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Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage, Act I CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.12 | 471 ratings

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4 stars As airtight an excuse for a commercial crossover as you'll find in Frank's discography. ZAPPA conceived Joe's Garage as a cautionary tale (tongue firmly in cheek) exposing the evils of rock & roll and the pernicious part it plays in the lives of two young people, Joe and Mary. The composer was merely amplifying the conservative rhetoric of the right wing, who had begun discussing outloud the possibility that music was corrupting American youth (suggesting censorship as a possible palliative). An ardent supporter of free speech in art, ZAPPA flourishes in the role of the Central Scrooooooootinizer, pushing his two unsuspecting pawns (Joe and Mary) into the paths of prostitution (after a sort) and venereal disease. The real story here, however, is one of wonderfully accessible music. Imagine the best parts of "Sheik Yerbouti" distilled ("Bobby Brown Goes Down", "Jewish Princess") with the guitar solos and complex arrangements contained to short bursts, and you'll have the blueprint for Joe's Garage. The album generated a strong single in "Catholic Girls" -- which of course got limited airplay (who needs censorship?) -- and lots of fine, funny songs like "Wet T-Shirt Nite", "Joe's Garage" and "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" You'd have to go pretty far back (say, Over-Nite Sensation) to find another ZAPPA album that combined the appealing with the appalling for such a palatable mixture. It's not that "Joe's Garage Act I" hits any higher highs than "Sheik Yerbouti" or Ship Arriving Too Late, it just hits them more consistently. Though it doesn't diminish the enjoyment of this album, Act I does end on a cliffhanger, so you'll need to pick up the double-elpee Acts II and III (released a few months later) to find out how Mary and Joe make out.
daveconn | 4/5 |


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