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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1683 ratings

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5 stars I remember hearing this album back in the 70s with a friend who was a Zappa-freak. My impressions were that it was a little too straightforward hard rock for my tastes and that the vocal performances and lyrics were just not my cup of tea. Fast forward to 2008 when my discovery of ProgArchives helped to resuscitate my passion for prog, old and new, and I've been able to give Frank's music a fresh start. Though I still find myself unamused by many of the puerile lyrics and topics (often unnecessarily drawn out, IMHO), I cannot nor will I deny the unmistakable high caliber of compositional genius and performance prowess in the songs rendered unto vinyl. Frank was a top tier guitarist whose antiauthoritarian genius could often be rather abrasive and uncompromising. His music seems to convey this as well. You either love it or you appreciate it. Hot Rats contains a collection of superb guitar-based, tightly performed songs which definitely put on full display the superior axe-craft of the headliner. It is not an album I go to often, but if I were to choose a FZ/ Mothers album to spin, it would this one or "Shut up..., Vol. 2"--though I think "Freak Out!" is pure genius.

1. "Peaches en Regalia" (3:39) Like many, this is one of my top five favorite FZ songs of all-time. (9.5/10)

2. "Willie the Pimp" (9:23) great music that is rather diminished by Mr. Van Vliet's vocal. (8.5/10)

3. "Son of Mr. Green Genes" (8:57) This song is great for the whole ensemble's contributions; I can listen to it while switching my attention from Frank to bass, drums, keys, and be equally amazed. (9.5/10)

4. "Little Umbrellas" (3:09) an intricately designed, almost European-sounding instrumental with the delightful presence of multiple parts for reed/woodwind instruments and organ. (All Ian Underwood?!) I especially enjoy the presence of the double bass. My second top three song here. (9.5/10)

5. "The Gumbo Variations" (12:54) jazzy blues or is it bluesy jazz? The simple bass lines seem to indicate the former, but Ian Underwood's sax seems to be treading into some serious jazz territory. Don Harris' violin solo in the middle section seems to be mirroring much of Underwood's sax lines, but then he takes it into his own world. Nice loosening up from the bass player in this section. When Frank finally joins in, or, rather, moves to the front, he only does so briefly before the violin and organ weave in with him. Nice performances; not a very exceptional or innovative composition. (8/10)

6. "It Must Be A Camel" (5:17) piano and percussion dominate this song in the opening section, but then a SOFT MACHINE-sounding quirky jazz-song evolves as the horn and violin join in. Interesting sound recording of John Guerin's drums, as can be said for Frank's solo guitar sound. Again, it is the tightness of the ensemble through all of the composition's sonic and textural shifts that makes this one so enjoyable. My other top three songs. (9.5/10)

A seminal album in the infancy of progressive rock music that stands up well over time. Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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