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Frank Zappa - Them Or Us CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.28 | 193 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'Them Or Us ' - Frank Zappa (3/10)

My respect and acknowledgement of his vast talent aside, Frank Zappa and his music have never been my thing. Often, I find the music too silly and obnoxious, or otherwise too emotionally shallow to sustain much interest for me. Although I have had a few fun experiences with Zappa's music, it is an album like 'Them Or Us' that really affirms why I could never consider myself a fan of his music. Released in the middle of the 80's when popular music was agreed to have hit rock bottom, Zappa's own quality seems to have really taken a dive with 'Them Or Us'. While there is certainly much creativity at work throughout the album, the end result is unfortunately a piece of work that is dreadfully inconsistent, and sometimes downright unpleasant to listen to.

Much of 'Them Or Us' is a satire on different old styles like doo-wop, focusing heavily on a host of different voices. While the instrumental work here is generally well-arranged and complex within the constraints of the somewhat silly compositions, it is the vocal work on the album that really turns me off. While there are is some good singing in the soul style on tracks such as 'Whippin' Pole', alot of the vocal work falls on Zappa himself, who- while being an undeniably good guitarist- leaves far too much to be desired on the singing end. Coupled with boring, poorly executed lyrical topics like truck drivers and the clothing worn by frogs, Zappa's shallow vocal technique has little to work with from the get-go.

The album is inconsistent to the point of dread; this also brings up the point that there is in fact good music to be heard on 'Them Or Us'. Frequently, the music and songs will alternate between asinine musical comic rock, derivative blues and doo-wop (done fairly poorly) and every once in a while; a very cool complex instrumental section to dive into. It is the few moments of enjoyment here that saves 'Them Or Us' from being a completely unpleasant piece of work in my eyes.

While the doo-wop and blues satires have their place, they certainly cannot warrant the length of an album which exceeds an hour. Perhaps with some fat trimmed off of this partial failure, 'Them Or Us' would have been far more bearable, and even quite enjoyable to listen to, as long as the bad jokes were kept few and far between.

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |


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