Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band – Strictly Personal (1968), Mirror Man (1971)


“The tracks for Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s second album were recorded between October 1967 and May 1968. One reason for giving the album the title Strictly Personal was that Van Vliet wrote all the songs, with no song doctor looking over his shoulder, as there was on the first album. The results are for the most part variations on the blues and more basic rock forms of the time. Where many of the tracks on the first album included both straight and slide guitar, Van Vliet here begins assembling his music around the rasping, whining sound two slide guitars make, a sound he would continue to favor. But even with the two slide guitars weaving and clashing, the sound of the album is much more monochrome, the songs much more sound-alike than those on the first album. Strictly Personal has an overall tone as unflashy as its manila cover art. Without Herb Bermann’s input, the lyrics become more impressionistic, and at the same time they become sparser; some barely develop beyond their titles.The music on Strictly Personal doesn’t impress the way Safe As Milk does. The compositions are simpler, more a beginner’s, even a naif’s music—there is nothing here with the complex structure of a ‘Dropout Boogie’ or the harmonic richness of ‘Autumn’s Child.’ But neither are there any songs which seem to be aimed toward Top 10 radio play, as there were on the first album. What Van Vliet is doing with the music here is almost literally levelling his musical landscape, stripping everything down to its bare bones so that he can begin to build something new. While Safe As Milk is certainly the first album by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Strictly Personal, true to its title, is the first album shaped solely by Van Vliet’s sensibility. There is an immediacy and a physicality to the music which is missing from most of the previous album, which for all its originality comes from a more commercially calculated approach. ….”
PERFECT SOUND FOREVER
W – Strictly Personal, W – Mirror Man
Strictly Personal discography, Mirror Man discography
Reflecting On Captain Beefheart’s ‘Mirror Man’
YouTube: Strictly Personal 7 videos, Mirror Man 52:59

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