Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Captain Beefheart (vocals, harmonica, bass marimba); Ry Cooder (guitar, bass); Alex St. Clair Snouffer, Jeff Cotton (guitar); Jerry Handley (bass); John French (drums).
Additional personnel: Russ Titleman (guitar); Milt Holland (log drum, percussion); Sam Hoffman (Theremin); Taj Mahal (percussion).
Producers: Bob Krasnow, Richard Perry.
Reissue producers: Mike Ragogna, John Platt.
Includes liner notes by John Platt.
The genesis of the first Captain Beefheart album SAFE AS MILK is suitably shrouded in mystery, but the result is a collection of performances that meld blues, R&B, avant garde rock, and West Coast pop in a unique and heady mix that's like nothing else in the Captain's oeuvre. While subsequent outings would emphasize the full-on weirdness of Beefheart and his Magic Band, songs such as "Yellow Brick Road," "Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do" and "Abba Zabba," while not without their own sonic quirks, still sound fresh and accessible today.
With uncredited appearances by such luminaries as Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, SAFE AS MILK's overall feel is adventurous, free flowing, yet with an underlying discipline that Beefheart would throw to the wind on subsequent releases. There's even an attempt at doo-wop harmonies on "I'm So Glad," though the harp-flavored "Plastic Factory" finds him in more familiar R&B territory. Beefheart would never again sound this conventional, or, some might venture, this coherent.
Rolling Stone (8/5/99, pp.63-4) - 3 1/2 stars (out of 5) - "...a nice psychedelic pop record...lightly weird milestones before the serious experimentation began..."
Q (8/99) - Included in Q Magazine's "Best Psychedelic Albums of All Time."
Q (12/99, p.154) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[The album] remains his most accessible. There's the meditative, beat garage feel of 'Zig Zag Wanderer', the playful 'Electricity'...and the Native American stomp 'Abba Zaba'..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.80) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "From skewed blues opener Sure `Nuff 'N Yes I Do' to the menacing psychedelia of closer Autumn's Child SAFE AS MILK still ranks among the most ambitious debuts in rock..."