DON'T ARGUE WITH THE CAPTAIN
history - story
LICK MORE DECALS OFF, BABY
months ago i already had laid aside a fitting picture to use on this web site but i almost forgot about it, till i noticed that this unknown photo has been published (behind my back, so to say) in the liner notes to the 'grow fins' box set. although semi-psychedelic manipulations have made most pictures in it invisible, they overlooked four small ones - and as this is one of them, some of you already have a faint 7x5 cm idea what is on it.
the original shot is one of the pics taken for the front cover of the 1970 album 'lick my decals off, baby'. contrary to other never before published alternate pictures from that session which recently emerged along the anthology 'the dust blows forward', this one has had a semi-public showing before. it was used as an illustration (with the mentioned size) in the 15 march 1971 issue of the weekly warner / reprise in-house publication CIRCULAR vol. 3 #2 to a report about troubles with the short teevee commercial to promote the record:
THE BEEFHEART TV BOOGIE
the "banned in los angeles and new york" television commercial for captain beefheart's 'lick my decals off, baby' has finally seen the light of video. after being rejected by metromedia on both coasts - in los angeles kttv station manager charles young charged that the album title is "obscene" - the 60-second spot was welcomed by wdca-tv in washington, d.c., and aired twice on the march 6 edition of 'the barry richards show', featuring captain beefheart and the magic band.
"it's a terrific bit of film," stated wdca station manger ed baruch, "and beautiful advertising. it's a stopper. of course, there's nothing obscene about it. it's just that it's pure beefheart, black-and-white, and different from anything else on television. we'd be happy to run it every night here in washington."
UNFIT FOR STAG PARTY
the commercial was conceived and written by beefheart, executed by filmmakers larry secrest and jon fizdale, and scheduled with kttv in los angeles for 'creature features', 'george putnam and the news, and 'the david frost show'. warner bros bought teaser ads in the 'los angeles free press' plugging the dates the commercial was to air, and as the paper went to press the spot was screened by kttv's charles young, who is rumored to have announced: "i wouldn't even show that at a stag party".
he did specifically say, however, to warner's media buyer diana balocca: "i just don't like it. i think it's crude and don't want it on my air. let's say i find the commercial unacceptable and let it go at that".
when the station cancelled, warner bros took the spot to the national association of broadcasters (nab), who also nixed it for airing on any of their member stations. the nab added that they might reconsider if the voice-over reading the album title at the end of the commercial was edited out. 'lick my decals off, baby', said the nab, is a "take-off on a well-known phrase" and therefore offensive to a family audience.
MORE TO COME?
now that the commercial has been aired in washington, unedited and in its entirety, warner bros' balocca is investigating buys with other non nab affiliates. when asked if he had been scared off television by the beefheart adventure, warner's creative services director stan cornyn stated: "actually, we got more publicity mileage out of the commercial being banned than if kttv had run it as scheduled. i wonder if there's anything controversial we can do with james taylor".
the text of this article was (wrongly dated) reprinted in issue #5 of the fanzine 'steal softly thru snow', but i've never seen the accompanying picture reproduced on a normal size. so take a better look at
JOHN 'DRUMBO' FRENCH in the foreground, and behind him ART 'ED MARIMBA' TRIPP, BILL 'ZOOT HORN ROLLO' HARKLEROAD, DON 'CAPTAIN BEEFHEART' VAN VLIET and MARK 'ROCKETTE MORTON' BOSTON
picture by ed thrasher
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