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

JOE'S GARAGE, ACT I

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.12 | 350 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars "You'll love it; it's a way of life."

Joe's Garage opens to the threatening voice of Zappa as "the scrutinizer", enjoyably robotic and fun to the vamping of the rhythm section, with some sound effects thrown in there for good measure. Not so much music as it is an experiment to set the tone, which recurs throughout the album. This gives way to the first proper tune, the titular sing- along "Joe's Garage". Kind of zany and trite in a sardonic way (which I think might describe the entire album), this tune is smartly catchy and plays like something out of the musical Grease made manic with Zappa style-- it has more personality in the first two minutes than other artists try to cram into whole albums. "Catholic Girls" keeps the mood brisk and light-hearted, sounding like a parody or genre-mix-match of showtunes, lounge crooners, and the avant-garde. Lots of fun vocal interplay as well.

Sleezy guitar and harmonica follow with "Crew Slut", played with a western-feel while accompanying some very vulgar singing by Zappa. Great soloing here, but as a whole this song shows how some of the songs on this disc lose their appeal once the initial shock of their lyrics has worn off. "Wet-T Shirt Contest" picks the bouncy pace back up again (pun intended), with another catchy melody and trademark Zappa rock orchestration-- with heavy vibe work. Most will remember the dramatized contest itself though, with Zappa portraying the host. At this point the listener will be either completely turned off, embarassed, or laughing out loud. One's reaction is likely to determine whether or not they'll continue listening... because it only gets worse!

An extended and especially tasty guitar solo follows, a catchy song about VD, a surprisingly tender ballad, a unsubtle poke at new-age religion, disco beats to german lyrics, lots (and I mean lots) of sex with robotic-appliances, and lyrics which would make even a 14-year old boy queezy with embarassment. Sound like a Zappa album yet?

Part 1 to "Joe's Garage" ends upruptly, but I enjoyed the journey immensely. Very few albums in my collection are more fun to listen to, and although this is Zappa's most "accessible" album, it remains musically challenging and complex. There are layers of creativity hidden beneath the sleezery of the lyrics. Not to be missed, and a great place for fans to start exploring Zappa's rock style.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Prog Leviathan | 5/5 |

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