Van Vliet was quite a character. He was a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist. His music blended elements of blues, free jazz, rock, and avant-garde composition with idiosyncratic rhythms, absurdist wordplay, and his wide vocal range. Known for his enigmatic persona, Beefheart frequently constructed myths about his life and was known to exercise an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians. Although he achieved little commercial success, he sustained a cult following as a “highly significant” and “incalculable” influence on an array of new wave, punk, and experimental rock artists. The Residents, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth and many others site him as an influence.
Safe As Milk is the first album from Beefheart, and although more approachable than some of his later work, is definitely unusual. A&M Records decided to drop the band after hearing the demos.
If you’re interested in Beefheart, this is a good place to start. So sit back, relax, and join us as we listen to Safe As Milk.