie is the future. But next to the ICP is Iron Maiden's Eddie. Eddie reaches over into the ICP poster and squashes them with one hand and hope is restored.

Posted by trent moorman | January 23, 2008 12:28 PM

We can all take Charlie lessons: What a clear, concise, accessible piece of music journalism. Sort of checks his ego at the gate and just let's the music lead away. As it should be.
More please.

Posted by Tante | January 23, 2008 2:44 PM

Beefheart's mangled interpretation of the blues is a lot more interesting than most actual blues ever was. Or Zappa was, for that matter. "Decals" is a great, great record, and Charlie kicks ass. Hire him.

Posted by Fnarf | January 23, 2008 6:09 PM

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