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About a week or so ago, it was the first time in about two years I had listened to one of my longtime favourite singer-songwriter albums, Joni Mitchell's Blue, and quite frankly, the first in all the times I've listened to it that the music has had a truly profound effect on the way I felt at the time, and that goes far beyond my mood. And let me tell you, this has only made me hold this highly influential and globally lauded masterpiece of 20th century folk music in even higher regard than ever before.

To me, Blue is one of those very, very endangered albums where all the musical content is so meticulously weaved and magical, that it literally "speaks" to my mind. There is something quite startling about the just-right blend of soothing instrumental work with Joni's voice, and, perhaps most importantly, the no-frills honesty, intricacy and continuous, unified, smooth-as-liquid flow of the lyrics that makes it all communicate quite successfully with my subconscious mind. I know, what I just said may seem like overblown bogus elitist bull to some picky people, but if you want to know the truth, it's difficult for me to name any other album in my collection that has successfully managed to improve my state of being at the moment enough to give me the motivation to complete a necessary task that seemed like pure drudgery to me at first; the rate at which I did this task after I listened to Blue was, astonishingly, a bit faster-paced compared to before.

If this will not be recognized by people of distant generations in future centuries as the de facto example of "subconscious music", then I don't know what will. As sublime and beautiful as some of Joni Mitchell's later albums may be, I can't picture anything matching or surpassing the all-too-holy Blue in its wildly groundbreaking accomplishments, and that really is saying something. Mind you, I've found that Blue doesn't seem to be universally suitable for all mindsets - yes, some people do dismiss it for its "femininity" - but when it is matched with the correct listener mentality, regardless of gender, it's hard to describe how it grows on and overtakes one with the sheer genius of its material, which goes so far as to defying the necessity of being assigned the maximum possible rating on any rating system, for all the reasons mentioned in this review and more.

by Reviewer: Ryan Alexander

Posted: Saturday 2nd Aug 2014 10:41 AM

What are 'decals' anyway, and how exactly does one lick them off?!? Well, it hardly matters ... Mr. Beefheart continues with the sound of Trout Mask Replica, except with one less guitar player and one more Jazz trumpet player.

Vliet produced this album himself, so there's no Zappa and no field recordings - just fifteen songs that sit right up there with the most astonishing work Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band have ever made. There's a problem though, in that this album has been unavailable for years and years and years, and still isn't around to buy on CD - and I'm not quite sure why - contractual wrangles most likely. If it had been around - chances are, it would be held in nearly as high regard as the more acclaimed Trout Mask Replica.

Lick My Decals Off, Baby is clearly a continuation of Trout Mask Replica, although with differences. There are songs leaning more towards Jazz here, although the fractured cut-up nature of the music remains the same.

The opening title song is just one of those things that makes me smile, it's perfect. The lyrics are at once clever, pervy, and bizarre ... 'I wanna lick you everywhere you think, and everywhere you're pink' etc ... with fabulous riffing guitars to close. "Doctor Dark" arrives with clattering 'falling over drumkit' drums, and "I Love You, You Big Dummy" has wailing and drums and vocal excursions and Beefheart laughs, and the listener laughs too. The lyrics are so funny - the man sure had a way with words.

"Peon" is a Beefheart piano piece translated to solo guitar. With the guitar going here and there throughout most songs, along with the drums, the overall feel is very similar to Trout Mask Replica, only this album is slightly less intense. The songs aren't quite so astonishing, although all told the quality of the songs aren't too far behind. "Petrified Forest" for example is strange, lovely, difficult, and very abstract - very much like listening to broken china. And yet, there's the voice and words of Beefheart - and those aspects dominate, until everything falls nicely together, and the musicians suddenly fall into line - just for a short time, with great melodic phrases.

"Space Age Couple" includes the immortal refrain 'Space age couple, why don't you flex your magic muscle', and the entire lyric includes similar daft rhymes and grin-inducing wordplays. My favourite song however - apart from the title track - is the utterly melodious "The Clouds Are Full Of Wine". Some listeners might think the short fragments of guitar and drums aren't melodic, and OK, they do appear to be working against each other, but then there's so many of them!

Listening to either Lick My Decals or Trout Mask Replica really requires the listener to have five ears, so both albums require a lot of attention! It's well worth doing so though, as they're an entirely different world ... pure Beefheart, and deeply rewarding.

by Reviewer: Adrian Denning

Posted: Saturday 2nd Aug 2014 3:03 PM