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Frank Zappa - Them Or Us CD (album) cover

THEM OR US

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.22 | 127 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The 80s was not the best decade for Frank Zappa, in my opinion. Sure, it yielded some pretty strong material (The Perfect Stranger and Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, for example). Unfortunately, it was also a time where he released his most contrived and hackneyed albums. This album, while having a few songs that would stand the test of time and prove some worth, in the end is more underwhelming than one can even imagine and one might even ask the question, what was the point of it all?

The songs in question that stand the test of time are Ya Honza, Sharleena, Stevie's Spanking, and Whipping Post. The first is an instrumental that has a chord progression similar to that of Survivor's hit track Eye of the Tiger. It also features some zany backwards vocals taken from various songs from various eras of Zappa's overall output. It's a pretty solid track that is relatively heavy for Zappa's standards, which makes it somewhat unique. Sharleena is an updated version of the track that first saw the light on 1970's Chunga's Revenge album. While not as good as the original, it has a certain flare to it that makes it above most of the other songs.

Stevie's Spanking is probably my favorite song on the album, as it's got some humorous subject matter and some wild playing on all fronts (especially from "stunt" guitar player Steve Vai, who is payed tribute to in the song, much like Terry Bozzio with Punky's Whips). Whipping Post is the concluding track, a cover from the famous Allman Brother's Band original, and the strong vocals from Bobby Martin help make this track worthwhile (along with the magnificent Zappa guitar solo that dominates most of the track).

With only 4 good tracks out of the total 14, that makes for a pretty bland album overall. I can't really say that I recommend this album all that much. Really, it'd be for the completionists or fans of the poppier side of Zappa (which as you can see from the various reviews of Zappa albums from the 1980s I'm not that much of). Still, Them Or Us has some worth to it, not that much, but there is some certain miniscule allure. Mostly for fans of FZ, in my opinion.

Cygnus X-2 | 2/5 |

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