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Frank Zappa - Fillmore East, June 1971 CD (album) cover

FILLMORE EAST, JUNE 1971

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.21 | 110 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Frank Zappa: Filmore East, June 1971 [1971]

Rating: 6/10

"Talkin' 'bout your hemorrhoids baby..."

Filmore East, June 1971 is the first Zappa album consisting entirely of live material. One of the defining characteristics of Zappa's music is the balance between complex sophistication and off-the-wall humor. His live shows were probably the best forum for Zappa to display this multilayered aspect of his music; staggering musicianship and improvisation were combined with comedic monologues and zany performance pieces in order to make Zappa concerts a truly unique experience. This dynamic is reflected masterfully on albums such as Zappa in New York and Roxy & Elsewhere. This album, however, doesn't quite manage to strike a perfect balance; humorous skits and conceptual storytelling (about groupies and hotels and suchlike) often seem to take precedence over music. However, there are still some strong moments here.

The album begins with "Little House I Used to Live In", a vastly truncated version of the original on Burnt Weeny Sandwich. There's some excellent guitar and keyboard work here. "The Mud Shark" focuses on spoken-word storytelling backed by a vocal mantra. This is a hilarious track, and is one of my favorites here. "What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?" continues with the vocal/spoken-word performances, with bluesy organ in the background. "Bwana Dik" progresses in the same vein; this is one of the funniest tracks here. "Latex Solar Beef" is another one of my favorites on the album. It has a heavy blues vibe and the "Talkin' 'bout?" chorus is classic. "Willie the Pimp, Pt. 1& 2" reprises previous themes and introduces a slowed-down version of the original "Pimp" riff along with a short guitar solo. "Do You Like My New Car?" is almost entirely a skit. It's funny, but the music seems to have been put on the backburner here. "Happy Together" is a fairly uninteresting cover of the Turtles song. "Lonesome Electric Turkey" is a short, but very cool, Minimoog solo. A stripped-down version of "Peaches in Regalia" follows, and the straightforward "Tears Began to Fall" concludes the album.

This is in no way a bad album, and I enjoy listening to it. However, it fails to capture the magic that would be so wonderfully encapsulated on future Zappa live albums. This album focuses much too heavily on the humor and much to less on the music. The humor is well-done and indeed funny, but isn't balanced well with the music. There are great moments here, including "The Mud Shark" and "Latex Solar Beef", but I would recommend In New York or Roxy if you want to introduce yourself to Zappa's performances.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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