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Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is CD (album) cover

YOU ARE WHAT YOU IS

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.66 | 291 ratings

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Indie Professor
2 stars YAWYI is my least favorite Zappa album. In fact after I purchased it, I became so depressed that I stopped listening to Zappa for months. There are essentially two problems here:

1) The vocals are way too far up front in the mix. I realize that this is one of Zappa's topical albums and that he wanted his message to reach his audience as clearly as possible. However, Zappa is at his most incisive when he pairs his political activism with his complex compositions. Too much of the music here falls flat like ambient noise. For example, as with the music backing Frank's voice on Over-nite Sensation's 'Dinah-Moe Humm,' the instrumentation for 'Dumb All Over'sounds canned. Other tracks, like 'Doreen,' sound like they were pulled off of an Ike Willis solo album.

2) This might seem odd coming from a Zappa fan (and yes, I am a fan of a wide spectrum of his music), but I think the lyrics to many of these songs are mean-spirited. I enjoy it when Zappa speaks truth to power or hurls cigarette butts at pretentious status-seekers. On songs like 'Suicide Chump' and 'Jumbo Go Away,' however, he's kicking the wretched of the earth while they're lying prone on the ground.

There are a few moments of inspiration here. The 'Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear' is worth hearing for its angularity and 'Teen-Age Wind' is a well-aimed kick in the crotch of 1980s Deadheads. At other moments, Zappa does briefly channel Stravinsky. I'd note where these moments are, but that would mean I would have to listen to this album again. Frankly, I'd rather move to Cleveland.

Indie Professor | 2/5 |

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