Classic Day – Mother’s Milk


If the rambunctious styling of Trout Mask Replica was too much to digest in a single setting, perhaps the mystic metamorphosis of their debut record, Safe As Milk by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band would be more soothing. Still a fairly packed instrumental record, Safe As Milk aids to bring a more blues rendition to the often complicated performances of Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band.

The debut record that essentially was overshadowed by other released at the time. Safe As Milk is not as well known by any means as its successor, but still has moments that are charismatic enough to form a grip on the listener. Opening with “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do,” Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band is instantly recognizable by the growling and graveled vocals of Don Van Vliet who is able to shout and howl his way over smokehouse instrumentals. Vliet also covers the harmonica, marimba, and other arrangements, while Alex St. Clair Snouffer is able to perform on the guitar, backing vocals, and percussion. Safe As Milk feels as if it has a revolving door for instrumentalists who can instantly switch to play anything, anywhere. The use of Ry Cooder on the slide guitar and percussion, as well as Jerry Handley on the bass and backing vocals, is able to push John French to new heights of importance on the percussive set and auxiliary work as well.

Where “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do” is a subtle crawl toward the arching oasis of desert air, then the following of “Zig Zag Wanderer” is a rushed and abrasive almost Blonde On Blondeesque sounding push of breath. The sliding guitars on the frets and the cascading snaps of bass strings are a 1960’s flower power cape but with low-tuned percussion that stomps through the speakers. Here, the bass and drums are the main focus of the track with a breakdown at the near mid-point where the bass commands like a general in the army. The vocals pour over with just bass and snare hits which then lead the guitars to shuffle in before Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band erupts into a grenade of sound.

Later with tracks like “Plastic Factory,” the blues influence is boiling over into the hot sun that Safe As Milk embodies. The swing guitar work is able to clash against the vocals that appear deep enough to have smoked 15 packs of cigarettes a day, working in tandem as an outlaw in presentation. Personally, the vocals for Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band take some time to warm up to, but once they are in full momentum, Safe As Milk is addicting nectar. The piece becomes this conductive and fulfilling bounce through vintage fuzz-ridden amps that transport the listener into the abstract but still grounded punch of resonation.

So ditching the more popular for the less attractive becomes a solid adventure if odd rock and roll can be the momentum. Before the days of fish heads and blazing red covers, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band allow a portal toward another land where nearly an hour of time can be replaced as if they were minutes on the clock.

Listen To Safe As Milk Here!!! – Spotify/Amazon/iTunes

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