Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Safe As Milk: #986 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Captain Beefheart - Safe As Milk

Why is Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band’s Safe As Milk on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

This zig zag wander ain’t for everyone, but for me it’s sure ‘nuff ‘n’ yes, I do!

What does Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

The first two songs on Safe As Milk, “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do,” and “Zig Zag Wanderer,” are wildly exciting, strangely compelling, and project the full blast of energy of THE ‘60s as the counterculture was hitting the psychedelic, kaleidoscope-ic wall to see (break on through?) what was on the other side.

“Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do” starts off with a blues riff out of the Mississippi Delta and then accelerates into a stomping blues rocker that always makes me want to hit the open road on a gorgeous day when there’s not a single thing on the agenda nor errand list. It’s Don Vliet a.k.a. Captain Beefheart’s voice that applies a singular, bizarro psychedelia to the operation.

“Zig Zag Wanderer” is one of my favorite songs of the era. Psychedelic Era isn’t quite right though as this song is not Flower Power as much as much as a Blues Rock Force of Nature with the Captain’s freaky vocals giving the operation a psychedelic feel.

The hard rock groove, I like to imagine, would be well at home in some of the hipper venues of New York City and Los Angeles of the era. There’s great and somewhat unusual use of the bass guitar on this song too that gives it an additional boost.

I like other songs on Safe as Milk – the oddball blues of “Dropout Boogie” and “Plastic Factory,” and the surprisingly sweet and doowop-y “I’m Glad” – but things get considerably weirder from here, be warned.

The title track, for example (“Safe As Milk – Take 5”), doesn’t do a ton for me, honestly.

This album also sounds like

I think a good way to think about Captain Beefheart and crew – at least circa Safe As Milk – is that they span from the truly wild and occasionally mental experimentation of Frank Zappa to the grounded, groovy, nuts-and-bolts blues of Bo Diddley.

Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band’s Safe As Milk

High Fidelity alert! I must admit that the music snob in me produced a small self-satisfied sniff when I recognized Safe As Milk when it was deployed in the movie’s fantastic “rock snobs” scene.

It must be said that this scene is a clear example of Jack Black’s comedic genius.

“But will there be an appearance of Tenacious D on this best albums ever list at some point, Eric, pray tell?”

I think you just answered your own question, make believe questioner.

Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band’s Safe As Milk

In a snowy winter in upstate New York sometime in the lost era of the ‘90s, my friends and I were driving the tiny roads that connect Ithaca and Binghamton, New York. We may have just seen one of our favorite local bands, Brother Meat, perform (and I’m just now realizing how weirdly similar the band names Brother Meat and Captain Beefheart are – is there some music-based, animal protein-aligned communist military organization that I’m only now becoming aware of?).

My memory is a little hazy on the details, but it was relayed that one of our other friends was drunk enough to the extent that while walking he was taking strides much further right and left than what would be considered normal – zigging and zagging, if you will. My friend Dan coined a little musical anthem to accompany this drunken zig zag motion, and of course the drunken zig zagger was immediately dubbed the Zig Zag Wanderer.

Forever more, drunken walking and indeed strange walks of all sorts have become akin to zig zag wandering from that date forward.  

Some stats & info about Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Safe As Milk

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Classic Rock, Experimental Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating5 out of 5 stars(!)
  • When was Safe As Milk released? 1967
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #986 out of 1,000

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band’s Safe As Milk on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.