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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover

HOT RATS

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.33 | 1024 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars There's a question that has been torturing me for decades. What do the people see in FRANK ZAPPA'S music and why in God's name I'm unable to discover it?

In 1974 and after a friend bothered me for weeks, I bought "Hot Rats" expecting to find magical music, but to be honest, found nice music with little interest for me, I thought it may e the album so got "We're only in it for the Money", and my impression didn't changed at all, so after listening a couple more albums, decided to place my ZAPPA albums in a box and let them gather dirt for decades.

A few months ago I had to move, so while checking my old record boxes, decided to give "Hot Rats" a new chance, and even when I found the music easier to listen, my impression didn't changed very much.

The album starts with "Peaches in Regalia", a nice instrumental with some lush keyboards by Ian Underwood, but not much ore, still can't find feet or head in the music, seems like the guy went for some blend of early Symphonic and fun, but failed somewhere in the road, making a hybrid without head or feet.

"Willy the Pimp" starts with an interesting Ponty violin section, but it's only a promise, the guys start to jam as if they were in 1967 on an acid trip, Captain Beefheart's voice doesn't help too much and even Jean Luc Ponty falls in the game and goes nowhere. The guitar? Yes, Zappa is good but nothing special compared with the hundreds of great guitarists in the 60's.

After a couple minutes, the guitar jamming by ZAPPA turns boring and absolutely predictable, just distorted sounds with nothing more than most Acid Psyche bands of the era...Maybe a couple years too late.

"Son of Mr Green Genes" is an improvement, the initial melody is somehow catchy, but still I don't believe it's defined as Prog, Rock or Funk, but still very pleasant to listen, the problem is when the jamming starts, I honestly don't know what he pretends, there were thousands doing this on those years, and some with much more interesting results.

The winds are a good addition, but again ZAPPA'S guitar leads nowhere, just jamming with no structure or purpose, maybe the contrapuntal duel between ZAPPA and Underwood is interesting to prove skills, but musically leads nowhere in my opinion. The jazzy "Little Umbrellas" opens side two, again pleasant but nothing really special to consider this a masterpiece, too light to be considered innovative, the song flows gently with no surprises or really interesting moments.

The incredibly long "The Gumbo Variations" should be called "The Gumbo improvisations", because again lacks of structure, it's true that Ponty, Zappa and Underwood have the chance to prove heir skills, but never sound coherent or structured, after a couple of minutes starts to bore, but when the drum solo starts, it's time to press the skip button before the cacophonic ending. Some people should know that sometimes less is more.

Well, I had to wait 42 minutes until "It must be a Camel", the only really good track, melodic interesting and well structured, even the solos are coherent with the atmosphere, this track saves the album from a lower rating, mainly for the delightful piano.

Before I rate "Hot Rats", must say that it's not a bad album, the musicians are talented, but the music is anodyne and lacks of interest (At least for me), I fail to see the greatness people see, but maybe it's my problem.

To rate it I use my own scale, I gave 3 stars to ELP's debut, and I believe "Hot Rats" is not remotely in the level, so I would go with 2.5, being that this is impossible in our system, will go with 2 stars.

Only for FRANK ZAPPA fans and classic Rock collectors.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 2/5 |

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