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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1683 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Zappa's first solo album marks his first foray into jazz fusion. The Mothers were quite talented, but his time Frank surrounded himself with some true legends, like violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty and Captain Beefheart. This is one of Frank's more acessible records, which makes it a great place for newbies to join.

"Peaches en Regalia" opens the album with tremendous compostion that gives the center stage to no man. Zappa is a true composer rather than a self-serving solo artist. He makes his priority crafting good music instead of being the one noticed. Peaches is one of my favorite instrumentals. "Willie the Pimp" followswith some great bluesy vocals from the Cap'n and a tremendous solo from Frank that lasts nearly the whole song. I guess he's a little self-serving after all, huh? Still, his solo is very musical. This is really the first song that clued people in on what a phenomenal guitarist Frank was. "Son of Mr. Green Genes" has great saxophone and piano fills and another killer solo, which condenses the virtuosity of the previous song into a shorter length. "Little Umbrellas" opens with weird piano before a sax fill comes in that makes the piano seem normal by comparison. The piano really moves this song, as opposed to the drums in Peaches and the guitar in the last two. "The Gumbo Variations" is a 16 minute band showcase featuring funky basslines, distorted guitars, and a 7 minute sax solo (yeah, you heard me). Afterwords, Ponty gets his time in the spotlight with a lenghty violin solo. The drums on this track are superb; crashing yet rhythmic, they stand out just as much as the sax and violin. The album ends with "It Must Be A Camel," which features piano-sax interplay akin to "Little Umbrellas." Zappa's clean guitar is great, as is the piano, which is played with a lot of emotion.

If you wanted to convince someone of the instrumental prowess Zappa had, this would be a good record (Shut Up 'n Play Your Guitar would be another good choice). Despite his lenghty solo on Willie and the long solos he gives to his guests, Zappa's brilliance lies in his compositional skills that allow members to solo without dominating the sound. This is essential for any fans of jazz-rock, avant-rock, or Zappa.

Grade: A-

1800iareyay | 5/5 |


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