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Frank Zappa - Weasels Ripped My Flesh CD (album) cover

WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.77 | 281 ratings

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1800iareyay
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Weasels Ripped My Flesh is the send off of the Mothers of Invention. Frank finally decided to drop the name and go it alone, so he emptied the vaults of unreleased tracks and put out this treasure. Now, the fact that these tracks were left off some of the most avant garde releases of their time, or indeed all time, should be an indicator as to the left-field nature of these tracks. As this is a collection of tracks too out there for the other stuff, this is probably Zappa's most avant garde album, making this a mightily inaccessible record.

Didja Get Any Onya bursts right out of the gate with some mad saxophone at the first second. It's nearly 7 minutes of mad free jazz with strange vocal lines and almost scary saxophones. From there we go into a crunchy, bluesy rendition of Little Richard's Directly From My Heart to You, with some great vocals and some nice violin from Sugarcane Harris. It's one of the more straightforward numbers on the album; perhaps it's the opposite of the other tracks, left off of other albums for not being crazy enough. But don't fret, we're going right back into the Bizarro world with Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask, featuring a demonic build up before leading into some truly funny singing from Roy Estrada. It almost sounds like something Mike Patton recorded.

Toad of the Short Forest has a title that suggests it might be on the latest power metal album, but it's much deeper. It starts with a light, kind of folky (imagine Frank's take on folk) melody before some complex percussion enters the mix and things change for the heavier, complete with Frank trying to explain exactly what is going on. It's a polyrhythmic jumble here, and it's mighty fascinating, if somewhat disorienting. Get a Little is a wonderful, melodic guitar solo that really points to what Frank could and would do with his guitar in his later material. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque is also a look into the future, with its polyrhythmic xylophone lines before ending in some free jazz that seems to tie two of Frank's styles together.

Dwarf Nebula Processional March starts off sounding like a weird march before suddenly breaking into some crazy sound effects. My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama is probably the most well-known and accessible track here. It's a sort of a rock anthem, what with the desire to get with a girl whose parents do not approve of him because he is a rocker. It's catchy, with some great guitar lines and a straight forward structure. Oh No tears apart the perception of love and the naiveté it breeds. It's short and sweet and it probably could have fit perfectly on Freak Out. The Orange County Lumber Truck is another showcase for Frank's considerable guitar skill, which he was finally beginning to exhibit. Most Mothers albums were about avant-garde R&B/free jazz/noise effects mashups, but this points to the actual musicality Frank was about to unleash with his solo career. The album ends with the title track, a blast of feedback lasting a minute and a half before some live audio of Frank thanking the crowd plays.

All in all, for what is essentially a collection of unreleased tracks, this is right up there with Led Zeppelin's Physical Grafitti on the short list of such albums that are good. It does a nice job of giving you some of the Mothers' most warped material, yet also hinting towards a new sound from Frank. It's by no means perfect, but it's certainly one of the albums that no self respecting Zappa fan can be without.

Grade: B+

1800iareyay | 4/5 |

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