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Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage, Act I CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.12 | 392 ratings

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3 stars Act I was the more musical of them all, and this is agreeably the beginning of Zappa's more...commercial, I suppose you could say, era. Maybe accessible is a better word. The late 70s and start of the 80s seems to be the general time things like that went down for everyone. Yet Zappa was still extremely busy this year, in '79: releasing 5 studio albums in total. So, has the writing suffered from all that exhausting work? Only a little. Hardly at all, really. Regardless, the music is still complex, progressive, and (mostly) interesting. This album earns another adjective - something Zappa's never been tagged with before - this album is even a little catchy.

Yes, it is a concept album, but it's not an album that is supported by its concept at all. It's a story about a dude who wants to be a musician (yes, you guessed it, named Joe), and his adventures through the corruptive music industry - with the "Central Scrutinizer" offering a commentary throughout. Of course, there are laughs throughout as always, and all the diverse musical styles keep it engaging. Unfortunately, the jazz nuances, the big-band feel, the really devastatingly complex songwriting are gone forever. And, to make it worse, some more "pop-sensitive" songs appear, and may annoy old-time Zappa fans. Catholic Girls? Kind of an odd, radio-time-earning, comedy routine. But for the most part, this is still excellent songwriting, and very compelling playing.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |


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