Captain Beefheart

At His Best

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The title is misleading. To be sure, this is a fine collection of Captain Beefheart material, but it's simply Safe As Milk (1967) in all but name (even the cover art is similar). That said, At His Best isn't necessarily even Beefheart's "best" as much as it's his early best (and, arguably, most accessible). The 12 tracks, most of which sound like Howlin' Wolf fronting the Seeds on a jazz bender, are shorter and more conventional (relatively speaking) than the more experimental work for which Beefheart would receive the bulk of his critical acclaim. It may be a good starting point for the neophyte, but Buddah's 1999 Safe As Milk reissue, featuring restored artwork and seven bonus tracks, would be even better. There's no denying the warped beauty of "Zig Zag Wanderer," however, in whatever form it should appear.

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