In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Too much of Safe as Milk comes across as some hippies having plenty of far out ideas, while lacking the discipline to do much with many of them.”
I know two things about Captain Beefheart. His name is Captain Beefheart and he was in some way affiliated with Frank Zappa. That’s two things to make me assume I’ll intensely hate his music. A name like Captain Beefheart connotes a certain kind of 60s, hippy whimsy that I just cannot abide. And I find Franz Zappa to be a musical genius who used his powers for the worst kind of wanking, music evil. So I guess I’m a sucker for punishment, because I decided I needed to listen to a Beefheart album, which I did, with Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s Safe as Milk.
Things kick off in a promising way with the instrumental, almost country rock of Sure Nuff ‘n Yes, I Do. And they keep that positive start going with the dirty rock and roll of Zig Zag Wanderer. With their silly voices and wacky instrumentation, Call on Me and Dropoout Boogie are a little more in line with the infuriating whimsy I expected from this band, but there’s enough grit and dirt there to keep them from ever becoming too infuriating.The sexy, slow jam groove of I’m Glad is a really unexpected left turn that is definitely welcome. Before the jug band messiness of Yellow Brick Road makes me realise that “connotes a certain kind of 60s, hippy whimsy” isn’t always a bad thing. Because this song definitely fits that description, while being a really cool, fun, catchy song.
Unfortunately, it’s a balance that Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band are unable to maintain. With songs like Autumn’s Child and On Tomorrow, too much of Safe as Milk comes across as some hippies having plenty of far out ideas, while lacking the discipline to do much with many of them.