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Frank Zappa - Baby Snakes CD (album) cover

BABY SNAKES

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.40 | 71 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As Richard W said in a previous review for this album, "If you have the Baby Snakes DVD, then you don't really need this CD version", this is very true for this "soundtrack" if you will. In the late 70s and early 80s, Zappa was tirelessly pumping out album after album (most of them double albums, at that), and this was one of those albums. Four years after the film of the same title was released (read my review for that if you want a description of it), Zappa released this album which is essentially highlights from those shows. That said, there were better songs played, but for the most part this is a nice collection of pieces. The musicians are tight and cohesive together, with possibly one of the best lineups that Zappa ever had.

Beginning with an introduction from future Zappa backing guitarist Warren Cuccurullo about his New York shows, it breaks into a ripping version of Baby Snakes (which is essentially the same version from Sheik Yerbouti). Titties 'N Beer has always been a favorite of mine mainly because I love the vocal improvs between Zappa and Bozzio. This version is quite nice, but there are versions of it available. Special credit goes to Adrian Belew who would wear a dress during this part and perform the "female" vocal. I'm quite fond of the version of The Black Page #2, the synthesizers are quite lush and they make up for the missing horns quite well. Visually during this piece they are having a dance contest (which brings some great humor while watching it).

Jones Crusher was never a terribly great track even on Sheik Yerbouti, but I like this one. Belew's vocal is dynamic and Zappa's guitar work is great. Disco Boy might be the only song on this album that I like better than the original version. The original was too guitar driven, and this one has the perfect mix of guitar and great keyboards from Peter Wolf and Tommy Mars. Ed Mann is also a treat on this song. Dinah-Moe-Humm gets a nice sped up version and Zappa really rips through it vocally. The final piece on this album is Punky's Whips, which is one of my all time favorite Zappa songs. This version has no real differences from the other versions of it, except Don Pardo doesn't give the great introduction, and the horns are missing. But other than that, this is a ripping version that has a great Zappa solo at the end.

In the end, this is a nice audio collection, but on the whole the original versions of these songs are better, there are a few exceptions of course (Disco Boy). The other thing is he had a lot better songs to put on here. Where's the Camarillo Brillo/Muffin Man medley, San Bern'dino, Black Napkins, or City of Tiny Lites? Other than that, this is a nice collection that is fun and there's a lot of humor here. Good, but not essential. 3/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |

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