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Frank Zappa - Thing-Fish CD (album) cover

THING-FISH

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.42 | 172 ratings

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Walkscore
2 stars Only for the Hard-Core Fan.

Up there among the most bizarre albums ever made (yes, even more strange than Trout Mask Replica), 'Thing Fish' sees Zappa make a play about a fictitious US government-military (or is it the Brown Moses?) plot to wipe out whole groups (African Americans, creatives, gays, etc) that represent opposition to conservative Republican-party ideals. The plot creates a Thing-Fish (played by Ike Willis) who goes on stage and gets pseudo-audience members involved in his story (the album is a faux broadway play). The libretto is bizarre for sure. I actually like Ike Willis' performance here, and some of the story 'can be' quite funny (certainly not everyone will think so - to be honest, I only find about a third of the lines funny). The big problem is that there is very little music here. Zappa has the characters voicing their lines over his own great compositions, but he has turned down the volume on the music so much you can hardly hear it, while turning up the voices. There are very few instrumental sections, so few breaks that make you remember why you love listening to Zappa albums. Instead the focus is all on the story, and while each of us might like the story a bit less or a bit more, it is not very likely you will want to ever listen to it again once you heard it once - each of us only has one life to live, and this album takes a long time to get through! And, a musical album this is not. So, I would say this is only for hard-core fans who love the bizarre side of Zappa's sense of humour and don't mind sitting through 90 minutes of very strange faux broadway play. If you like the music here, I would instead recommend you get the first and fourth volumes of Zappa's 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore' live compilations. Volume 1 has a live version of the Mammy Anthem without any voice-overs. Volume four has live versions of the two other best songs on this album, "Brown Moses" and "The Evil Prince", again without the characters lines over top. These are much better versions of these three tunes, which are the best songs on the album. For this album itself, I rate it 2.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Only for the hard-core fan who has tons of time in retirement.

Walkscore | 2/5 |

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