Lick My Decals Off, Baby

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Lick My Decals Off, Baby
Studio album by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
Released December 1970
Recorded May 1970, United Recording Corporation, Hollywood, California
Genre Experimental rock, psychedelic rock, blues-rock, avant-garde
Length 39:38
Label Straight, Reprise
Producer Don Van Vliet
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band chronology
Trout Mask Replica
(1969)
Lick My Decals Off, Baby
(1970)
Mirror Man
(1971)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A−[2]
Rolling Stone Album Guide(1992) ISBN 0-679-73729-4 (4/5)

Lick My Decals Off, Baby is the fourth album by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, released in 1970 on Frank Zappa's Straight Records label. The follow-up to Trout Mask Replica (1969), it is regarded by some critics and listeners as superior, and was Van Vliet's personal favorite. Don Van Vliet said that the title is an encouragement to "get rid of the labels", and to evaluate things according to their merits rather than according to superficial labels (or "decals").

Musicians[edit]

Musicians on the album were Don Van Vliet, vocals, harmonica, and woodwinds; Bill Harkleroad, guitar; Mark Boston, bass; Art Tripp, marimba, drums, and percussion; and John French, drums. French had been 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 guitarist Bill Harkleroad. French returned to the group shortly before recording began.

Origins[edit]

Most of the songs began as piano improvisations by Van Vliet. He would record extended improvisation sessions on a cassette recorder. Harkleroad then listened to these improvisations, picked out the best parts, and pieced them into compositions.[3] 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.

Musical content[edit]

The record contains some of Captain Beefheart's most experimental music and remains memorable for both the marimba playing of Art Tripp and for its concise instrumental work. An early promotional music video was made of its title song, and a bizarre television commercial was also filmed that included excerpts from "Woe-Is-uh-Me-Bop", silent footage of masked Magic Band members using kitchen utensils as musical instruments, and Beefheart kicking over a bowl of what appears to be porridge onto a dividing stripe in the middle of a road. The video was rarely played but was accepted into the Museum of Modern Art, where it has been used in several programs.[4][5]

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 the musical styles and lyrical concerns of Trout Mask Replica, writing that Beefheart's music was "one of the most rewarding musical experiences available today."

Due to John Peel's championing of the work on BBC radio, Lick My Decals Off, Baby spent eleven weeks on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number twenty. This remains Beefheart's highest-charting album in the UK.

Like many releases on Zappa's Bizarre and Straight labels, Decals has been out of print since the early 1990s on CD. Enigma Retro released a CD edition in 1989 which now goes for high prices among record collectors. More recently Decals has also been re-issued as a 180g vinyl LP, which is still in print. Both Rhino Records and Warner/Reprise have announced CD rereleases of the album several times in recent years but have not moved past the planning stage. In January 2011, shortly after Van Vliet's death, iTunes and Amazon's MP3 store released the album for download.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Don Van Vliet.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Lick My Decals Off, Baby"   2:38
2. "Doctor Dark"   2:46
3. "I Love You, You Big Dummy"   2:54
4. "Peon"   2:24
5. "Bellerin' Plain"   3:35
6. "Woe-is-uh-Me-Bop"   2:06
7. "Japan in a Dishpan"   3:00
Side two
No. Title Length
8. "I Wanna Find a Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have to Go"   1:53
9. "Petrified Forest"   1:40
10. "One Red Rose That I Mean"   1:52
11. "The Buggy Boogie Woogie"   2:19
12. "The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig)"   2:11
13. "Space-Age Couple"   2:32
14. "The Clouds Are Full of Wine (not Whiskey or Rye)"   2:50
15. "Flash Gordon's Ape"   4:15

Personnel[edit]

Production
  • Album concept: Peacock Ink
  • Personal management/Production supervision: Grant Gibb
  • All songs written by Captain Beefheart
  • Published by Beefheart Music Co. (BMI)
  • Back cover painting: Don Van Vliet
  • Photography and art direction: Ed Thrasher

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huey, S. (2011). "Lick My Decals Off, Baby - Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Christgau, R. (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: Artist 222". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Harkleroad, Bill with Billy James, 1998: Lunar Notes: Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experience. SAF Publishing Ltd.
  4. ^ Music Video: The Industry and Its Fringes, Museum of Modern Art, September 6–30, 1985
  5. ^ Looking at Music, Museum of Modern Art, August 13, 2008-January 5, 2009
  6. ^ "iTunes - Music - Lick My Decals Off, Baby by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06.