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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1683 ratings

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5 stars The quintessential Frank Zappa album? I'm not sure about that as I have only heard a couple of his albums, yet at the moment Hot Rats is the only Zappa album that resides in my collection. Largely drawn to it due to the merger of rock and jazz like sounds Hot Rats is an eclectic mix of thoughts, ideas and sounds from this visionary musician. Zappa makes and creates a collage of tones and noises and sews them together with a building melodic harmony. "Peaches In Regalia" is like a bloody Broadway musical put to the acid rock test on lots of acid, and with added dirt and genius, while Zappa's mate Captain Beefheart makes an appearance on the slick and sleazy "Willie The Pimp". While I always like my instrumental albums to be, well, instrumental, and get annoyed when many attempt to slip in a vocal track (Ian Carr and Nucleus tried it and failed miserably on their second album We'll Talk About It Later a couple of years on from this, and in fact they did so by trying to rip this song off with their tepid and dull "Ballad Of Joe Pimp") the vocals and performance on "Wilie The Pimp" work and create a little menacing side show story for the album. Then slap bang! We're back into the mood with "Son Of Mr. Green Genes" rolling around the jazz rock road. With piano, vibraphone and saxophones, "Little Umbrellas" is a fusion treat and by now the album was starting to become a personal favorite with me. While Davis struggled and frustrated with his double Bitches Brew, Zappa and his Mothers made it all look so easy with a defining effort, with "The Gumbo Variations" and the excellently titled "It Must Be A Camel" becoming, for me at least, staples of the jazz rock fusion canon. Hot Rats is an album with a purpose. The whole fusion era started off on a high expectant platform but it truly ebbed back from that point on. Though John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra would take into to another plane a few years down the line but exclusively so. Released in the same year as Miles Davis Bitches Brew, Hot Rats offers up so much more colour and expression, laced with Zappa's idiosyncratic humour. But perhaps only just. Would it be fair to suggest that Frank Zappa hit the notes that were just out of Miles' reach? But while it may be viewed as idiotic to compare the two albums, it is an interesting juxtaposition to simply do so.
Philo | 5/5 |


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