Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Frank Zappa


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Frank Zappa Lumpy Gravy album cover
3.22 | 457 ratings | 42 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lumpy Gravy Part One (15:48) :
- a. The Way I See It, Barry
- b. Duodenum
- c. Oh No
- d. Bit of Nostalgia
- e. It's from Kansas
- f. Bored Out 90 Over
- g. Almost Chinese
- h. Switching Girls
- i. Oh No Again
- j. At the Gas Station
- k. Another Pickup
- l. I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again
2. Lumpy Gravy Part Two (15:51) :
- a. Very Distraughtening
- b. White Ugliness
- c. Amen
- d. Just One More Time
- e. A Vicious Circle
- f. King Kong
- g. Drums Are Too Noisy
- h. Kangaroos
- i. Envelops the Bath Tub
- j. Take Your Clothes Off

Total Time 31:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / composer, arranger, conductor & producer

- Tommy Tedesco / guitar
- Al Viola / guitar
- Dennis Budimir / guitar
- Tony Rizzi / guitar
- Jimmy "Senyah" Haynes / guitar
- Lincoln Mayorga / piano, celesta, harpsichord
- Pete Jolly / piano, celesta, electric harpsichord
- Paul Smith / piano, celesta, electric harpsichord
- Michael Lang / piano, celesta, electric harpsichord
- John Rotella / woodwind, percussion
- Arthur Maebe / French horn
- Richard Parissi / French horn
- Jimmy Zito / trumpet
- Kenny Shroyer / trombone
- Roy Estrada / bass, chorus
- Bob West / bass
- Chuck Berghofer / bass
- Jimmy Bond / bass
- Shelly Manne / drums
- Frank Capp / drums
- John Guerin / drums
- Alan Estes / percussion
- Victor Feldman / percussion
- Gene Estes / percussion
- Emil Richards / percussion
- "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra" / contracted strings, woodwinds & chorus

Percussion includes: gongs, bells, vibes, marimba, timpani, timbales & assorted insanity.
Woodwinds include: flute, bass flute, piccolo, oboe, English horn, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, alto saxophone, bass saxophone, bassoon & contrabassoon.

Releases information

Artwork: Cal Schenkel

LP Verve Records ‎- V6-8741 (1968, US)

CD Rykodisc ‎- RCD 10504 (1995, US) Remastered from the 1984 remix by Bob Stone with new overdubs by bassist Arthur Barrow and drummer Chad Wackerman

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy FRANK ZAPPA Lumpy Gravy Music

FRANK ZAPPA Lumpy Gravy ratings distribution

(457 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

FRANK ZAPPA Lumpy Gravy reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
4 stars This is the starting point, that is the beginning of the second phase regarding such great career of this unforgettable musician!!

According to the opinion of his wife this was the album indicated by her husband Frank as his most favorite, and if you listen to his first great orchestral arrangement and conceptual album as well, you understand such opinion!! He was involved with the experimentation concerning the utilization of a strange dialogue, by alternating it by means of orchestral instrumentals... a patchwork of small pieces of "art-music", 16 minutes long!! Well honestly his definitive sound did not take its complete form yet, but you can get an inkling of his grandeur here and the influence of Stravinsky as well."Take Your Clothes Off" is a small jewel; instead the early raw version of "King Kong" doesn't convince his fans at all... it never minds, this is an important historical document, even though better things had to come after!!


Review by Proghead
4 stars After a couple of MOTHERS OF INVENTION albums ("Freak Out", "Absolutely Free"), ZAPPA decided to do a project outside the MOTHERS, and he decided to do what is perhaps his most ambitious project up until that point. And "Lumpy Gravy", released in December 1967 (I've also seen varying sources say this album was released in March or May 1968) is the result. He called the band (if you can call it that) that made this album possible the Abnuceals Emmukha Electric Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (with maybe even some of the MOTHERS OF INVENTION). Basically this band consisted of ZAPPA as conducter, with a large orchestra, and rock band. And yes, a couple members of the MOTHERS OF INVENTION do appear on this album: Roy Estrada, Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood and Jimmy Carl Black. The original LP is simply divided by side one and two, but the CD reissue actually include song titles. The album starts off very deceptively sounding like instrumental surf music. The wind instruments included sounds not unlike what ZAPPA was doing with the MOTHERS (even the themes are pretty common on a MOTHERS album). But suddenly the music stops and turns in to lots of strange electronic effects and totally twisted orchestral arrangements. Somewhere, a catchy song gets played on orchestra and drums, this being called "Oh No" (which would be later recorded with the MOTHERS OF INVENTION, with a more normal rock setting and vocals, on "Weasels Ripped My Flesh").

As the album progresses, you'll hear the sounds of people spouting out a bunch of bull[&*!#], like about how it's like outside a drum (ie. "It's dark and murky"), or about pigs and ponies (which is about cops versus hippies). There was even one part of the album where this guy was talking about fixing on his car, but his girlfriend got pissed off at him, so she rips out the motor, the tires, and the seats from his car. The theme to "Oh No" repeats itself later on.

As the album progresses further, you face more of the same: passages that sound like rock music, experimental passages, people talking a bunch of nonsense. I also noticed a theme that would later be used on Uncle Meat ("King Kong"), done in an orchestral style. After all the relentless experiments, the album ends with an instrumental version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance".

"Lumpy Gravy" is one truly fascinating album, although some people think this is one of ZAPPA's worst albums along with "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and *Just Another Band From L.A." (although I think those are great albums). Regardless, if you like the experimental/neo-classical side of ZAPPA, then you need "Lumpy Gravy".

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By far one of the weirdest things Zappa did in the 60's. Two 15 minute collages of sound make up this album, and despite this, it makes you amazed that Zappa never took drugs. Anyway, if you are new to Zappa, this is not your album, it takes an open mind to appreciate what goes on in this album, there are some great arrangements, such as A Vicious Cycle and King Kong (which would later get it's own song). If you like the experimental Mothers stuff of the 60's then this album will be right up your alley, if not, then you might not enjoy it so much. Me, I liked it, but I don't feel it's essential to get the whole Zappa spectrum. 3/5.
Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The major part of 'Lumpy Gravy' (everything besides the dialogues) was recorded in autumn 1966 in the Capitol Studios, but due to a querrel between MGM and Capitol, the material was only released in 1968.The record combines modern contemporary orchestral music, surf music, sound effects and electronic textures, interwoven with dialogue fragments.

This record is not easy to access ( and it is and was Zappa's least succesfull record).The record is a part of what Zappa called his 'Conceptual continuity', a part of a bigger ensemble. Besides the pure musical content Zappa makes a statement with this record. 1.:There is no distinction between 'higher' and 'lower' music forms, only between good and bad music, hence the side by side of surf music, pop tunes and highly sophisticated orchestral compositions. Like the french composer Eric Satie, Zappa always took an ironic distance to his work and life in general 2.: His music influences his life and his life influences his music, hence the introduction of spoken 'everyday' material and social comments.

A big part of the record consists of spoken material, Frank:"One day I decided to stuff a pair of U-87's [microphones] in the piano, cover it with a heavy drape, put a sand bag on the sustain pedal and invite anybody in the vicinity to stick their head inside and ramble incoherently about the various topics I would suggest to them via the studio talk-back system. Some of the people who took the challenge included Spider Barbour (musician), All Night John (the studio manager), Gilly Townley (sister of the guy who owned the studio [Apostolics NYC]), Monica (the receptionist), Roy Estrada and Motorhead Sherwood, Louis the turkey and a few others." The resulting dialogue snippets are some strange philosophic observations that will appear throughout Zappa's ouevre, mainly the BIG NOTE.

'Lumpy Gravy' is the result of heavy editing and splicing. In general you have all of Zappa's Music to come already in a nutshell: the record starts with an orchestrated 'Cowboy' theme reminding Zappa's first experience as a film composer and his music for 'Run Home Slow'. Throughout the record you have orchestrated recordings of short contemporary pieces.(If you just want to listen to his orchestral music, edit it up like this: Side One: 12:00-15:48 & Side two: 4:00- 5:30/6:30-7:30/9:30-13:40. All these pieces are brillant.Apart from that you have the theme of 'Oh No' apearing two times, the intro of RDNZL, the theme of 'King Kong' and the record ends with the theme of 'Take your clothes off'. All these tracks will appear later on Zappa's records.

It is difficult to write a conclusion for this record, 'Lumpy Gravy' is a milestone in recording & editing technique (Zappa passed 9 months on 2 track razor blade editing), it contains brillant orchestral compostions, some nice 'popular' music, strange dialogues about the universe, a big note and pigs & poneys and everything combined with Zappa's trademark 'Putting the Eyebrows on it spirit'. It is one of Zappa's masterpices and If you are willing to enter the Zappuniverse you will be highly rewarded.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Zappa's first solo offering is a weird one and was purely based around sound collages with pieces of music and odd conversations inbetween, whose several quotes from them was used on further Mothers of Invention albums. The two parts are similar in structure but features a myriad of different odd little musical tunes ranging from classical, surf music (a nod to the Beach Boys' popularity at the time?) to strange experimental segments, but the whole thing doesn't really connect with each other making for some confusing listening (which might have been the point). This is a like it or not type of album. I do like it but it's far from FZ's best stuff, yet it showcases his sound collage techniques which he would master only a short period of time later, resulting in masterworks such as "We're Only in it For The Money" and "Uncle Meat".
Review by belz
3 stars 3.4/5.0 Ok now let's get serious! This is still an improvement on the last album, as the meaningless blah-blah is more and more replaced by interesting melodies and prog rhythms. Even if half of the album is still mostly experi-mental, the beginning of the first track and the end of the second are so great, with all the instruments, the wind section and the great keyboards. This album is more jazzy than the previous one, and the sonority gets richer as we approach the 70s. Still not that great, but not far from it! 3.4/5.0
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars EMUUKHA!

This album is very funny, and from time to time I have to return to listen at it and have some laughs. The orchestral scores are scattered around the album, and they are surrounded by stories by weird persons, analog treatments and some vintage rock music by the band. Frank has had talent in editing this stuff, as it's amusing in it's total chaos, and the tales told by different voices are very hilarious. Also there are many witty details to be found from the record. Some vinyl gatefolds and the recent re-mastered CD's have also lots of silly visual stuff on 'em. Witty, chaotic and funny, but not everybody's cup of tea!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is not my favorite Frank Zappa album if I have to by honest with you. It´s a pretty funny and strange album though and very unique.

This is not a normal rock album in any sense. The music on LUMPY GRAVY is a mix of the rock themes from the next Mothers of Invention album WE´RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY and some orchestral parts that Zappa made. There are also some themes that appear here for the first time and some themes that appear even later in Zappa´s discography. These ingredients are bound together by strange conversations and noises. The conversations are supposedly recorded inside a piano or something weird like that. I can´t remember the whole story, but some of the conversations are really hilarious and some of them are strange like hell. If you´re used to Zappa´s humour you´ll enjoy this though.

As always with productions that Zappa has his hands on it´s rather unique and innovative. His splicing of tape was at the time very progressive. It´s something that would also be used extensively on WE´RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY.

While LUMPY GRAVY is very progressive it´s a bit too strange for me in the end, enjoyable but too strange. I´ll rate it 3 stars though because I do enjoy it, just in small doses. I´ll recommend it to people who are tired of conventional music and are seeking something different. As a minimum you´ll be surprised.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars With a little editing, Lumpy Gravy could have been one of the better progressive rock albums ever recorded. Though there are a lot of clever and innovative musical collages on this album, there are also a lot of segments containing clumsy forced humor that undermine this album's potential greatness. Side two of the album contains an ongoing "silly" conversation about animals that is embarrassing in it's self- conscious attempts at abstract humor and reeks of a 60s style undeserved self-indulgence.

The album opens up strong with a Zappa-esque surf guitar instrumental that slowly segue ways into some more avant-garde styled rock and then into some collaged bits of noise. Throughout the course of the album Frank serves up many different 60s instrumental styles including surf, lounge exotica, movie soundtracks and others. He splices these instrumentals with composed sections that mimic and/or pay tribute to some of his favorite composers including; Varese, Stravinsky, Webern, Stockhausen and Pierre Henry.

It is pretty obvious while listening to this album that a lot of the guitar melodies are being handled by the master of 60s guitar instrumentals, famous LA session man Tommy Tedesco. At this time Tommy could probably play circles around Frank and no one could match Tommy's melodic sounds when it came to recreating the sort of jazz/lounge music that Frank wrote for much of this album. Another interesting thing I noticed was how many of the tunes on here show up in other forms on other albums released by Zappa in the 60s and 70s.

This album would have been much better if it had only contained the quirky innovative instrumental tracks combined with Zappa's tongue-in-cheek avant-garde "compositions". Instead Frank tried to fool the world into thinking he was not a self-important blow-hard and inserted some very un-funny humor that ultimately undermined much of his hard work.

Review by crimson87
2 stars Lumpy Gravy is the first solo album released by Frank Zappa. This is probably the most exprimental album he has released and as FZ said it has NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL AT ALL. It reminds me of some works by Stockhausen. Basically Lumpy Gravy is a sonic collage that includes pop music , orchestral pieces and loads of dialogue between the band members. The record barely surpasses the 30 minute barrier and its divided in two sections but the concept is the same in both.

The problem with this record is that its very difficult to judge and rate , because I dont see anyone listening to Lumpy Gravy on a daily , weekly or even monthly basis since none of its tunes ( if there are any) will blow your mind. However there isnt anything on this record that could be considered umpleasant. Actually , I enjoyed the first 5 minutes of this record a lot and let me tell you that if it kept on going that way for the next 25 I ll be thinking of awarding Lumpy Gravy with four or five stars. But there is too much dialogue in between the tiny bits of music I enjoy , this little parts range from 40 seconds to one minute and a half and among them are primitive version of future Mothers hits like King Kong , Oh No and Take your clothes off when you dance. As regards the dialogue parts are some weird conversations in which some issues are ponys , pigs , Motorhead Sherwood's life and some serious talk from FZ about the origin of the universe! If you think there is too much talk on this record , you may not hear the CD version of Uncle Meat as well. To rate Lumpy Gravy I will take into account that as an experiment it was succesful , but I cant see the reasons why anyone would come to this record whem FZ has released loads of studio and live albums that are more interesting for the newcoming listener. However if you are a Zappa freak who has some extra bucks ( And you already own Brain Salad Surgery) I think its worth buying.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Lumpy Gravy' - Frank Zappa (3.5/10)

Suffice to say, 'Lumpy Gravy' should not have been my first experience with Frank Zappa, or anyones, for that matter. While alot of Frank Zappas music is considered 'weird' (and for good reason,) it would be a stretch to call anything here songwriting, perse. 'Lumpy Gravy' is for all intents and purposes, a sonic collage, as if Frank had some great musical ideas and concepts that he wanted to use, but couldn't find a cohesive way to put them together.

Being more or less one continuous song, don't think for a second this is an epic like '2112' or 'A Change of Seasons.' I made that assumption before listening to it, and was pretty dissapointed. For the first minute or so, things seem to be going pretty well, and I'm excited to see what lies beyond. After some actual music, the sonic chaos starts as if to be sadistic and snatch the what-was pleasant music away for the stay of pig oinks, fart sounds and every immature, 'bathroom' sound under the sun. While I'm definately not an adherent to the school that thinks 'prog' should be completely serious and technical 100% of the time, novelty gags are in no way a replacement for actual, solid music.

For a few times however, the dialogue can (at times) be a bit entertaining, I'll admit. Talk of unicorns attacking people made me laugh, and there are some philosophical statements that are actually pretty profound, if you dig through all of the whimsicality.

Probably the most interesting thing about 'Lumpy Gravy' is actually the intention behind it, and how it was made. To my knowledge, Zappa ignored the concept of 'genres' and only saw things in black and white; 'good' and 'bad' music. For the music that's actually present on the album, there are many styles represented, including surf music, dissonant neoclassical, and jazz... It is a sonic mess indeed, but a sonic mess thats riddled with good intentions.

While for the 1960s, this is groundbreaking and theres certainly alot of thought that Zappa put into this half-hour project, most of it is simply unlistenable, especially for someone who doesn't consider himself a dedicated fan of the artist.

'Lumpy Gravy' suceeds in the sense that I want to explore more of this man's discography, but as a work itself, its really not an enjoyable venture. Frank Zappa has said that 'Lumpy Gravy' rates among his most proud acheivements, and despite the obvious good intention and thought put into this, it's not something you're going to want to listen to more than a few listens.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars Back when I was an undergrad, I read the newsgroup fairly frequently. Because Yes didn't tend to get what was perceived as their props from The Rolling Stone Album Guide, it was common for threads to eventually work around to become lengthy bashes of that book and its writers. Most of the complaints were fairly commonplace, but every so often somebody would have an interesting point to make along these lines. One of these points referred to the overwhelming number of Frank Zappa albums that got ratings between **1/2 and ***1/2. The poster suggested that the people who assigned these ratings didn't listen to most of the albums more than once or twice, and he therefore referred to the ratings of **1/2, *** and ***1/2 as the "hell if I know" range.

Well, you know what? I can empathize, and it isn't every day you'll see me sympathizing with Rolling Stone reviewers, because quite a bit of Zappa's output definitely falls into a "hell if I know" category. Like, say, Lumpy Gravy. One prominent reviewer had the ingenious idea to get out of assigning this an actual grade by formally categorizing this as "This is Not Music," and man would it be tempting to do likewise. On, the other hand, there are actually a few stretches on this that are indisputably music, particularly the pieces that bookend the album (a bit of interesting modern classical that starts the album, and an instrumental version of "Take Off Your Clothes When You Dance," from Money, to close it), so that doesn't quite seem right either ...

If you haven't listened to this album, try to imagine a seemingly deliberately random collage of modern classical spliced with bizarre conversations, spliced with some noises that would later appear on Money, spliced with whatever. Goodness me, at least the jam/collage that ended Freak Out! usually had a steady rhythm underpinning it; imagine if the jam had lost the few vestiges of cohesion it possessed and was released on its own, and you'll vaguely approach imagining what this album is like.

The thing is, I don't hate it. I mean, there aren't really any individual parts that are unpleasant, and there's never a moment where I go, "That's it, I can't listen to this anymore." Some of the conversations are fairly pogniant in how inane they are (oh man, the "pick up sticks" bit is painful, because I know too many people who would be capable of actually laughing like that after getting onto that topic), and a lot of the classical and jazz bits are certainly fun to listen to for a couple of minutes. Of course, most of them only last a couple of minutes at the very most, after which the album switches to something completely different.

On the other hand, even though I don't hate it, and like several individual pieces, I can't say I like this much either. In a certain sense this is dense, but it doesn't strike me as the kind of dense that reveals new interesting things with many repeated listens. I've listened to this quite a few times over the years, and I can definitely say that my appreciation for this hasn't grown with each listen. It's not complicated so much as it's just weird; I'm fairly sure that that was Zappa's intent, of course, to just make the most bizarre splicing of all of his "spare parts" that he could, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have to love what he did (I don't think he meant for people to love this either). It's just ... kinda neat, but not neat enough for me to feel like I'll ever have to listen to this again.

In short, I have no idea how I just wrote five paragraphs (albeit very short paragraphs) about Lumpy Gravy and matters related to it. Buy it cheap for the curiousity, but sell it cheap after a couple of listens; that's all the times you'll need to hear it, if your ears are anything like mine.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A musical collage that may blow you away, or it may turn you away

"Lumpy Gravy" is definitely not an ideal place if you are new into Zappa and I would go so far as to say it is perhaps his least accessible work.

It is essentially a musical collage juxtaposed with little bursts of inventive music and tons of hyper strange dialogue between stoned individuals about life the universe and nothing.

These dialogues reminded me of the type of stuff Andy Warhol used in his underground cult movies such as "Trash" where people seriously converse about ridiculous subjects such as; "they get on top of you and just tear you apart", the "one note" conversation, "I hear you've been having trouble with pigs and ponies!" And "the boogie man must be fought", and "now I lay me down to sleep... amen."

Seriously, you are not going to learn too much from this nonsense and it is mildly amusing heard once but not designed for repeated listens.

The transitions are amidst classics such as King Kong that was developed into a much more coherent piece on subsequent albums.

So "LG" is a sound experiment but as inaccessible as this is, its better than The Beatles Revolution 9.

I can stretch 2 stars rating out for Zappaholics but this will really put a lot of people off and understandably so.

It is made for its time in the psychedelic 60s but will have little appeal today unless you are a musical historian or Zappa freak.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars And now we're in it for the music!

Zappa's 66-68 albums were mainly filled with intellectual satire backed up by straightforward 60's pop forms. Compared to those albums, the music on Zappa's first solo takes a giant leap forward and finally reveals his musical genius to me. Next to some poppy, blues and jazz fragments, he demonstrates his interest for modernist composers such as Stravinsky and Varèse, and his capacity to translate that music into a rock context.

Especially when the modernist influences come to the fore, Zappa creates ground-breaking music that kicked-off the RIO scene for real. Scattered throughout this album we get modern-classical music that is often joined with rock drums and other rock instrumentation. It's exactly the kind of thing Univers Zero and many others would start to explore in the next decade. The result isn't always an easy listen. To make for a consistent album there's still too much banter and goofy dialogue inbetween the pieces. There's also too many reminders of the pop music parody that we got served in overdoses on the albums with the Mothers.

Lumpy Gravy wasn't just Zappa's first solo album, it was also his first album to take rock music so clearly into entirely new directions. For me it kicks off Zappa's career for real. From the next year onwards his music would start making sense without requiring the lyric sheet as a guidebook. With great works such as Uncle Meat and Hot Rats as a result.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Third (or maybe fourth, I lose count in Zappa's discography) album, Lumpy Gravy takes off from where the previous two (FO and AF) had left things at, but in this case Frank chose to sidelong suites (not sure they can be called prog epics), which means both tracks are happy- go-lucky pot-pourri, as you've grown used to by now.

Actuyally LG is a little more advanced, still mixing every possible style of popular music, but here Zappa include elements of Edgar Varese, which if course a big step forward, especially in the integration of the modern (electric) symphonic orchestra and choirs in a "rock" album. But the thing is that the mix of "serious" (as in experimental) music with his usual goofy gags and jokes and just about any kind of popular music renders the album an uneasy listen, especially with repeated listens. Indeed if the novelty and fun of the goofy parts are great upon first listen, while his actual music might seem tough, compact and impenetrable, as time goes on, the balance is tipped in the reverse situation: one gets tired of the goofiness (the surprise is gone) and the "serious music slowly unravels its secrets and beauty. And of course once you're into the more progressive entrails of Frank's musical realm, you find the now-almost repulsive goofiness, stopping full enjoyment of his oeuvre. I'm only going to make only one example about this album: the opening and closing surf music are fine (and rather impressive in the instrumentation), but clashing with the almost-standard big band jazz that follows and these sound collages that signals yet another abrupt change.

Can't help but feeling this is a big "N'importe-quoi", something that I'll find in a majority of Zappa's discography. One of my personal 60's Zappa albums, just behind Hot Rats, but this doesn't mean I kept the album in my shelves. I'm just glad I can rent it from my library whenever I feel like it.

Review by Dobermensch
1 stars A major disappointment after the superb 'We're Only in it for the Money'.

The first one minute 40 seconds are good, then it rapidly goes downhill and pretty much stays there. I don't find this weird or experimental - it's just a bunch of cut up meaningless collages carelessly stuck together. The lack of a singer further deteriorates this thankfully short album to nothing more than a failed and sloppily executed experimental album.

The spoken word snippets interspersed with musical interludes simply isn't good enough. It's an unimaginative, directionless mess and all that talk of Stockhausen comparison is just laughable. Particularly grating is the ear screechingly awful laughter 3 minutes into side two which occurs twice in a matter of minutes and has my hand hovering over the OFF button. Give me Beefheart any day.

Oh, and anoher thing Zappa could open his mail with that nose!

At least he didn't sully the band's reputation by retaining 'And the Mothers of Invention' tag.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars "Lumpy Gravy" seems to be an album that you either get it or you don't. Either way, you must admit that there was nothing else like it at the time.

Frank Zappa, along with a few of the Mothers, assembled an orchestra, and recorded his most ambitious album to date. Interspersed with spoken pieces, Zappa created this work of orchestral, rock, jazz, and experimental collages, that remained one of his favorites throughout his life.

The music contains early versions of some songs that would become favorites by his rock ensemble. Oh No, King Kong, and Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance were all born on this album.

The orchestral music, as usual for Frank, tends toward the Stravinsky sound, with a lot of Varese-style noises thrown in. The spoken word pieces, part of the same concept that was used in "Civilization, Phaze III", are amusing, but can get annoying (mostly when Roy Estrada laughs).

Think of this in terms of 1967. Zappa was way ahead of his time.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Lumpy Gravy was released as a Zappa album rather than having the Mothers of Invention tag because, although the music is still composed by Zappa, it's not a band effort and the piece in question isn't really intended for a band context - it's a weird rock and roll doo-wop free jazz orchestral piece with spoken word elements recorded from inside a piano. Segments would end up popping up in the MOI's contemporary work - "Oh No", for example, gets a vocal version on Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

Really, the piece doesn't hang together brilliantly. To be honest, it's more like a grab-bag of Zappa's musical ideas with the spoken word parts breaking the different musical bits up - so there's some surf rock here, some tape experiments there, and the piano people are like the interludes between them. On that level, it's more of a musical manifesto than an album proper. There's a somewhat heavier emphasis on orchestral pieces, but fans of classical pieces would probably be better served by The Yellow Shark, on which the compositions are more than a minute or two long each. Worth a spin, but only if you're already a hardcore Zappa fan.

Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars " The way I see it Barry, this should be a very dynamite show " and what a zany, zany display of complex music and drug-fuelled banter it is. I adore this recording - I even bought the red T-Shirt featuring the album cover on it whilst on holiday in New York....anyway, Zappa composed this very strange and unique album with the idea of conducting an orchestra of sorts, so he assembled the 'Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra (& chorus)' featuring many performers, playing on both Rock and Orchestral instrumentation, with much dialogue scattered throughout. However, this is a far cry from the famous 'group and orchestra' recordings we tend to be more familiar with. On the original LP there are no titled sub-sections, just 'Lumpy Gravy' - Part 1 (15.45) and Part 2 (15.56). With this I'll describe the first half of Part one, quite possibly as disjointed as the parts are constructed and put together, and maybe, just maybe, you'll latch onto this weird and wonderful creation from one of the 20th century's greatest composers. Well, he is/was/always will be. Opening with said quote at the start of this review, the first music heard is a sort of surf music with brass eventually joining in. This merges into a brief orchestral link then into a jazzy piece with piano introducing the familiar themes of 'Oh No' - an instrumental piece here, which gradually appeared in a vocal version on the excellent 'Weasel's Ripped My Flesh' album. This song is jazzy and includes intelligent use of odd time sigs and varying instrumentation. What evolves after this is a comedic collage of sounds and a woman advocating 'dark clothes'. More loopy conversation follows - the guys here sound well and truly 'baked'. Then we get a brief sample of Dixieland jazz, some amusing, almost oriental sounding music, with more sounds, like coughing recorded at high speeds (which I find hilarious - well, I'm immature - so what...), a cartoon-like ditty and then back into 'Oh No'. Part 2 features extended avant-garde, free-form orchestral bits (which can get a little tedious) and more off-the-wall dialogue (with someone laughing like a rabid turkey, I always have a chuckle myself) and finishes off with a psychey/surfy version of 'Let's Make The Water Turn Black' - correction, 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance' (from the equally creative 'We're Only In It For The Money' album). This is such an unusual album, a real one-off - 4 bright stars.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars In the liner notes there's a picture of Frank with a cartoon caption above his head asking "Is this phase 2 of : "We're Only In It For The Money ?"". Well if this is the sister album to that one it's the more experimental and avant-garde version. I think any album that brings something new to the musical universe deserves extra marks even if it might not be that enjoyable. I do enjoy this a lot by the way, i'm just sayin'. Frank basically made two side long suites that combined lots of orchestral / Chamber styled music and humerous spoken word sections that were spliced and edited in the studio. Yes we also get Rock music in here too and other styles, but we get two long collages as it were that was not previously done before. No wonder Frank pointed to this as his favourite album from those he released. FAUST would later make something similar but of a different flavour with their debut.

"Lumpy Gravy Part One" opens with some simple guy saying "The way i see it Barry, this should be a dynamite show". The music kicks in and I especially like the "Oh No" musical section from after 2 minutes to after 3 1/2 minutes and that will be reprised later before 8 minutes. Orchestral 13 1/2 minutes in to the end.

"Lumpy Gravy Part Two" opens with spoken words and bizarre sounds. Some insane laughter before 3 minutes and later that always makes me laugh. Orchestral after 4 1/2 minutes then spoken words comes in before 6 minutes. Haha this is funny. More orchestra / chamber styled music follows. A beat as it changes after 7 minutes. Spoken words after 9 minutes but it's mostly music until before 14 minutes when a spoken word segment returns. Music ends it.

A big thankyou to Man With Hat for recommending this and Tom Ozric for his thoughts as well.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First Frank Zappa record without carrying The Mothers Of Invention name. Well, it was really quite obvious.

This album, as you could expect after the first couple of Mothers albums.

The title of the album carry a bit more than just Lumpy Gravy, in fact it is: Frank Vincent Zappa conducts Lumpy Gravy FZ/Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.

Two parts, one each side, almost 16 minutes each, many orchestral moments mixed with crazy sounds and crazy ideas. Including some noise, Avant Garde, Concrete Music, Surf Music and many weird dialogues. That's what you'll get with [Album10129]. It's like Zappa wants to prove that classical music and 'ordinary music' could be joined together and that he could create a new kind of classical music. Well, in a way he did it!

Honestly I don't enjoy the album 100%, cause there's too much experimentalism for me, but, I do agree that was an important step for Zappa to do it.

A worthy 3 stars!

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars Although all the albums by The Mothers Of Invention are unfairly billed to FRANK ZAPPA as a solo artist these days, LUMPY GRAVY is the first true solo release that FRANK created during his spare time while simultaneously recording and touring with The Mothers. Unlike anything released before or after this is a strange album of orchestral, electric and music concrete with snippets of this and snippets of that all strewn together along with some serious period dialogue that is a great way to hear how the underground types spoke in 1967. Due to legal restrictions ZAPPA only conducted the orchestra because he wasn't allowed to actually play anything. Technically this is a concept that is supposed to tie in with the posthumously released "Civilization Phaze III" which was all recorded at the same time as "We're Only In It For The Money."

This strange avant-garde album was heavily influenced by John Cage and Edgar Varese musically but there is also some surf rock at the end. Basically there are two sound collage tracks where snippets of music trade off with strange noises, bursts of avant-garde sonic enthusiasm and dialogue between apparently stoned 60s counterculture types who seem to muse over strange quandaries and crack themselves up in the process. The album is one that i wrote off in the beginning as too weird like many others probably have but after exposing myself to the world of abstract classical music and more of ZAPPA's stranger albums i have to say that this one has grown on me past the point of being a collector's item only.

Although this will never be a daily listening experience it has some interestingly bizarre stuff going on that can deliver a new experience with every listen. I prefer to pull this out every couple of years just because it really does have a musical vibe unlike anything else i've heard. It's only a half hour long so doesn't overstay its welcome. It displays a lot of ZAPPA traits, namely his influence from the 20th century classical world as well as his zany sense of humor and and desire to experiment. It also displays his workaholic tendencies and his ability to improvise his ideas around the demands of the record industry which would eventually frustrate him enough to start his own label. Good but not great. Definitely not the place to begin your ZAPPA journey!

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars This early release by Zappa is a combination of quirky instrumentals, usually cycling between bright bouncy rhythms, and jarring textural pieces that are moody or dark. Instrumentation favors strings and horns and percussion, such as vibraphone. In addition, nearly half of the album is made of bizarre conversation snippets that are sometimes banal, sometimes funny, or sometimes crazy.

The music is totally scattershot; there is no structure, no sense of individual "song," and no real direction. Lumpy Gravy is like stream of conscious weirdness that transitions every minute or so. Since each part is 15 minutes, you can see that this makes for a ton of variety, and that it will also kill any chance that you'd want to play Lumpy Gravy when you have company over. Sometimes sections are played at increased speeds, backwards, upside down, and every other weird way that Zappa and his production group could imagine.

Part 1 begins with this combination of elements, giving way to a fast paced and dramatic pacing at the half-way point, sounding sort of like the score to a dramatic sound track. We then transition into a conversation about a guy working at a gas station, snorting sounds, a lush string arrangement, then a murder-mystery style score.

Part 2 gives us four minutes of more bizarre dialogue, moving to scary string textures, woodwind wanderings, a discussion about the music of pigs and horse manes, and a preview of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance," to be heard on Zappa's next release.

So what to make of all this? While it would be unfair to judge Lumpy Gravy as being a poor release, I do think that this level of weirdness doesn't help create a memorable or exciting album. We're Only In It For The Money is weird, and I gave it 5 stars. Lumpy Gravy comes across as being weird more for weirdness' sake. The end result isn't captivating enough to draw the listener in as anything more than a novelty. It entertains, but not in the long term, because none of the musical moments or compositions are given breathing room or hooks or riffs or anything really, to help them stick with you. It's a fine snapshot of '60's avant garde, but is probably not going to change your life.

This makes Lumpy Gravy entertaining in the short term, and probably very important to Zappa's development, but not an album that will receive much play in your collection. It's important to note that Zappa doesn't sing or play on the album, which may disappoint or surprise those coming from his more approachable albums. This is the kind of album that will make your girl-friend or wife leave the room. Sometimes that may not be such a bad thing after all.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: NA - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Kempokid
2 stars Throughout his career, Frank Zappa made many high quality albums, this is not one of those albums. Structurally, it is quite an interesting effort, essentially being 2 collages of various musical textures and ideas, the issue being that these range from really fun, interesting surf rock type pieces and interesting, experimental soundscapes, to extended conversations talking about basically nothing, providing a major case of inconsistency. Credit where credit is due, I definitely find some of the concepts here to be really interesting and good, particularly the first 5 or 6 minutes of 'Part 1', which gave me high hopes for the rest, being some fun avant garde goodness, with the strange conversation being quite funny as well. The issue is that the subsequent conversations throughout the album don't have this same kind of charm, and instead stop what little momentum was being built, all before going into another section, often sounding awful and full of random noises, such as some really unappealing snorting.

I feel that despite the impressive feat of editing this is, the music has such little coherence and such little musicality in many parts, that it just becomes incredibly boring by the second half, since you basically know what you're going to get, more random noises, with the occasional moment of inspiration, before disappearing quickly to move onto another ill conceived idea. And this lack of cohesion and surprising predictability in something so labyrinthine in nature is a large part of the reason why this album just doesn't work, as it definitely needed to be edited, cut and fixed up in multiple places in order to have this work. This is definitely an extremely poor choice for anyone who wants to get into Zappa's discography, and that they should definitely pick basically any other album from this general era of Zappa.

Verdict: An absolute mess with some really great, fun moments spread throughout, but overall don't save the album from ending up being really boring in parts. I'd only recommend this to those who are big fans of the kind of experimentation that takes place here, or for those who are very interested in Zappa's music, otherwise, just don't bother with this.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I only discovered this amazing album upon embarking upon my recent historical research into the advent of the "prog epic" (long-playing multi-part songs or "suite" as well as extended jams and side-long songs). I absolutely love the music here: so much fusion and experimentation within so many musical genres, including jazz, big band jazz, cinematic scoring, classical, Latin, avant-garde, and, of course, rock and pop. As everyone knows, the music is presented within the flow of a kind of burlesque of the mundane life of the Everyman. At first I thought that the album-long radioplay was intended to serve as the interludes for the music, but now I'm almost convinced that the music serves more as the cinematic interludes within the burlesque. My reason for this conversion is due to the extraordinary amount of editing and overdubbing and sound effects applied to the spoken word passages. I mean, yes, the music is intricate and complex--and often stunningly beautiful--but the radioplay is even more so. Plus, the amount of time dedicated to the wacky dialogue scenes (or skits--which HAD to have inspired/motivated future comic legends, Cheech and Chong) eventually exceeds that given to the music! Because of my reverence for all things Cheech and Chong, the excellent (and highly inventive) engineering and production here, as well as for the often-jaw- dropping, envelope-pushing music, I am fully persuaded to give this album full marks. People! This was early 1967 (though the record company delayed the official release date to May of 1968)! The progressive progression to the phenomenon we like to call progressive rock music doesn't get more progressive than this!

Latest members reviews

3 stars Review #139 After the three first albums with THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION, Frank ZAPPA launched his first solo album "Lumpy gravy"; Frank ZAPPA's music was always characterized for being highly experimental and eclectic, always filled with weird comedy and bizarre noises here and there that gave ... (read more)

Report this review (#2634903) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Fasten your seatbelts, people...It's Lumpy Gravy. The notorious early experimental album from the mad mind of Frank Zappa. I suppose this is one of those albums you either get or not get. Put me down for the latter. This is a mixed up collage of dialogue snippets, short pieces of music ... (read more)

Report this review (#2189501) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, April 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars "Lumpy Gravy" by Frank Zappa was a weird record which I both liked and disliked. It is Frank Zappa's third record and it was released 1967. It is a short record, made as two fifteen minutes parts of experimental music. We see a big picture of the musicians himself on the cover and on the record ... (read more)

Report this review (#1280360) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you want a summation of Frank Zappa's style of music in one album, perhaps this is the one for you. It's all over the place, with short bursts of music, followed by talking, and weird noises. It shows how diverse and goofy this guy was. At only 32 or so minutes, this is a brisk, but fun, ... (read more)

Report this review (#456682) | Posted by Buh | Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm really surprised by the low scores here. For me, this is the essential Zappa album, and the Rosetta Stone that unlocks all of what came after. Sure, it's not as rock and roll as the Mothers albums of the same period, but it IS the beginning of conceptual continuity, and is self-evidently a te ... (read more)

Report this review (#170308) | Posted by RMoody | Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album (together with The Grand Wazoo actually) sealed my faith as a Zappa fan, I really enjoy the snippet formula, where elements and bits of clasical and pop music are seamingly randomly glued together with bits of spoken text, random discussion and verses, really fascinating to listen to. ... (read more)

Report this review (#163325) | Posted by tuxon | Thursday, March 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The way I see it, Barry, this should be a very dynamite show... The weird stuff from maestro Zappa. If you don't like enjoyable music this album is perfect for you! While listening to Lumpy Gravy you must remember, this stuff is from the sixties; Zappa did very good job recording such strictly ... (read more)

Report this review (#161026) | Posted by Gilo | Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I give this 4 stars, although, with the years, it came to be one of my favourites in Zappa collection. This is Frank's first solo album and it couldn't be more underground. I'm sure he wanted it this way. Hermetic, strange, misterious, theatrical, full of absurd dialogues, complex arrangements o ... (read more)

Report this review (#158483) | Posted by Megaphone of Destiny | Sunday, January 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars And now for something completely different... Frank Zappa's first solo album, Lumpy Gravy, was a departure. The question is from what, with myself of the opinion it is a departure from music to some extent. This is a very short Zappa piece, about thirty minutes long, and is only two songs, thou ... (read more)

Report this review (#135801) | Posted by cookieacquired | Saturday, September 1, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is hard to grasp! I remember the first time I heard "Lumpy Gravy", I remained with Louie the Turkey laughter in my ears. I couldn't understand why, this was supposed to be a music album. It's strange, hermetic, lumpy and, in the end, after some hearings, absolutely brilliant. Zappa said tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#100263) | Posted by Megaphone of Destiny | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This Is Not Music I do not have the habit to write reviews (mainly because English is not easy to me), but i feel i should give a warning about this cd. the noises in it cannot be considered as Music. I am a dedicated Zappa fan for many years but i still don't know what on earth this cd meant ... (read more)

Report this review (#96015) | Posted by n_navaro | Friday, October 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Is your favorite Beatles track called 'Revolution 9'? If the answer is yes then this is the album for you, of course that also means you're nuts, but that's another matter. I'm sure this album has some historical value but Zappa was probably just ripping off his avant garde heroes here, not th ... (read more)

Report this review (#62527) | Posted by | Saturday, December 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Zappa's Thick as a Brick? Heh, well this is Frank Zappa's first solo outing. Seemingly forgotten throughout the legendary span of Mothers' material in the late '60's, it's amazing how much that Lumpy Gravy foreshadows in Zappa's career. Zappa's dissonant and highly melodic orchestration is very we ... (read more)

Report this review (#38702) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Zappa decided to create Lumpy Gravy becaus ehe really wanted to be a freaky composer, known for his compositions. He didn't want to be known as a rock musician, but he wanted to freak out as much people as he could. Zappa recruited a decent orchestra to do his bidding, the Abnuceals Emukkha ... (read more)

Report this review (#35681) | Posted by Retrovertigo | Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars WOW, I just this album two days ago and all I can say is this album is absolutely genius. The way Zappa arranged out all the many amazing sections of orchestral, electronic, rock, etc. is phenomenal. I would really give this a 4.5 stars if I could because some inconcsistency with the spoken wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#35404) | Posted by | Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Like a lot of the early Mothers works Its hard to know what to make of this album, its insane yet brilliant, the best best words have already been said by Bryan Adair- "Albums like this make you amazed that the man never did drugs" ... (read more)

Report this review (#29404) | Posted by | Friday, December 24, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I agree with most of what is said before, but I would rank this higher, (I guess I must be one of the "Fans of Frank's quirky, weirder side"). The ammount of inane chatter in this album put me off at first but I've got used to it and see it now as an essential part of the composition, (The chatter r ... (read more)

Report this review (#29398) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of FRANK ZAPPA "Lumpy Gravy"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.