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Frank Zappa - Just Another Band From L.A. CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.19 | 152 ratings

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2 stars Well, at least half of this is fairly amusing, thank goodness. This is yet another live album featuring Flo and Eddie on vocals, and once again Frank puts their juvenile intonations of his work (and on side one, of one of his surreal comedy skits) ahead of the performance of the rest of the band. On the second side, this (as usual) isn't really a good thing. "Call Any Vegetable" is changed to allow for more interplay between Flo, Eddie and Zappa as they throw some semi-clever lines back and forth, but it's not really an improvement on the original. "Dog Breath" is made worse, I'd say, by letting them sing some new lyrics (and sheesh, Flo and Eddie sound a hundred times worse than the assorted Mothers did on the studio version on Uncle Meat), though I must admit that the energetic wah-wah solo Frank puts in the middle is a nice touch. As for the two new songs on this side, well, they're not exactly worth repeated listens. "Eddie, Are You Kidding?" isn't funny (at all) or particularly memorable, and "Magdalena," a rather explicit tale of a man lusting for his daughter (Frank, you already told this joke in "Brown Shoes Don't Make It") and giving into his incestual urges, isn't enjoyable from a music perspective either.

The first side, however, keeps giving me some light chuckles with each listen, even if plotwise it's rather stupid (the plot can be found in many places on the web, but for the purpose of adding some length to this review, I will re-tell it). "Billy the Mountain" tells the tale of a mountain (named Billy, naturally) with a tree (named Ethell, who is his wife, I guess) growing out the side of him. Over the years, Billy had appeared on thousands of postcards, and finally, one day, his royalties check comes in the mail, making him rich. Billy and Ethell decide to uproot and go on a vacation to New York, and in the process of trekking across the country they accidentally keep destroying residential spaces and military air bases. To save the country, the government trumps up charges against Ethell of being a communist and a witch, and drafts Billy into the military. The would-be hero, Studebaker Hoch, who is sent to deliver this order to Billy (and who is able to fly into the air to speak "face to face" with Billy by a means involving flies and maple syrup), ends up getting seriously hurt when Billy laughs at him (Billy has a cliff for a jaw, you see). The ending moral, of course, is that, "A mountain is something you don't want to f*&k with."

Yup, this is stupid, and yet it has a certain "suck you in" quality to it that much of the other Flo and Eddie material simply lacks. Some people don't like the way that it so deliberately namechecks so many icons and places of contemporary (circa 1972) American culture, saying that this aspect severely dates it (especially since the references tend to focus mostly on, you guessed it, L.A.), but I don't think these references date the piece anymore than all of the cultural references found in 40's and 50's Warner Bros. cartoons date those pieces. They're not the focus, they're just a nice extra layer that somehow makes the whole thing at least kinda tasty. At least, I think so.

All in all, then, this isn't exactly an album I'd recommend hunting night and day for, but the first half is intriguing in its own perverse way, so you could certainly afford to grab it if you're a real Zappa-phile and you see it used. This incarnation of the band did a lot worse, after all (and thank goodness, this was the last Flo and Eddie album. Huzzah).

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |


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