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Frank Zappa - Burnt Weeny Sandwich CD (album) cover

BURNT WEENY SANDWICH

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.91 | 279 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Frank Zappa: Burnt Weeny Sandwich [1970]

Rating: 7/10

Burnt Weeny Sandwich, along with its companion album Weasels Ripped My Flesh, is a collection of Mothers material recorded during 1967-69 and released after the band dissolved. Thus, this is a collection of (mostly) jazz-fusion tracks, representing Zappa's most prevalent style during that period. The album begins and ends with doo-wop covers, but the rest is stylistically similar to Uncle Meat: experimental jazz-rock with no dearth of complex piano/sax lines.

The opener "WPLJ" is probably my favorite doo-wop song from the Mothers. It's a cover of a 1950s song from a group called The Four Deuces, and the rather stupid lyrics are presented in a hilarious and catchy fashion. "Igor's Boogie, Phase One" is a very short complex piece with dissonant sax and percussion. "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin" is another short composition, with pleasant acoustic guitar transitioning into dissonant violin and xylophone. Zappa finally breaks out his guitar during "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich." "Igor's Boogie, Phase Two" continues in the same vein as Phase One; disharmonious sax and kazoo dominate. "Holiday in Berlin, Full-Blown" begins with a complex piano rhythm that moves into big-band style sax. Excellent xylophone reprises the main hook and Zappa plays a wah-heavy solo for the rest of the track. "Aybe Sea" is a harpsichord/piano composition with a catchy main hook. The eighteen-minute "The Little House I Used to Live In" is the centerpiece of the album; its quality nearly puts it on the level of Hot Rats. It starts with quiet piano, and then moves into the main theme on distorted guitar and clarinet. The highlight of the album follows: a long violin solo from Don "Sugarcane" Harris that may just be as good as the one on "The Gumbo Variations." The track concludes with a sped-up reprise of "Aybe Sea." The album ends with "Valarie", a rather uninteresting doo-wop cover.

Although certainly not Zappa's best jazz-fusion album, Burnt Weeny Sandwich is an excellent album with all the creativity, musicianship, and compositional brilliance that one expects from Uncle Frank. The sublime "The Little House I Used to Live In" is enough to make this album worth checking out. Although Zappa's jazz composing had not yet reached its full potential when most of these tracks were recorded, Burnt Weeny Sandwich is highly recommended to any Zappa fan, or to anybody who appreciates complex and intricate music.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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