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Frank Zappa - Waka / Jawaka CD (album) cover

WAKA / JAWAKA

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.92 | 330 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
3 stars Waka/Jawaka is another of Zappa's intense jazz odysseys, in a very Hot Rats vein. Following this second of an unintentional musical trilogy was The Grand Wazoo; the best of three, selon moi. This middle link is probably the weakest of the three, but is still an incredibly strong piece of music. It's clear that Hot Rats is the most popular, and Grand Wazoo is my recommendation, so this part two of sorts is by no means essential, and shouldn't be too high on anyone's lists, unless you've already explored a good deal of Frank's extensive catalog and are a huge jazz fan.

Addictive brass compliment the band, adding their voices to a nice brand of improvised and spontaneous music. But it's not exclusively that. It sparks off with, and is full of that great, painfully complex stuff, prog rock's hallmark. The massive Big Swifty kicks off with one daring little riff that sounds even better live. The monstrous jazz attire is accompanied by a subtle but lovely avant-garde buffing. But overall, this is a jazz record. What makes it good is tension it can build through the restless instrumental treks. It always recalls the main theme, keeping it very coherent.

However, after Big Swifty the album takes a bit of a dive. The rest is merely jazz, minus the intensity, complexity, spontaneity. The singing on It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal is great, and it twists into avant-garde land sometimes, but then cuts back to a uninspiring southern-rocker. Thankfully, another longer jazz track wraps up the album, cleaning up a bit of the mess of the last two tracks. Bright brass are in the foreground, with some nice piano to reinforce it. It quickly moves into territory similar to the first track, and finishes the album off nicely. It's a nice album in general - in fact, I understate: it's great - but it's nothing to write home about.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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