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Frank Zappa - Does Humor Belong In Music? CD (album) cover

DOES HUMOR BELONG IN MUSIC?

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.47 | 64 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The only major problem with this live album is that it feels kinda pointless by Zappa standards. Most Zappa live albums (apart from the You Can't Do That On Stage series), before and after this one, made a point of either introducing a lot of new material or a lot of significant rearrangements of older material. On this album, the new material only accounts for three of the ten tracks (though I should note that two of them take up a large portion of the album). The first of these is "Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel," an amusing political song (about poverty) with fun sax parts (which are otherwise significantly underused in the album) and another interesting guitar solo to add to Frank's collection. The second is the one-minute "Cocksuckers Ball" (dedicated to the Republicans in the audience, of course), and the third is a sixteen-minute mostly instrumental piece called "Let's All Move to Cleveland." It's overlong, and there's a drum solo, but otherwise it's a very interesting mix of strong guitar lines, jazzy bits of piano and bits of synth for texture.

The rest consists of various Zappa standards done with more synthesizer and less brass than I'd like, but the synths are nowhere near as crummy sounding as they were on Tinseltown Rebellion. Speaking of which, that album's title track is done here, and while I still don't love it (there's still that long bit of half-singing in the second half), I do think that Frank cuts back on the self-absorbed smarminess just enough to make the good aspects shine through as best they can. Among the other tracks, the standouts are probably "Trouble Every Day," which gets a lyrical update to make it partially a bash on MTV (otherwise it just sounds like what you'd expect a 60's track updates with 80's instrumentation would sound like), and "WPLJ," which gets transformed from doo-wop to boogie-woogie. The other tracks ("Zoot Allures," "Penguin in Bondage," "What's New in Baltimore," "Whippin' Post") don't change a lot from their original versions, aside from maybe some cosmetic changes in the case of older material (as expected, the latter two haven't changed much at all, aside from some different soloing in "Whippin' Post").

In short, completists won't mind having this album, but there's really no need for a casual fan to grab this. Supposedly this was put together without Frank's consent, and while it's not bad, that's probably enough of a reason to ignore it. And what does the album title have to do with the material?

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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