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Frank Zappa - Uncle Meat CD (album) cover

UNCLE MEAT

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.16 | 354 ratings

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friso
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa) - Uncle Meat (1969)

In the year 1969 there are already so much interesting progressive rock (related) releases. The Mother's we're making a movie and recorded Uncle Meat and released it as a sound- track for the film that would never be finished. Looking at the great anti-commercial cover art insight arises in what this double album might offer.

Uncle Meat is actually a very logical step forward for the band when you hold it next to 'We're only in for the Money', released a year earlier. The band still has making stupid semi- political songs on the agenda and the use of innovative composition (which I would call proto-Canterbury) in instrumental passages. New are the free-jazz solo's/compositions and the modern classical music inspired compositions with their own specific avant-garde sound. No songs/compositions evolve as expected and the listener is guarantied to be surprised at least once a minute. Also still present are the silly stories by strange characters.

With it's two hours of music this is perhaps one of the longest albums ever. It's however worthy to mention that the first 43 minutes of second cd (Uncle Meat film excerpts) weren't present at the vinyl release of 1969. This noteworthy amount of musical material is not being reviewed in this specific review. I simply don't own it.

Getting bored during the other 80 minutes of a little hard, because Zappa and crew keep on firing new ideas on us. Most passages are worthwhile, showing the band with innovative - if not ground-braking - composition and performance. I like the modern classical pieces and I think it's great that the band made very strange avant-garde without letting it get to dark or unpleasant. Most of the avant-garde moments sound happy and have a positive, yet slight psychedelic feel. The song-writing is still strong, but I must admit I think the songs on 'We're only in it for the money' are more original and memorable. On side four we get to listen to some great fusion/avant-garde moments (the King-Kong parts) that finally bring some continuity in the sound of the Mothers. It does make side four the most conventional of the record, but I can't listen to awkwardness whole day.

My only real complaint about Uncle Meat is about the weaker live parts on side one and two, a bit unnecessary mainly because of the bad recording quality.

Conclusion. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite avant-garde releases. I'm amazed at how innovative The Mothers of Invention are and how music critics could cope with it. Somehow all hard-to-get-into music is smashed into pieces, but Zappa got himself a card- blanche in music criticism. I myself can enjoy this music very much, but I'm must admit I think the sound of the album is a bit dated. I've heard many better recordings dating from 1969. I'm pleasantly amazed by how much influence Zappa & the Mothers seem to have had on the Canterbury scene, and I would strongly recommend fans of this genre to listen to this record, along with fans of avant-garde and listeners of the more challenging progressive music. Four stars.

friso | 4/5 |

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