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Frank Zappa - Burnt Weeny Sandwich CD (album) cover

BURNT WEENY SANDWICH

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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andy@a-stenho
4 stars One of FZ's most neglected albums! IMHO it is one of his very best, marred by the do-wop songs (first and last tracks), but if you can take them (and I am not crazy about them myself) then this is a gem. With a storming live version of Little House I Used To Live In, and the sensational, Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown - not to mention the Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich - what more could anyone want? a neglected Masterpiece.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#29641)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A mishmash of musical grotesqueries, or yet another example of ZAPPA's calculated dementia as art? I'm not asking you to decide, since "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is probably both. It starts off innocently enough with the Cruising-compatible "WPLJ" and closes with another disarming doo-wop send-up in "Valarie", but it's what's in the middle of "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" that merits attention. Quasi-orchestral lounge music, searing guitar solos, classical jazz, dissonance, deliberate destruction of music's smooth facade. This is "serious" music filtered through ZAPPA's unique sense of humor, iconoclasm on a surprisingly intimate scale. Selections like "Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown" and "Little House I Used To Live In" belong with most of "Hot Rats" in the hall of great instrumental moments. But where Rats was focused more on jazz/rock fusion, Weeny fuses together the wildly divergent aspects of Frank's muse into a complex stew (Weasels would repeat this experiment). Underneath the chaotic haze, great ideas are afoot. "Theme From "Burnt Weeny Sandwich"" and the brief "Ivor's Boogie, Phase One" are carefully contrived to combine ugliness and art, the band sounding on the verge of careening off the printed score into noisy "Oblivion", riveting the listener like a high- speed car chase where we wait breathlessly for the inevitable crash. Not being familiar with Lumpy Gravy or Uncle Meat, the Mothers' most avant-garde outings to date, I can't tell you where Burnt Weeny begins and they end. However, according to ZAPPA's project/object theory, this clearly belongs to the same object as Weasels Ripped My Flesh and perhaps to "Hot Rats" as well, forming at least a contiguous trio of orchestral/jazz/rock efforts that put ZAPPA's compositional genius to the test. The Flo & Eddie follies effectively ended this chapter, only to have it resurrected by (in part) 200 Motels, Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo.

From these two trios come some of ZAPPA's most brilliant and ambitious music, with Burnt Weeny in the top half of that group, and thus one of ZAPPA's essential recordings.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#29643)
Posted Tuesday, May 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Burnt Weeny Sandwich featured more compositions by Zappa, and it serves as a piece that shows off a few sides of Frank.

WPLJ starts off as something that sounds like it got left off of Cruising With Ruben & The Jets. There are a few instrumentl compositions on here, notably the Holday in Berlin's and the Igor's Boogie's. Holiday in Berlin Full Blown being the real winner out of the four. Each of the compositions feature a signature melody but also concentrate on Frank's favored experimental sound effects. So in that aspect, they're not as strong as a lot of previous Frank compositions. Aybe Sea is a beauitful piece with an engaging melody, an overlooked Frank tune. Valarie is another Doo Wop song Frank wrote, and sometimes performed live.

However the real winner on this is The Little House I Used To Live In, taken from a few shoes where the song was played, seguing solos over the main melody of the song together. It's one of Frank's best melodies and features a lot of great solos.

All in all, Burnt Weeny Sandwich is nowhere near as strong due to their being some kind of lack of focus on the substance of the music melodically in my opinion, but where this record shines, it shines.

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Send comments to Retrovertigo (BETA) | Report this review (#35694)
Posted Wednesday, June 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
slack4justice
4 stars Burnt Weeny Sandwich is one of the 1970 posthumous releases of The Mothers by Frank Zappa. It sounds very similar to Uncle Meat besides WPLJ and Valarie, which of course sound like songs from Cruising With Ruben & the Jets. The songs in between would have snugly fit with the best of Uncle Meat. They're of course very well done and strong melodically, and the live snippets that make up Little House I Used to Live in are very excellent, featuring improvisation over the famous melody. This contains some very cool compositions by Frank, but doesn't really have the epic nature of other Mothers releases. 8.4/10

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#38709)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
Philo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Like Focus eased my fear of yodelling with their "Hocus Pocus track, Frank Zappa's Mothers have lessened my hate for doo wop with the songs that book end this album. Not that I'll be running out to purchase the Cruising With Rubin And the Jets album just yet, or probably ever for that matter. No. I am certainly no Zappa freak, that's for sure. I don't think I have the patience or money to get engrossd in the murky world of becoming a complete Zappaholic. It was the interest in jazz/rock fusion which led me to the path of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats album, which was probably inevitable really as it is probably the pioneering jazz/rock fusion album and therefore a must for many collectors, even if only from a historical standpoint. After having and heard and lived with Hot Rats I was eager at that point to see what had floated around the album, as I knew that it hardly just came out of the air, but there had to have been progression. Hot Rats, to me, was a complete and very well executed album. Zappa merged and weaved the music to a fine fix. So after obtaining Uncle Meat, a real eclectic and at time both frustrating and engrossing affair I went the whole hog by completing my own personal Zappa trilogy by getting my grubby hands on a Burnt Weeny Sandwich. So the doo wop numbers "WPLJ" and "Valerie" were interesting, typically Zappa like humorous, but between the posts of those tracks was the real core of the album, the music which I was drawn to as if by magic. The music is wild and haphazard, witty, fun. Some of the pieces come across like moments from Hot Rats, but underdeveloped, poorly played perhaps by this incarnation of the Mothers Of Invention, whom I'm unsure of the actual personnel as I'm really too lazy to check the liner notes. I'm also unaware of most of the titles of the tracks, but when it comes to instrumental music that is just the way it is with me. But lets just say it was enjoyable, a little quirky and wild but very easy to play over and over. But I really bought it for the album cover.

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Send comments to Philo (BETA) | Report this review (#71566)
Posted Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
belz
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.4/5.0 Another mixbag of great stuff and... let's say less great stuff. Beside " Little House I Used to Live In" which is a great - and long - prog song, the two best songs are the first and the last one, yet do-wop songs again from Frank Zappa! So, I think it says a lot when the do-wop songs are some of the highlights of the album.

On the plus side, however, there are a lot of great instruments used on the album, particularly Underwood piano on Aybe sea, which is gorgeous (but still, the song is short ). Another great song: "Theme from Burnt Weenie Sandwich", which creates an interesting prog atmosphere which is pretty different to the usual Zappa chaos...

It is a good album to listen to, but not an essential one. 3.4/5.0

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#77984)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album contains one of my Frank Zappa favorite top 5 solos: Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown.

I have been listening this song for years never getting tired of it. I read once an "expert" comment who said that this song has Zappa´s most subtle solo and I tend to agree.

While I am a true fan of FZ I never listened this record that often, but the song I mentioned at the beggining justifies the whole album IMHO.

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Send comments to Akebono (BETA) | Report this review (#78264)
Posted Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Burnt weeny sandwich seems to be an underrated Zappa album.

Released in 70', Zappa was at the end of the "collage" period and just before its great jazz-rock era which culminates with the two masterpieces: "Waka / Jawaka" and "The gran wazzo" in 1972.

"Burnt weeny sandwich" offers an original blend of 50's pop song's parody (the humorous side), contemporary music and beautiful Zappa's guitar at its most inspired.

Kind of collage, the music alternates from ridiculous parody moments to experimental inventive contemporary interludes to reach the top with progressive flights leaded by Zappa's sublime guitar work: Never Zappa's solos has been so moving and subtle, especially on the beautiful "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich" and "Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown", the two highlights.

The long piece "Little House I Used to Live In" offers something different: a furious jazz-rock tune leaded by Don "Sugarcane" Harris violin.

Overall, an essential album from the best period.

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Send comments to oliverstoned (BETA) | Report this review (#86137)
Posted Tuesday, August 08, 2006 | Review Permalink
Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 1969 Zappa decided to disolve the 'Mothers Of Invention' ,mainly due to financial problems and from july to september Zappa recorded his first solo record with Ex-Mother and multinstrumentalist Ian Underwood, Don Sugarcane Harris and guests. Zappa had always recorded a lot for his personal archives and for the rest of the year he compiled 'Mothers' material from 1968 and 1969 for the release of two records : 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich' (released in dec.1969) and 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh' (released in Feb 1970). Despite the fact that both records contain older material, the tracks are no leftovers but carefully assembled masterpices, edited often from several source tracks( live and studio) , spiced with the typical Zappa humour. 'BWS' represents more the neo- classical Zappa side, 'WRMF' the Free-Jazz inspired side.

The record starts and ends with two Doo-wop tracks, ' a genre that Zappa loved :'WPLJ' (White, Porto, Lemon-Juice) and 'Valeri'. Both tracks are covers, the first from the '4 Deuces' and the second from 'Jacqui &The Starlites', featuring Roy Estrada on falsetto vocals.

Next section : two small neo-classical compositions in Stravinsky style : 'Igor's Boogie, Phase One & two' featuring Ian Underwood on clarinette.

The theme for 'Overture to a Holiday in Berlin' and 'Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown' is one of the oldest Zappa compositions and was written around 1960 for the film 'The World Greatest Sinner'. The theme appeared also later on '200 Motels' as 'Would You Like A Snack ? 'The 'Berlin' title comes from the 1968 tour and refers to a concert in Berlin, when the students asked Zappa to support their ideas and actions and on a refusal by Zappa, they throw tomatoes and assorted stuff on stage. BTW on the official boot 'Freaks and Motherf...'is a version with lyrics telling the story. The music itself another brillant neo- classical piece , integrating in the fullblown version a march for speeded up marimba and a Zappa solo in the second half.

'Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich' a live track integrating a great Zappa solo and featured percussion.

'Aybe Sea' is a beautiful composition featuring harpsichord in the first half and later acoustic guitar and piano...

... seguing into the long masterpiece 'Little House I Used to Live In', a track that alternates live and studio material . The piano introduction by Ian Underwood( reminding strongly Debussy's 'Etudes') gives place to the main theme (live) featuring organ, guitar and sax. A rhythm change introduces a jerky dance tune, followed by a Zappa solo, then a long Sugarcane Harris solo on electric violin, a piano solo and the second part of the Harris solo, before a reprise of the main theme (studio) on harpsichord, marimba, clarinette and sax. The track ends with an organ solo by Zappa himself. During the following applause an audience member criticizes some soldiers in uniform among the audience and gets a typical Zappa answer in return : "Don't fool yourself, everybody in this room is wearing a uniform!"

A great compilation of the '1968 Mothers' !

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#88382)
Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Purchase this if you want to get into Zappa's RIO/Avant-Rock works without getting smacked in the wall by his other albums released at that time's blistering inaccessibility. Here we get a delicious slice of RIO, only in a slightly more "normal" way, at least for Zappa's standards. The songs varies between jazz, rock and avant-garde, and mixes it into something that sounds like a mix of Henry Cow and "The Grand Wazoo". The two doo-wop tracks that starts and concludes the album might not be appealing for everyone though, but I think they're both OK, but the album definitely would have been better without them. The instrumentation is, as always, excellent and all arrangements works well, without sounding tiresome.

That being said, the best track here have to be the 18-minute epic, "The Little House That I Used To Live In", one of Zappa's very best tracks from his work with The Mothers. The rest of the album is also very good with the two Igor Stravinsky tributes "Igor's Boogie Pahse 1" and "Phase Two" being two humouristic stand-outs here. This album is very much recommended, both for older and newer Zappa fans. 4.25/5

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#99552)
Posted Sunday, November 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
paloz,pingu.p
5 stars I can't believe no one gave 5 stars to this Zappa's Masterpiece. It is unbelievable, the perfect marriage between rock, jazz and classical music. You start with "WPLJ", a song ironic and maybe not as fantastic as you thought, but then you have "Igor's boogie phase 1", a 36 second's track that can lead you in another dimension, represented by the following tracks. You have "Prelude to a holiday in Berlin", that makes you feel like you're really in the German atmosphere, and it's unbelievable. Then there's the album theme, with a guitar solo by Zappa himself, then the 2nd phase of "Igor's Boogie". It is so easy that. I don't know it's like a little masterpiece!!! "Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown", the third track's sequel, really exciting. "Aybe sea", a bridge-track, and then. "The little house I used to live in", one of the greatest Zappa's compositions, it's outstanding, 18 minutes of total musical delirium. The album ends with another song, "Valarie". You HAVE to listen to this album!!! I wouldn't live without it, just try it. If you like Zappa (and I hope so), you cannot leave this on his own.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#113603)
Posted Monday, February 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ZAPPA truly made this record like a sandwich with the bread being the first and last songs, both silly but well done doo-wop tunes. But it's the amazing instrumental music that is in between that makes this a must have ZAPPA record. If you like "Hot Rats" then I think you will love the over 35 minutes of accessible instrumental music that is offered here.

"Igor's Boogie Phase One" is a tribute to one of ZAPPA's heroes Igor Stravinsky, and the percussion is pretty cool. "Igor's Boogie Phase Two" is much like the first one. "Overture To A Holiday In Berlin" has some nice orchestration and a brief but well done sax solo. "Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is such a good instrumental that is guitar driven with some orchestration.

"Holiday In Berlin Full Blown" is a beautiful display of sax, xylophone, piano and guitar solos. Great tune. "Aybe Sea" I suppose d, e, f should follow. Anyway Ian Underwood gives us some excellent piano melodies on this one but not before we are treated to some harpichord. "Little House I Used To Live In" is almost 19 minutes long and opens with a long piano melody that has been continued from the previous song. The song becomes uptempo with drums, horns, piano and most of all electric violin melodies. Just a brilliant tune.

This one surprised me, I wasn't expecting so much serious and amazing instrumental music. If you can put up with the two doo-wop songs you'll find a treasure of instrumental music.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#113781)
Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Mixing 1950s Doo Wop R'n'R with lengthy jazz improvisations, this album is an interesting insight into the late 1960s Zappas transformation period, still looking for a right direction, but the ending result appears not so strong as some later albums. Of course, there are several stunning guitar solos, orchestral imaginative arrangements and quite awsome percussion/vibraphone moments, but overall I don't find this album really essential.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#126036)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars WPLJ A catchy doo wop opener with nice vocals, although the spoken outro makes it a bit worse. 4.5 stars

Igor´s boogie phase I A weird filler. Not even a minute in length, this is an uninspired horn instrumental. 0 stars

Overture to a holiday in Berlin Out of tune, but on purpose. In fact, the melody is fine, even with the slightly out of tune playing, and it´s pretty charming as well. 4 stars

Theme from burnt weeny sandwich seems like a leftover from Hot rats. Wah wahed lead guitar from Zappa and overall similar to that album both in approach with melody (which isn´t all that great), but the mood is nice. as well. 5 stars

Igor´s boogie phase II Ok, more of the same as phase I . 0 stars

Holiday in Berlin full blown Develops further the melody of the overture. The horns laden intro part gets on my nerves after a short time as it seems to go nowhere, but the guitar driven part with great drumming has a nice melody to it, and the mood is great as well. 4 stars

Aybea sea A lovely, relaxed instrumental based on great evocative piano playing from Ian Underwood. 5 stars

Little house I used to live in A fine instrumental with interchanging slower and faster passages. Features fine solos by Frank, the violinist Don Harris (he does especially great), and Underwood again. The track is everything but coherent and without a main melody to it, but the solos are nice, and the mood and improvisational feel are fine, and jazzy. 5 stars

Valerie A parody on fifties/early sixties pop once again by Frank. SSweet and hilarious at te same time. Nevertheless the vocals are gorgeous and I really like it, perhaps because it sounds so out of place in comparison with all the other tracks on the album. 5 stars

Overall rating: 3 STARS

GOOD, BUT NON-ESSENTIAL

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Send comments to Peto (BETA) | Report this review (#133180)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR
Jazz-Rock/Fusion Team
4 stars Mmmm...sandwich.

With Burnt Weeny Sandwich Zappa put the hold on his jazz/rock fusion to create a sound that isn't as clearily identifiable. In a way, I like to think of it as mix of Uncle Meat, We're Only In It..., and Hot Rats (but a more subtle jazziness instead of the hot fusion that dominates Hot Rats). Or if you care to look at it from later works, this is a more subdubed and controled Weasels Ripped My Flesh. These of course are just generalizations, and the sound is really hard to pinpoint. The main culprits at play are classical, avant, jazz, and rock, which IMO makes this a great introduction to Franks classical works.

The bread of this sandwich are two doo-wop tracks. They are somewhat enjoyable, but don't really add anything to the mix (but don't take away either), except for making this album a literal sandwich. The real fun begins with the weenies. From Igor's Boogie to Aybe Sea this album stakes its claim as a classical rock record. This is done to near perfection. The Igor's Boogies along with Aybe Sea, show more of the classical side of this record, with Aybe Sea being a classic Zappa song in every respect featuring excellent guitar and piano. Theme From Bunrt Weeny Sandwich emphasizes the rock in this equation with Frank giving a great solo over some demented percussive sounds. Then we have The Holiday In Berlin songs. These two make a nice blend of classical and rock influences (with jazz, waltz, big band, avanty influences, as well) and create some special moments throughout. Holiday In Berlin (Full Blown) is again, a classic Zappa track. However, the show is stole by the monster of Little House I Used To Live In. This jazz- rock critter (still with classical influences) never fails to dissapoint. Great percussion work, violin solo, guitar solo, and one of my favorite melodies that Zappa created all make this track another Zappa classic (especally with the ending).

All in all, this album is filled with goodies that should be heard. One of the Zappa's first more classical albums makes this somewhat interesting in a histroical regard. This one also provides more edvince of the great song writer/arranger Zappa was. Fans of any of the styles above (with the excpetion of doo-wop) will find plenty to love about Burnt Weeny Sandwich. And once again, this album seems to be a bit underrated by Zappa fans, or at least underappreciated. I believe this album's diversity and progressiveness earn this album a very strong 4 stars. Recommended.

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Send comments to Man With Hat (BETA) | Report this review (#169185)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Burnt Weeny Sandwich were as well as Weasels Ripped my Flesh released after The Mothers of Invention was disbanded by Frank Zappa in 1969. This means that in both cases it´s archive recordings. Unlike most other artists who release archive recordings after the end of their career ( well Frank Zappa was still very active but The original Mothers of Invention had been disbanded) Burnt Weeny Sandwich is a very worthy purchase and almost fully on par with the regular studio albums from The Mothers of Invention. Many of the old Mothers on Invention albums were made this way anyway. The Mothers of Invention recorded a large bulk of songs at a time but they were not always released on the same album. Many of the songs on We´re Only In it for the Money, Lumpy Gravy, Cruising with Ruben and the Jets and Uncle Meat were recorded almost at the same time and then only later put together again for full albums. This is also the case with Burnt Weeny Sandwich.

Burnt Weeny Sandwich is almost entirely instrumental but very different from the jazz/ rock of Hot Rats which was the previous album Frank Zappa released. That was of course a solo release and shouldn´t be counted when we´re talking about The Mothers of Invention and since the songs on Burnt Weeny Sandwhich is likely recorded a while before Hot Rats it´s understandable.

The album consists of nine songs. The first and the last track are fifties doo woop/ r´n´b songs with vocals while the rest of the songs are instrumental mostly theme based songs. WPLJ and Valarie are both very enjoyable little doo woop/ r´n´b songs and especially WPLJ takes the price as one of the best in this style Frank Zappa ever made. Most of the songs are pretty short typical Mothers Of Invention instrumental songs which reminds me a bit of some of the songs from Uncle Meat. Aybe Sea is a bit different as it is a piano song which serves as a showof of Ian Underwood´s considerable piano talents. Little House I Used to Live In is a 18:41 minutes long and starts out with some great playing of an instrumental theme. Later there´s a great violin solo from Don Sugarcane Harris and some great piano playing from Ian Underwood. Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich is a vehicle for a Frank Zappa guitar solo and it kind of reminds me of Nine Types of Industrial Pollution from Uncle Meat as Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich also has some strange percussion in the background of the mix. There are also some Conceptual Continuety here or rather some of the themes here are used later in some of Zappa´s songs. For example Would You like a Snack ? from 200 Motels uses the theme from Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown. The theme is instrumental on Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown while it is sung by Flo & Eddie on Would You like a Snack ? from 200 Motels. I like both versions very much.

The Mothers of Invention were exceptional musicians and prove it here once again. But as on Uncle Meat Ian underwood steals the picture more than anyone with his beautiful piano playing.

The sound quality is very good. Fully on par with the previous albums from The Mothers of Invention.

Burnt Weeny Sandwich is an excellent album from The Mothers of Invention, and even though it´s not a complete masterpiece in my ears, it´s definitely a must for fans of Frank Zappa. This is not just a fan thing though as other people might enjoy this one too. I´ll rate Burnt Weeny Sandwich 4 stars without hesitation for the great songs and the excellent musicianship.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#170052)
Posted Tuesday, May 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich' is a fine example of the impatient variety of Frank Zappa's music. It has all the fast-moving attention deficit tendencies of a mind that is too full and quick to get stuck in a rut, and doesn't even know the meaning of the word 'boredom'. A common criticism of some of Zappa's albums is that they corral together a whole bunch of unrelated stuff - a series of non sequiturs with no binding narrative or thematic thread. (I guess this might be a more likely complaint from prog rock fans in particular!) But precisely the thing I personally like about this period of Zappa, with its 'collage' albums, is that lightning-speed, let's-see-now-what-do-we-have-here, six degrees of separation atmosphere. How many leaps of lateral thinking does it take to get from doo-wop to neo-classical hommage to movie soundtrack parody to monster instrumental collage and back to doo-wop again? Have a listen to this album and you'll find out.

We begin with the grinning singalong of 'WPLJ' - one of those half-tender, half-smirking doo-wop re-enactments that Zappa threw out now and again, just because he could, I guess. A bit of mischief-making to start proceedings off and probably to confound all those 'serious listeners' who might be expecting to hear something more right-on.

After that, it's on to 'Igor's Boogie, Phase One' - a palate-cleansing morsel of neo-classical confectionery to take the sugary taste of 'WPLJ' away. There is no time to savour it though, as we are already late for...

...'Overture to A Holiday in Berlin', with its queasy, out of tune fairground sound and bleating drunken wind instruments. 'Holiday in Berlin' refers to an incident at a Mothers concert in Berlin in 1968, when some aggrieved student activists had a bit of a tantrum over Frank Zappa's unwillingness to collude with them in a planned act of vandalism. This piece and the later reprise of it, further down the running order, was Zappa's riposte - a cynical sigh, a belittling glance, in musical form. I'm always impressed with how Zappa's music can tease so mercilessly, just by the way it sounds, without the need for comedy lyrics. (Indeed, some people would prefer it if Zappa had never written any lyrics!)

Now we move swiftly on to 'Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich', which is a restrained and repetitive rock instrumental, used mainly as a backdrop for Zappa's leisurely guitar explorations. Not my favourite piece on the album, mainly because it is fairly repetitive, but it does give us a peaceful moment's breather before the next piece.

'Igor's Boogie, Phase Two' arrives, blaring its odd mixture of melancholy tootling and comedy noises, whereupon...

...We are now back in Berlin for 'Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown', which gives us a less comical and more straightforward rendering of the 'Holiday' theme. I love this, for its gear changes through atmospheres ranging from gentle and civilised, via purposefully cheesy and ironic, to all out musical sneering, with speeded up militaristic percussion (surely a dig at those idiotic rioters, marching-marching-marching for no reason whatsoever). At this point, you can be quite sure that Zappa is laughing at you. Of course, to counter that, there is a smattering of eloquent guitar, in which we get a glimpse of emotion (something that is rarely if ever admitted to in any other facet of Zappa's music).

Time now for 'Aybe Sea', a kind of faux sea shanty-cum-movie music hybrid. Zappa was apparently rather fond of real sea shanties, and this enjoyable pretend one could be soundtrack to a cartoon.

At last it's time for 'The Little House I Used To Live In', which opens with a delicious spoonful of ice-cold, contemptuous and yet melancholy piano. Probably in my top ten of Zappa moments! It's stark, bold, somehow emotional, and yet I can't help wondering if he's just being manipulative with it - pressing the listener's buttons a little, before the main theme bursts forth exuberantly, with no warning. We have suddenly been dragged from moody contemplation into a jazz rock cataclysm! This is brisk, proud stuff, with plenty of showing off. Ingredients include, but are not limited to, incensed guitar, dirty violin like nails being dragged down a grimy window, pounding piano and drums, affronted jazz... Later there is an incongruous moment of quietude with soft woodwinds and tinkly keyboards, a drip of sentiment tinged with bitterness... Then a sudden irruption of speeded-up chaos. It's almost like a self-parody of all the preceding phases of the piece. As the music mounts a squalling, ethnic-tinged ascent to its conclusion, we are met with rapturous audience noise, the tantalising announcement of a proposed attempt to play 'Brown Shoes Don't Make It', and then some disgruntled blithering from hecklers (who were apparently making their feelings known regarding some armed service personnel in the audience). Cue Zappa's immortal line, Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform and don't kid yourselves. And, following further hollering from the miscreants, You'll hurt your throat, stop it! Great stuff.

And with that rollercoaster-ride over and done with, we end our whistle stop tour of Zappa's musical domain, arriving back at the doo-wop check-point. This is where we get off, the portal back to normality! 'Valarie' is like an anodyne comedown after 'Little House'. An interesting contrast indeed.

Well then, time to sum up. This album offers a bitesize glimpse, a curious miniaturised scale model, of very many aspects of FZ's music from this period - it's like a sample vial of concentrated essence of Zappa, which might also make it a good choice as an entry point to the most bewilderingly prolific and varied discography of them all. All this music has its place, from a sweet pop song to an unbridled jazz rock explosion, and here, as ever, Zappa manages to pull off a whole heap of contrasting styles with his usual air of languid-ease-contradicted-by-sheer-effort. This album will probably not entertain you much if you like a gentle 'story arc' with your music, but if it's a variety performance you're after, give it a go - it's fun, flashy and well worth it for the magnificence that is 'Little House' alone. It's also a bit of a grower, methinks. When I first heard it, I wasn't exactly leaping up and down for love of it, but it's since become one of my most played Zappa albums. From me, four stars for this entertaining and quirky mixture.

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Send comments to song_of_copper (BETA) | Report this review (#176494)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Do you know why I like Frank Zappa? It's not just because of his status as a musical revolutionary, and it's not just because of the large amount of brilliant work that attaches to his name. I like Frank Zappa because, for all of his many studio accomplishments within and without The Mothers, I can state that my favorite Zappa album is a collection of reworked live outtakes, and I can (seemingly) do so without an incredible amount of dissent from other Zappa fans. I love absurdity, don't you?

On paper, this is, definitely, a really bizarre choice for a favorite Zappa album. It consists of nine tracks, two of which are regular doo-wop (these bookend the album), two of which are :36 each of dissonant interlude and one of which is an "overture" to another piece. The remainder, as far as I'm aware, is a mix of live instrumental improvisations, modern- classical and jazz-fusion outtakes, some of which were first recorded live and then taken into the studio. Except for the doo-wop numbers, there are no vocals at all, barring a moment at the end of "Little House" during the audience applause when there's a mildly tense moment between Zappa and an irritated fan.

In short, then, one might wonder how such a hodge-podge collection could ascend to such a lofty place in terms of my regard for Frank and Co.; indeed, there was a good while after I realized how much I loved the album where I'd start to play it and try to remember what on earth it was that had made me so ga-ga over it in the first place. I mean, the doo-wop tracks ("WPLJ" and "Valerie;" both are covers, despite me being told initially that the latter was a Mothers original) are hardly spectacular, nor do I think they're meant to be; aside from a funny monologue at the end of the former, they would completely pass me by on another album. Same goes for "Igor's Boogie (Phase One)" and "Igor's Boogie (Phase Two);" it's very likely that on another album I might even be actively complaining about these two tracks.

But you know what? I don't (in general) review collections of individual tracks; I review albums, and this is a clear case (in my mind) of the distinction between the two. The collection and sequencing of the tracks on this album absolutely amazes me, because Frank accomplishes three significant tasks in doing so (which I will address one by one), all the while throwing in a bonus trait for good measure. The first regards the tension and release thereof throughout; the second regards the symmetry of the album (though actually this is very tied to the first, and could be called trait 1a); the third regards the way Frank creates a "proxy" for the band's overall work. The fourth is that there's actually a strong dose of un-ironic emotion on here, an accomplishment for sure from Frank, but I'll get into that.

First, the tension and release aspect. One of the aspects I enjoyed the most about Freak Out! was the way Frank played on the inherent expectation of a wild, crazy, mind-blowing experience by instead providing a bunch of pop and doo-wop parodies, thus making the later effect of "Help, I'm a Rock!" et al that much more pronounced. I realized after first reviewing it that that album was very much, in terms of building up to a storm, a sort of studio equivalent of Bob Dylan's Live '66 album, at least in terms of toying with the audience. Well, Frank does a similar thing here, though the actual purpose is slightly different (there isn't an explicit message here). The opening combination of "WPLJ" and "Igor's Boogie 1" works well along these lines, making the listener wonder why on earth Frank would put two tracks like that immediately together, and "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin" ups the ante by featuring a "romantic" theme that happens to have some of the instruments way, waaaaay flat. "Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich" (a very pleasant, hypnotic instrumental that mostly stars Zappa and his wah-wah pedal) acts as a pleasant "diversion" (one that just happens to really really rule), before "Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown" manages to "correct" the partial flatness of "Overture" in one of its parts (its many parts add up to one of the loveliest modern-classical/jazz instrumentals I can imagine; the last half of it features more of Zappa's guitar skills at their most hypnotic), thus releasing the tension that came specifically from that part earlier on.

But of course, that doesn't relieve all of the tension of the first side, and the very beginning of side two's "The Little House I Used to Live In" piles its own lump of tension into the pile as well. It's soooo intricate and so full of different moods and great melodies, even just within the first five minutes or so (which begins with a couple of minutes of piano improv), as it builds into a multi-instrumental extravaganza, then lets Frank's guitar take over for a bit ... and then we get it. I cannot stress enough how much I absolutely love the violin solo that then proceeds to own something like the next ten minutes of the track (it disappears for a little bit in favor of some piano, but let's not be picky). My preferred analogy to describe how I hear it is to say that it's as if the first half of the album has been placed upon on a sacrificial altar, and the violin solo is the soundtrack to the ritual act itself, but even then I'm not sure I'm accurately conveying my thoughts on it. It's just ... it's just unbelievable. It creates some tension as it goes along, yes, but it also (in my mind, anyway) manages to wipe away a huge chunk of its own tension and the remaining tension from the first side, which (along with being absolutely awesome on its own) is enough to make me adore it.

The piece goes on a bit more after the solo is done, dissolving a good 95% of the remaining tension, calling up some of the themes from side one for good measure (more later), and then ends to a thundering burst of applause. Then it's off to "Valerie," and we're done. Which brings me to point two, the symmetry of the album. Let's see, the album starts and ends with a doo-wop member. "Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is immediately preceded by "Igor's Boogie (One)" and "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin," and immediately followed by "Igor's Boogie (Two)" and "Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown." Side one ends with an extremely beautiful piano-and-harpsichord based instrumental in "Aybe Sea" (heh), then side two begins with a minute of piano improvisations. Ooh, and don't forget about the very end of "Little House" featuring not only a return to the same organ-driven instrumental texture as the start of the track, but which also quotes "Aybe Sea" in parts! Hell, there's probably more of these things that I'm forgetting about, and what's here is already impressive.

Part three regards the way Zappa manages to make the album so representative of The Mothers' career despite theoretically not doing so. He manages to bring in the doo- wop/sarcastic pop side, the occasional dissonance-for-its-own-sake side, the nods-to-jazz side, the genre-fusion side, the wow-that's-intricate-stuff side, and even the cultural-war side ("Take that uniform off!" "Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform, and don't kid yourself."). To a large degree, one could argue that the whole gist of the band's career is summed up by those characteristics; it misses out on a lot of the finer details, of course, but for an album with only nine tracks, hitting that much of the band's essence is pretty impressive.

And, finally, there's an aspect here that is not routinely found in other Zappa albums, and that is actual emotional resonance (as opposed to mockery of resonance, which is the closest thing to it that was usually achieved in the other albums). There is unironic beauty to be found in tracks like "Holiday in Berlin," "Aybe Sea" and "Little House," and from a man like Zappa, who seemingly devoted most of his life to mocking beauty, that is truly something to behold.

So that's a good start to summarizing why I like this album so much, more than any other Zappa I've heard, and enough to put it in my overall top 50. I enjoy it to pieces, and it works on so many intellectual levels at the same time that I can't help but also feel wonder at its overall construction. A Zappa collection without this (and it can exist, because it doesn't get publicized as much as many of his other albums do) is really missing the heart and soul of the man.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#287673)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars One hot the last Mothers album before Frank decided to try it alone with Hot Rats and the very successful and more instrumental series of albums, although this one is already a fine change or departure from the previous senseless insanities of double Mothers albums like 200 Motels and Uncle Meat.

An album that's often been (wrongly, IMHO) linked with Uncle Meat (probably due to the carnal artworks and titles), BWS doesn't start very well with that dumb doo-wop-like WPLJ tune, but from the very next track the album veers into a fantastic instrumental Overture/Theme BWS book-ended by the short Igor's Boogie pieces where the music alternates between modern classical and klezmer to jazz-rock. Then we get the Holiday In Berlin track where we'd gotten a theme preview with the previous Overture, where the semi-grotesque Oktoberfest-like music dominates at first, then leading into another fine jazz-rock instrumental, soon segueing in Aybe Sea (ABC), which is another good instrumental filled with Underwood's piano.

The flipside is mainly occupied by the lengthy Little House I Used To Live In, lasting almost 19-mins, which opens with a piano-dominated intro (Underwood again), before the piece- proper jumps into a wild instrumental passage that features a solid violin solo, care of Sugar Cane Harris (although I'd have preferred Ponty's intervention, but this is nitpicking), but not before Frank's outstanding guitar outing and Preston finishes the job on piano. The closing Valarie is a classically-inspired track that starts pastoral and acoustic but veers rockier and chaotic The ensuing live track starts doo-wop-ish on a parody of or pastiche of Barbara-Ann

Clearly one of the early line-up Mothers' best albums with Weasels, Burnt Weeny Sandwich is better compared to Rats, Chunga and the likes and if it didn't start so catastrophically, it could compare even more favourably.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#300048)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars By this time, with only a few of the original Mothers Of Invention left in the band, Frank Zappa had molded the band into a pretty good jazz/classical combo. And the music he wrote for them is some of what puts Uncle Frank in the ranks of the 20th century masters.

The album opens and closes with light doo-wop style songs, similar to the pieces on Ruben & The Jets. WPLJ and Valerie were probably meant to get som airplay. But it's what's inside this sandwich that makes the album special.

The two Holiday In Berlin pieces are some of the finests classical works in Zappa's repertoire. He must have known that, as well, as theme from this popped up in works throughout the rest of his career. And the original, and best recording of Little House I Used To Live In is an amazing jazz fusion piece, despite the obvious splices from different performances.

In my opinion, this is a must have album in your Zappa collection.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#313105)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Frank Zappa: Burnt Weeny Sandwich [1970]

Rating: 7/10

Burnt Weeny Sandwich, along with its companion album Weasels Ripped My Flesh, is a collection of Mothers material recorded during 1967-69 and released after the band dissolved. Thus, this is a collection of (mostly) jazz-fusion tracks, representing Zappa's most prevalent style during that period. The album begins and ends with doo-wop covers, but the rest is stylistically similar to Uncle Meat: experimental jazz-rock with no dearth of complex piano/sax lines.

The opener "WPLJ" is probably my favorite doo-wop song from the Mothers. It's a cover of a 1950s song from a group called The Four Deuces, and the rather stupid lyrics are presented in a hilarious and catchy fashion. "Igor's Boogie, Phase One" is a very short complex piece with dissonant sax and percussion. "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin" is another short composition, with pleasant acoustic guitar transitioning into dissonant violin and xylophone. Zappa finally breaks out his guitar during "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich." "Igor's Boogie, Phase Two" continues in the same vein as Phase One; disharmonious sax and kazoo dominate. "Holiday in Berlin, Full-Blown" begins with a complex piano rhythm that moves into big-band style sax. Excellent xylophone reprises the main hook and Zappa plays a wah-heavy solo for the rest of the track. "Aybe Sea" is a harpsichord/piano composition with a catchy main hook. The eighteen-minute "The Little House I Used to Live In" is the centerpiece of the album; its quality nearly puts it on the level of Hot Rats. It starts with quiet piano, and then moves into the main theme on distorted guitar and clarinet. The highlight of the album follows: a long violin solo from Don "Sugarcane" Harris that may just be as good as the one on "The Gumbo Variations." The track concludes with a sped-up reprise of "Aybe Sea." The album ends with "Valarie", a rather uninteresting doo-wop cover.

Although certainly not Zappa's best jazz-fusion album, Burnt Weeny Sandwich is an excellent album with all the creativity, musicianship, and compositional brilliance that one expects from Uncle Frank. The sublime "The Little House I Used to Live In" is enough to make this album worth checking out. Although Zappa's jazz composing had not yet reached its full potential when most of these tracks were recorded, Burnt Weeny Sandwich is highly recommended to any Zappa fan, or to anybody who appreciates complex and intricate music.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#435149)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars One of two posthumous Mothers of Invention collections Zappa would release in the immediate aftermath of the band's breakup (more archival material would eventually trickle out over the years), Burnt Weeny Sandwich is structured like its title: the "bread" of the sandwich consists of WPLJ and Valarie, two of the Mothers' twisted doo-wop attempts - WPLJ is a straight out comedy song, whilst Valarie is a lament for lost love which actually sounds kind of sincere for once. As for the meat, we have a selection of Zappa compositions delivered in note- perfect form by the Mothers, which a tendency to showcase Zappa's classical influences - the "Igor" of Igor's Boogie being most likely Igor Stravinsky.

These tracks are almost entirely instrumental, making this an album you'll absolutely love if, like me, you liked the instrumental tracks on Uncle Meat. What pushes it into the must-have category is The Little House I Used to Live In, an epic track that takes up most of the second side and takes us through the Mothers' entire sonic universe before depositing us at a live concert (where we get to see Zappa's good-natured handling of a heckler). Maybe it is a posthumous Frankenstein rising from the MOI's grave, but it's an expertly designed one.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#452996)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh Zappa how I love thee, A hardy soul indeed you must be to understand this dude. Those without a sense of humor should run like hell, I always have felt Zappa's strongest trait was, his music sounds like he does not take himself to seriously, I detect no pretentiousness at all, What you see is what you get, Of course he did take the music seriously, The social satires priceless. But the Guitar work is what's special, and underrated. And since I love jazz fusion music, I can appreciate this as much as any other fusion. This Collection of left overs is fantastic.I have always felt many Zappa albums sound like film scores, with the mood swings, and different styles drawn upon. All the albums from the Hot Rats period are worth a spin. Hot Rats being his Masterpiece in my opinion. The rather Lengthy "The Little House I used to Live In" Never gets boring. The Violin Solo is Wonderful. This Band is definitely one of the few I wish I could hop in the time machine for.

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Send comments to darkprinceofjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#524991)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars After having heard the satirical bizarre side of Zappa this album took me by surprise as it is rather restrained by Zappa's standards. It features lengthy flute sections and some mesmirising beauty on organ. Frank Zappa plays multi instruments such as organ, and guitar. He is joined by the accomplished Don Preston on bass and piano, as well as Jimmy Carl Black on drums. The excellent guitar embellishments are courteousy of Lowell George, and the basslines of Roy Estrada are rhythmic augmenting the sound. There are others involved in this polished craftsmanship such as Gabby Furggy on vocals and Zappa stalwart virtuoso Ian Underwood on keyboards and guitar. The brass section of Bunk Gardner's horns and woodwind lend a truly majestic ethereal quality, and these are backed by Don "Sugarcane" Harris's violins. Together this band is able to create a compelling sound and one that is unique in the extensive catalogue of Zappa related projects.

The album is mainly instrumental and at times the jam sessions hook into a hypnotic groove that entrance the listener. The trademark doo wop style is there as usual but it is not as laboured as other albums. The music ranges from neo-classical to straight out rock. Highlights include WPLJ, Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown and the epic Little House I Used to Live In. The opening track and epic finale are the best moments but overall the album is an enjoyable listen showcasing the virtuoso musicianship of the Mothers of Invention. The tracks blend together and come across as one seamless work of art. Zappa is notorious for chatting to the crowd and this is no exception as he backchats an audience member who complains about the soldiers in the arena; Zappa retorts "Don't fool yourself, everybody in this room is wearing a uniform." Another solid album for Zappa in a period where prog music was becoming defined and formulated.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#603417)
Posted Thursday, January 05, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The humor in this one is in the music. But so is the genius. This release is mostly studio work with a little bit of live performance mixed in for good measure and to help make the entire album more concise. Even the long track "The House I Used to Live In" is mostly studio despite the audience clapping at the end of the track. The album is also a collection of some of the "Mothers of Invention" music that had not been previously released and was recorded between 1967 and 1969. What results here is a nice variety of music ranging from neo jazz/classical instrumentals all performed by the band (not an orchestra) bookended by two doo wop songs. There's your sandwich.

Speaking of sandwich, a burnt weenie sandwich is a snack that FZ used to love and it was exactly what it says it is, with a little mustard added and a Hebrew National hot dog starring as the weenie.

So, except for the 1st and last tracks, this is entirely instrumental. And it is full of meter changes and strange meter combinations that FZ was famous for. There are a few places were you can tell things were pasted together, the editing not being very clean. But that adds to the novelty of this collection. The next release that would come from the FZ discography is part 2 of the collection of previously unreleased Mothers recordings, but it is a lot more scattered and messy where this album is a lot more concise and tight, even with the somewhat sloppy editing.

I really enjoy listening to this mostly because of the variety in the collection. It never gets boring and contains a lot of themes that FZ would use in later instrumentals and live shows. Get to know these themes if you are working on becoming an FZ aficionado, and it will make things a lot easier for you to understand....and with understanding will come enjoyment. Good stuff, I wish I had it on vinyl. I have to say, in order to understand FZ's music, this is an essential recording...not quite a masterpiece though because of the uneven editing, but close enough to be a 5 star in my opinion, because of the amazing musicianship, the mixing of jazz and classical, and an honest attempt to get the masses to listen to good quality music, which was FZ's mission. The rock and humor was always added in to attract the masses to listen to the real music.

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Send comments to TCat (BETA) | Report this review (#1301812)
Posted Saturday, November 08, 2014 | Review Permalink

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