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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover

HOT RATS

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.33 | 1054 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hot Rats is being praised here on Prog Archives as being one of Frank Zappaīs finest moments, and it is certainly unique in Zappaīs discography. When I first started listening to Frank Zappa it was one of the albums I purchased first and I thought it was really good. Itīs been a couple of years since I last listened to Hot Rats though and after listening to it a couple of times before this review I can honestly say that itīs one of the Frank Zappa albums I will never really be fully content with. Hot Rats is Zappaīs first real solo album if you donīt count Lumpy Gravy which had lots of Mothers of Invention songs incorporated into the classical music and the strange dialogues that made up that album.

Hot Rats is a jazz/ rock fusion album with lots of soloing both from Frank Zappa himself on guitar, Ian underwood on winds and Sugar Cane Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty on violin. The music is generally good, but not outstanding. The only song here that I would classify as a masterpiece is Peaches en Regalia which is a very beautiful song with several intriguing themes. This song is not a vehicle for soloing as most of the other songs are. Instead it is beautifully arranged with lots of winds.

Willie the Pimp used to be a favorite of mine when I was younger, but today I think it is badly arranged a pretty sloppy played. Itīs always a joy to listen to Captain Beefheartīs voice but thatīs not the main focus in this song. The Willie the Pimp theme which both starts and ends the song is really just an excuse for Zappa to play a 6 minute long wah wah guitar solo that gets boring after 2. I know most people really enjoy his solo in Willie the Pimp but IMO his solo skills were much better later in his career when he started using the vibrato arm extensively and played on the edge of feedback most of the time. I find his later solo style to be much more rewarding than this early attempt. Well I guess itīs an aquired taste and my bitching aside I still think the solo in Willie the Pimp is pretty good allthough a bit too long.

Son of Mr. Green Genes uses the theme from the Mr. Green Genes song from The Mothers of Invention album Uncle Meat. The theme is of course played with a different instrumentation and itīs arranged a bit differently but stays true to the original in terms of notes played. Son of Mr. Green Genes is just another vehicle for a Frank Zappa guitar solo though and again I feel the solo is way too long and again the wah wah style Zappa played at the time isnīt as rewarding to me as his later efforts on the guitar.

Little Umbrelllas is a little jazzy tune which is allright but nothing special to me.

The Gumbo Variations with itīs 16:55 minutes is clearly the longest song here and the problem for me is that itīs one long vehicle for sax, violin and guitar soloes that seems to go on forever. The sax soloing is pretty jazzy and I donīt enjoy it one bit while the violin and guitar solo is a bit better even though 16:55 minutes of soloing is way too much for me when itīs not better than this. Again itīs allright but nothing more.

It Must Be A Camel is a pretty good little song too, but again nothing excellent.

The musicianship is very good and Iīm especially impressed with Ian Underwoodīs contributions to the songs. Ianīs multiinstrumentalist abilities are used to the full on Hot Rats. Ian Underwood is by the way the only Mother present on Hot Rats which gives the album a very different sound and mood compared the Mothers of Invention albums.

The production is very good considering this is 1969 and once again Zappa proves that he is a unique producer as well as being a composer and musician.

I must say Iīm a bit disappointed about Hot Rats especially after reading the many reviews with high ratings on Prog Archives but I guess I just donīt share the general opinion about the album. Peaches en Regalia of course is a very positive thing on an otherwise average album but itīs not enough to make Hot Rats a 4 star album though. Iīll give Hot Rats 3 stars as I donīt feel this is a 2 star album even though Iīm not that excited about it.

UMUR | 3/5 |

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