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Frank Zappa - Lumpy Gravy CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.22 | 361 ratings

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4 stars After a couple of MOTHERS OF INVENTION albums ("Freak Out", "Absolutely Free"), ZAPPA decided to do a project outside the MOTHERS, and he decided to do what is perhaps his most ambitious project up until that point. And "Lumpy Gravy", released in December 1967 (I've also seen varying sources say this album was released in March or May 1968) is the result. He called the band (if you can call it that) that made this album possible the Abnuceals Emmukha Electric Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (with maybe even some of the MOTHERS OF INVENTION). Basically this band consisted of ZAPPA as conducter, with a large orchestra, and rock band. And yes, a couple members of the MOTHERS OF INVENTION do appear on this album: Roy Estrada, Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood and Jimmy Carl Black. The original LP is simply divided by side one and two, but the CD reissue actually include song titles. The album starts off very deceptively sounding like instrumental surf music. The wind instruments included sounds not unlike what ZAPPA was doing with the MOTHERS (even the themes are pretty common on a MOTHERS album). But suddenly the music stops and turns in to lots of strange electronic effects and totally twisted orchestral arrangements. Somewhere, a catchy song gets played on orchestra and drums, this being called "Oh No" (which would be later recorded with the MOTHERS OF INVENTION, with a more normal rock setting and vocals, on "Weasels Ripped My Flesh").

As the album progresses, you'll hear the sounds of people spouting out a bunch of bullshit, like about how it's like outside a drum (ie. "It's dark and murky"), or about pigs and ponies (which is about cops versus hippies). There was even one part of the album where this guy was talking about fixing on his car, but his girlfriend got pissed off at him, so she rips out the motor, the tires, and the seats from his car. The theme to "Oh No" repeats itself later on.

As the album progresses further, you face more of the same: passages that sound like rock music, experimental passages, people talking a bunch of nonsense. I also noticed a theme that would later be used on Uncle Meat ("King Kong"), done in an orchestral style. After all the relentless experiments, the album ends with an instrumental version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance".

"Lumpy Gravy" is one truly fascinating album, although some people think this is one of ZAPPA's worst albums along with "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and *Just Another Band From L.A." (although I think those are great albums). Regardless, if you like the experimental/neo-classical side of ZAPPA, then you need "Lumpy Gravy".

Proghead | 4/5 |


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