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Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.65 | 304 ratings

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5 stars The 1980's was a dark time for many of the progressive or psychedelic groups who originated during the heady days of the late-sixties and early-seventies, the onset of disco and punk-rock, new technologies and changing times resulting in many a career low-point. Whilst there was much fine music released during this time, precious little of it came from established acts. The likes of Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and David Bowie produced some of the worst albums of their careers; prog-rock groups such as Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd transformed into purveyors of bland pop-rock. Few were immune. However, whilst the 1980's certainly wasn't Zappa's peak, he still managed to produce some truly outstanding material, making him one of the few 1960's- born acts to maintain some kind of quality control. And take into account the fact that an average Zappa album is still a work of unbridled genius, you therefore have some pretty impressive works. 'You Are What You Is', which was issued in 1981, showed that Zappa was still as potent as ever. Indeed, this awesome double-album actually counts as one of his best works, rivalling such classics as 'Freak Out', 'Overnite Sensation', 'Apostrophe', 'Joe's Garage', 'Roxy & Elsewhere' and 'The Grand Wazoo' for pure, unbridled musical audacity. Stuffed full of tunes, many see it as Zappa's last great album, and its hard to disagree. Tracks such as the soul-kissed 'Doreen', which features a wonderful vocal show from Ike Willis, and the razor-sharp, race-relation satire title-track show the great man's genius still very much in tact, whilst the hard- rockin' 'Any Downers' and the utterly brilliant 'Dumb All Over', which attacks organised religion with real venom, feature some of his finest lyrical displays. In fact, 'You Are What You Is' may just be his most eloquent release, with Zappa gleefully ripping apart such targets as TV evangelists, drug addicts, teenage rebels and politicians in a way rarely glimpsed in modern rock music. Backed by his usual array of super-talented backing players, what you have here is a supremely-weighted mixture of gold-standard musicianship and diamond-sharp satirical comment. Ultimately, this excellent album shows just how far ahead Zappa was of the competition, confirming just what a singular and unique talent he was. Definitely his best album of the 1980's, and as good as anything done previous, 'You Are What You Is' is another masterpiece from one of the greatest men of rock 'n' roll. In a word: fantastic. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 5/5 |


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