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Frank Zappa - Chunga's Revenge CD (album) cover

CHUNGA'S REVENGE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.37 | 221 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chris H
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Flo and Eddie have arrived!

"Chunga's Revenge", Zappa's third studio outing of the seventies, is the first album in which the wisecracking jokers from The Turtles known for real as Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman arrive on the scene. Most Zappa die-hards find the Flo & Eddie (back then known as "The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie", but later shortened) years as Zappa's weakest period, although I have other opinions. Now let's review shall we?

"Transylvania Boogie" is the first song off of the album, and it is a great instrumental, rock hard opener. It might just be me, but when I listen to it, my ears detect some Eastern influences towards the middle. Nonetheless, it is an excellent piece, especially because Frank himself does the playing here (as he does on most of the whole album). "Road Ladies" is next, and it is a semi-blues song about life on the road while touring. It has some awesome rave-ups in the beginning and towards the end of the middle. Also, the lyrics are quite funny, and sometimes true of real-life settings. The next song, "Twenty Small Cigars" is another FZ solo, but unlike most of his guitar work ("Transylvania Boogie" included), this song is just really forgettable. I find myself not even remembering this track even right after I listen to it. "The Nancy And Mary Music" is the fourth track, and it is almost 10 minutes of the band just having some instrumental fun. Although Frank gets most of the spotlight again, Ian Underwood is the real hero of this song with his instrumental multi-tasking virtuosity.

"Tell Me You Love Me" is a really hard, deep guitar driven song projected by none other than everybody's friends Flo & Eddie. Most fans put down this song because of the singers, but actually this is some of their best work and Zappa's riffs are untouchable here. Really one of the best on the album. "Would You Go All The Way?" is where Flo & Eddie really come out of their shell and unleash their comic genius on the audience. Unfortunately, comic genius doesn't always translate into a great song. "Chunga's Revenge" is probably the only piece on this album fit to name the album after. Another instrumental, this FZ solo is just absolutely smothered in wah-wah delight, making wah gods like Hendrix kiss the ground Zappa walks on. One of the finest solos I have ever heard. Unfortunately, this amazing solo is followed up by "The Clap", which is a short percussion experiment gone horribly wrong. This might be one of the worst songs on the album, and no, there is no relation to "The Yes Album" here. Haha. "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink" continues the Flo & Eddie traveling sideshow, and although there isn't really anything here of musical interest (albeit a few golden guitar moments), I find I enjoy this song, just for comedic values. "Sharleena" is a poor attempt at a love song/ballad-type-thing, and I really, really do not enjoy this song. This version is far more accessible, but if you prefer a lot of musicianship like myself I would recommend you check out the 12 minute version of "Sharleena" found on "The Lost Episodes' it features a ton of guitar genius not found here.

Unfortunately, after all is said and done, this is a very erratic album. It mixes good songs with bad songs, serious songs with goof-offs, and masterful solos with novelty drum-banging. All of the comedy on this album really takes away from the genius Frank Zappa lays down on his solos. Flo & Eddie are in their tightest cage here, so if you can't handle them now do not even attempt any further albums from this period. Although Frank put down two of his greatest solos here ("Transylvania Boogie" and "Chunga's Revenge"), the novelty comedic songs such as "Would You Go All The Way" and "The Clap" take away from the essence a little bit. I highly recommend this album to anybody interest in hear some amazing fretwork on the guitar, but other than that, this is not an album for the weak-hearted or uptight.

3 Stars.

Chris H | 3/5 |

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