This amazing package contains all or most of the studio recordings realized by Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band in Los Angeles between April and November 1967. Without question the most unusual act in the entire Buddha Records catalog, Beefheart packed a staggering range of styles into these 28 tracks, combining blues, soul, acid rock, psychedelic pop, and his own personal form of electric free jazz in a body of work that stands as one of the 20th century's great manifestations of intuitive musicianship. Tracks 1-12 comprise the original Safe as Milk album, featuring Beefheart's distinctive voice and the slide guitar of Ry Cooder, as well as Samson Hoffman's theremin on "Electricity." The rest of the material -- including both takes of "Safe as Milk" -- was intended for inclusion in a double album to be called "It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper". (There is a plausible theory that tracks 14-17 are unfinished "backing tracks.") For a number of reasons, all of these recordings remained unissued until four of them were dredged up for the 1970 release of the album Mirror Man, while the "plain brown wrapper" motif was used on the album Strictly Personal, which was recorded during the spring of 1968. As a listening experience from start to finish, the 1967 strata evolves wonderfully from the more or less approachable early numbers through the post-Cooder experimental group improvisations by guitarists Jeff Cotton and Alex St. Clair Snouffer, bassist Jerry Handley, and drummer John French, a resourceful individual destined to play a crucial role in the creation of the Trout Mask Replica album. As for Beefheart, while his singing has often been compared to that of bluesman Howlin' Wolf, the taproot leads further back to Charley Patton and gospel growler Blind Willie Johnson, whose "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" was the inspirational template for Beefheart's gnarly "Tarotplane."
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2