Sound — 10
I bought this album with Trout Mask Replica in mind, and was surprised by the country-like guitar at the beggining. It changes all the way through to a variety of styles. He goes from Country to Blues to Rock, and more. Musically, the album is terrific, even if a lot of the songs feel a bit too short. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it just seems that a few good songs get killed off when they could have kept going. It's not nearly as wierd as Trout Mask, but I prefer it in many ways. It was pretty original at the time, and it remains original over thirty five years later. Apparently, the bassist had real problems remembering and following on to the music, because he'd never played bass the was Don Van Vliet wanted him to play. You couldn't tell by listening to the album though, because the bass is pretty good. I have one of the new CDs, which means that I've got extra tracks from the Mirror Man album. These tracks are pretty rubbish, and don't show the skill of the original album. In fact, the only good song of all the extras is Trust Us (Take 9), despite the moaning at the beginning and the pretentious lyrics. Tracks that stand out are "Zig Zag Wanderer," "Electricity," "Where There's Woman" and "Autumn's Child."
Lyrics — 8
I liked a majority of beefheart's lyrics in Trout Mask, because, although they didn't make much sense, they had some sort of skewed logic, so you could follow along, and even sing along to the song. The lyrics in Safe As Milk are a lot more conventional than Trout Mask. A lot of the time, they even make sense! The lyrics comply with the music, but Don Van Vliet sometimes doesn't. During a slow song, like "I'm Glad", Don's Voice (it's like gravell in a vegetable mixer) works against the music. This somehow works, though, because despite his harsh voice, he is a very good singer. Actual lyrics are pretty weak at times, like in "I'm Glad" where it really doesn't feel like Beefheart's usual nonsense, because they aren't particularly memorable or funny.
Overall Impression — 9
What a great album! It's a '60s classic that should have attracted more recognition. It's certainly one of the best in my collection. I bought it months ago, and I'm still listening to it, which shows that it'll last you a while, and if you buy the version of the DC with the mirror man songs, you might just get used to them too. It's certainly easier to listen to than Trout Mask. I like most of the songs, but "Autumn's Child," "Grown So Ugly" and "Electricity" stand out most.