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Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti CD (album) cover

SHEIK YERBOUTI

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.83 | 328 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
3 stars More masterfully overdubbed live performances of new material, rife with ribaldry and politically incorrect observations. Sure the squirm factor is high, but there's a salacious genius at work in "Jewish Princess" and "Wild Love" that won't be dismissed on merely moral grounds. Along with adding some new fodder to the ZAPPA canon ("Bobby Brown", "Baby Snakes", "Dancin' Fool"), "Sheik Yerbouti" is notable for the introduction of new members Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), Peter Wolf (keyboards) and Tommy Mars (keyboards) into the fold. Belew would leave soon after, but not before putting his indelible stamp on songs like "City of Tiny Lights", "Jones CRUSHer" and "Flakes." Terry Bozzio also proves to be a passable singer, raving along like Roger Taylor on "I'm So Cute" and "Tryin' To Grow A Chin." What's most impressive about "Sheik Yerbouti" is the live/studio hybrid it becomes; if you weren't told, you wouldn't know that these tracks originated on stage. ZAPPA had become a master manipulator, creating remarkable monsters like "Rubber Shirt" (which fuses separate drum and bass tracks into an 11/4 frankenstein) and "Yo' Mama" (which pastes a guitar solo from a different recording into the proceedings). However, ZAPPA's later recordings sometimes embrace their novelty appeal a little too readily for my tastes. A lot of the material is funny, but the lyrics too often draw attention away from the music (in part through a conscious complicity that strips back the arrangements during the "funny" parts). So what results is an all or nothing split: you either get the funny social critic or the ferocious lead guitarist. The "funny" is what sells records, though, and "Sheik Yerbouti" sold remarkably well for a double album of demented rock. I find that this only picks up momentum at the end, and could have provided as many memorable moments at half the size, but it's the nature of ZAPPA's genius that he polish everything into gold regardless of its original merit. Luckily, this fits onto a single disc, where you can skip around to the choice parts if you want, which is usually what I end up doing.
daveconn | 3/5 |

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