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Frank Zappa - Lumpy Gravy CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.21 | 313 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Frank Zappa: Lumpy Gravy [1968]

Rating: 6/10

Lumpy Gravy is the first album Frank Zappa did outside of the Mothers of Invention. Considering his previous output, I don't think very many people expected something like this. The first three Mothers albums were ingenious conglomerations of satirical pop music, psychedelic rock, and avant-garde. This album is quite different, showcasing Zappa's classical compositions. These short classical pieces are joined together by bizarre spoken-word dialogues to create a lengthy collage of sound.

This album is basically one thirty-minute song split into halves. The first piece is surf-rock themed, with brass and strings backing up the rhythm. Tuned percussion takes a strong role in the exotica-sounding second movement. The first long dialogue transitions into a baroque-themed piece which then moves on to assorted avant-garde noises. The second movement is reprised, and then sweeping soundtrack-sounding orchestration comes in. Another dialogue gives way to a percussion section, and then ominous strings and piano close the first side. The second side focuses much more on the zany dialogues; only someone as great as Zappa could have come up with these without the influence of drugs. The musical sections of this side are more avant-garde than those on the first. However, there are a few more "normal" moments, such as another baroque passage and a brass section. For the most part, however, freeform percussion and dissonant instrumentation are the primary focus here. The melody from "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" closes the album.

This is one of the most unique albums ever recorded; I've never heard anything like it. However, while Lumpy Gravy is an entertaining and enjoyable listen, it's way too disjointed and directionless to warrant excellence. The spoken-word sections, while fun and quirky, tend to last just a bit too long. The compositions are excellent, but not quite up to Zappa standards. Regardless, this is still a very good (albeit nonessential) album that's recommended to adventurous fans of contemporary classical/chamber music. For the most part, though, this is an album that you either appreciate or you don't.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |


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