Follow TV Tropes


Music / Safe as Milk

Go To
Don't zig zag wander around this album. Play and listen to it!

Safe As Milk is the 1967 debut album by Captain Beefheart, generally regarded as one of his best albums, along with Trout Mask Replica, Lick My Decals Off, Baby, Clear Spot, and Doc at the Radar Station. It's also full of Early-Installment Weirdness. On this album, Beefheart is closer to the Blues sounds he tried to emulate his entire career than on any of his later albums. Some tracks such as "Call On Me" and "I'm Glad" are quite traditional, but amazing tracks like "Sure 'Nuff 'n' Yes I Do", "Dropout Boogie", "Electricity" and "Autumn's Child" show the experimental directions Beefheart would become famous for.

This is the only album recorded while Ry Cooder was in the Magic Band. On the cover, Cooder is the guy with sunglasses in the back.

John Lennon and George Harrison were big fans and photographed in the presence of the Safe As Milk bumper stickers.


Side One

  1. "Sure 'Nuff 'n' Yes I Do" (2:15)
  2. "Zig Zag Wanderer" (2:40)
  3. "Call On Me" (2:37)
  4. "Dropout Boogie" (2:32)
  5. "I'm Glad" (3:31)
  6. "Electricity" (3:07)

Side Two

  1. "Yellow Brick Road" (2:28)
  2. "Abba Zabba" (2:44)
  3. "Plastic Factory" (3:08)
  4. "Where There's Woman" (2:09)
  5. "Grown So Ugly" (2:27) (a cover of Robert Pete Williams)
  6. "Autumn's Child" (4:02)


  • Don Van Vliet - vocals, harmonica
  • Alex St. Clair - guitar, bass, vocals, percussion
  • Jerry Handley - bass guitar
  • John French - drums
  • Ry Cooder - guitar, bass
  • Samuel Hoffman - theremin
  • Milt Holland - log drum, tambourine, percussion
  • Russ Titelman - guitar

Dropout Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Safe As Milk"
    Freezer fumes feed the gas tears
  • Alliterative Title: "Zig Zag Wanderer", "Big Black Baby Shoes".
  • Blues: Like most of Beefheart's albums it starts off with blues music, but then it moves into bizarre territories. However, this album is closer to traditional blues than many of the albums that followed.
  • Break Up Song: "I'm Glad".
    But I'm glad, glad of all the good times that we've had.
  • Call on Me: "Call On Me".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The second track of Beefheart's next album Strictly Personal is called "Safe As Milk". An early take (take 5) can be heard on Safe As Milk as a bonus track.
    • The bonus tracks "On Tomorrow" and "Trust Us" (Take 9) would be heard in a different version on Strictly Personal.
    • The track "Dirty Blue Gene" shares a similar title with "Dirty Blue Gene" from Doc at the Radar Station (1980), but is a totally different song. The melody of "The Witch Doctor's Life" from Ice Cream for Crow (1982), however, is exactly the same as "Dirty Blue Gene" from Safe As Milk.
  • Cover Version: "Grown So Ugly", a blues song by Robert Pete Williams.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Vliet was said to have enjoyed candy a lot, which led to the writing of "Abba Zabba" .
  • Face on the Cover: Beefheart and the band seen through a fish eye lens.
  • Fish-Eye Lens: The album cover is shot that way.
  • Food Songs Are Funny: "Abba Zabba", about the candy brand of the same name.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "Electricity", an amazing song about electricity, and "Abba Zabba", about a brand of candy.
  • One-Woman Song: "Where There's Woman".
  • One-Word Title: "Electricity".
  • The Power of Love: "Autumn's Child", probably the most bizarre love song ever written that still sounds genuine and passionate.
  • Product Placement: In "Sure Nuff 'N' Yes I Do" Beefheart mentions he's got a "brand new Cadillac". "Abba Zabba" was inspired by a brand of candy.
  • Questioning Title?: "Where There's Woman?"
  • Record Producer: Bob Krasnow, Richard Perry.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Sure 'Nuff Yes I Do" has opening bars inspired by Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'". The opening lyric "Well, I was born in the desert" quotes "New Minglewood Blues" by Cannon's Jug Stompers".
    • "Yellow Brick Road" is inspired by The Wizard of Oz.
    • Sonic Youth covered "Electricity" as the final track on the delux edition of their album Daydream Nation.
    • The Edgar Broughton Band was inspired by "Dropout Boogie" and "Apache" by The Shadows to create the single "Apache Drop Out"
      • "Dropout Boogie" was also covered by The Kills on their EP "Black Rooser" (2002).
    • In High Fidelity a desperate record collector wants to buy a copy of Safe As Milk, but Barry (Jack Black) refuses to sell it to him, because he deems him unsuitable to own it. Eventually he just gives it away to a random client and fools him it's something totally else.
    • PJ Harvey's song "Meet Ze Monsta" from her album To Bring You My Love (1995) uses the lines "You told her you love her/ so bring her to mother/ You love her, adapt her/ you love her, adapt her/ Adapt her, adapter/ adapt her, adapter" from Beefheart's "Drop-Out Boogie". The title track "To Bring You My Love", also opens with the same line "Sure 'Nuff 'N' Yes I Do" from does: "Well I was born in the desert, came on up from New Orleans".
  • Silly Love Songs: "Yellow Brick Road" and "I'm Glad".
  • Silly Walk: "Zig Zag Wanderer"
  • Spoken Word in Music:
    The following tone is a reference tone, recorded at our operating level.
  • Sucky School: "Dropout Boogie".
    Go to school, go to school
    Go to school, go to school
    Just can't, just can't
    Just can't, just can't
    Drop out, drop out
    Drop out, drop out
    Can't get a job
    Can't get a job
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "I'm Glad", a straightforward break-up song without surreal lyrics or weird experimentations.
  • Theremin: "Electricity" and "Autumn's Child" use one.
  • Title Track:
    Well, my cigarette died when I washed my face
    Dropped some drops in an ashtray hit a wrong place
    Woman at my blinds to see spiders spinning lines
    It's safe as milk, it's-ah safe as milk
  • Word Salad Lyrics: It's a Captain Beefheart album, folks!