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Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage, Acts II & III CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.96 | 379 ratings

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5 stars Uncle Frank continues the story of Joe and Mary (Joseph and Mary?) and scores some major musical points along the way.

Acts 2 & 3 carry on in the vein mined in Act 1. Tight band, pointed lyrics and some great soloing from Zappa combines with some stereotypical Zappa "oddness" to make up the second 2/3rds of Zappa's finest musical moment.

This part of the work, however, is where non-Zappa fans begin to wander. Sparse arrangements overlaid with Zappa's scatalogical references is the order of the day through most of Acts 2 and 3. If you love Zappa, you will love this. If you will never get Zappa, this will just cement your opinion. Zappa's humor is in full force. Marital aids, cross-dressing, oral sex, religion, homosexuality, bondage, golden showers Sado-Masochism all make appearances here. The music is tight, funky and wonderful, but most listeners will never get past the "hot curly weenie" references to get to the music. In my opinion this was a concerted effort on the part of Zappa throughout his career. If you can't get past the scatology, you will NEVER begin to get the music. This is true over most over the latter part of Joe's Garage (Stick It Out, Sy Borg, Dong Work For Yuda, Keep It Greasy).

The album gets truly interesting again with "Outside Now". In many ways Zappa's career path can be traced back to his arrest on a trumped up obscenity charge in the early sixties. Zappa was approached by an undercover policeman and asked to make a tape for a bachelor party. Zappa and a female friend made sex noises and squeaked a bed, Zappa "edited out the giggles"** and turned the tape over the next day. Zappa was arrested and spent a couple of days in jail before being given probation and told not to associate with underage girls. Zappa, in many ways, spent the rest of his career saying "If you thought THAT was obscene, you ain't seen nothing yet". Outside now is a combination of the latter day composer, weary with the record business ("these executives have plooked the f**k out of me) and the early Zappa, laying in a jail cell (I'll lay here on my back until dawn, and dream of guitar notes that will irritate an executive kind of guy). A telling song, with some outstanding guitar from Frank. With "He Used to Cut The Grass" Ike Willis sings of a future with no music, and Frank continues the incredible workout he is giving his guitar through the latter half of this album. "Packard Goose" is another in a long tradition of Zappa telling his critics to go to hell; Zappa telling the world he is who he is and isn't going to change what he is doing just because it isn't fashionable. Tight harmonies from the band as well. Zappa puts some of his most beautiful and succint lyrics into the mouth of Dale Bozzio ("Mary"), "Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music, music is the best." Followed up by one monster of a riff/solo. Great stuff.

This brings us to "Watermelon in Easter Hay". I hardly know where to begin on this one. Zappa starts off the cut in Central Scrutinizer mode, tell us that "imaginary guitar notes and imaginary vocals exist only in the imagination of the imaginer, but ultimately who gives a f**k anyway," followed by a knowing chuckle. "Watermelon" is as fitting an epitaph for Zappa as anything he wrote. The background is melodic, slow, measured and beautiful and is topped off by as lovely a solo as I have ever heard anyone play. Never known as a sentimental guy, Zappa pulls truth and beauty and regret and love out of the guitar in ways he never did before or after this.

All three parts of Joe's Garage are available now on one cd, and should be seen as one release. If you are a Zappa fan you MUST have this one on your shelf. Most of Zappa's "Conceptual Continuity" and some of his most understated and beautiful guitar playing on one release. If you are not a Zappa fan, you will find both his finest, most accessible music and enough of his lyrical content to decide if Zappa is for you. Either way, you owe yourself a listen.

**"See "The Real Frank Zappa Book" by Zappa and Peter Ochigrosso for more of this story. Also see "Zappa" by Barry Miles

| 5/5 |


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