Album no. 174/1001
It’s Frank Zappa, but without the Mothers of Invention and a lot of jazzy influences.
Zappa described this album as a ‘movie for your ears’ – so, make of that what you will. It also contains one of Zappa’s most well-known songs ‘Peaches En Regalia’ which includes a fun mixture of rock, jazz and some of the best clarinet work we’ve seen thus far on the list.
He also recorded the album in 16 track – one of the first artists to do so (everyone else was still using 4 and 8-track. The fools.)
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: No! Old mate Zappa has gotten progressively weirder from Freak Out! though, so I’m pretty apprehensive about this.
NK: I have not.
CL: Is that old mate Captain Beefy I hear on ‘Willie The Pimp’? It is! It’s a gathering of friends! In terms of the rest of the album, ‘Willie The Pimp’ is probably the most accessible song – Zappa left the jazz influences off this one. It actually reminds me a lot of something that Dr John, The Night Tripper might have recorded if he was a million times better. Having said that, it’s still mostly just a lengthy guitar solo with Captain Beefy occasionally hooting and hollering.
NK: How dare you say that about Dr John, but more importantly how good do the drums on this album sound!?!?!? They’re so clear! Very modern sounding compared to what we’ve been working with up to this point. ‘Peaches en Regalia’ is a pretty great opener, although I imagine you won’t have liked the organ coming in halfway through.
CL: ‘The Gumbo Variations’ is pretty banging as well – excellent sax work.
NK: I like that too, although it goes on a little bit long. Much as I hate to agree with you, ‘Willie The Pimp’ is pretty good too.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: Like old mate Zappa says, it really IS like a movie in your head. If you’re too busy doing other things, you’ll miss it. I’d suggest sitting down and really focusing on it.
NK: If you’re keen to jazz out a bit but still want to rock. I can’t get over the drums, going from Oar yesterday to this today is such a massive jump in production quality. Skip Spence was one man, some acoustics and a microphone. Zappa sounds like he’s got a top of the line studio and the best jazz musicians drugs can attract.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: It’s definitely doing something different. HAVING SAID THAT, I actually think it’s not tooooooo out there considering his work on We’re Only In It For The Money – which sounded like it came from outer space most of the time. This is easily a more musical experiment and I think it pays off.
NK: I kind of agree. This might be weird in a musical way, but it’s labelled as jazz so you kind of expect a bit of weirdness. There’s no ‘Help I’m a Rock’ to really freak you out on this one. It’s a big departure from what he was doing with the Mothers of Invention. It might be kind of groundbreaking in the way he has jumped genres, from a weirdo rock/blues/freak band straight over to incredibly well produced jazzy rock.
Will you be listening again?
CL: I didn’t mind this! It’s a real interesting blend of rock and jazz. It’s like Miles Davis – but instead of the emphasis being on jazz, the emphasis is on rock. I wonder if Frank Zappa and Miles Davis would have been friends?
NK: I will probably listen to this again! Didn’t mind it at all.
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