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4.1 out of 5 stars
26
4.1 out of 5 stars
Unconditionally Guaranteed
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 October 2014
When this first came out in 1974, Beefheart purists and other twerps gave it a big thumbs down (as they did the rather bland follow-up Bluejeans & Moonbeams, with better reason) saying the good Captain had 'sold out' and other inanities of the era. I ignored the critics, bought the LP, and loved or liked every colourful and diverse moment of it.
Mind you, Don himself disowned this and B&M, and the band hated it. However, that was then, when you could be a bit of a purist about your own music too.
After the first four LPs, Don & his Magic Band began to explore different musical approaches, such as the soulfulness of the magnificent Clear Spot, the bluesy muddy waters of The Spotlight Kid, and this thoroughly entertaining mix of old-style Beefheart bawling and a gentler balladeering vocal style we'd barely suspected the guy had in him (despite the lovely, heartfelt Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles, from Clear Spot).
There's so much to like here, even for those timid souls who wouldn't normally go for Beefheart.
The gruffly insinuating staccato opener Upon the My-O-My could be from almost any of his albums (except perhaps Trout Mask Replica) while Sugar Bowl, New Electric Ride and Full Moon Hot Sun are in a slightly similar mould.
The rest of the tracks are what the critics despised. More fool them.
The tender Magic Be, the hypnotic I Got Love On My Mind, the beautiful This Is The Day and the sultry Lazy Music are all very un-Beefheartian yet hugely enjoyable for all that.
The closer Peaches is a frenetic number that ends this underrated record in fine style.
The other track is Happy Love Song, which is just that, but is sung - Don does more actual singing on this than on almost any other album - grainily and with great passion.
One or two of the tracks are perhaps rather throwaway, but I've had a soft spot this LP since the day a Beefheart-mad twenty-three year-old bought it all of forty years ago.

This is the day that love came to play
The day love came to stay
One minute here, one minute there
Love spent time everywhere...
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on 3 August 2017
He hated it. I quite like some of it. But it's a cheesy listen, in the main. Still a must have, though.
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on 21 January 2014
I'm not into Capt. Beefheart, I know some of his other stuff, but this album is outstanding. It contains betautiful songs, well written and performed. The voice is something you have to get used to, but not bad, the musicians are sublime. Drums and bass do what is needed, the guitarparts are crystal clear, sharp as a knife. So is the production. Each time I listen to this collection of well grafted songs I enjoy this tremendously. It is therefore sad to hear that the main artist has taken so much distance from this outing. Nothing to be shamed for, on the contrary. If so much albums by other artists had this quality would be most welcome. To anyone who is not familair with Unconditionally Guaranteed I would like to recommend this.
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on 31 August 2011
This is my favourite Captain beefheart record. It is his most commercial. The best Avant Garde record by Captain Beefheart, in my opinion is; 'Shiney Beast Bat Chain Puller' also highly recommended is 'Lick my decals off baby' which deserves a mention, for extending the boundries of contempory music. There has been nothing quite like it.
There was a lot of controversy, with the release of, 'Unconditionally Guarenteed', Fans, accused Captain Beefheart of 'selling out', and pilloried him for it. I think they were totally wrong. Every Artist needs to eat.
You wouldn't want a composer to be remembered for writing just bizarre music. Ater all, Frank Zappa moved between both genre. The complex and wierd one moment. Then straight pop music next. Nothing was said about that.
So it is; with this release, Captain Beefheart; alias Don Van Viet, is showing a wider audiance, his phenominal music talents.
The opening track; 'Upon the my o my'. Has Don Van Viet singing and growling. Like a Hurricane at full force. Zoot Horn Rollo's urgent, excellent guitar playing, tries to out-do the singing. DV hits back , with a short Harp solo. Its amazing stuff. The Magic Band, really are magic on this record. Brilliant bass from Rocket Morton. Perfect drumming from Art Tripp, makes for fabulous music.
The next track 'Sugar Bowl' starts off with a slow 'I come frome Alabama', intro, then is played fast. In the middle, there is a slight pause, as Zoot leads a syncopated beat, as though he was stamping hes foot, saying 'Come on, you are not keeping up'. Then they are off again. So thrilling.
'Happy Love Song', is catchy Pop music.Complete with a brass section. Which would have been destined for the charts. Given any kind of Radio air-play.
Lots of amazing slide guitar throughout. Or as Don Viet would say, 'Winged-Eel fingerling guitar'.
There are love songs such as; 'Magic be', and 'Love on my mind'. Captain Beefheart gave us a hint that he could write great love songs. On the album 'Clear Spot', tracks such as; 'Blue Million Miles', and 'Crazy love song'.
What pleases me so much about 'Conditionally' is; The range and variety of singing. 'This is the day'. Is a lovely melancholy blues. Don Viet sings so sincerely. In almost hushed tones. I have never heard him sing like that before, but it sounds great.Zoot Horn Rollo's guitar solo is spell-blinding
The rousing upbeat, 'Peaches', is a great finale. As it follows the slowed down relaxing, 'Lazy Music', which has a repeated melody. Like a Tap slowly dripping. Capturing that lazy feeling. Which strangely, makes it even more enjoyable.
'Peaches' is played fast. The Captain growling at hes best again. The Magic band playing for all their worth. As if they already know this is their last recording together.
On Unconditionally Guarenteed. I defy Anyone to play better guitar than Zoot Horn Rollo. Don Van Viet's singing has never been so good. All the songs, are beautiful compositions.
I am proud to own this record, and I will always love playing it.
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on 6 July 2007
This is the second Beefheart album I've heard. It was actually the first I bought, but I bought Safe As Milk right after it and decided to listen to that first since it was the first album and had better reviews. The accepted opinion on this one appears to be that it's a good album when compared with music in general, but dreadful when compared with (most of) Beefheart's other output. How amazing is that? The guy is so good that you can only compare his work to his other work.

Anyway, I love Safe As Milk. It's my new favourite album. I am obsessed with it. It is a work of audacious genius, and I'm sorely tempted to buy every other Beefheart album all in one go. The only thing that stops me is that I'm a bit skint this month. But how good is Unconditionally Guaranteed? I first listened to it the other day while wasshing up. My first thought was, "this is rubbish". It didn't have the big sound that Safe As Milk had, and it didn't have the weird musical variation, nor the absolutely manic vocal performance. In fact, it sounded more like some of the later stuff by The Doors; kind of sterile and loungey. Nevertheless, by the time it had finished I wanted to listen to it again. Straight away. And the moment I started listening to it that second time... it sounded better. And since then I've listened to it a lot. Yes, I like it. Yes, it is good when compared with most other music, and no it's not as good as Safe As Milk. But there's no weak tune on it, and each tune that comes on makes me think, "oh, good". "This Is The Day" is probably the best, but really, I like them all. It is a bit like mid-era Doors, but, in a previous review of Safe As Milk, I said The Doors seemed lame in comparison... and they seem kind of lame in comparison to this too. So overall, I'm really glad I got it, and I can't wait to get my next Beefheart record.
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on 24 March 2016
It doesn't matter to me what the Captain is reported to have said (or not said) about this album. I like all of his other albums that I've heard - and I've got a lot - and was willing to give this one a go. You can hear a bit of irony in some of the tracks, and you're not going to mistake him for another artist when you're listening to the album...But...Other than that, it's not very good. The relatively laid back feel sounds anemic, and comes off poorly when compared to his other more complex / difficult albums. Another reviewer said that it is good driving music, but that's not why I buy Captain Beefheart albums. All of the rest of his work that I've heard is better than this.
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on 27 December 2009
The band's magic. Good singer too.
And songs touched with that off-centredness you'd expect of Beefheart.
This was exactly what I was looking out for when I last made a foray into my mate's old vinyl collection, housed in a sagging tower block of ezy-build cardboard LP containers. Here it was that I had rediscovered 'Buffalo Springfield Again'. This time I unearthed another minor pop-edelia gem. Actually I never was a fan of Beefheart - all that psychedelic overlording and seemingly contrived weirdness. Admittedly I had owned a 'Spotlight Kid' - here described as lugubrious - and been one of the British long-hairs that had got it to no.40 in the UK charts in 1972, but, tellingly, can't remember a thing about it apart from the cover - the Captain himself of course, looking suave.

'Unconditionally Guaranteed' has a similar preoccupation with the guvnor's
image; on the front cover leering at the camera with hands full of crumpled lucre, and on the back looking like he likes being looked at. The seven pages between tell of the Van Vliet autocracy and the extremely polarised response that this album met with. On the front cover the Magic Band get no more than four words in small font, further reduced to invisibility on CD size, but it is them that make this 1974 album what it is.

The Captain stamps his moniker on the very funky swamp rock opening riff straight away. Just when it sounds like it could get tedious Zoot Horn Rollo, the Magic Band guitar player, rescues it and then flute and sax come sliding in too. This is how I remembered Beefheart, strained and menacing. A lighter bluesy romp with a lovely guitar intro follows and suddenly I'm thinking what a great voice the Captain had (He'd have sounded like Waylon Jennings if he'd been a country singer). This burgeons into a blues that would be unremarkable were it not for Rockette Morton rescuing it via the bass line. What follows could best be described as a languorous shag with a swamp-rock band on the hi-fi, Zoot Horn Rollo's glass finger guitar adding the highlights. It feels nice. The mood doesn't lapse post-coital; it switches sweetly straight into a 'magic' love song with really risible (but rather nice) lyrics - the sort of thing that gave flowers a bad name. Another (happy) love song with a commanding vocal performance from the Captain is taken past the three and a half minute mark by the tenor player with its anthemic ending. Brings to mind the 'E Street Band'.

By this time one is beginning to realize that there isn't going to be anything
deeply meaningful anywhere, at least not in actual words but subliminally it's all interestingly skewed and musically rich. It moves along so sweetly, never a dull moment. Love songs, shag songs or 'both' songs, which may have been what led the NME to comment on 'a disconcerting lack of substance'.
'I Got Love on My Mind' is the best of them just because of Zoot Horn Rollo again. 'This is the Day' with its sweet barely stated intro. is one of those medium tempo psychedelic ballads that recall Country Joe's 'Electric Music.' And the turn of the keyboard player Mark Marcellino to take it further into space and get it nearer the five minute mark. Fine music.
'Lazy Music' ('It's slow like love') has the best of all of it brought together. And while the Captain goes background it's Rockette Morton's bass playing that carries the song. And just to underline that this is Captain Beefheart, side two goes out strong and abrasive with the Captain, demanding his peaches out of the tree 'throw one down for me'; funk, again spliced with great rock guitar, a fabulous bass-line, harmonica and horn sounds to fill the mix, the way side one came in. Just listen to that Magic Band from the one minute 30 mark and you'll see what I'm on about!

From there on it was all in the ear of the beholder or the lap of the industry.
Beefheart 'exhorted anyone who had bought the album to ask for their money back.' (liner note).
Melody Maker reckoned that CB & MB had at last 'really made it'.
Lester Bangs opinion was that 'it conked out his music just short of total death' - whatever that means, but he was apparently Van Vliet's friend.
Ben Watson's book on Frank Zappa 'The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play' call 'Unconditionally Guaranteed' 'a brilliant distillation of hypnotic pop'. I'd go with that.
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on 5 March 2001
Id heard terrible things about this album and the next bluejeans and moonbeams, and nearly gave them a miss. But I desperatly needed another fix of the captain, so plucked for this album, it certainly lacks the charging twistedness of some earlier albums, trout mask replica and lick my decalls off baby. It is a much more main stream approch for the captain, that being said it is still probably a cut above your average rock/blues album. My favourite tracks are the first "upon the my oh my", which is bold and funky also the last tune "lazy music", which is a great kick back relax tune. So if your after the usual captain stuff somthing to pick at and wonder this is not the album for you, but if you want a good rock album, try it...
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on 2 April 2003
Ground level access to the Beefheart phenomena. He must have given in to the record company, for here you find him singing marketable melody, yet still managing to inject his personal idiosyncrasies. If folklore is true, every note and every silence comes from his capacious mind, and if that is not enough, he probably cut one of the best romances with This Is The Day, an elusively simple but powerful piece. Upon The My-o-my is often shown on BBC's O.G.W.T. reruns. Get your head around this album and Trout Mask Replica will begin to make better sense. The greatest guy in rock history? Very possibly. Enjoy.
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on 26 September 2000
This album is often mentioned as one of the Captains's poorer efforts, but I'm not convinced. Sure, this album doesn't feature any of the patience-testing freak-outs of "Trout Mask Replica", nor any of the jazz-groove noodlings of later albums, but it does contain some good examples of where their 60's pop and blues sentiments can work together well. Only complaints are that it's a bit too short, and the Captain seems to be running short of lyrics in places, but apart from that, this is one of the more enjoyable Beefheart albums that you can actually play to other people as well!
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