Electricity (Captain Beefheart song)

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Single by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
from the album Safe as Milk
A-side "Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do"[1]
Released 1967, 1978
Genre Blues rock, psychedelic rock
Length 3:07
Label Buddah
Songwriter(s) Herb Bermann and Don Van Vliet
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band singles chronology
"Hard Workin' Man"
"Ice Cream For Crow"

"Hard Workin' Man"
"Ice Cream For Crow"

"Electricity" is a song by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band on the 1967 album Safe as Milk. Beefheart claimed the label he and his band were signed to, A&M Records, dropped them after co-owner Jerry Moss heard the song and declared it "too negative"[2] for his teenage daughter to listen to. Beefheart's vocals, while recording the final version for the album, shattered the microphone.[3][4]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics have said the song foreshadows many of Beefheart's later efforts with its praised distorted vocals. Guitarist Doug Moon described the song as "hinting of things to come." Critics also described the theremin in the song as a "ghostly theremin in the most disconcerting way."[5] In the book Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood, "Electricity" is said to be "a very unconventional blues song".[6]


While playing "Electricity" for a warm-up performance at the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival at Mt. Tamalpais in 1967, Beefheart stopped the song, straightened his tie, and walked off the stage, landing face flat into the grass. He later claimed that he saw a girl in the audience turn into a goldfish. This caused guitarist Ry Cooder to immediately quit the Magic Band because he couldn't deal with Beefheart's unpredictability.[7]


On the deluxe version of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, released in 2007, the bonus disc closes with their cover of the song,[8] originally recorded in 1988 for a Captain Beefheart tribute album released on Imaginary Records entitled Fast 'n' Bulbous – A Tribute to Captain Beefheart.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Sure 'Nuff 'N' Yes I Do". Discogs. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ Barnes (2000), p. 29
  3. ^ Cooper and Smay (2012)
  4. ^ The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition (2007)
  5. ^ Taylor (2006), p. 54
  6. ^ Priore (2007)
  7. ^ Hoskyns (2009)
  8. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation". Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Electricity - Sonic Youth". Retrieved 9 April 2015. 


External links[edit]