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Frank Zappa - Chunga's Revenge CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.40 | 330 ratings

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4 stars I just noticed that my Frank Zappa review series has been following an "every third album"-cycle where I review every third album in Zappa's studio album discography. This is of course completely unintentional, but pretty surprising nonetheless.

If we move to the third album after Hot Rats we arrive at a very nostalgic album for me. Chunga's Revenge happened to be my introduction to the crazy world of Frank Zappa which came in my possession at the tender age of 11! It all began more than a decade ago when one of my uncles, for some strange reason, decided that kids these days need to listen to some real music and so for my 11th(!) birthday I was handed over 3 LP's from his collection! First of all, who does that kind of stuff?!? It's definitely the most awkward present you can give to an 11-year old kid.

The records I was presented with comprised of two Pat Metheny albums and Frank Zappa's Chunga's Revenge, presumably because it was his least favorite of the bunch. I didn't know anything about Zappa or even avant-garde music in general and was still in that very receptive state where my undeveloped mind sucked in every new experience it was handed. This is also the reason why I must warn you that my opinion of Chunga's Revenge is highly biased by the childhood nostalgia that I have for this record.

Transylvania Boogie was presumably my introduction to Frank Zappa and I honestly could not have dreamt of a more perfect album opener to kick start my relation to his music. Zappa shows exactly how much he has evolved as an instrumentalist by this point of his career and the results are far beyond anything that he expressed on Hot Rats! Road Ladies can almost be considered a prequel to 200 Motels, released only a year later. The song's structure is pretty straightforward blues-oriented with satirical lyrics discussing the flaws of taking the band on the road.

Twenty Small Cigars returns things into jazz territory with a concluding instrumental groove section that can only be interpreted as an introduction to the lengthy wild jam on The Nancy & Mary Music. This ten minute live number gives a good hit of how wild Zappa's gigs could get and make me almost feel that I'm right there in the concert hall grooving along to his improv playing. After two short but memorable sing-alongs, titled Tell Me You Love Me and Would You Go All The Way?, we finally get to the album's title track. This number is actually my least favorite of the bunch and I can only describe it as a very dirty sounding rock composition filled with many guitar solos by the master. The Clap is a weird outro that concludes the album's self titled performance and leads us into another upbeat sing-along called Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink. Sharleena concludes the album with a bouncy rhythm and blues sounding performance with spicy instrumental arrangements that can't really be mistaken for anything but the works of Frank Zappa himself.

My concluding words about Chunga's Revenge is that I honestly don't understand why so many people dismiss this for a second-rate Zappa studio release. Of course it's more than likely that my nostalgia has gotten the best of me, making me see something that really isn't there. This is why I'll pass the decision to you! As for me, this is easily among Frank Zappa's best albums and an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection!

***** star songs: Transylvania Boogie (5:01) Twenty Small Cigars (2:18) Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink (2:45) Sharleena (4:05)

**** star songs: Road Ladies (4:10) The Nancy & Mary Music (9:28) Tell Me You Love Me (2:34) Would You Go All The Way? (2:30) Chunga's Revenge (6:16) The Clap (1:23)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |


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