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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beefheart's mad cow disease
My maiden voyage with Captain Beefheart begins with "Safe as Milk," and now that my mind has been completely blown, I still can't believe I had never heard this album before now. Where have you been all my life?!!
While pondering the notion of safe milk (Is it really safe?), I am first lured into the opening blues romp, "Sure "Nuff 'N Yes I Do," thinking to myself,...
Published on December 22, 2003 by Karen Anderson

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Checking Out
Beefheart's Magic Band was the Stones to Zappa's Beatles. This early collection of the strongly blues-influenced, deeply weird singing and playing show off Don Van Vliet's smart, soulful voice. It's easy to see why they never scored a huge success--the same reason they retain their cult popularity today. The acidic, bluesy, Thirteenth Floor Elevators-like sound...
Published on July 3, 2000 by Rob Lightner


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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beefheart's mad cow disease, December 22, 2003
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
My maiden voyage with Captain Beefheart begins with "Safe as Milk," and now that my mind has been completely blown, I still can't believe I had never heard this album before now. Where have you been all my life?!!
While pondering the notion of safe milk (Is it really safe?), I am first lured into the opening blues romp, "Sure "Nuff 'N Yes I Do," thinking to myself, yes, this is roots. And just when I'm feeling it's safe to go into the water, "Zig Zag Wanderer" blasts through the ethers better than any psychedelic garage artifact on that Nuggets box set. "Call on Me" is '60s-soul style Otis Redding with tinges of jangly guitar riffs, but what follows is pure "spit in your face" rock anarchy with "Dropout Boogie," keeping in mind that this stuff was recorded in 1967 years ahead of Marilyn Manson. And wud about after dat? Well, a Smokey Robinson "Ooh Baby, Baby" kind of reverie titled "I'm Glad," with soulful harmonies that are safe as, well, milk, well maybe. But beware, next stop, the incredible "Electricity," an amazing extraterrestrial voyage where Black Sabbath meets Lindsey Buckingham meets Salvador Dali on acid. This track bends my mind as stretchy as a salt-water taffy pull at a sci-fi convention, ending with what can only be described as an unidentified flying object departing terra firma into the universe beyond. And just as I'm feeling like I haven't quite touched down yet myself, along comes a comforting re-entry reference point, further cementing the notion that the Magic Band are definitely walk-ins from another planet: "The following tone is a reference tone recorded at our operating level." This reference tone lands me right smack dab on the Yellow Brick Road humming a jug-band-Dead-like ditty commensurate with my operating level. Then the time-traveling Captain throws me right into the heart of West Africa with the Koto Soto-style "Abba Zaba." An amazing, amazing track certainly influenced by Ry Cooder. Then the captain steers my ship of fools to the high point of the album, "Plastic Factory," a rolling roadhouse blues number with mojo harp playing that would make Lucinda moan. (And by the way, what's that he just said? Buffalo boner showin'? I could have sworn that's what he said.) Then we come to "Where There's Woman," a bleeding blues ballad that brings to mind Janis Joplin's "Women is Losers" sung by Tom Waits or Leon Russell. Next is a Muddy Waters kind of thing "Grown So Ugly," that segues into territory nothing short of the template that Led Zeppelin copped for years to follow. This amazing album ends with "Autumn's Child," another template for the progressive rock genre and years ahead of its time. Is he messing with my head here, or what? NO, this is not safe as milk just as I had suspected.
Well, the bonus tracks, aside from track #13, don't add much to the perfection of the original release. So really, listen to those once through, and only once. Because the original itinerary of this Captain's fantastic voyage is "the experience" itself of 12 mindblowing, revolutionary rock 'n roll classics. USDA-approved Beefheart, not for the faint of heart.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big improvement over past releases of this album, June 17, 1999
By 
Todd Wallop "Todd Wallop" (Sherman Oaks, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
I've always loved this record and MAN does it sound fantastic on this reissue. The evil blues growl of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band must've been *daunting* listening back in 1967, but in in the eclectic musical climate of 1999 it sounds, well, "contemporary." Isn't it about time that the good Captain got his due? Well thanks to this, the upcoming "Grow Fins" box set and Rhino's "best of" just around the bend, finally Van Vliet's music will be heard by more than just a few music afficiandos with very fine taste. Kudos to John Platt for this FINE and long overdue rehauling of "Safe as Milk." Trust ME, it's great!!!!! OH, I forgot to mention that between this and the reissued "Mirror Man" you get all the "lost" tracks from the MM session. Get 'em both,people, get 'em both!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Beefheart, October 31, 2002
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
I have never heard Lick My Decals Off Baby, but of the Beefheart I have heard, this is my very favorite album. Trout Mask Replica continues to get all the press but there is quite a bit of stuff on Trout that I don't like. The stuff on Trout that I love, I totally love, but overall I feel the remastered and bonus-tracked Safe As Milk is a much better disc as a whole.
The moods are varied and interesting. Electricity is proto-punk that could easily double as the soundtrack to a Western. Plastic Factory has always made me think of Pigpen of the Grateful Dead doing Big Boss Man, except I like it. The Captain has a much better vocal delivery and is a far superior harmonica player to Pigpen. Plus Plastic Factory is just an infinitely better song. Zig Zag Wanderer has a thick, heavy bassline and great bass tone all around. Trust Us could segue perfectly into Black Sabbath's Iron Man and blow the roof off of any concert venue.
Beefheart and The Magic Band just had a way with rhythm and melody that knocks me out. A couple times during this cd there are quiet guitar riffs that always make Vietnam-type scenes flash through my head.... as if we're listening to the unused soundtrack for a Vietnam battle movie.
Actually there are good things I could say about almost every track on this cd but rather than do that, I'll just say that I will never understand why Safe As Milk isn't widely hailed as one of the all-time great rock albums.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than "Trout Mask", January 16, 2005
By 
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
If rock 'n' roll had a Salvador Dali, it was truly Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart. While critics like "Trout Mask Replica" more, I prefer this insane and surrealistic reinterpretation of the delta blues genre (Howlin' Wolf in particular). What may be written off as a gimic works incredibly however. Vliet treats the subject not as a camoy joke, but a tribute. He sings with his soul, and the guitar work is incredible. Definatly more accessible than anything that was to follow this incredible debut. The love child of the aforementioned Howlin' Wolf and Frank Zappa (who was great freinds with the Captain himself).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Safe" Debut, November 26, 2005
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
Without a doubt the captain's most commercial and publicly attainable album. This makes it the perfect place to start or to back off to when you need a break from avant gaurd. The most prominent feature on the production is, of course, the Muddy Water, Pigpen growl of a voice that is the genius Beefheart. His delta blues mannerisms are evident throughout the album , especially in the bluesy and semi uptempo "Sure Enough and Yes I Do"; Ry Cooder covering the slide part extremely well. This is certanly blues, but not as we have all come to know and love it.

The ryhthm section of the Magic Band truly shine on this recording. The bass and percussion breakdowns of "Zig Zag Wanderer" and "Abba Zabba" are absolutely phenomenal. Proof that you don't need to show off and squese as many notes as possible into each second to sound great. Cooder does an excellent job and certanly shows his influence as well. The rest of the magic band pull together to make a good, straight ahead(at least for them) album.

"Call on Me" is an interesting little pop number in the style of Otis Redding. It's one of the low points on the album, but that's not saying much. This fades directly into the in-your-face blues-rock romp of "Dropout Boogie". The lines-you wanna do what-I told you what and n' what about after that-always get stuck in my head for a while. The little instrumental dittle, ding da ding da ding, you know, that part, is pretty damn cool aswell. "I'm Glad" always reminds me of a Zappa and the Mother's song (in a good way)

The thumping-hardhitting "Electricity" is a favorite of mine. The high pitched voice covering the lines- High voltage man kisses night to bring the light to those who need to hide their shadow deed etc.-are extremely well done. This song starts out a couple of my favorite songs on the album, including the phycadelic "Yellow Brick Road" and the amazing "Abba Zabba".

"Plastic Factory" does remind me of Pigpen and the Dead playing electric blues like Big Boss Man or Smokestack Lightning. I was surprised to see that others had heard this connection, but it only makes sense. This is considered a compliment to the captain because the Dead with Pigpen were absolutely unstoppable. Beefheart is a better harmonica player and has a better style and deliverance, but Pigpen combined with the Dead certainly stand up quite well to this album on alot of occurances. "Grown so Ugly" has kind of the same effect, but it leans much more toward the Led Zeppelin side of things. "Autumn's Child" and "Where There's Woman" are great phycadelic blues ballads that wrap up the album.

That ends the original brilliant album entiteled Safe As Milk, but I think the bonus songs truly add something to the album, especially "Safe as Milk". Alot of these songs, or alternate versions of these songs are featured on The Mirror Man Sessions, I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird, and Strictly Personal(I recommend these as well). They were all originally going to be on a double album called "Plain Brown Wrapper" and would be better in this form. These song's are the Captian's beginings into wierd phycadelia and add alot to the straight ahead feel of the original album. They show a true progression towards Trout Mask and Lick My Decals Off, the pinnicle of beefheart and the Magic Band's work. Overall this is the perfect album for a begginer or long time fan who needs a break from the sometimes esoteric music of later albums.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredible early Beef and great bonus tracks..., May 7, 2005
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
"Safe As Milk" remains one of the neglected classics of late 1960s rock. It sounds like a 1960s album (production-wise) but points to the future in many ways. Psychedelia pokes its melting fish head in every now and then in the form of thick reverb and spacey, far out arrangements. But something totally new also appears next to the trends of 1967: catchy staccato unsyncopated rhythms, wild slide guitar, heady lyrics, blaring harmonica, thick choppy gutars, and a totally new take on the blues. The seeds of what would become "Trout Mask Replica" some three years later begin to sprout from the tracks of this album.

The Magic Band recorded tracks for A&M a year or so before recording "Safe As Milk". These yielded no hits, and the label and the band soon parted ways. On the strength of those sessions, however, the nascent Buddha records sought out Van Vliet for a full-length album. "Safe As Milk" was Buddha's first release. Following some personnel changes, which included adding a brilliant and very young Ry Cooder, the band hit the studio in the spring of 1967.

The album begins autobiographically with Van Vliet almost humming "I was born in the desert..." The desert remained a vital part of and a central metaphor for the rest of Van Vliet's career. The album continues with short pop song length songs. Most run between two and three minutes. The embryonic Buddha Records were likely looking for a hit from their first recorded band.

Though Buddha didn't get a hit (sales were not stellar), they did get a great album with some great songs. "Electricity" remains one of Van Vliet's best songs. Its straining shrieking vocal opener, boppy rhythm, cryptic lyrics and theremin-infused melody make for an unforgettable mix. The song remained a concert favorite for years. "Dropout Boogie" tells listeners not to drop out (in defiance of Timothy Leary's dictum of the day). Lines such as "You told you love her so bring her the butter" and "Support her support her / She says she's no boarder / get a job get a job" provide a direct contrast to rock music's typical anti status quo lyrics. Van Vliet seems to be rebelling against the rebellion of rock. "Yellow Brick Road" has a happy skippy rhythm that inspires foot movement. "Autumn's Child" also uses theramin to a great haunting effect. The song even feels a little creepy in places. The album also includes some rather standard-sounding numbers: "Call on Me" and the supremely heartfelt "I'm Glad". Doubtless these were meant to be the hits. They don't detract from the album, but they do sound a little anomalous.

Overall, "Safe As Milk" represents an incredible effort for a first album. Van Vliet and the band get captured in top form. Unfortunately, the recording technology available to Buddha at the time left the album sounding a little muddled. Even Ry Cooder gave a thumbs down to the production. That remains the album's only stain.

The bonus tracks will be of interest to Beefheart fanatics. Included are non-flanged alternate versions from the band's next project (that would eventually morph into 1968's "Strictly Personal"). These include "Safe As Milk", "Trust Us" and the eerie drunken "Korn Ring Finger". Some of the melodies will also sound familiar. "Big Black Baby Shoes" reappeared as "Ice Rose" on "Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)" in 1978. And "Dirty Blue Jean" is not a version of the song from 1980's "Doc At The Radar Station" but an early non-vocal version of "The Witch Doctor Life" from 1982's "Ice Cream For Crow". One wonders what else Van Vliet's vaults contain, and how far back some of his songs actually date.

"Safe As Milk" (the title supposedly is a reference to the contamination of mother's milk with modern chemicals, according to a Beefheart interview) stands as the starting point for what was to become one of the most interesting and critically acclaimed acts in rock history. Beefheart continues to influence musicians. And, given that "Safe As Milk" was his starting point, it's not hard to see why.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Got milk?, April 8, 2005
By 
Patrik Lemberg (Tammisaari Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
This is a band that developed FAST during the 60's. To think that this album was recorded the year after their 1966 single "Diddy Wah Diddy" - a Bo Diddley cover performed in a manner that made the group sound like any mediocre pop group of early/mid 60's, and 2 years before the revolutionary 1969 Frank Zappa production "Trout Mask Replica" (for which Van Vliet was given 100% artistic freedom)...
Blues elements have always been apparent in Beefheart's singing as well as in his music, and it's probably the strongest element on "Safe as Milk;" the album starts off with a slide-guitar dominated tune, played over a commonly used blues structure used by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, among others.
"Grown So Ugly," though not a 12 bar structure completely in 4/4, is also a blues tune and cover of blues singer/guitarist Robert Pete Williams. The guitars on the other tracks are also very bluesy, with perhaps the exception of the 3/4 R&B/doo-wop tune "I'm Glad," which--Beefheart's voice aside--musically sounds unlike the rest of the album.
Another bluesy element is Beefheart's distorted tremolo harmonica (introduced on "Plastic Factory") which, just like his emotional singing on "Where There's Woman," is performed from his heart in a skillful, personal way.

The overall sound has been digitally improved. It's not only clearer than on the original LP record, but also compared to earlier CD releases of the album. This has made the audio picture wider and the listening experience "easier" if you will. Some might disagree and call this kind of "updating" rape of art. While I can appreciate such a point of view, I must say that I prefer the digitally re-mastered version (of THIS album) for a number of reasons:
- The Captain's singing in the left channel on "Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I do" doesn't suffer from being too low in volume anymore.
- The balance between the instruments is more accurate to how it was intended from the start (though no BIG changes have been made - it's not re-MIXED). The reason some tracks originally suffered from "bad balance" is that the music was recorded on 4 tracks, but due to a low production budget, had to be mixed on 2.
- Though improvements have been made by shifting certain frequencies it still sounds dirty and "old" like it should.
There is, in my opinion, a downside to this, though: the guitar sound on "Call On Me" is a bit brighter than earlier - the pogo stick/fast feather sounding kind of tremolo/vibrato effect is much more obvious now than before (I had barely noticed it earlier.) It makes the guitar sound a bit out-of-tune, and the whole mix of the song seems a bit thicker because of this, but it's no BIG problem, though I could have lived without the uplifting of that element.

With the 7 bonus tracks the CD runs over 71 minutes, but the original "Safe as Milk," i.e. the 12 first tracks, is a bit under 34 minutes long.
Several of the bonus tracks are quite interesting; take 5 of the song "Safe as Milk," which originally appeared on the 1968 "Strictly Personal" album, is featured here, with--in comparison to the "Strictly Personal" version--a much sharper mix.
This also goes for take 9 of "Trust Us," - a song that also originally appeared on "Strictly Personal."
The takes are quite similar to their "true form" though the bonus track "Safe as Milk" runs a bit shorter - it lacks the minute of hectic drumming at the end.
The instrumental "Big Black Baby Shoes" is an early version of "Ice Rose" (which wasn't further developed and re-recorded until 12 years later.) "Ice Rose" is included on the 1979 album "Shiny Beast/Bat Chain Puller," where the main melody is played on trombone by Bruce Fowler. "Big Black Baby Shoes" isn't as organized or skillfully played as "Ice Rose," but it's an interesting listen for comparison.
"Dirty Blue Gene" is an early version of "The Witch Doctor Life," which wasn't re-recorded until the making of "Ice Cream for Crown," where no original Magic Band members were featured, and lyrics had been added. Again, the version played 15 years earlier wasn't played as skillfully, but it's still candy for your ears.
On "Korn Ring Finger" Van Vliet introduces the "manual tremolo" effect by turning the mic on and off while singing a long note - this effect was to be used a lot during the "Mirror Man" session.

Upon its release, "Safe as Milk" was John Lennon's favorite album. With the original LP release of this album, a "Safe as Milk" sticker was featured, and there's a famous picture (famous to Beefheart fans anyway) of Lennon laying in his apartment on a couch reading a magazine, with two "Safe as Milk" stickers on the doors of a cupboard in the background.

Aside from the orginal Magic Band--which consisted of John "Drumbo" French, Alex St. Clair Snouffer, Ry Cooper and Jerry Handley--Doug Moon, Russ Titelman, Milt Holland, Taj Mahal, Sam Hoffman and Richard Perry participate on various instruments here and there throughout the album.
Don't expect it to be another "Trout Mask Replica" if that's all you've heard by Captain Beefheart, but don't think that you're unable to like this music just because you like "Trout Mask" - I like both. This album has perhaps more commercial potential than any other Magic Band release, and should appeal especially to fans of slide guitar/harmonica dominated 60's rock with a raw, bluesy sound.
Just like the sticker on the CD-case reads, this is "one of the most extraordinary debut albums in history."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginnings, October 13, 2003
By 
"frnick" (savannah, ga. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
If you are a true fan of Rock and Rool, or good music you need to get this cd. It is the forerunner of punk. It is the beginning of alt rock. It is true blues and boogie done in an original way. It is a Beat Poet doing his stuff musically.Sadly, most people have heard only "Tourt Mask Replica" from the good Captain. While a great, great cd, "...Replica" is not easily accesible to most music fans. "Safe as Milk" is just that; safe as milk for the listener. Anyone can and will enjoy ths cd.Little Steven should just play this one straight through on his little Sunday Night show.All the musicians and songwriters might learn something. After you hear this one and learn to love it, a whole new world will open to you. Your mind will expand. You will see and hear new things. All without the artificial effects of drugs.You will be on the way to being a complete person with the more Beefheart you hear. Next stop; Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Safe as the business end of a flame throwa', September 10, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Audio CD)
Meet the Beefheart! It's like two blues bands playing different songs at the same time to see who can be the nastiest. The Captain's love of The Stones can definitely be heard on tunes like "ZigZag Wanderer", and "Call On Me". This is a great stepping stone record if you love the blues and want to get to know the Captain. The re-master sounds amazing. I almost miss the hiss.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise yourself with an old favorite..., October 23, 2013
By 
Leopold Stotch (Square Nut, Montana, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Safe As Milk (Vinyl)
...gotta say, I've never been a huge mono purist. But I do prefer the Beatles' records in mono because that's how the band themselves envisioned them -- ditto Phil Spector and Brian Wilson's masterpieces. But I don't find it inherently superior or anything...

But this was a revelation: The old stereo mix was kind of a classically '60s, dopey thing, with wide separation and little to no bleed, giving it a very artificial, disembodied quality that served as a barrier to the listener. That said, the music is so dang amazing that it didn't matter too much.

Hearing producer Richard Perry's original mono mix, which was apparently scrapped by the label in favor of the gimmicky stereo version, is almost like hearing this record for the first time: The band actually sounds like a band, the bass is very present and driving, and John French's amazing drumming seems crisper and more dynamic. Beefheart's vocals are more integrated with the band. The whole thing is just way more punchy and exciting.

I got it on vinyl, and the pressing is great. Sundazed sometimes skimps on their LP reissues, with no inserts or goodies (even if the CD edition has new photos/liner notes), but they make up for it here with a great four panel insert and a reproduction of the original sticker included with the album. David Fricke's notes are ok, but I honestly don't trust anything he's written since he gave the John Fogerty greatest-hits-with-guests album five stars.

If you're on the fence about this one, go for it...you'll be glad you did.
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Safe As Milk
Safe As Milk by Captain Beefheart (Audio CD - 1999)
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