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CHUNGA'S REVENGE

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Frank Zappa Chunga's Revenge album cover
3.37 | 218 ratings | 26 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Transylvania Boogie (5:01)
2. Road Ladies (4:10)
3. Twenty Small Cigars (2:17)
4. The Nancy & Mary Music (9:27)
5. Tell Me You Love Me (2:33)
6. Would You Go All The Way? (2:29)
7. Chunga's Revenge (6:15)
8. The Clap (1:23)
9. Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A... (2:44)
10. Sharleena (4:03)

Total Time: 40:22

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitars, vocals
- Ian Underwood / piano, electric piano, organ, pipe organ, electric alto, sax with wah-wah pedal, tenor sax, rhythm guitar
- George Duke / electric piano, organ, trombone, vocal drum imitations
- Don Sugarcane Harris / organ
- Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan / vocals
- Jeff Simmons / bass, vocals
- Max Bennett / bass
- Aynsley Dunbar / drums, tambourine
- John Guerin / drums

Releases information

Rykodisc #RCD 10511

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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FRANK ZAPPA Chunga's Revenge ratings distribution


3.37
(218 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
14%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (40%)
40%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

FRANK ZAPPA Chunga's Revenge reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars the music's revenge

If memory serves, Chunga is the album that follows Hot Rats and also a Zappa "solo" album and seems to take some example on its predecessor, because this album is much more instrumental compared to his other works than Rats. With a rather sober artwork (but showing Francesco in an soporific mood, yawn), the main crime partners are Flo & Eddie, George Duke, Ian Underwood and drummer Ainsley Dunbar, but not yet in his best Jawaka/Wazoo form. There is a small text explaining the "camp fire in the forest" artwork gracing the album's inside and it relates loosely with some tracks of the album.

Opening on an obvious jam excerpts, Transylvania Boogie could easily fit on Rats, as it is close to the instrumental jazz-rock that is Rats' "fond de commerce". Road Ladies is a fairly standard blues track, where Frank has its guitar orgasming on the said ladies. Twenty Small Cigars is more like a standard jazz tune, if it wasn't again for Frank's delightful string caressing, but Nancy & Mary Music is a dissonant live track that veers into a small drum solo in its middle section, before coming back to reality and then veering very weirdly dissonant and ending in a drumming quagmire. The A-side closes on the rockiest tell You Love Me.

The flipside opens on the rockiest Go All The Way, much like the other side closed. The title track is a very pleasing jazz-rock instrumental that could find space on Rats, followed by Frank catching the Clap from his percussion instruments before going silly (almost clown-esque) on Rudy Wants To, a bit of a return to previous works. The closing Sharleena is almost a soul piece that border on doo-wop, but nothing like his earlier 50's music obsession.

This is an ideal point of entry for discovery of the Zappa World as this is not too absurd and might not turn off beginners. This is about life on the road and is full of humour, but avoids the dumb sketches that ruined his earlier works, while the music is not too over the top, but sufficiently interesting to grasp Francesco's musical genius.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#29651) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars On this early record, ZAPPA decided to produce a more rock style stuff than "Grand Wazoo", "Hot Rats" or "Waka Jawaka". This record is guitar oriented. Sometimes rock, sometimes bluesy. The marvelous "Twenty Small Cigars" would have fit well with movie "the good, the bad and the ugly". "Chungas' Revenge" is a guitar solo full of wah wah effect, but more modest than black napkins! It's always good to hear the original pop "tell me you love me", which was remade on "Tinsel Town" record. Some songs are quite accessible, like "RUDY WANTS TO BUY YEZ A DRINK", and the record is rather pleasant to listen.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#29652) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The first FRANK ZAPPA album to feature Flo & Eddie! Frank retains the usual format here, mixing blistering guitar workouts, quasi-orchestral instrumentals, and demented songs. However, with Flo & Eddie in the band, vocal songs -- once the exception -- were fast becoming the rule. "Chunga's Revenge" features five of 'em. (That's one half of the album.) They're good songs, and some have gone on to attain semi-classic status ("Tell Me You Love Me"), but with FRANK ZAPPA you either get philharmoniacal music, fiery fretwork, or funny. I'm not knocking the funny, but with it Frank inevitably slips into auto-cruise. Better by far are instrumentals that show off his skill as an arranger ("Twenty Small Cigars") or his fret-tacular fingerwork ("Transylvania Boogie", ""Chunga's Revenge""). The record also marks the first appearance of George Duke and Jeff Simmons alongside ZAPPA. Despite the talented lineup, "Chunga's Revenge" remains ZAPPA's show (which would explain why he again chose to drop THE MOTHERS moniker), including FZ unleashing his heretofore hidden percussive fury on "The Clap" (ah, we can't all be Ruth Underwood). I like "Chunga's Revenge", but I'm as likely to queue up "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink" and "Sharleena" and be done with it as listen to the whole album. Though a multi-faceted musical artist, I like FRANK best when he's doing one thing and doing it very well.

"Chunga's Revenge" skips around too much for my tastes; I'm rarely in the mood for serious instrumental music and guitar pyrotechnics and irreverent novelty songs all at the same time. ZAPPA's genius condensed to a single disc can come across a little too strong; taken in smaller doses, "Chunga's Revenge" is an appreciable effort.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#29654) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let me tell ya, don't ever make the mistake I just made- following Jean-Michel Jarre's "Oxygene" with FRANK ZAPPA's "Chunga's Revenge". Still, something can be said for cleansing the audo palette before this album- I think it's under-appreciated even by most Zappa fans.

"Transylvania Boogie", especially, is a great example of Frank's rocking best. Though every guitarist he worked with was an undisputed master, I still mostly prefer when Zappa plays; I have no idea why he's not as synonymous with the wah pedal as Hendrix or Clapton. "Road Ladies" combines Frank's amusement with blues-rock and tour group sexuality. "...and the band plays some of the most terriblist s**t you ever known" is just one of his many lyrics that always makes me smile."Twenty Small Cigars" is pretty, and therefore relatively rare on a ZAPPA album. "Nancy and Mary Music" is more instrumental fun, including an interesting scat section."Tell Me You Love Me" and "Sharleena" are also interesting, largely serious Flo and Eddie showcases with harmonic similarities to their work on T-REX's "Electric Warrior", but "Would You Go All the Way" and "Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink" have a more do-wop feel (Frank really loved this stuff, huh?). "Chunga's Revenge" returns us to long song territory, terminating in the percussive anomaly "The Clap" (no relation to Howe).

These 70s rock-oriented works are my favorite examples of ZAPPA's long and varied career; though still raw and unaplogetically weird like the original MOTHERS albums, his music further matured in scope and complexity. His cutting humor and funky virtuosity was more raw and real, rather than the (also wonderful) 'elder outsider' social commentary that intensified as the 80s began. The Flourescent Leech and Eddie deliver delightful lines like "the monster from the USO" and "that's one good reason I carry a gun", and Aynsley Dunbar reaches new levels of genius in drumming. If there are few truly high points on the album, it is redeemed by consistently maintaining a high level of talent and fun.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#29655) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004

Review by belz
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.4/5.0 I really like this album! Less absurd, more music, more guitar, more jazz, more rock! Nearly everything good about Zappa is in here. I think this one is pretty underrated; sure it does not compare to Zappa's prog masterpieces (Hot Rats or The Grand Wazoo) but I think there is a lof of good things on this album.

From the drum/guitar experimentation solos on "The Nancy & Mary music" to the incredible rock-hard "Tell me You love me" which is close to an all-time rock classic,to "Transylvania boogie" with its crazy rhythms and prog structure, EVERYTHING on this album is good!

The ONLY reason I don't give 5 stars to this one is because it is closer to rock or blues than to prog. But it sure is a rock masterpiece. HIGHLY recommanded! I just can't stop listening to this album! 4.4/5.0

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#78073) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006

Review by Chris H
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Flo and Eddie have arrived!

"Chunga's Revenge", Zappa's third studio outing of the seventies, is the first album in which the wisecracking jokers from The Turtles known for real as Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman arrive on the scene. Most Zappa die-hards find the Flo & Eddie (back then known as "The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie", but later shortened) years as Zappa's weakest period, although I have other opinions. Now let's review shall we?

"Transylvania Boogie" is the first song off of the album, and it is a great instrumental, rock hard opener. It might just be me, but when I listen to it, my ears detect some Eastern influences towards the middle. Nonetheless, it is an excellent piece, especially because Frank himself does the playing here (as he does on most of the whole album). "Road Ladies" is next, and it is a semi-blues song about life on the road while touring. It has some awesome rave-ups in the beginning and towards the end of the middle. Also, the lyrics are quite funny, and sometimes true of real-life settings. The next song, "Twenty Small Cigars" is another FZ solo, but unlike most of his guitar work ("Transylvania Boogie" included), this song is just really forgettable. I find myself not even remembering this track even right after I listen to it. "The Nancy And Mary Music" is the fourth track, and it is almost 10 minutes of the band just having some instrumental fun. Although Frank gets most of the spotlight again, Ian Underwood is the real hero of this song with his instrumental multi-tasking virtuosity.

"Tell Me You Love Me" is a really hard, deep guitar driven song projected by none other than everybody's friends Flo & Eddie. Most fans put down this song because of the singers, but actually this is some of their best work and Zappa's riffs are untouchable here. Really one of the best on the album. "Would You Go All The Way?" is where Flo & Eddie really come out of their shell and unleash their comic genius on the audience. Unfortunately, comic genius doesn't always translate into a great song. "Chunga's Revenge" is probably the only piece on this album fit to name the album after. Another instrumental, this FZ solo is just absolutely smothered in wah-wah delight, making wah gods like Hendrix kiss the ground Zappa walks on. One of the finest solos I have ever heard. Unfortunately, this amazing solo is followed up by "The Clap", which is a short percussion experiment gone horribly wrong. This might be one of the worst songs on the album, and no, there is no relation to "The Yes Album" here. Haha. "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink" continues the Flo & Eddie traveling sideshow, and although there isn't really anything here of musical interest (albeit a few golden guitar moments), I find I enjoy this song, just for comedic values. "Sharleena" is a poor attempt at a love song/ballad-type-thing, and I really, really do not enjoy this song. This version is far more accessible, but if you prefer a lot of musicianship like myself I would recommend you check out the 12 minute version of "Sharleena" found on "The Lost Episodes' it features a ton of guitar genius not found here.

Unfortunately, after all is said and done, this is a very erratic album. It mixes good songs with bad songs, serious songs with goof-offs, and masterful solos with novelty drum-banging. All of the comedy on this album really takes away from the genius Frank Zappa lays down on his solos. Flo & Eddie are in their tightest cage here, so if you can't handle them now do not even attempt any further albums from this period. Although Frank put down two of his greatest solos here ("Transylvania Boogie" and "Chunga's Revenge"), the novelty comedic songs such as "Would You Go All The Way" and "The Clap" take away from the essence a little bit. I highly recommend this album to anybody interest in hear some amazing fretwork on the guitar, but other than that, this is not an album for the weak-hearted or uptight.

3 Stars.

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Send comments to Chris H (BETA) | Report this review (#112455) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In one of the most bizarre acts in music history the two vocalists from the TURTLES joins Frank Zappa's band.They would be known as Flo and Eddie (not their real names) and would stay on for several records. George Duke would also join playing electric piano, organ and trombone on this album.There would also be a new bass player and drummer for this recording. There is some good variety on this album including Jazz, Blues, Doo Wop and Rock, but it's Zappa's guitar playing that makes this one of my favourite Zappa records.Yes this is very underrated in my opinion, and I agree with Belz's thoughts in his review about this matter.

"Transylvania Boogie" has got to be one of Frank's best songs. What a display of guitar playing from Zappa as the drums pound and the bass throbs. Organ arrives 2 minutes in. "Road Ladies" is a straight up blues song with organ and scorching guitar leading the way. "Twenty Small Cigars" is a jazzy song with light drums and electric piano. "The Nancy And Mary Music" is another favourite of mine. It has a crazy intro with dissonant sounds. The drumming is out of control. More Blues style guitar wailing away 2 minutes in. More blazing guitar 4 1/2 minutes in with some very good piano melodies to follow. Some skat vocals as well. "Tell Me You Love Me" is a heavier song then the rest with more great guitar and aggressive vocals.

"Would You Go All The Way" is a Doo Wop song that I don't like too much. "Chunga's Revenge" makes up for it and then some. It has a bombastic guitar led intro before it calms down quickly. The guitar is almost talking as light drums, bass, organ and piano all play a part. This sounds amazing "The Clap" is a short percussion track, while "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink" is an anti union rant. This is all about the funny lyrics. Apparently Frank had more than a few run ins with the union in his career. "Sharleena" sounds like a seventies song. Oh, it is a seventies song, what I mean is it sounds like a song that could have been played on am radio back then. More good guitar as well.

Tough choice for me in rating this one, but for me it's closer to 4 stars than 3.5 stars. The guitar work bumps it up for me.

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Posted Friday, August 31, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Chungaīs Revenge is the first solo album from Frank Zappa after the much praised Hot Rats album and if anyone had expected Zappa to continue that style theyīd better think again. A few of the songs on Chungaīs Revenge does have similarities to Hot Rats but the overall feeling after listening to Chungaīs Revenge is very different to the feeling you have after listening to Hot Rats. Now Iīm one of the few that doesnīt appreciate Hot Rats that much. I always felt it was highly overrated. Itīs a good album but nothing more IMO. So Iīm glad that Zappa went on to do other things instead of pursueing the mostly instrumental jazz/ rock style he played on Hot Rats.

The most important change in Zappaīs band since Hot Rats is the inclusion of former Turtles frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman who with their very distinct vocal style and humour brought a new dimension to Zappaīs music. Other notable musicians on Chungaīs Revenge is of course the omnipresent Ian Underwood who plays just about every instrument in the book, George Duke on electric piano, organ and trombone, Jeff Simmons on Bass and vocals and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. This lineup with a few addition and changes along the way played on the albums Chungaīs Revenge, Fillmore East, June 1971, 200 Motels and Just Another Band from L.A. Most of the recordings with this lineup is recorded live which is a wise move as there was a special chemistry between these guys that really showed on stage. On the personal level it was as it always was with Zappaīs bands. He was the boss and they were his employees which wasnīt always fun as he demanded the impossible from his musicians.

The album starts with Transylvania Boogie which is one of the songs that could have been on Hot Rats even though itīs a bit harder and not so jazzy. Itīs a great vehicle for a good Zappa solo. Road Ladies is the first song with Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman on vocals. Itīs Zappa that sings most of the song though. Itīs a pretty basic blues composition with some great vocal harmonies and some nice blues licks from Zappa. Twenty Small Cigars is probably an outtake from the Hot Rats session as it has a cocktail jazzy sound that reminds me of Little Umbrellas from Hot Rats. I enjoy it but only because it is as short as it is. The Nancy & Mary Music is the most experimental song here and it mixes blues rock soloing and avant garde music. I didnīt use to like this song much but Iīve grown more and more happy about it in the last couple of years.

Tell Me You Love Me is a classic Frank Zappa rock song which he has played in various incarnations with different bands and I canīt say this original version is the most powerful one but itīs enjoyable. Again there are some cool vocal harmonies and high pitched vocals from Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman. Would You Go All The Way? might be the best display of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volmanīs voices along a song like Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A... Those two songs remind me very much of some of the songs on 200 Motels. I like those types of songs but itīs an aquired taste if you like Howard Kaylan and Mark Volmanīs voices. Chunga's Revenge is similar to Transylvania Boogie as it is also a vehicle for soloing. There is a beautiful theme in this song too though. The Clap is just a short avant garde drum solo while Sharleena is almost doo woop/ RīnīB style pop. There are some beautiful vocal harmonies in that one.

The musicianship is brilliant as usual in any Zappa related project. I know there are many people who dislike Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman but I have always found their presence in Zappaīs band refreshing and humourous. In addition to that Howard Kaylan is an outstanding singer who lifts many of the compositions he contributes to. Mark Volman might not be the best singer technically but his presence and charisma is just as important for this incarnation of Zappaīs band.

The production is not that good. Itīs definitely one of the worst productions on a Zappa album. There is a big difference in sound between the songs on the album as some of them are recorded live and some of them are studio recordings. Twenty Small Cigars has totally different sound from the rest of the album as it was obviously recorded at the Hot Rats sessions. This means that the album isnīt very cohesive and therefore can seem a bit confusing.

I enjoy Chungaīs Revenge today but it wasnīt always so. Itīs still not my favorite Zappa album and I would place it in the good Zappa albums section but not in the excellent or the essential section. This is one of the last Zappa albums you should purchase if youīre a new fan. Iīll rate it 3 stars.

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Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Review by Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This one should rank right up there with _Hot Rats_. Mostly instrumental, it has Frank Zappa's guitar at its edgiest. Also, this album has aged well compared to other Zappa albums of this period in his career. Not much to add here other than this album is way underrated on this site. Really, this is a no nonsense rocker of an album with very little in the humour department...which is surprising since Flo & Eddie are the vocalists. Not a masterpeice, but a worthy addition to any prog. collection.

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Posted Friday, July 04, 2008

Review by LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars One of Zappa's earliest solo albums, it is a noticeable step down from its predecessor and the majority of the releases that will follow it.

This album blends the focus of Hot Rats with the early psychedelic insanity of the Mothers music. So parts of the album play like straightforward quality music, while other parts sound like little more than a band goofing around on their instruments, though I have no doubt that that's the intent. There is a fair amount of instrumental jamming, showcasing the skills of the almighty Frank Zappa, but there still are a number of songs that listeners can sit down and enjoy. Even a song or two that would, were its lyrics a bit more socially acceptable, fit on a classic rock radio station. This is basically the perfect transition album between early Frank, with his jamming and goofing, and later Frank, with his tighter compositions and better melodies.

The album seems focused on two instrumental jams, Transylvania Boogie and the title track, each on a side of the LP. Both are, as far as jam tunes go, very listenable. Chunga's Revenge in particular flows with some spastic guitar noodling from the man, and this time it is certainly to the music's advantage. A third instrumental jam session, the live-recorded Nancy & Mary Music, features a lot of rambling instruments and solo spots, but it keeps its flow well. Other songs of particular note include Would You Go All the Way, a song that begins in the vein of something I would expect to find being played on Oldies radio. A catchy chorus and sexually charged lyrics mark this very clearly as a Zappa tune, though. The conclusion of this song is stunning, I must add, and makes the whole song consistently worthwhile. The rest of the songs are good, entertaining, just not terribly remarkable one way or another.

Like I wrote above, this is a clear transition album for Frank Zappa. If you like his early music and want to get into his later stuff (or vice versa), this is a weak intermediate step, but not a horrible place to turn to. Slightly below average, but an considerably interesting one for the serious Zappa fan.

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Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This was my introduction to Frank Zappa's music, but it is NOT the place to start. He has some great albums in his discography, some horrible ones, and some decent ones. This would fall into the decent category. Sure nothing's terribly bad, but there are few memorable moments on this album.

For one, some of the music just seems like these guys were messing around in the studio. Zappa has many instrumental songs, but a few here aren't very organized and structured. The songs with vocals (this is the first album with Flo & Eddie) are either decent songs, or just humorous throwaways. This makes for a very mixed bag of an album. We have some virtuosic guitar skills from Zappa, some humorous songs, some jam sessions, and some serious songs. I'll explain all of the songs in more detail next.

THE MUSIC:

"Transylvania Boogie"- This is a pretty cool song with great guitar from Zappa himself. It is all instrumental, and is more of a hard-rock song. It has heavy use of the "wah-wah" guitar sound. It has some great bass, and is one of my favorites here. This is a great way to open an album.

"Road Ladies"- A blues rock song that isn't too great. The lyrics are pretty pathetic (even by Zappa standards), and the music is typical and predictable.

"Twenty Small Cigars"- This is a slower paced song than the last two, and contains use of the harpsichord and light guitar. It has some beautiful melodies, and this song is very good.

"The Nancy & Mary Music"- A jam session with no memorable moments. Well, maybe it has some cool parts, but it drags on and is pretty painful at times. It isn't bad, but it isn't good either.

"Tell Me You Love Me"- A decent enough hard rock song. It's not great, but it's alright.

"Would You Go All The Way?"- This is basically a joke. Funny lyrics and lousy music is the name of the game here. I skip this one every time.

"Chunga's Revenge"- This is one of the best songs on the album. It is similar to Transylvania Boogie and is on the same level of quality. It is completely instrumental and contains some great solos from Zappa.

"The Clap"- Just them messing around with some percussion instruments. Nothing special.

"Rudy Wants to Buy Yez' A Drink"- Very solid musically, but the lyrics aren't very good at all. Pretty catchy. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Sharleena"- Kind of a ballad, and it has some pleasant melodies. Again, nothing special but it's decent enough.

In case you can't tell, I have some pretty mixed feelings about this album. It's got some classic Zappa moments, but has it's fair share of filler. "Chunga's Revenge" is not where anyone should begin their Zappa journey. Some nice songs, but that's about it.

2 stars.

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Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Frank Zappa's 1970 album sounds at first like a mish-mash of outtakes from various unrelated sessions. But closer attention reveals at least some thematic unity, dealing more or less with the trials and tribulations of a working rock musician on the road. Included are some typically tongue-in-cheek songs about groupies, union representatives, venereal disease (a short instrumental called simply 'The Clap', but coming from Frank Zappa the title could hardly refer to anything else), and a few sample concert performances, notably the classic Zappa guitar thrash of 'Transylvania Boogie', one of his strongest album openers ever.

The title track is another highlight, presenting a loud instrumental jam led by Ian Underwood's wah-wah pedal sax solo, distorted enough to be mistaken for Zappa's electric guitar. Like much of the album it was presumably a genuine live recording, perhaps augmented with overdubs in the studio afterward (a peculiar Zappa habit). The CD notes are reticent on this point. If not actually live, the tapes were at least given a very convincing stage ambience: stadium reverb, occasional feedback, audience noise and so forth.

In keeping with Zappa's philosophy of 'conceptual continuity' the album holds some relation to his '200 Motels' film and soundtrack, possibly intended as a prelude to that notorious project, released the following year. If true, don't let it scare you off: 'Chunga's Revenge' might be less focused than other Frank Zappa concept albums, but it covers a lot of contradicting stylistic territory in its all-too brief forty minutes, and thus can serve as a primer of sorts to Uncle Frank's musical career in the early 1970s.

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Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album marks the beginning of the "Flo and Eddie" period, where Frank brought in as lead vocalists two ex-Turtles who sound a lot worse in this context than they did singing Happy Together back in the day. This period is usually considered a low point in Frank's career, and with good cause (more on that in later reviews), but this album, undoubtedly the best of the four released in this period, at least has the goodness to not shove this lineup's weaknesses in the listener's face as much as the others do.

The thing that really jumps out at me about the album isn't so much the lineup, though, but rather that this seems like the first "lightweight" album Frank released in his career. It doesn't have a central "message" or any conceptual value (even Cruising had a "point" in Frank's overall scheme), it's not groundbreaking in the least, and extremely impressive displays of skill (like the best stuff on Sandwich) are nowhere to be found. A significant portion of the album is instrumental, as usual, but those tracks don't sound or feel as essential as, say, the best stuff on Hot Rats. And as for the sung tracks, well, Zappa didn't really seem to have any real ambition other than to sound kinda macho and dumb, and while that's pulled off fairly well, this hardly seems like a worthy goal of somebody who'd led the Mothers to such interesting heights in recent years.

That said, I'm hardly opposed in principle to a lightweight Zappa album; it at least guarantees that there won't be any hard-to-listen-to moments like the most abrasive passages on Weasels. Of course, the instrumental tracks aren't always that interesting either; "The Nancy and Mary Music," for instance, spends way too much time staying away from decent jazzy guitar noodling and hitting us with an overlong drum solo (though this is somewhat redeemed by an amusing "scat vocal percussion" solo near the end), and the title track, while basically pleasant, is also basically directionless to my ears. On the other hand, though, the opening "Transylvania Boogie" entertains me completely, as it's full of sharp, angry guitar tones in the first half (with lots of complicated jazzy rhythms) and equally piercing tones (with a bluesy rhythm) in the second (the guitar passages themselves are awesome throughout the track as well). "Twenty Small Cigars" gives a nice (if brief) dose of jazzy guitar and harpsichord interplay, and "The Clap" is, of all things, a parody of a drum solo (bashing around on a wood block over regular drums). In total, then, the instrumental tracks, while not amazing overall, are definitely worth some listens.

The vocal tracks, similarly, range between kinda weak and an awful lot of fun. The best of these is the ridiculously over-the-top macho blues-rock of "Tell Me You Love Me," featuring Zappa playing porno-wah over a mid-tempo stomping Sabbath-quality riff while Flo and Eddie scream their heads off (with an occasional foray into silly falsetto "'Cos I gotta make love with you" lines). The disturbingly catchy "Would You Go All the Way?" (which, unfortunately, seems to be about US servicemen seeking out sexual pleasure with USO women) and closing "Sharleena" (a sorta doowop and R'n'B cross) also work pretty well (and Sharleena has a pretty unexpected melody twist in the middle), even if they could probably do with some better vocals. On the minus side, "Road Ladies" is just a bit too predictable of an organy soul-blues tune about groupies for my tastes, and "Rudy Wants to Buy You a Drink" (about the musician's trade unions) just doesn't work for me on either on a song or humor level.

So that's the first album that clearly marks the "post-Mothers" area of Zappa's career, and while I can see why he started to lose fans with this, it's nothing close to a terrible transition. It's hardly essential, but if you really fancy yourself as a Zappa historian, you should definitely pick it up. Unlike, say, the next album.

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Posted Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars I just noticed that my Frank Zappa review series has been following an "every third album"-cycle where I review every third album in Zappa's studio album discography. This is of course completely unintentional, but pretty surprising nonetheless.

If we move to the third album after Hot Rats we arrive at a very nostalgic album for me. Chunga's Revenge happened to be my introduction to the crazy world of Frank Zappa which came in my possession at the tender age of 11! It all began more than a decade ago when one of my uncles, for some strange reason, decided that kids these days need to listen to some real music and so for my 11th(!) birthday I was handed over 3 LP's from his collection! First of all, who does that kind of stuff?!? It's definitely the most awkward present you can give to an 11-year old kid.

The records I was presented with comprised of two Pat Metheny albums and Frank Zappa's Chunga's Revenge, presumably because it was his least favorite of the bunch. I didn't know anything about Zappa or even avant-garde music in general and was still in that very receptive state where my undeveloped mind sucked in every new experience it was handed. This is also the reason why I must warn you that my opinion of Chunga's Revenge is highly biased by the childhood nostalgia that I have for this record.

Transylvania Boogie was presumably my introduction to Frank Zappa and I honestly could not have dreamt of a more perfect album opener to kick start my relation to his music. Zappa shows exactly how much he has evolved as an instrumentalist by this point of his career and the results are far beyond anything that he expressed on Hot Rats! Road Ladies can almost be considered a prequel to 200 Motels, released only a year later. The song's structure is pretty straightforward blues-oriented with satirical lyrics discussing the flaws of taking the band on the road.

Twenty Small Cigars returns things into jazz territory with a concluding instrumental groove section that can only be interpreted as an introduction to the lengthy wild jam on The Nancy & Mary Music. This ten minute live number gives a good hit of how wild Zappa's gigs could get and make me almost feel that I'm right there in the concert hall grooving along to his improv playing. After two short but memorable sing-alongs, titled Tell Me You Love Me and Would You Go All The Way?, we finally get to the album's title track. This number is actually my least favorite of the bunch and I can only describe it as a very dirty sounding rock composition filled with many guitar solos by the master. The Clap is a weird outro that concludes the album's self titled performance and leads us into another upbeat sing-along called Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink. Sharleena concludes the album with a bouncy rhythm and blues sounding performance with spicy instrumental arrangements that can't really be mistaken for anything but the works of Frank Zappa himself.

My concluding words about Chunga's Revenge is that I honestly don't understand why so many people dismiss this for a second-rate Zappa studio release. Of course it's more than likely that my nostalgia has gotten the best of me, making me see something that really isn't there. This is why I'll pass the decision to you! As for me, this is easily among Frank Zappa's best albums and an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection!

***** star songs: Transylvania Boogie (5:01) Twenty Small Cigars (2:18) Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink (2:45) Sharleena (4:05)

**** star songs: Road Ladies (4:10) The Nancy & Mary Music (9:28) Tell Me You Love Me (2:34) Would You Go All The Way? (2:30) Chunga's Revenge (6:16) The Clap (1:23)

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Posted Friday, August 20, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This was a transition album for Frank Zappa. Specifically, it marked the transition from the original Mothers, which played satirical rock, jazz and classical, to the Flo & Eddie version of the Mothers, which was featured in the film "200 Motels", and a few primarily comedy-based music albums.

The comedy is apparent on the songs Road Ladies (which features some ladies similar to those in King Crimson's Ladies Of The Road), Would You Go All The Way? , and Rusy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink. These are three humorous songs, but not the best Zappa has done. There are some more serious songs, as well. Twenty Small Cigars and Chunga's Revenge are fine Zappa compositions.

Tell Me You Love Me, an aggressive, hard rocking, but very cool piece, was eventually sped up to become a show stopper in later concerts. The Nancy & Mary Music is a live recording, that goes on a bit too long with Flo & Eddie doing mouth percussion.

The whole album is good, but not great, but has always been marred by less than stellar production. The entire recording, even on the later CD recordings has a distorted sound, making it harder to listen to than most of Zappa's amazing catalog.

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Posted Monday, November 15, 2010

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Frank Zappa: Chunga's Revenge [1970]

Rating: 7/10

Trying to categorize Zappa's enormous range of material into distinct "eras" or "periods" is an arduous, if not impossible, task. Although there are Zappa albums that fall into a specific musical context, most of his work is eclectic and does not conform to any sort of categorization. Chunga's Revenge is one of these eclectic albums. However, if the word "era" can ever reasonably apply to Zappa's career, than this is the beginning of one. This album is significantly more straightforward than Zappa's previous work. Because of this, Chunga's Revenge doesn't receive very much love. However, I've always considered it to be a strong and underrated album. There are indeed some weak tracks, but the amount of excellent material here manages to push these less-than-stellar moments out of the listener's notice.

The opener "Transylvania Boogie" is a superb guitar-oriented heavy prog jam. The bluesy middle section is particularly excellent. "Road Ladies" is an organ/guitar-driven hard rock track that continues the blues vibe. The vocals fit the song perfectly. "Twenty Small Cigars" is a short jazzy piece taken from the Hot Rats sessions. It's somewhat similar to "Little Umbrellas." "The Nancy and Mary Music" is an excellent live improvisation that transitions between guitar jamming and experimental segments. "Tell Me You Love Me" is the first fairly weak track here. The main riff is decent, but this song is for the most part an uninteresting and straightforward hard-rock song. "Would You Go All the Way?" has a bit of a longue theme; it's rather mediocre, but there is some good guitar work. The incredible title track breaks this short cycle of mediocrity. This is one of my favorite Zappa solos. The playing is incredibly creative and the hooks/riffs are engaging and memorable. "The Clap" is a short drum solo that flows seamlessly from the title track. "Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink" is a very weak track about union corruption. It's consists mainly of vocal interplay and brass instrumentation. "Sharleena" is a straightforward song, but I still love it. It's one of my favorite poppy Zappa songs.

Chunga's Revenge contains no absurdist humor, political satire, lengthy sax solos, or avant-garde soundscapes. However, it's still an excellent album that manages to demonstrate yet another side of Zappa's talent. Granted, there are some weak songs; however, these are all short songs, taking up a total of about seven minutes of this forty-minute album. They're quickly overshadowed by the quality tracks. Chunga's Revenge isn't a masterpiece, but I would still highly recommend it to Zappa fans, particularly those who enjoy his guitar playing.

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Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If you want to spark controversy amongst a group of Zappa fans, you can do it with three little words: "Flo and Eddie". Zappa's inclusion of Turtles refugees Mark Volman and Howard Kayman in his new Mothers lineup was a short-lived affair, beginning in 1970 and ending at the end of a disastrous 1971 tour which saw the infamous "smoke on the water" incident in Montreux and Zappa confined to a wheelchair after a nasty fall from a stage - both incidents caused by rowdy fans. But overshadowing both incidents in the minds of many Zappa afficionados is the stylistic shift seen during this era, and which is showcased on Chunga's Revenge, in which the comedic aspects of Zappa's work came to the fore.

It simply isn't correct to say that Zappa's sense of humour changed at this point - the original Mothers of Invention material was replete with jokes, of which many had a scatological or sexual basis and of which more than a few were pretty damn crude. However, the delivery with Flo and Eddie in the band does come across as more crass and abrasive than it was previously, and it is brought to the fore more often. On top of that, whilst the duo's vocal harmonies are truly wonderful (I think their performance on T.Rex's Electric Warrior album providing backing vocals was inspired), I've never felt that they were a natural fit for Zappa's sound.

Chunga's Revenge is the Flo and Eddie-era album on which their presence is felt the least, partially because the sense of humour is a bit more varied than the "all sex jokes all the time" concept of the Fillmore East live album, partially because the album includes a clutch of good but not great instrumentals - several of which are cast-offs from the Hot Rats sessions. It's an OK Zappa album, and of the Flo and Eddie tracks I do quite like Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink and Would You Go All The Way, but when the album also includes half-baked ideas like Tell Me You Love Me and Sharleena I can't extend to more than three stars.

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Posted Friday, June 17, 2011

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars To say that you don't like Frank Zappa is like saying you don't like food. There are thousands, millions of dishes to eat (or try) world wide and there are a plethora of musical styles to discover when it comes to Zappa. Never standing still too long on the same spot, ever moving, ever progressing. With that said, I need to point out that not all Zappa, as with food, is to your taste or personal preference. However, I am of the most certain mind when saying that anyone into prog is able to find at least one album to love and enjoy. That is the case for me. I cannot claim to love all of Zappas enormous production. I cannot even claim to love half of it. I care for only a fragment of all these albums on the market.The best of these fragments is the underrated (in my opinion) Chunga's revenge.

Funnily enough, this album was the first I bought. When I decided to explore Zappa back in the 1990's I decided upon this one. I knew there were other albums proclaimed to be his masterworks but I chanced on this one, giggling at the cover and that odd title. I could not have picked a better album to start off with at that particular time and Chunga's revenge is still my favorite, both by musical standards aswell as nostalgic reasons.

It must be said, that Chunga's revenge probably is one of Zappas most accessible albums. There are very few hard nuts to crack. It is, basically, a collection of great semi-progressive tunes leaning towards an array of styles. Anything from jazz and eastern moods to ballads and hard rock. Though being a highly varied album it never looses the focus and the result is a very tight and cohesive record. It has some loose and laidback grooves, reminding me of the late 1960's jamming found on many an album. It is inspired and groovy, played with a lot of joy and love of music.

I think that the best songs are the eastern flavored "Transylvania boogie", the hard rock of "Tell me you love me" and the concluding "Sharleena". The tracks in between are very enjoyable as well and provides a wonderful template of moods and styles. This album proves that Zappa really could take a bite off of anything and create the most extraordinary music.

One often reads about the guitar of Frank Zappa and on Chunga's revenge it is ever so wonderful. He manages to be both masterful and raucious, a combination not always found in guitar wizards.

All in all, Chunga's revenge is a wonderful rock album with progressive leanings. It is not overly complex. Instead it is a collection of quite easily digestable and enjoyable songs with great variation. It is still my favorite and if you want to find a starting point where the humour, irony and craziness is a bit subdued in favor of musical seriousness (without being boring, naturally) this might be a good place to start.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#1161433) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Latest members reviews

3 stars The first album of the 'Flo & Eddie' era, largerly based on humor than on music. This album is very good, but in no way one of the best Zappa albums, in fact. I love Sharleena, Transylvania Boogie and the title track (and the instrumental The Clap, played by Zappa on drums - he was formerly a dr ... (read more)

Report this review (#164697) | Posted by Zardoz | Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is an interesting album indeed. It's particularly interesting because it sounds like a mixture of two of Zappa's aspects, sort of between "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and "The Grand Wazoo". "Chunga's Revenge" has several good tracks to offer, my favourite of which is "The Nancy and Mary Music", ... (read more)

Report this review (#153018) | Posted by cynthiasmallet | Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Transylvania boogie A fine instrumental, with huge emphasis on Zappaīs guitarplaying. The rhytm section is excellent. Frank doesnīt make it boring, though, even if thereīs not much of an melody. 4 stars Road ladies Nice organ playing on this one. Frank sings really well and plays blazing gu ... (read more)

Report this review (#133461) | Posted by Peto | Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm will start off by saying that, above all else, this is primarily blues influenced progressive music and is not as experimental as some of Zappa's other works. This should be able to please most listeners, but not really "wow" them. "The Nancy & Mary Music" has great saxophone, percussion ... (read more)

Report this review (#74944) | Posted by Michael Coia | Friday, April 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A long time ago two crazy freaks called Flo and Eddie met a crazy freak called Zappa now these crazy freaks got along real well because they were all crazy and also they were freaks. They decided to join forces in an attempt to annoy people to the best of their abilities and they were a smashi ... (read more)

Report this review (#68856) | Posted by | Thursday, February 09, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is definitely one of FZ:s masterpieces, but I had forgotten all about it for almost 30 years!!! Fortunately I have started burning my old LP:s into CDs, and when going through my old records I found "Chunga's Revenge". Like so many others I didn't think this was anything special, but I've ... (read more)

Report this review (#62426) | Posted by | Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Chunga's Revenge, the first album with a completely new band plus Ian Underwood.. Most notably, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman from The Turtles, and the amazing soon-to-be legendary George Duke. Not to mention the incredible drumming of Aynsley Dunbar. However, this album acts as a transitional al ... (read more)

Report this review (#38712) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars With great respect to all Zappa fans throughout the would, I find the reasoning of some of the previous critics disorientating to say the least. "Chunga's Revenge" being the first zappa album i bought has forever planted the seed of the mothers in my mind. Chunga's is so different, within itse ... (read more)

Report this review (#29658) | Posted by | Monday, May 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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