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Frank Zappa - Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.87 | 57 ratings

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Petrovsk Mizinski
Prog Reviewer
4 stars We have here, the third and final in the Shut Up 'N' Play Yer Guitar trilogy. As per the last two in the series, the main focus is Frank Zappa's guitar playing on instrumental material.

If there is one thing I noticed especially compared to the last two in the series, it's that the whole affair was less monotonous, more flowing and just more interesting musically in many aspects. The rhythm section actually stood out more here, which was one of the reasons why I found this to be a a more exciting and engaging listening experience. Vincent (aka Vinnie) Colaiuta's drumming was very good, always a great sense of dynamics and knowing what to play to give more beef or less whenever the musical context called for it. Very good bass work from Anthony Barrow, and of course great performances from all the other musicians involved. I felt Frank Zappa managed to work in a great sense of bands dynamics into what is really a solo performance and certainly, being able to add real musical band dynamics into a project like this really helps to maintain the listeners interest for much longer, so kudos to that.

Also of note, is the occasion odd bits thrown in, like experimental stuff, noises, conversation, which can only help to make the record a more appealing listen and at times it can even put a real smile on your face or even make you laugh.

I felt that that first two in the trilogy didn't offer anything truly exciting and mind blowing, but this time around, things have improved and there are moments that really captured my attention. One thing I found really cool is Frank includes some re workings of solos from previous records and there are recognizable bits from Inca Roads in there. The album varies a fair bit in feel, starting with the fairly good (although not completely amazing) Beat It With Your Fist, which already had me amused from the title. The seemingly random bass tapping placed throughout the track, whether it was intentionally amusing or not, made me laugh a little, but not for negative reasons, more for the sheer spontaneity of it. The random conversation at the end is amusing too, since I can't even make out most of it and it really adds a nice light hearted feel to the proceedings.

Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer guitar is a fairly lengthy affair, with Frank presenting a good dynamic range on the guitar, from faster and more furious playing, to some quieter, less distorted slower stuff too. There were even points in the song where I ended up focusing a bit more on Vinnie Colaiuta's drum work, which of course serves to highlight the excellent sense of band dynamics I pointed out earlier. Some of the more interesting guitar parts, include the pick tapping technique (which involves tapping a note on the fretboard with the edge of the pick to create short stuttering bursts of notes) which I found to be particularly effective in adding more variety to the sound.

The first time I saw there was a track named Pinocchio's Furniture, it left me scratching my head for a while, and then eventually laughing a bit too. Just seems like a weird name for an instrumental guitar song really. It's fairly brief and to the point, with some cool wah wah pedal licks thrown in for good measure.

Another amusing song title, Why Johnny Can't Read. A lot of the bass guitar licks stood out in this song, a pleasant surprise. Frank mixes things up by throwing in different scales and modes, which help to add more tension to the feel of the song.

Stucco Homes was definitely the stand out piece of Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar. Frank really bares his soul on this song. Delicate playing, with many well executed phrasings add up to a transcendental experience. I was so immersed in the dynamics, the emotions and the guitar playing in this song, I barely realized the track was indeed quite lengthy. Again, a superb performance from Vinnie Colaiuta, knowing to play a bit quieter to suit the mood of the song.

Canard du Jour features Frank Zappa on the bouzouki instead of the guitar. This song featured Jean-Luc Ponty, French violin virtuoso and jazz composer, and that really made this song much more than it would have been if it were purely the bouzouki. This song is sort of, the odd one out if you will, having no guitar and no rhythm section. While not as good as the previous track, it's a very interesting listen especially with the unexpected and slightly unusual instruments used in the context of the rest of the album.

While I was not a big fan of the previous two works in the Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar trilogy, I feel that this particular one in the series was a great improvement over the last two. While I still wouldn't call this an essential album from Frank Zappa, it does display some amazing guitar playing and a side of FZ not easily found on other albums.

Petrovsk Mizinski | 4/5 |


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