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Frank Zappa - Tinsel Town Rebellion CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.08 | 155 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For the Sophisticated Zappa Fan?

1981 was a big year for Frank Zappa, not only did he release this album, but he also released entire Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar trilogy as well as the slightly underwhelming You Are What You Is. This album in my opinion has all the things You Are What You Is didn't have, but it still doesn't compare at all to his earlier more commercial efforts like Sheik Yerbouti. This album has a very live feel to it (most of Zappa's albums during this period were mostly taken from live shows where he'd premiere most of his songs anyway), and it really comes to a head with the two songs Panty Rap and The Dance Contest.

Anywho, rather than describe all the tracks, I'll give you a rundown of the ones that really made an impression on me. The first is the opener, the simplistic yet effective Fine Girl, which is a silly track about the girl of your dreams. Following that is the 9 minute Easy Meat, which is filled with Tommy Mars' lush synthesizers and a rollicking Zappa solo that, while a bit long, is terribly effective and makes the song probably the best on the album. For the Young Sophisticate has Zappa repeating the phrase "dear heart, dear heart". It's another song in the vein of Fine Girl, but none the less it's an effective piece. The Blue Light segues from The Dance Contest (one of the songs that really hurts the album), and it has some great synthesizers as well as some catchy Zappa vocals.

Tinseltown Rebellion is another favorite of mine on the album, with it's rapid fire bassline and it's cynical and very humorous lyrics about the music industry. It's probably second to Easy Meat in my opinion. Brown Shoes Don't Make it is a more modern version of the Absolutely Free song, and it still has all the bitter social commentary that the original version contained with a slightly newer edge musically (in terms of instrumentation). The concluding piece of the album is an updated version of Peaches en Regalia, which has Warren Cuccurrullo giving a great overall performance on the intricate melodies.

Overall, Tinseltown Rebellion would be a good album, but there are only 5 or 6 songs amongst the 15 total that really impressed me. For fans of 80s Zappa like You Are What You Is and Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, you may find much to like these albums. For those who enjoyed Sheik Yerbouti and to a lesser extent Joe's Garage, you'll find things here and there that are captivating, but not to the extent of those two albums.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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