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Frank Zappa - 200 Motels CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.01 | 184 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Frank Zappa: 200 Motels [1971]

Rating: 4/10

Most people who know anything about Zappa know that 200 Motels is generally considered to be one of his weaker efforts. A soundtrack to the film of the same name, this 90-minute 34-track monstrosity is a hodgepodge of orchestral arrangements, hard rock songs, and spoken-word excerpts. The film is enormously strange and bizarre, and this soundtrack reflects this strangeness fairly well. However, this weirdness doesn't manage to make the album interesting. This may not be Zappa's worst album, but it's certainly one of his most boring. Tired orchestration and lengthy spoken-word passages create an incredibly overlong and uneven double-album. There are some diamonds in the rough, though; a few excellent hard-rock tracks are found here.

A track-by-track review of this album is unrealistic, considering how many songs are here. Thus, I'm only going to mention the highlights. "Mystery Roach" is a great hard-rock song, with catchy vocals and sax. "Dance of the Just Plain Folks" is one of the better orchestral arrangements here, with some interesting percussion. "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" is a funny country parody song with Jimmy Carol Black portraying the title character. "She Painted Up Her Face", "Half a Dozen Provocative Squats", and "Shove it Right In" have some more funny lyrics, and are fairly catchy throughout. "Daddy Daddy Daddy" is a decent rock song in the typical style of the Flo & Eddie period. The same can be said of "What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?" "Magic Fingers" is actually one of my favorite Zappa hard-rock songs, and it's by far the best track on this album. The chorus is great, and Zappa's guitar sounds wonderful. The lengthy "Strictly Genteel (The Finale)" also contains some enjoyable moments.

With the exception of the aforementioned tracks, everything on 200 Motels is a mishmash of dull classical compositions and overextended film excerpts. None of the material here is bad per se; it's just uninteresting. With the exception of a few strong tracks, 200 Motels is an un-engaging and boring album. I would recommend watching the film for a funny off-the-wall experience, but this soundtrack album mostly deserves its bad reputation. This is by far the least essential Zappa album from the 70s.

Anthony H. | 2/5 |


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