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Frank Zappa - Uncle Meat CD (album) cover

UNCLE MEAT

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.15 | 343 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "What can you do that's fantastic? Alright, whip it out."

I won't pretend to have any idea what "Uncle Meat" is really about, or that I enjoy the album as much as the (by this point) quaint "Freak Out." If you thought things couldn't get any weirder than "WOiiftM," you'd be wrong. "Uncle Meat" is a transitional work, a soundtrack, and initially one of the most unapproachable albums you'll ever hear (though that will change later as you become accustomed to it.)

The album documents the shifting of the early Mothers humor-wop style into the coming jazzier Zappa, and the two are thrown off balance more by the avant soundtrack craziness present. It's all jumbled together with the usual little clips of Suzie Creamcheese and assorted Mother-centric commentary. The strange cough sound immediately following Suzie's introduction of herself is the funniest sound I've ever heard-if I could sample that and use it as my ringtone or doorbell, I would. Thankfully I'm not that tech savvy. Some of the best bits include one of the Mothers complaining to Frank about the lack of money he's making, Suzie's assessment of her groupie prowess, and Ian Underwood's dry explanation of how he foisted himself into the band. The humor-wop stuff is not as fresh as the early albums but the soundtrack material and the jazz-fusion (King Kong suite in particular) are fascinating and pretty amazing for the late 67-early 68 recording period. "Nine Types of Industrial Pollution" is a nice slice of lead guitar work. "Golden Arches" is a chamber music break from the craziness. "Uncle Meat Variations" is another highlight with maniacal munchkin-like voices and superb jamming-love the lead guitar toward the end. Ian Underwood's live sax solo in "Whips it Out" is blistering. "Project X" offers some ambitious and fantastic-sounding instrumental work from all manner of guitars, woodwinds, percussion, and general strangeness.

Some complain about the latter day CD issue which adds a 40 minute chunk of film rehearsal banter/dialogue to the album, but at this point, why complain? It can always be skipped if you're not in the mood. If you are, it's a humorous time capsule to have and seems to be well at home with the spirit of the album. Despite the album having numerous gems and a true underground feel, I don't think it's the masterpiece so many others do. It is a good album and well worthwhile for Zappa fans, as well as another piece of the fascinating Zappa puzzle. 3 ½ stars.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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