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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1684 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars "Hot Rats" is the first Zappa album I heard and it is certainly a good start as it is the genius of the man at a more sane level than some of the crude mumbo jumbo and difficult albums in his repertoire.

It begins with the delightful jazz rock of Peaches en Regalia that is definitely quintessential to the man and features amazing guitar throughout and a melody that locks into your skull and stays there forever.

This is followed by the brilliant Willie the Pimp which is the initiation of Zappa for me. I was drawn to it as it was featured on the website of all time greatest guitar solos. They were not kidding either as Zappa smokes up a storm on lead guitar, featuring some killer melodic phrases and fret melting lead hammering and speed picking. It is improvised in part and seems to make sense catering to the dissonant percussion and jazz domination of instruments competing against each other. It is the only track with vocals and they are well executed by iconic Captain Beefheart.

Son of Mr. Green Genes is another terrific instrumental and features Zappa's manic guitar and a strong rhythm driving it home. Little Umbrellas has the marvellous saxophone sound of Underwood and a pulsating bassline. The dreamy sounds have an Eastern flavour and Ian Underwood's work on the organ is simply stunning on this track.

Later we hear the legends of violin prowess Sugar Cane Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty screeching and improvising on the lengthy jamming Gumbo Variations. This track is certainly complex and an incredible virtuoso performance with delicious guitar licks, Hammond and sporadic jazz drumming.

It Must Be A Camel finishes the album with jazzy percussive accents and wild piano melodies. Underwood's sax soloing is a work of art, allowing the music to breathe interweaving other instruments in the complex time sigs. It is something that only Zappa could pull off.

Overall this is the place to start for Zappa, he restrains the zaniness and crude language, opting for allowing the music to speak for itself, and it is all the better for it.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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