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Frank Zappa - Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.53 | 229 ratings

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Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Probably Zappa's best '80s album, although you wouldn't guess that from the first two songs. This album features Steve Vai doing "impossible guitar parts". The first half seems to be studio only, while the other half sounds mostly recorded live with some studio parts. This album features some great bass work, from three different bassists. The cover art is very simple yet great and ties into the title.

"No Not Now" has some falsetto harmony vocals that might turn some people off, but I like them. The sound of the bass here is just awesome. This song is both weird and catchy at the same time. Frank mainly sings in a low talked voice. The lyrics are the typical sex oriented stuff that Frank did in the late '70s/early '80s. "Valley Girl" is of course Zappa's most well known song and his only hit in the US. Features his 14-year old daughter Moon Unit on vocals imitating the way some girls in southern California talked at the time. Lines like "barf me out, gag me with a spoon". The music is basically hard rock of it's era.

"I Come From Nowhere" has former member of the original Mothers Roy Estrada on vocals. He sings the words like he's intoxicated or got hit on the head with a heavy object. More outstanding bass work on this song. Features a great long guitar solo from Frank. "Drowning Witch" is perhaps Frank's best composition since the pre-Sheik Yerbouti days. Mostly a live recording. This song has some demented laughing in it which I assume is overdubbed. That laughing appears again in the last two songs.

The song begins in a style similar to some of the songs on Joe's Garage or You Are What You Is. After 2 minutes goes into a more complex instrumental section with the demented laughing. The marimba playing really stands out. Then a reggae-like part with a guitar solo. Drums and bass playing gets more varied. Before 7 minutes changes to a part that is probably studio recorded. Mainly laid-back music with fast guitar playing. The tempo picks up and the music gets more jazzy. After some cool synths and marimba. This part leads directly into...

"Envelopes" via a sequenced piano part. This has a steady piano figure and then guitar and marimba. The song gets more complex and the demented laughing comes back. That song leads right into "Teen-Age Prostitute", an opera-metal song. Features the female operatic singing of Lisa Popeil, daughter of Ron Popeil the infomercial guy who sells stuff ("set it and forget it!"). I think it's funny when you hear her sing: "she's only 17/ she's really sort of cute" in an operatic voice. You hear that demented laughing voice again. The song ends with crowd applause.

Not as good as his best albums from the 1970s, but better than most of what he released during the 1980s. The production and playing is top-notch. Since this album contains "Valley Girl", it's was probably one of Zappa's most well known albums during the '80s. Not something you should start with if you're a Zappa newbie, but an album you should get after the 'classics'. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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