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Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage, Acts II & III CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa


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5 stars This review applies to the firs act too: a real masterpiece, great songs, many different styles masterfully arranged and perform, a successful blend between the mood of the music and the mood of the lyrics (sometimes whith the contrast of musical grandiosity and soap-opera situation of the characters). Full of satyrical references, consistent from start to end, full of very good songs and virtuous solos. A must have for zappa fans, a good starting for the beginners on zappa listening.
Report this review (#30269)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Uncle Frank continues the story of Joe and Mary (Joseph and Mary?) and scores some major musical points along the way.

Acts 2 & 3 carry on in the vein mined in Act 1. Tight band, pointed lyrics and some great soloing from Zappa combines with some stereotypical Zappa "oddness" to make up the second 2/3rds of Zappa's finest musical moment.

This part of the work, however, is where non-Zappa fans begin to wander. Sparse arrangements overlaid with Zappa's scatalogical references is the order of the day through most of Acts 2 and 3. If you love Zappa, you will love this. If you will never get Zappa, this will just cement your opinion. Zappa's humor is in full force. Marital aids, cross-dressing, oral sex, religion, homosexuality, bondage, golden showers Sado-Masochism all make appearances here. The music is tight, funky and wonderful, but most listeners will never get past the "hot curly weenie" references to get to the music. In my opinion this was a concerted effort on the part of Zappa throughout his career. If you can't get past the scatology, you will NEVER begin to get the music. This is true over most over the latter part of Joe's Garage (Stick It Out, Sy Borg, Dong Work For Yuda, Keep It Greasy).

The album gets truly interesting again with "Outside Now". In many ways Zappa's career path can be traced back to his arrest on a trumped up obscenity charge in the early sixties. Zappa was approached by an undercover policeman and asked to make a tape for a bachelor party. Zappa and a female friend made sex noises and squeaked a bed, Zappa "edited out the giggles"** and turned the tape over the next day. Zappa was arrested and spent a couple of days in jail before being given probation and told not to associate with underage girls. Zappa, in many ways, spent the rest of his career saying "If you thought THAT was obscene, you ain't seen nothing yet". Outside now is a combination of the latter day composer, weary with the record business ("these executives have plooked the f**k out of me) and the early Zappa, laying in a jail cell (I'll lay here on my back until dawn, and dream of guitar notes that will irritate an executive kind of guy). A telling song, with some outstanding guitar from Frank. With "He Used to Cut The Grass" Ike Willis sings of a future with no music, and Frank continues the incredible workout he is giving his guitar through the latter half of this album. "Packard Goose" is another in a long tradition of Zappa telling his critics to go to hell; Zappa telling the world he is who he is and isn't going to change what he is doing just because it isn't fashionable. Tight harmonies from the band as well. Zappa puts some of his most beautiful and succint lyrics into the mouth of Dale Bozzio ("Mary"), "Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music, music is the best." Followed up by one monster of a riff/solo. Great stuff.

This brings us to "Watermelon in Easter Hay". I hardly know where to begin on this one. Zappa starts off the cut in Central Scrutinizer mode, tell us that "imaginary guitar notes and imaginary vocals exist only in the imagination of the imaginer, but ultimately who gives a f**k anyway," followed by a knowing chuckle. "Watermelon" is as fitting an epitaph for Zappa as anything he wrote. The background is melodic, slow, measured and beautiful and is topped off by as lovely a solo as I have ever heard anyone play. Never known as a sentimental guy, Zappa pulls truth and beauty and regret and love out of the guitar in ways he never did before or after this.

All three parts of Joe's Garage are available now on one cd, and should be seen as one release. If you are a Zappa fan you MUST have this one on your shelf. Most of Zappa's "Conceptual Continuity" and some of his most understated and beautiful guitar playing on one release. If you are not a Zappa fan, you will find both his finest, most accessible music and enough of his lyrical content to decide if Zappa is for you. Either way, you owe yourself a listen.

**"See "The Real Frank Zappa Book" by Zappa and Peter Ochigrosso for more of this story. Also see "Zappa" by Barry Miles

Report this review (#35251)
Posted Sunday, June 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is another double LP: the continuity of the "Joe's garage Act I" album, again with many of the Frank's vocal intervention as the Central Scrutinizer. This album has many excellent guitar solos, among the best Zappa's solos, sounding a bit like on the "Wet-T shirt" song: "Keep it greasey" contains such an outstanding combination of excellent long guitar solo, tons of fast drums and a catchy & fast popping bass. The guitar solo on "He Used to Cut the Grass" is absolutely delightful, but the best solo is on the next track "Packard Goose": along with "Black Napkins" (Zoot allures), this solo makes the history, with its unbelievable wah-wah effects. "Packard Goose" is also an excellent 11 minutes song: very catchy, full of rhythm & melody changes and excellent lead & backing vocals (even Dale Bozzio has its place!). The reggae & relax "Sy Borg" is about having sexual gratification by a robot. "Watermelon in Easter hay" has a perfect Oriental-like, echoed & atmospheric guitar sound: Zappa REALLY takes care of his sound here! The last track "Little green rosetta" has a party ambience: full of pleasant & childish xylophone and party vocals, you make it play while you eat a barbecue T-bone during a hot night of July: do not forget to turn on the multicolor plastic lights laying on the lawn! Some tracks are more ordinary, like "Outside Now", "A Token of My Extreme" and "Dong Work for Yuda". I you look for a Frank Zappa at his best on guitar, then this record is the right one!
Report this review (#39632)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The stunning middle and conclusion to Frank Zappa's epic Joe's Garage series is a lot like Act I. Very guitar oriented, very blunt and to the point, and very technically complicated. From the 5/4 sections of Keep it Greasey, to the blistering guitar solo of Watermelon in Easter Hay, Acts II and III do not disappoint. Frank Zappa keeps the same crew of personnel this time around, but now has Terry Bozzio in on drums as well as Vinnie Colaiuta. Spot on performances and spot on vocals are highlights of this part of the story.

The Central Scrutinizer continues the tale in this section of the story, in which Joe is now in prison doing work to get by without getting sexually assaulted. Soon he imagines his own song, and then laments over the decisions he has made in life. Finally, he is released and decides to work in the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. Highlight tracks are Packard Goose, which has an outstanding vocal line, great guitar and bass play, and some awesome alternating time signatures during the verses. Watermelon in Easter Hay is a guitarist's dream, a 9 minute guitar solo that goes through all the motions, evolving and unevolving into a brilliant and emotional piece of work. And the finale, Little Green Rosetta, with its party atmosphere and a great ramble in the middle from Uncle Frank himself.

Overall, I feel that not only does this album surpass Act I, it totally exceeded my expectations of what Frank Zappa could do with his music. This is a masterpiece of an album in my opinion, and no one should miss it. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, and some might find it too crude to listen to, but to me it cannot get any better than Joe's Garage Acts II and III. 5/5.

Report this review (#45877)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Frank Zappa's follow up to Joe's Garage Act I, released the same year, was a bit dryer in my opinion. There's very little jazz, no "Grand Wazoo" style big band songs, and the songwriting is a bit less interesting. In other releases, Zappa would throw in countless sudden changes, hooks, progressive whatnot, but all that has been in gradually smaller supply as the years go on. This release is finally where Zappa started releasing five minute songs with the same beat and generally tune going steady throughout. The complexity has diminished (though it's clearly not vanished entirely) and the musicianship, also, is not as boggling as it once was. The humour is still there, though only perhaps a bit less over-the-top. The story of Joe continues, though it's not really a captivating story, and I doubt Zappa intended anybody to be really captured by this "Joe" character. There are more sexual lyrics, a bit more keyboards, and the Central Scrutinizer's role is much bigger. Of course, there are great moments, with driving guitar, catchy riffs, et cetera, but they're divided by long, simpler sections, that require of me a certain patience to get through.
Report this review (#132264)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Joe's Garage was perhaps the FZ album that got me convinced that I had to be a Zappa follower! It's possibly the funniest album I have ever heard. Zappa as The Central Scrutinizer is simply genius. A lot of guitar soloing is on this album with Zappa depicting the main character Joe who is a guitarist. The album features the always amazing Vinnie Colaiuta who made on of his finest recordings here. Also Ike Willis is really on fire on this album. The album production is good, but also very produced. At this point (1979) is was with no doubt one of Zappa's studio albums which sounded most like a actual studio album.

Part II & III is more uneven than part I. Part II & III tends to drag at times. There is not a bad track, but some are mediocre. My favorites from Part II & III are A Token Of My Extreme, Stick It Out, Keep It Greasey and Packard Goose and they are all equally as great as the whole of Part I.

So all in all this is a very special album for me. It helped make me a zappaholic. It opened at whole new spectrum for me and the incorporation of humor in music. Great playing and great lyrics. This is really in my book a milestone in Zappa's career since no other album he had made so far sounded anything like this one.

Report this review (#170142)
Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album gets a three star rating for the same reason that Act I does: you need the compilation of all three acts together for the true experience of this story.

On its own, Acts II & III is a pretty good Zappa album, beginning with some very odd tunes and then exploding into full-blown progressive songs the like of which still remind me to Zappa's 1969 magnum opus, Hot Rats. We've got some commercial sorts of songs early on, but on the whole, this is complicated (and very weird; at least, more so than usual) music from Frank, and so it's certainly worth looking into if that's your favorite side of the man. However, without Act I, this album is fairly weak and incomplete. Not only is the story unfinished, but the musical styles present in the first release add so much build up and cleverness to the music in Acts II & III.

Again, I'm going to borrow my words from my review of the compilation, to save you time:

Act II begins with A Token of My Extreme, where Joe is visiting the Church of Appliantology. The second act features slightly longer songs, a few more progressive bits, and more jamming. Also, Act II features the most explicit lyrics on the whole shebang, possibly in Zappa history. The strongest track here is Keep It Greasey, a rather unpleasantly-lyricked track with absolutely inhuman bass. Plus, we get a particularly long guitar solo over some strange time signature that I can't count out because I'm not good at math. Act II, I think, on the whole, is the weakest of the three.

The last act is only four songs, but here Frank stretches the songs out, building massive jams for the first three. Packard Goose features a wonderful, twisting guitar solo for a good portion of its length--the song is streamable from this site. Watermelon in Easter Hay is my personal favorite, featuring a lovely clean solo played in 9/4 time or something. I think. Did I mention that I'm not good at math? Anyways, the final song, A Little Green Rosetta, is a rather random concluding band jam with a lot of folks singing the title over and over again. It's fun, and I suppose Frank couldn't have ended the album in any better of a way.

A good album, but denied its possibly deserved fourth star on account of you should buy the compilation of all three acts. It's the only way to properly listen to and enjoy this release.

Report this review (#184654)
Posted Friday, October 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion some of the coolest Zappa songs can be found on here, Act's 2 and 3 of this fantastic concept release, although at this point in the album it does to drag on a bit and i think a couple of the songs could have been cut down a couple of minutes (Watermelon in Easter Hay is basically a 9 minute guitar solo) but it is songs like SY BORG, KEEP IT GREASEY, and the improv of songs like OUTSIDE NOW that really keep your mind from wondering, as a whole this album is a masterpiece and Zappas best work you just couldnt get a better concept if you tried and it just goes together so well, add on top of that some amazing musicmanship and a flawless production and what you have here is a recipe for success!;

A Token of My Extreme - 8/10 Stick It Out - 8/10 Sy Borg - 10/10 Dong Work for Yuda - 8/10 Keep It Greasey - 10/10 Outside Now - 10/10 He Used to Cut the Grass - 9/10 Packard Goose - 9/10 Watermelon in Easter Hay - 8/10 A Little Green Rosetta - 10/10

MY CONCLUSION? this is a must buy...simple... Zappas finest!

Report this review (#289290)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars A deranged high school play.

Joe's Garage is an amazing piece of work, Zappa really outdid himself with this.

Acts II and III are way better than Act I but I still have some small troubles with it for the same reason. The vulgarity. Now, Act III isn't really vulgar it's the most progressive act but Act II is extremely vulgar. It's funny at first but it just grows into something that I can't really handle...

All that aside, the playing on this album by Zappa is darn near his best and you have to love that. On pretty much every song the guitar solo is either emotional or stunning or sometimes both (like Watermelon In Easter Hay). The concept is a funny/serious one so there is a good mix of humor and "serious business" involved.

The songs on Act II are all wonderfully catchy and the ones on Act III are downright epic. Take your pick.

4 Stars everybody, hope you don't mind a little (lot) dirty humor.

"And for those of you in the 4th world where life is really hard, keep the record going by rubbing two sticks together..."

Report this review (#318290)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars If Joe's Garage really were a live musical, I would walk out in the third act.

The first two acts are amazing, but this last disc drops the ball so staggeringly that I was genuinely let down. The sardonic wit which worked so well in the first disc misfires here completely, given that the first 13 minutes are about prison-rape, and the remaining songs don't advance the story in any worthwhile way. The lyrics are scatter-brained and unfocused, as the meandering songwriting. The satirical pop feel of the first two acts vanish entirely, and the art-rock style doesn't work as well with the timbre of Zappa's playing or vocals here.

That being said, there are some instrumental highlights which caught my eye-- though mostly because they were the fey bright spots in this release. "Keep it Greasy" has some funktastic bass work and a groovy jam section, while most tunes feature very smooth, extended Zappa guitar soloing, which isquite satisfying. However, these are scarce compensation for vacuous song-writing. If Zappa could read a review like this (which I am sure he never would), he'd probably laugh and say something snarky... but I know entertaining music when I hear it, and Joe's Garage Part 3 isn't.

Readers should note that the first two acts are contained on a single disc in the compilation of Joe's Garage, which is the way to go if you're interested in checking out this album; this third act isn't irredeemable, but I can almost garuantee that the first disc will see much more play then this one.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#383395)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The story continues...

Act II starts with A Token of My Extreme. Joe goes to a new church called "The first church of applientology." This is making fun of new religions. In this religion, they believe humans should have sexual relations with appliances. The spiritual leader tells Joe he needs to learn German and find an appliance in a club called "The Closet." The song is very psychedelic sounding and has a lot of cool melodies. The mystical advisers voice has a special effect that makes him sound like a God. A funny and cool song!

Stick it Out is the next song. In this, Joe is falling in love with an appliance. The song starts in German but the melodies are so catchy and it's fun to sing along to (at least in German). The appliance, whose name is Sy Borg, yells to Joe "Pick me! I'm clean!" Joe then sings the song in German which, you then find, has pretty crude lyrics. The end of the song makes reference to Sheik Yerbouti with "What's a girl like you doing in a place like this..." Joe and Sy Borg then leave to have some fun.

Then we have probably the weirdest song on the album "Sy Borg". Joe sings a love song for Sy Borg set to a reggae beat simular to that in Lucille. This song though has more synthesizers which makes it more progressive. It's weird when Sy Borg speaks in it's robot voice to Joe. Sy Borg also shares with a Joe a modified gay Bob doll. However, in the end, Joe accidentally kills Sy Borg. The Central Scrutinized immediately arrives in the present tense and places Joe under arrest.

I love the very beginning of Dong Work for Yuda, where the Central Scrutinized whispers "Hello there..." but that's really the only good thing about this track. This is the weakest one. Joe goes to prison and meets Bald Headed John, who speaks a lot through this song. Prisoners at this prison do oral sex and Joe must avoid this as much as possible.

Keep it Greasy continues the same plot as Yuda, but this is one of the best songs on the album. It is long and intense. The middle has a cool section where after ever line in the song is a weird sound effect or vocal, the last one is an awesome and extended one. You think after this is the end because if slows down, but no! It's a false ending. Because the last five minutes are guitar playing. The guitar is outstanding, but we also have keyboard occasionally heard distantly. And the best part is the bass line. It is the quintessential bass line of prog rock showing off. This song is a prog rock masterpiece!

But it gets even better with Outside Now. The bass line in Keep it Greasy slows down and the album becomes more atmospheric. Joe starts singing about how awful life in prison is. He starts playing an imaginary guitar wishing his inmates could hear him. The song repeats "I can't wait to see what it's like on the outside now" and the ending is a guitar solo. It is progressive and so perfect in every way.

Act III starts with He Used to Cut the Grass. Joe is released from prison, but The Central Scrutinizer had taken over the world. Music had become illegal. Joe starts playing his imaginary guitar. In the end, you can hear the neighbors complaining like the how the album started with "He used to cut my grass he was a very nice boy."

The Central Scrutinizer tells us that Joe was going so crazy that he was writing imaginary songs that were being reviewed by imaginary critics! This is an excuse Zappa uses on the album to have the next song be about his own thoughts on critics. And let's just say it's a strong track. "Packard Goose". It starts kind of happy sounding with an almost marimba xylophone. Then it turns into an angry track with many changes. After about three minutes the song changes tempo and gets quiet with the sounds of triangles and bells. In this section, Joe's ex-girlfriend Mary returns and gives philosophy on how love is not music, and music is the best. Suddenly the song picks up and goes into the wildest guitar/drum solo ever. It's so intense it can occasionally be a bit hard to listen to-but that makes the song better! The ending first reprises the start but then becomes very marimba like and really weird. It fades out, leaving you confused (this is a compliment towards the track).

The story comes to an end at Watermelon in Easter Hay. Joe notices there is nothing he can do, and just decides to do one imaginary guitar solo before moving on. This guitar solo is Frank Zappa's swan song. It has a bitter sweet riff, and slightly builds still maintaining its melancholic atmosphere. Frank Zappa once said this is the most favorite song he has ever written. I can see why.

Watermelon may be the end of the story, but the album ends with A Little Green Rosseta. The thing is, Zappa won't allow himself to end an album bitter sweet. The whole story is a prequel to Muffin Man! The whole band sings on this just about a little green rosseta (and a green rossiti too!) It's funny, and Zappa tells us how to make your own green Rosetta, and what to do if your record player is running out of power. He needed filler, and this does a good job.

Joe's Garage is a great album. I listened to it over and over again after I first got it. There is something just really great on it, it has a really special place for me. You also can't just listen to one act though, the whole thing together is where it's at. I highly recommend this album because, well, as Zappa says "You'll love it! It's a way of life!"

Report this review (#1577171)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2016 | Review Permalink

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