Friday, 2 September 2016

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and the Safe As Milk identity parade

Safe As Milk was released in the US in the summer of 1967. Original copies came with an inner sleeve that depicted a number of the band's cronies:



Musicians aside, I can identify the following:


Label boss Bob Krasnow



Producer Richard Perry



DJ Tom Donahue


Avalon manager Chet Helms

Los Angeles DJ Bobby Dale



Engineer Hank Cicalo


Mrs. Sandy Krasnow and their children


Producer Richard Perry's younger brother, Fred


An unnamed receptionist at the Kama Sutra / Buddha office in Los Angeles

The others are a mystery. Any ideas?




CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and the release of Safe As Milk

Readers of this blog will of course need no introduction to Captain Beefheart's first album. This post concerns its release date; the one most commonly given is September 1967, but I suspect this is up to three months out. Here's some evidence.

1) this advert appeared in Billboard on June 24th


2) this double-spread appeared in World Countdown in June


3) John Lennon posed for this photo at home in Surrey on June 29th (though the stickers, one of which came with each copy of the LP, could easily have been given to him separately by his pal Derek Taylor, who was managing Beefheart's publicity at the time)


4) This collage appeared in World Countdown in July


5) This advert appeared in World Countdown in August (and makes the unlikely claim that 20,000 copies had already changed hands)


6) In Billboard of August 19th, the LP was tipped as a ‘National Breakout,’ indicating albums that 'have been reported getting strong sales action by dealers in major markets’:


For what it's worth, World Countdown ran yet another full-page ad for it the following month:


7) Finally, on January 11th 1969, the UK music weekly Record Mirror ran an intriguing letter from Michael Ashwell of One Stop Records in London:


The letter makes it clear that John Peel had received a 'review copy' in late July 1967, which - allowing for transatlantic shipping - confirms a release date of mid-July at the latest.

The earliest reviews I have seen for the album, incidentally, date from November 1967, which is puzzling.

One last thought: on the inner sleeve that came with the LP, a jolly chap in a sombrero can be seen holding a copy of Sgt. Pepper, which was released at the start of June - so if Safe As Milk did come out the same month, the artwork must have been turned around pretty fast.