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Frank Zappa - Läther CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.98 | 198 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Back in the second half of the 70's, even Zappa didn't escape to the giganticism and wanted to put out a 4 vinyl set of new studio and live material, yet unreleased. Despite one or two examples that would take place a few years later, like the Godley & Crème boxset, the industry doubted of the commercial success (not without reasons) of such an ambitious project and refused Zappa the release as such. So Frank released four different album containing this material (sometimes in a different version), but in a willingly disorderly fashion, so that the concept was impossible to reassemble over the Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, Orchestral Favorites and a live album. Note that his next big projects would be the double Sheik Yerbouti and the triple (but released in two parts) Joe's Garage. This project was finally released after Frank's death by wife Gail and some associates. The least we can say is that this set is extremely well-done and really reflects Frank's (all-too often scatological) spirits of the times and reflecting his general defiance and gratuitous provocation of the well-thinking establishment about many still taboo subjects.

The first disc starts on the splendid jazz-rock Re-Gyptian Strut (on SD), but soon digresses in Modern Classical with Aviation (on OF), the Whole Lotta Love-riffed & Lumpy Gravy influenced Duck Goose and later on the scatological Assholes and Enema pieces - the latter sounding like a killer Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush blues, once past the idiotic intro. The album finishes on a Studio Tan feast, with three tracks from its flipside, including the excellent Take You To The Beach and RDNZL. A worthy first disc, but marred by the juvenile-crappy humour.

The second disc starts on the goofy bluesy Man Like Me, then segues with a few Live In New York tracks (or their studuio version), including the then-censored challenging Funky Whips (with that famous male promise ;o)))), but it is the terrific Flambay (or Flambé from SD) that grabs all of our attention. A while later, Läther (from LiNY) is one of the Zappa proggiest fusion tune almost Canterburian as the awesome Spider Of Destiny (again from SD) is. Closing on an Orchestral Favorite piece, this second disc is much more enjoyable, because the humour segues to the music.

The third disc opens on another SD stand-out piece, the dark and brooding almost- Crimsonian Filthy Habits, but the legendary (but not in my book) misogynistic Titties piece is up next and makes a second reference to Jeff Beck. A little deceiving is the much shorter Ocean Solution (from SD), reduced from 13+ to to 8-mins, even though it remains excellent. The pièce de resistance is the sidelong suite of Greggery Peccary that's closing the set and boxset, with moments of pure bliss, but a lot of that usual dumb humour. The four bonus tracks are not essential (there is a lengthy jam) but don't hinder the album either.

Well Läther is a good set that might happily replace the 4 late-70's albums, but unfortunately the Sleep dirt album tracks are not in the original album form, so you'd have to get that one and the live one as well, if you are a completist. And reversely, if you're a Sleep Dirt aficionado (like me), you'll be tempted to get Läther, at least for the re-arranged SD pieces. I'll pass, though, as I can rent this from the library.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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