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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1682 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars Boiling Rats

Presented as Frank's first solo album, this is Chapter one of his explorations of jazz-rock (this is relative, because he had dabbled into the future genre in his previous albums, including King Kong on Uncle Meat) but also the pinnacle of his career. This is a solo album, not a Mothers album, although you'd have a hard time telling it apart, only that it is less goofy and parodic and more instrumental and musically focused. Playing on the album are Ponty, Underwood, and Guerin (among others), while Van "Beefheart" Vliet is singing on a track.

Opening on the amazing Peaches In Regalia, but it is the amazing Willie The Pimp, THE classic of the album, with Don Van Vliet singing raunchily and a wild Zappa guitar solo. Green Genes features Underwood's wind instruments (multi-tracked) and Zappa's guitars again, but also that same Underwood on keyboards as well. An outstanding side of vinyl.

The flipside opens with the shorter jazzy Little Umbrellas instrumental, perhaps the "parent pauvre" of Hot Rats, but the 17-mins Gumbo Variations of pure bliss, especially if you're a fan of solos. Flabbergastingly awesome stuff. The closing Camel piece is the most difficult track of the album, the one closest to dissonant avant-garde music; but this is so very light. Another excellent track.

Every one of these numbers here are a classic but Peaches and Gumbo come out, and Don Beefheart Van Vliet's contributions to Pimp makes this album a gem. Coming with that pink pool shot artwork, this is THE Zappa reference, beit from progheads or the average John Doe and Willie Pimp. One of the main reasons for this album's high tenure is that it is mainly instrumental, thus putting the emphasis on the music and it isn't ruined by Francesco's whacked-out humoristic sketches, although there is still a lot of humour left in the music.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |


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