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Frank Zappa - Chunga's Revenge CD (album) cover

CHUNGA'S REVENGE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.37 | 212 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Frank Zappa: Chunga's Revenge [1970]

Rating: 7/10

Trying to categorize Zappa's enormous range of material into distinct "eras" or "periods" is an arduous, if not impossible, task. Although there are Zappa albums that fall into a specific musical context, most of his work is eclectic and does not conform to any sort of categorization. Chunga's Revenge is one of these eclectic albums. However, if the word "era" can ever reasonably apply to Zappa's career, than this is the beginning of one. This album is significantly more straightforward than Zappa's previous work. Because of this, Chunga's Revenge doesn't receive very much love. However, I've always considered it to be a strong and underrated album. There are indeed some weak tracks, but the amount of excellent material here manages to push these less-than-stellar moments out of the listener's notice.

The opener "Transylvania Boogie" is a superb guitar-oriented heavy prog jam. The bluesy middle section is particularly excellent. "Road Ladies" is an organ/guitar-driven hard rock track that continues the blues vibe. The vocals fit the song perfectly. "Twenty Small Cigars" is a short jazzy piece taken from the Hot Rats sessions. It's somewhat similar to "Little Umbrellas." "The Nancy and Mary Music" is an excellent live improvisation that transitions between guitar jamming and experimental segments. "Tell Me You Love Me" is the first fairly weak track here. The main riff is decent, but this song is for the most part an uninteresting and straightforward hard-rock song. "Would You Go All the Way?" has a bit of a longue theme; it's rather mediocre, but there is some good guitar work. The incredible title track breaks this short cycle of mediocrity. This is one of my favorite Zappa solos. The playing is incredibly creative and the hooks/riffs are engaging and memorable. "The Clap" is a short drum solo that flows seamlessly from the title track. "Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink" is a very weak track about union corruption. It's consists mainly of vocal interplay and brass instrumentation. "Sharleena" is a straightforward song, but I still love it. It's one of my favorite poppy Zappa songs.

Chunga's Revenge contains no absurdist humor, political satire, lengthy sax solos, or avant-garde soundscapes. However, it's still an excellent album that manages to demonstrate yet another side of Zappa's talent. Granted, there are some weak songs; however, these are all short songs, taking up a total of about seven minutes of this forty-minute album. They're quickly overshadowed by the quality tracks. Chunga's Revenge isn't a masterpiece, but I would still highly recommend it to Zappa fans, particularly those who enjoy his guitar playing.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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