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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1684 ratings

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3 stars With nearly a hundred written reviews and another 150 in rating form, Hot Rats is currently the most discussed Frank Zappa release in the artist's discography. So it's only natural that I happen to have an opinion of my own on the matter which I dare to share with anyone who is concerned!

This was the album where Zappa finally took a break from the Mothers of Invention and showed the listeners the unexplored frontiers of his talent that he would pursue from here on with his music. But was this first stab at the new direction enough to make it an instant masterpiece? I don't happen to think so! The reasons for this are many and are difficult to break down in simple categories, but that doesn't means that I'll try to do just that!

Starting with the material that was written for the album, we see quite a versatile collection of compositions ranging from pleasant and more distinguishable performances on Peaches En Regalia, Son Of Mr. Green Genes and Little Umbrellas. Here we see a much more personal performance from Frank Zappa that always seemed to be missing on his albums with the Mothers of Invention. This doesn't necessary mean that those albums were inferior in any way, only that Zappa hid his persona behind the collective banner that was the Mothers of Invention.

Of course we can't have a Zappa-related album without a moment of satire and Willie The Pimp marks such an occasion, featuring another in the line of many collaborations with Captain Beefheart himself on vocals! Personally I'm all for Frank Zappa's humor, but surprisingly this particular song has very little appeal to me even though the whole idea of a pimp who dresses up for the occasion sounds hilarious on paper.

The second side of the album is almost entirely devoted to free-form jazz improvisations, staring with the very loose 17 minute jam titled The Gumbo Variations and concluding with the suitable low-key ending on It Must Be A Camel. I can't say that either of these two pieces have any symbolic value to me outside of just being creative music made by the master himself. To me, these are just the stepping stones for future improvements on albums like The Grand Wazoo but I'm sure others will disagree with such an ignorant remark on my part.

Hot Rats was where Frank Zappa finally began going places after being relatively stagnant since the release of Freak Out!. Even though there was a lot of improvement left to achieve, the '70s were definitely both the time and place for such an event to occur! Therefore I can only recommend this album to Zappa-adventurers who have already heard at least two or more of his albums from the '70s before entering this early domain. Hence good, but non-essential.

***** star songs: Peaches En Regalia (3:37)

**** star songs: Son Of Mr. Green Genes (8:58) Little Umbrellas (3:04) The Gumbo Variations (16:55) It Must Be A Camel (5:15)

*** star songs: Willie The Pimp (9:16)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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