Lick My Decals Off, Baby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Lick My Decals Off, Baby
Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals Off, Baby.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 1970
RecordedMay 1970
StudioUnited Recording Corporation, Hollywood
ProducerDon Van Vliet
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band chronology
Trout Mask Replica
Lick My Decals Off, Baby
Mirror Man
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideA–[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[3]

Lick My Decals Off, Baby is the fourth studio album by American rock band Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, released in December 1970 by Straight Records. The follow-up to Trout Mask Replica (1969), it is regarded by some critics and listeners as superior, and was Van Vliet's favorite. Van Vliet said that the title was 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 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.

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.[4] 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 album's liner notes contain two poems or lyrics for songs not present, one untitled and the other "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".[5]

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.

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.[6][7]

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.[8] On November 17, 2014, Rhino Records reissued the album as part of a 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.[9] The album was reissued separately, with no bonus tracks, by Rhino on September 25, 2015.[10]

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 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




  1. ^ Huey, S. (2011). "Lick My Decals Off, Baby - Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band | AllMusic". Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "Captain Beefheart". The Rolling Stone Album Guide. 1992. ISBN 0-679-73729-4.
  4. ^ Harkleroad, Bill with Billy James, 1998: Lunar Notes: Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experience. SAF Publishing Ltd.
  5. ^ Bangs, Lester (March 1971). "Review: Lick My Decals Off, Baby". Creem. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^ Music Video: The Industry and Its Fringes, Museum of Modern Art, September 6–30, 1985
  7. ^ Looking at Music, Museum of Modern Art, August 13, 2008 – January 5, 2009
  8. ^ "Lick My Decals Off, Baby by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band". Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  9. ^ "Captain Beefheart – Sun Zoom Spark 1970 to 1972". Archived from the original on 2014-09-07. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
  10. ^ Amazon website retrieved 31 October 2015.