Lick My Decals Off, Baby

Lick My Decals Off, Baby is the fourth studio album by American musician Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) and the Magic Band, released in December 1970 by Straight and Reprise Records. The follow-up to Trout Mask Replica (1969), it is regarded by some critics and listeners as superior, and was Van Vliet's own favorite of his albums. In his words, the title credo of the album was an encouragement to "get rid of the labels", and to evaluate things according to their merits.

Lick My Decals Off, Baby
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 1970
RecordedMay 1970
StudioRecord Plant (West Hollywood, California)
Genre avant-pop[3]
ProducerDon Van Vliet
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band chronology
Trout Mask Replica
Lick My Decals Off, Baby
Mirror Man
Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideA−[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[6]

Composition edit

Captain Beefheart performs vocals, harmonica, and woodwinds on the album, joined by Bill "Zoot Horn Rollo" Harkleroad on guitar; Mark "Rockette Morton" Boston on bass guitar; Art "Ed Marimba" Tripp, late of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, on marimba, drums, and percussion; and John "Drumbo" French on drums and percussion.

French had been the band's arranger and musical director on Trout Mask Replica. Van Vliet ejected French from the group—both figuratively and literally, by allegedly throwing him down a flight of stairs—shortly after Trout Mask Replica was completed, and these roles passed to Harkleroad. French returned to the group shortly before recording began, but after Tripp had been hired to replace him, and so both percussionists appear on the album.[7][8]

Most of the songs began as piano improvisations by Van Vliet, which Harkleroad arranged into full-band compositions.[9] The musical lines on Decals tend to be longer and more intricate than the assemblage of short fragments that characterized much of Trout Mask Replica. The liner notes contain two poems or sets of lyrics for songs not present on the album, one untitled and the other entitled "You Should Know by the Kindness of uh Dog the Way uh Human Should Be".

Critical and commercial reception edit

Critic Robert Christgau said of the record: "Beefheart's famous five-octave range and covert totalitarian structures have taken on a playful undertone, repulsive and engrossing and slapstick funny." Lester Bangs noted the maturation of Beefheart’s previous musical and lyrical concerns, writing that "even though the sonic textures are sometimes even more complex and angular than on Trout Mask...his messages are universal and warm as the hearth of the America we once dreamed of".[10]

With John Peel championing the work on BBC radio, Lick My Decals Off, Baby spent eleven weeks on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number twenty and becoming his highest-charting album in the country.

An early promotional music video was made of its title song, and a television commercial for the album was also produced that included excerpts from "Woe-is-uh-Me-Bop", silent footage of masked Magic Band members using kitchen utensils as musical instruments, and Van Vliet kicking over a bowl of porridge onto a dividing stripe in the middle of a road. The video was rarely played, but was later accepted into the Museum of Modern Art.[11][12]

Enigma Retro released a compact disc edition in 1989; the album has also seen reissue as a 180g vinyl LP, which is still in print. In January 2011, shortly after Van Vliet's death, iTunes and Amazon's MP3 store released the album for download.[13] On November 17, 2014, Rhino Records reissued the album as part of the limited edition four-disc Beefheart box set Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972, which also included The Spotlight Kid, Clear Spot, and a disc of outtakes from the three albums.[14] The album was reissued separately, without bonus tracks, by Rhino on September 25, 2015.[15]

Track listing edit

All songs initially composed by Don Van Vliet. Arranged by Bill Harkleroad.

Side one
1."Lick My Decals Off, Baby"2:38
2."Doctor Dark"2:46
3."I Love You, You Big Dummy"2:54
4."Peon" (instrumental)2:24
5."Bellerin' Plain"3:35
7."Japan in a Dishpan" (instrumental)3:00
Side two
1."I Wanna Find a Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have to Go"1:53
2."Petrified Forest"1:40
3."One Red Rose That I Mean" (instrumental)1:52
4."The Buggy Boogie Woogie"2:19
5."The Smithsonian Institute [sic] Blues (or the Big Dig)"2:11
6."Space-Age Couple"2:32
7."The Clouds Are Full of Wine (not Whiskey or Rye)"2:50
8."Flash Gordon's Ape"4:15

Legacy edit

Magazine recorded a cover of "I Love You, You Big Dummy" in 1978.

Personnel edit


References edit

  1. ^ Horowitz, Hal (10 November 2014). "Captain Beefheart: Sun Zoom Spark". American Songwriter. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  2. ^ "Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals off, Baby Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  3. ^ Grimstad, Paul (September 2007). "What Is Avant-Pop?". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved February 11, 2024.
  4. ^ Huey, S. (2011). "Lick My Decals Off, Baby - Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band | AllMusic". Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: C". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 23, 2019 – via
  6. ^ Decurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly (1992). "Captain Beefheart". The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Random House. ISBN 0-679-73729-4.
  7. ^ "Review: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Lick My Decals Off, Baby | Sputnikmusic". Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  8. ^ Andreyev, Samuel (April 24, 2020), Art Tripp on working with Frank Zappa, John Cage and Captain Beefheart, retrieved 2023-09-18
  9. ^ Harkleroad, Bill with Billy James, 1998: Lunar Notes: Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experience. SAF Publishing Ltd.
  10. ^ Bangs, Lester (March 1971). "Review: Lick My Decals Off, Baby". Creem. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  11. ^ Music Video: The Industry and Its Fringes, Museum of Modern Art, September 6–30, 1985
  12. ^ Looking at Music, Museum of Modern Art, August 13, 2008 – January 5, 2009
  13. ^ "Lick My Decals Off, Baby by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band". 10 September 1970. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  14. ^ "Captain Beefheart – Sun Zoom Spark 1970 to 1972". Archived from the original on 2014-09-07. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
  15. ^ Amazon website retrieved 31 October 2015.