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Frank Zappa Sheik Yerbouti album cover
3.90 | 603 ratings | 35 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Have Been in You [Live *] (3:33)
2. Flakes [Live *] (6:41)
3. Broken Hearts Are for Assholes [Live *] (3:42)
4. I'm So Cute [Live - soundcheck *] (3:09)
5. Jones Crusher [Live $] (2:49)
6. What Ever Happened to All the Fun in the World (0:33)
7. Rat Tomago [Live %] (5:15)
8. Wait a Minute (0:33)
9. Bobby Brown Goes Down [Live *] (2:49)
10. Rubber Shirt (2:45)
11. The Sheik Yerbouti Tango [Live %] (3:56)
12. Baby Snakes [Live *] (1:50)
13. Tryin' to Grow a Chin [Live *] (3:31)
14. City of Tiny Lites [Live *] (5:32)
15. Dancin' Fool [Live *] (3:43)
16. Jewish Princess [Live $] (3:16)
17. Wild Love [Live *] (4:09)
18. Yo' Mama [Live *] (12:36)

* Recorded at the Odeon Hammersmith, London , January 1978
$ Recorded at the Palladium, NYC , October 1977
% Recorded Live at the Deutschland Halle, Berlin , February 1978

Total Time 70:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / lead guitar, lead vocals (1-3,9,12,15-18), arranger & producer

- Adrian Belew / rhythm guitar, lead vocals (2,5,14)
- Tommy Mars / keyboards, backing vocals (17)
- Peter Wolf / keyboards
- Patrick O'Hearn / bass, lead (3,10) & backing (6,8) vocals
- Terry Bozzio / drums, lead (3,4,10,13) & backing (6,8,17) vocals
- Ed Mann / percussion, backing vocals
- David Ocker / clarinet (17)
- Napoleon Murphy Brock / backing vocals (17)
- Randy Thornton / backing vocals (17)
- Davey Moire / backing vocals (6,8), engineer
- Andre Lewis / backing vocals

Releases information

Recordings from 1977-78 mostly Live (while heavily overdubbed) with some studio material

Artwork: Lynn Goldsmith (photo) with John Wiliams (art direction)

2xLP Zappa Records ‎- SRZ-2-1501 (1979, US)

CD EMI ‎- CDP 7 90076 2 (1986, UK)
CD Rykodisc ‎- RCD 40162 (1990, US) Remastered by Bob Stone
CD Zappa Records ‎- ZR 3859 (2012, US) Mastered by Bob Ludwig from original 1978 Analog Master

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA Sheik Yerbouti ratings distribution

(603 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FRANK ZAPPA Sheik Yerbouti reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Zappa trying to go commercial as he is more and more including tits and ass into his text to appeal to sex-hungry kids. Not that I didn't find it funny when a teenager, but it never made me buy an album of his, but was able to borrow them from a friend who loved that scatological humour stuff. You can guess that my friends threw themselves onto this one album and Joe's Garage for kicks and thrills. Behind the disco "Shake Your Body" pun, this album is definitely one of Frank's best selling album, despite it being a double-disc affair.

Opening on the openly sexual I Have Been In You and the arduous Flakes, the album takes a plunge in my esteem with Broken Hearts, well known by all teenagers chanting the "you're an asshole" and the "Ram It Up Your Poop Chute" lines in the high school corridors or at morning breaks. Another easy cheap shot is the slightly doo-wopish Bobby Brown with semi-hilarious and salacious lyrics, but we're a far cry from Sleep Dirt. Baby Snakes, Dancing Fool, Jewish Princess, Bobby Brown, Yerbouti are among the best-known songs of Zappa, and all are good (sometimes fun) tracks, adding some lesser-known funks (the excellent Grow A Chin and the City Of Tiny Lites) that adds substance to this double-disc extravaganza.

When not taking the easy "sex-and-[&*!#]" road, Frank pulls a mean guitar solo (Rat Tornago or the Yerbouti title track) or a good "Pastorius" bass solo (Rubber Shirt) or an extended solo showpiece like Yo Mama to please the kids not convinced by the crap he dealt us elsewhere (I was one of these). This took major pokes at the disco stuff polluting the airwaves of the times, so I still have a soft spot for it. Even though this album fails to captivate me nowadays, it might be enjoyed by those looking for musical smut. Not all is bad in Yerbouti, and even I will re-listen to this album once in a while with renewed interest, trying to forget the cheap tricks pulled in the present.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the album that started all! (the neo Frank Zappa) This double LP is one of the most accessible of the Zappa's albums. Catchy lead and backing vocals are omnipresent. Many songs are mellow; it seems Zappa took a break here regarding the complexity of the compositions. It is the first time that he uses so many vocals, and he will keep this style during all the mid-eighties! There is a new band's staff on this record and the sound is totally changed ! It sounds like "Joes Garage". Sometimes there are heavier songs with guitar full of distortion (BROKEN HEARTS ARE FOR ASSHOLES). There are still percussions exhibition (Wild love), and we can feel all the power of the keyboards in "Yo mama", which will become their sound trademark on the next albums, especially "Tinseltown...".
Review by loserboy
3 stars I have always had a soft spot for the zany music of Frank ZAPPA and "Sheik Yerbouti" was just one of those albums... you know what I mean. This albums contains some of ZAPPA's most beloved tunes including "Bobby Brown", "Flakes" and "Yo' Mama". One of my personal favorite all time ZAPPA tunes if "Rat Tomago" which offers some fabulous raging guitar and a superb groove. This is one of those albums which you essentially must wear while you listen. On this album Adrian Belew makes a few guest appearances as well. ... "Take It Away Bob"
Review by daveconn
3 stars More masterfully overdubbed live performances of new material, rife with ribaldry and politically incorrect observations. Sure the squirm factor is high, but there's a salacious genius at work in "Jewish Princess" and "Wild Love" that won't be dismissed on merely moral grounds. Along with adding some new fodder to the ZAPPA canon ("Bobby Brown", "Baby Snakes", "Dancin' Fool"), "Sheik Yerbouti" is notable for the introduction of new members Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), Peter Wolf (keyboards) and Tommy Mars (keyboards) into the fold. Belew would leave soon after, but not before putting his indelible stamp on songs like "City of Tiny Lights", "Jones CRUSHer" and "Flakes." Terry Bozzio also proves to be a passable singer, raving along like Roger Taylor on "I'm So Cute" and "Tryin' To Grow A Chin." What's most impressive about "Sheik Yerbouti" is the live/studio hybrid it becomes; if you weren't told, you wouldn't know that these tracks originated on stage. ZAPPA had become a master manipulator, creating remarkable monsters like "Rubber Shirt" (which fuses separate drum and bass tracks into an 11/4 frankenstein) and "Yo' Mama" (which pastes a guitar solo from a different recording into the proceedings). However, ZAPPA's later recordings sometimes embrace their novelty appeal a little too readily for my tastes. A lot of the material is funny, but the lyrics too often draw attention away from the music (in part through a conscious complicity that strips back the arrangements during the "funny" parts). So what results is an all or nothing split: you either get the funny social critic or the ferocious lead guitarist. The "funny" is what sells records, though, and "Sheik Yerbouti" sold remarkably well for a double album of demented rock. I find that this only picks up momentum at the end, and could have provided as many memorable moments at half the size, but it's the nature of ZAPPA's genius that he polish everything into gold regardless of its original merit. Luckily, this fits onto a single disc, where you can skip around to the choice parts if you want, which is usually what I end up doing.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An uneven but none the less captivating album from the master of bizarre Frank Zappa. Utilizing his ensemble in many odd and interesting ways, this album has a mock disco feel and has a more commercial approach. This album is the only studio album to feature the guitar and vocal talents of Adrian Belew who adds his flare and musical charm before his ventures with the Talking Heads and King Crimson. Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf cover the keyboards, and what a job they do, expansive, tasteful, and full of texture are what to expect from them on this album. Patrick O'Hearn takes bass duties and plays cohesively with long-time member Terry Bozzio, who drums and sings his heart out on this album.

Songs worth mentioning are Broken Hearts are for Assholes, City of Tiny Lites, Baby Snakes, Bobby Brown Goes Down, and Tryin' To Grow A Chin. Broken Hearts begins with an agressive and full throttle guitar riff and Bozzio screaming at the top of his lungs. Later, the song evolves into a vocal suite with Zappa repeating the mantra, "Ram it up your poop chute". City of Tiny Lites has a funky organ riff and some great vocals from Belew, and features a great unison guitar solo between Zappa and Belew. Baby Snakes features more full throttle guitar riffs, and some unnaturally high pitch vocals repeating "Baby Snakes" while Frank Zappa answers their calls. Bobby Brown Goes Down is a capitvating and nonetheless bizarre tune about how a man's life can go the exact opposite of what he wanted, with the chorus of "God I am the American Dream". Tryin' To Grow a Chin features more Bozzio vocal madness, this time taking form of a young man who wanted to be like the older kids. In the end, he would have a chin that would be seldom rivalled.

Overall, the audacity and bizarre songs are captivating and are a joy to listen to. However, some of the songs are utterly pointless, and the 12 minute Yo Mama gets tedious and boring during the guitar interlude. Otherwise, this is a good album that all Zappa fans should own. 4/5.

Review by horza
5 stars The first Zappa track I ever heard was 'City of tiny lights' on the Old Grey Whistle Test. Superb. Zappa's ouput matched that of the British Steel Industry,and Britain might still have a steel industry if it had kept up with Frankie boy. Of all his albums, this is my favourite. It also gave me and my future wife something to talk about. How many of you out there have a spouse or partner who, like you, also owned this opus? Each and EVERY track is a gem, at times hilarious, and at others spellbinding. Frank Zappa could play guitar as 'Rat Tomago' testifies. Poker nights at my house are never boring with 'Sheik Yerbouti' on in the background.
Review by Chris H
5 stars Ahhh, another good old Frank Zappa album for me to review, and what an album this is! Although I say that every Zappa album could be my favorite of all time, this is definitely up high on the list. From FZ's masterful guitar works to Belew's soulful singing to Bozzio's fierce yelps and howls, this album just reeks of greatness. But enough about the album, here is my song-to-song review. (LP format!)

Side 1: The whole album is started by "I Have Been in You", which is Zappa's take on a ballad. Don't get me wrong, it's not about true love, its more about intimate things. Zappa actually can get his voice nice-enough for a ballad, but Belew handles more of the higher stuff. A nice track, as some traces of FZ's guitar can be caught halfway through the song when he brings a solo to the table. "Flakes" is the next song, and it is quite an interesting piece as it switches melodies about 3 times during the near 7 minutes the song runs for. The beginning has some nice vocal progressions, but the ending is much better, as FZ slashes away again and makes my day brighter. "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes" is a track that has shared vocals between Zappa, Terry Bozzio, and Patrick O'Hearn. It opens wildly, with Bozzio screaming and yelping, but then calms down as Zappa takes the microphone. But not for long, because Bozzio comes back and Zappa unleashes some heavy riffs. This is truly an awesome song! "I'm So Cute" ends this side, and it is the best example of Terry Bozzio's preferred style of singing there is. He screams, shouts and growls through this whole number about how cute he is, but somehow he turns it into a really good song.

Side 2: The second side starts off with "Jones Crusher", a 2 minute track that features Adrian Belew as the lead vocalist. Some nice guitar work, and the lyrics make me laugh every time. "What Ever Happened To All The Fun In The World" is just a half-minute comedic interruption that neither adds or takes anything away from the overall album. "Rat Tomago" is an excellent instrumental piece that was recorded at the Deutschland Halle in Berlin. Excellent guitar work again, this is one of the best jams I have heard in a long time. "We've Got To Get Into Something Real" is another half- minute comedy piece that has no meaning, just substance. "Bobby Brown" is one of the most vile and criminally disturbing songs I think i have ever heard, but somehow this song managed to be one of my guilty pleasures. look past the 'rated R' lyrics and you will find some awesome instrumental work. "Rubber T-Shirt" is centered around a Patrick O'Hearn bassline taken to the limit. The second of three instrumentals on this side, it brings a little extra musicianship to the table than the normal FZ soloing. "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" ends this side of the album, and it is a continuation on "Rubber T-Shirt" with a more accessible melody and less hard-edged bass.

Slide 3: The third side beings with the weird "Baby Snakes". FZ's guitar shines brightly here, as it keeps the song in balance with its heavy riffs as the song title is sung in a weird high-pitched voice alteration. Bozzio's voice breaks right out as the next track, "Tryin' To Grow A Chin" comes out with no rest in-between. The lyrics are the highlight of this track, as the chorus (I wanna be dead, in bed, please kill me, cause that would thrill me) is one the most recognized choruses in rock history. "City Of Tiny Lights" is another Belew sung track. While I think his vocals are a little strained here, it still brings a nice element of change to this side while the sound effects go nuts in the background. FZ comes in with an amazing solo halfway through and it is truly shocking to hear such an amazing solo in this song because the mood is rather down before the solo starts. "Dancin' Fool" starts with FZ's fast singing voice, then kicks into a chorus filled with percussion and nothing else besides a nice beat by Bozzio. "Jewish Princess" opens up with a kazoo improv of traditional Jewish music, but then gets really dirty from there. Dubbed one of the dirtiest love songs of all time, this is a song that resembles "Bobby Brown" but lacks the musicianship. Worst song on the whole album, but still tolerable.

Side 4: The shortest side of the album, side four only contains two songs, "Wild Love" and "Yo Mama". "Wild Love" starts off, and is the third sick and wrong song on this album, but once again it still remains a good song! "Yo Mama", at 12:38 long, is the best track on the album so it is only fitting it closes it. It opens up with a flurry of percussions but then mellows out for a few verses. FZ gets the guitar out plays a very heavy-yet- beautiful solo that reminds me of "Watermelon In Easter Hay" off of the 'Guitar' album.

So, as you can tell by my rave review, I am completely in love with this album. Virtually every song is a masterpiece (with the exception of "Jewish Princess" and "City Of Tiny Lights") and the album as a whole is of unholy greatness. No less than 5 stars is appropriate!

Review by fuxi
3 stars Hey there people, I'm just another guy who grew up in 1970s Belgium and who's now stuck forever with the picture of innocent 17-year old Flemish girls trying hard to sing along to "Bobby Brown", lyric sheet in hand, because they thought Zappa was incredibly cool. Unfortunately, they didn't have a clue what 75% of the song was about - and neither did I. No wonder "Bobby Brown" became a number one hit in Norway...

These days, I find tracks such as "Flakes" and "City of Tiny Lites" infinitely more compelling. Especially "Flakes", because (a) it's one of Zappa's very best takes on the old "Louie, Louie"; (b) it's one of his most triumphant "rock operas in a nutshell"; (c) it features Adrian Belew's hilarious parody of Mr Bob Dylan...

Another unforgettable piece is "Yo' Mama", not just because it's a cute (and superbly orchestrated) song, but also because it features one of Frank's most memorable guitar solos. Usually, I'm not too crazy about Frank's guitar, but "Yo' Mama" sounds superb.

Whatever you may feel when you come to SHEIK YERBOUTI for the first time, the album certainly won't bore you. It may not be a masterpiece on the level of ONE SIZE FITS ALL or ROXY AND ELSEWHERE, but if has a bit of everything: funny voices, zany pop songs, punk parodies, even a handful of avant-garde moments. A fascinating kaleidoscope of an album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is one of my favourite Zappa albums, mostly because it's filled with comedy and lots of guitar solos. This one just makes me laugh everytime, I know it's one of his more commercial recordings but I can't help myself (haha). Great to hear Adrian Belew as well on vocals and guitar.

As usual Frank is taking shots at people, starting with Peter Frampton's "I'm In You" album(1977) which really sucked by the way. This song "I Have Been In You" is mellow, almost 50's sounding to start with thanks in part to the background vocals. 2 minutes in it sounds more like seventies soft rock. "Flakes" changes styles a few times before it's over. I like the Bob Dylan impersonation including the harmonica. "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes" is uptempo with lots of guitar and it's very funny. I like when the guy shouts 1,2,3,4 purposely in the wrong place. And the word "poop-chute" gets used a lot. "I'm So Cute" features Bozzio on lead vocals. This has a punk flavour to it when he shouts out the lyrics. "Jones Crusher" has Belew on lead vocals this time. Not a fan of this one. "What Ever Happened To All The Fun In The World" is 33 seconds of humour. I like the guy's laugh. "Rat Tomago" is an instrumental with some great raw, aggressive guitar throughout. Incredible. "Wait A Minute" is a short conversation. "Bobby Brown" is just too funny. One of the most hilarious songs i've ever heard.

"Rubber Shirt" has a fat bass solo that was overdubbed in the studio. It sounds pretty amazing anyway, like he's trying out for the position of bass player in MAGMA, or something like that. "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" features a terrific scorching guitar solo that goes on and on. "Baby Snakes" is an uptempo track with lots of high pitched vocals along with Zappa's singing. "Tryin' To Grow A Chin" has Bozzio on vocals again. He's aggressive and theatrical singing on this one. Xylophone to open this fast paced song. I really like the last minute or more of this one. "City Of Tiny Lights" has Belew back on lead vocals. Some ripping guitar after 2 minutes. "Dancin' Fool" is a classic that i'm sure everybody knows. "Jewish Princess" has some crude lyrics. "Wild Love " has lots of xylophone as well as clarinet later. "Yo' Mamma" is the over 12 minute closer that is dominated by a very long guitar solo in the middle that is huge. Amazing tune. Amazing guitar.

This would be in my top ten favourite Zappa albums. Cool cover as well.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars "Flakes! Flakes! They can't fix yer brakes You ask 'em, "Where's my motor?" "Well it was eaten by snakes . . .""

Sheik Yerbouti, get it? Zappa's tribute to the disco era of sorts, though he wasn't through making fun of disco after this one. Possibly one of Zappa's dirtiest albums, lyrics wise. But there are plenty of songs that are just plain funny. Flakes is a personal favorite, particularly the Bob Dylan imitation. Ah, but then you have Broken Hearts Are For A-holes. And Bobby Brown is extremely nasty. A character who starts out as a jerk and well, pretty much ends up one. I'll spare you the gory details, but there's some S&M going on. Thanks to this album when I hear the name Bobby Brown, I don't think of the R&B singer. Then there's what is probably one of the second most shortest progressive songs in my collection: Whatever Happened To All The Fun In The World, clocking in at 33 seconds, were it not for We've Got To Get Into Something Real at 32.

This album is also noteable for being Adrian Belew's big break along with the companion film, Baby Snakes. Hell, Dancin' Fool made it all the way up to #21 in the U.S. This was my second Zappa acquisition and one of my favorites to this day. Most of the songs aren't suitable for airplay, and that's really what appealed to me when I first heard it. And the excellent musicianship doesn't hurt either.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars An interesting album to me, as it is technically a live album, even though you wouldn't know it until the end.

What we have here is a two LP collection of music that's been compiled onto one disc. All of the songs except the two thirty minute segues came from Frank's live act. Do not worry, though, if live albums aren't your thing: this honestly sounds just like a studio album. The mixing and mastering are as good as can be asked for, and the recording quality is remarkable for a live presentation. The instruments aren't plagued by missed notes or botched performances, the vocals are all in key and exciting, and all the energy you could possibly hope from a live presentation finds its way into the final recording. In short, this live album sounds better than many of its contemporary studio albums.

As far as performers go, this might be one of Frank's tastiest line-ups. Adrian Belew of King Crimson fame takes a number of lead vocals (including a Bob Dylan impersonation in Flakes), as well as contributes his standard fare quality guitar parts. The renowned Terrio Bozzio decides to maul the drums in Zappa's favor here, too, and his rhythm work is definitely some of the best seen on any record from this artist. The remainder of the performers are names I'd never heard before this album, but trust me when I say that they are up to the task of playing all the music that Mr. Zappa laid down for this rather eclectic and unconventional album.

The music, however, is a bit less interesting than it seems to merit. While the songs are catchy and exciting for the most part, absent are the progressive tendencies from early solo Zappa. The jams are much fewer and farther between, mostly taking place in Rat Tomago and Yo' Mama. Rather, for Sheik Yerbouti (a clever pun, I admit), the songs are mostly three to four minute singles-type tracks, vying for the more commercially accessible sound. If I remember correctly, the satirical Dancing Fool ended up being something of a minor disco hit.

Indeed, parody and satire have become the mainstay of the Frank Zappa experience by this point, it seems. Flakes mocks mindless members of the middle class (alliteration unintentional), even claiming that California's got the most of them, Lord they got a host of them. Broken Hearts Are for Assholes is a terribly catchy song with explicit lyrics (surprise, if the title didn't give it away) that mocks whiny rock stars, and even stands today as a spectacular response to the current emo movement. Bobby Brown Goes Down mocks the American dream and obsession with looks, the latter also being the object of I'm So Cute's satire as well. Tryin' to Grow a Chin mocks angsty youth.

In short, Frank Zappa is making fun of people. And that makes for a fun album.

On the whole, though, the music is not as impressive as it seems like it should be. Sure, most of the songs are fun and upbeat. That does not mean, however, that they are high quality and lasting songs. In fact, this is one of those albums that it is very easy to burn out of quickly. So while it is a nice addition to Zappa's discography, and while it's a great starting album for less prog-minded listeners, and while a number of the songs are fun to listen to, in the end it is merely an average album.

Review by The Quiet One
1 stars Strictly Commercial

Sheik Yerbouti was released in 1979 as a double LP, this album features the classic 80s Zappa line-up or at least the same objective that line- up aimed at: this is focusing in only one thing and that is 'humor' and nothing else.

There's barely a track on here, judging by it's composition and musicianship, which can easily be distinguished as a Frank Zappa composition. Everything(almost) on here are just short, childish and clichéd tunes in which the lyrics are the only thing that standout, but not really as a good thing. While I don't mind Zappa making some mainstream or commercial tunes and much less writing humorous lyrics, because he has pulled-off some really good ones before, but what I do mind is that the commercial tunes in here don't feature any Zappa-trademark. Notable exceptions would be the classic City of Tiny Lites which actually rocks with great weird vocals from Adrian Belew, then the absurd, though well-done catchy Dancin' Fool, full of humorous backing vocalists is another classic commercial Zappa song.

As real standouts you really only got Yo' Mama, which presents an 8 minute out-of-this-world guitar solo to chill to; it's energetic, tranquil, powerful but mainly emotional and that's the fruit of it all, what really makes a guitar solo a good one, in my humble opinion. This is what Frank should have made for this album all-through, and what boggles me is that he really was capable of doing it but decided to create a 'just for fun for the musicians' record, and that's what this album really is, you can definitely hear all the musicians on board having a lot of fun making silly jokes, playing simple rock-esque stuff, and so on, but the overall result is annoying, repetitive, non-creative and way below Zappa's standards.

1 star: having only three good tracks on an 18 song album isn't enough for me. If you like satirical rock at its most pure form, check this out, you're surely get a lot out of this. However, I'm someone who prefers satire and humor to be mixed well with well-arranged compositions and interesting musicianship.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The complete Zappa studio concert experience!

After a troublesome time with a bunch of lawsuits and label problems, Frank Zappa finally said goodbye to all that in 1979 when he released Sheik Yerbouti as an independent artist though Zappa Records! This double vinyl album can basically be described as the best Zappa concert experience outside of the actual live recordings. Personally, I would even argue that Sheik Yerbouti is better than a live recording could ever get since most of these basic tracks were recorded live and later got overdubbed in the studio setting. This definitely benefited the recording since it managed to keep most of the original live creativity alive which maintaining crisp '70s studio production values. In other words we get the best of both worlds!

The material on this album is not as one-sided as the one that I previously experienced on Over-Nite Sensation and offers a great retrospectives of almost all of Frank Zappa's best qualities. Shifting between very tight vocal arrangements, lengthy jam moments to avant-garde jazz and everything in between, there's just so many great experiences to gain here! The amounts of excellent moments are so many that I literally hesitate to do a track-by-track review since it would take me at least a few more hours to put down in words everything I love about this album.

I know that I might sound hypocritical for not questioning the lyrics for most of these tunes, which I did so eagerly in my review of Over-Nite Sensation, but I actually have no problem with them as long as there is so much other exciting stuff happening simultaneously with the vocal delivery. Actually, even the vocal performances are much better executed here since we often get to hear entertaining backing vocals arrangements and other crazy interplays between the singers in the band! It's almost like listening to a live performance of Queen but without having to sit through some of their more straightforward compositions.

Sheik Yerbouti is easily one of the most entertaining albums that I've had the privilege of experiencing. This album really makes me feel like Frank Zappa stripped all of his previous restrains and delivered one of the most passionate performances of his career. This is why I can't give it anything less than the essential rating recommendation, but don't just take my word for it. Get this album today and experience it for yourself!

***** star songs: I Have Been In You (3:35) Flakes (6:41) Broken Hearts Are For Assholes (3:43) I'm So Cute (3:09) Bobby Brown Goes Down (2:50) The Sheik Yerbouti Tango (3:56) Baby Snakes (1:50) Tryin' To Grow A Chin (3:31) City Of Tiny Lites (5:32) Wild Love (4:10)

**** star songs: Jones Crusher (2:40) What Ever Happened To All The Fun In The World (0:33) Rat Tomago (5:16) Wait A Minute (0:33) Rubber Shirt (2:45) Dancin' Fool (3:44) Jewish Princess (3:17) Yo' Mama (12:37)

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is one of Zappa's easier to find albums but it is nowhere near his best. Basically the whole album is live recordings with lots of overdubs(mostly vocals) and the audience noises removed. There are a few short pieces here with mainly talking and incidental music in the background. These parts were originally supposed to be on the 4-LP set Lather. This is the only 'studio' album to feature Adrian Belew(before working with Bowie and the T Heads). Drummer/vocalist Terry Bozzio plays here just before joining UK.

It's on Sheik Yerbouti(a pun for the disco crowd) where you really start getting the smutty lyrics that some people love/hate. If that turns you off then stay away from Joe's only gets worse. This is some of Frank's most mainstream and accessible music up to this point. It's still weird though. Songs like "Dancin' Fool" and "Jewish Princess" are good the first few times you listen to them, but they don't hold up after repeated listenings. "Bobby Brown Goes Down" was a #1 single in Norway. I assume most people who bought the single didn't understand English.

"I Have Been In You" is Zappa's response to Peter Frampton's "I'm In You". "Flakes" has some of the best music and lyrics on the album. Belew does a funny Bob Dylan impersonation here. "Jones Crusher" is one of the stranger songs about oral sex("deadly jaws better get the gauze"). Many of the songs are either sung by Belew or Bozzio. In general, this is one of Frank's least progressive offerings. A lot of this would appeal to 14- year old boys.

The progiest songs here are "City Of Tiny Lights" and "Wild Love". The latter, although featuring the Belew/Bozzio line-up, has vocals from former Zappa bandmate Napolean Murphy Brock. There are some instrumentals and studio experiments which are hit-or- miss. Frank began using what he called 'xenochrony' on Zoot Allures. This is where, for example, he will take a guitar solo from a live recording and overdub it into the middle of a studio song. The effect is used here, most noticeably on "Rubber Shirt". As far as music theory goes, it's an interesting idea. But it doesn't always work for the best. But you have to give Frank credit; his experiments may not have always worked, but at least the guy tried!

It's interesting that in interviews Frank talked about having to have lyrics in his songs or else no one would buy his albums. But ironically his lyrics are usually offensive to most people. Zappa was one of the biggest paradoxes in the world of music. Some talk about the Flo & Eddie years as being the lowpoint of Frank's career, but I disagree. I think his music performed/recorded between 1977-1980 was the low point. Or in other words, the stuff released between 1979-1981. He concentrates more on the lyrics rather than the music in this era. I would put Sheik Yerbouti near the end of your Zappa shopping list, although it is one of his easier to get into albums. 3 stars.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars This album kinda disappointed me. This is Zappa's infamous peak of sexual juvenilia, filled to the brim with over-the-top lyrics about s&m, golden showers, anal sex and other delights, set to a backing of assorted styles often used to promote hip-gyration and other dance-like movements (that isn't to say that this album itself is dancable, just that it has things in common with dancable music). Now, I've been rather iffy about Zappa's sexual juvenilia to this point, but I have to say that on this album I buy into the joke hook, line and sinker. The intensity of meta-humor required to sing a line like, "Aw' little girl, there ain't no time to wash yer stinky hand, go 'head 'n' roll over, I'm goin' in you again" or "I'm gonna ram it, ram it, ram it, ram it up yer poop chute" the way Frank does is off the charts, and this album repeatedly makes me choke myself laughing in ways that, say, "Dinah Mo Mum" never ever could. In other words, were this album fully devoted to its reputed cause, it would be rated very highly.

The problem, though, is that this album is inexplicably a double, thus wrecking a perfectly depraved concept by throwing in pointless half-minute interludes like "Whatever Happened to All the Fun in the World" or "Wait a Minute" and instrumental wanks like "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" or "Rat Tomago" or "Rubber Shirt." Not to mention, of course, the decision to shoehorn an eight-minute discordant guitar passage from another performance into the middle of the closing "Yo Mama." I guess that this was done to increase the diversity of the album, but ... if he wanted a diverse album, why would he make the subject matter of so many of the songs similar? Either shoot for a concept album or shoot for a diverse album, I say; aiming for the middle just creates a mess.

So let's sort things out and figure out my ideal version of this 70-odd minute jumble, shall we? The first five tracks are definitely keepers. "I Have Been in You" is a hilarious doo-wop (at the base, anyway) number that has lines like the "Go 'head 'n' roll over" line above, and it does a fine job of pushing across Frank's idea that pop, rock and its cousins are mostly about sex anyway, so we might as well come out and express what's been hiding beneath the surface of the "gentle" lyrics of the genre all along. The following "Flakes," then, is one of the greatest Zappa songs I've ever heard, a return to general misanthropy instead of the misogyny of the rest of the album, and which is just so dense that I can't help but admire it tremendously. It starts as a rock (sorta) rant about flakey people popping up in all parts of life, then turns its focus to flakes at car repair shops, and after a minute of this we get Adrian Belew (yes, that Adrian Belew) delivering a PERFECT imitation of Bob Dylan circa 1966, especially in the intermittent harmonica breaks and in the way he finishes lines like "That'll get your senses reelin'." Holy cow, and then this is followed by a goofy Wakeman-like synth solo, a shift into quasi-reggae rhythms that have more great lines, which include what's probably the greatest toilet joke I'll ever hear in song. And those anthemic last two minutes, with that chord sequence and those backing vocals, are just incredible, not to mention that, "Can't escape the conclusion, it's probably God's will, that civilization will grind to a standstill" is one of the best lines I've ever heard Frank write. What a song.

This song immediately segues into the gloriously-titled "Broken Hearts are for Assholes" (which was originally intended for Läther), which contains the above "ram it up yer poop chute" line, and which has a nice handful of cool riffs and melodies in its three and a half minutes (and the lyrics, GAH). Following is "I'm So Cute," sung by Bozzio in what I swear is a parody of Sting's vocals circa Outlandos D'Amour and featuring more great lyrics and riffs and melodies that make it seem like this is going to be one of the best Zappa albums ever. And finishing this stretch is "Jones Crusher," with Adrian Belew singing lines like, "She can push, she can shove till it's just a nub" (!!!) over a bunch of fun riffage. Yeehaw.

After this point, though, finding great songs becomes a little sketchy. "Bobby Brown," a pop- reggae excursion about a bisexual guy who likes S&M (and which breaks every possible taboo of decency with lines like, "I got a cheerleader here wants to help with my paper, let her do all the work 'n' maybe later I'll rape her") would be a keeper, definitely. "Baby Snakes" is a fine piece of poppy guitar-rock, the mock disco song (full of loud power chords in the beginning) "Dancin' Fool" is AWESOME (and the ending monologue is probably the funniest moment on the whole album), and hell, even the ULTRA-offensive "Jewish Princess," which may give "Bobby Brown" a run for its money as "most offensive Zappa lyrics ever," is so goofy and wrong on every level that it's enjoyable. And, ehn, "Tryin' to Grow a Chin" is a lesser instance of Bozzio screeching lyrics a la "I'm So Cute," but it has enough charms to warrant final consideration.

But the rest I can definitely leave. Which means that out of the 18 tracks on here, I'd keep 9, maybe 10 if I'm in a good mood. I've already mentioned some of the tracks I don't like, and the rest is just boring to my ears. The end result, then, is that half of the album is awesome, and half ranges from pointless to dull ... which means a high *** is the best I can do for it. There's a great album trapped inside here, but don't expect consistency here.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Often described as Zappa's most commercial album (at least superficially),Sheik Yerbouti sets a brisk pace through an eclectic mix of satire and parody. Here Zappa is mostly concerned with having fun, crooning out unedited and vulgar lyrics from start to vinish with his gang of eccentric and crafty musicians.

"I Have Been In You" opens the album with Zappa's characteristic satire feel, sounding like a late '50's romance song with lots of layered vocals and an energetic pickup near the end-- the lyrics set the bawdy tone which will continue through the entire album. "Flakes" is a quirky number which goes in a dozen different directions, all of them humourus and interesting. The focus is mostly on layers of vocals and sound, along with cynical jabs at obvious musical genres and social groups. I could comment on other songs, but I would only be repeating myself. There are a few energetic or smooth instrumental sections thrown in there, but otherwise Yerbouti permanently set to silly.

The wit of lyrics do get in the way of the music as a whole. They are unignorably ribald and vulgar, so the ear is drawn to them whether you like it or not... in fact, this is almost a Weird Al album. "Bobby Brown" is clearly there only to make the listener squirm. Not that this fact makes Sheik Yerbouti a bad album, but it does make it rather light-weight, especially for a Zappa album. There is a scatter-brained sensation I got when listening, almost like the group threw together these tunes after a late night of drinking and dirty-jokes.

Any fan of Zappa will like something to like here, but for those more interested in the man's musicianship Sheik Yerbouti will probably be little more than a novelty.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars For one of Frank Zappa's poppier (for him) albums, this is fantastically entertaining. And while you mostly get displays of Zappa's raunchy humor (I Have Been In You, inspired by Peter Frampton's insipid 70's hit I'm In You, Broken Hearts Are For A$$holes, Bobby Brown. Dancin' Fool and Jewish Princess, a harmless song that so pissed off some Jewish groups that Frank wrote Catholic Girls to placate them, there are also songs that show Zappa's unique compositional style (Flakes, Wild Love).

Frank does some great soloing in Rat Tomago, The Sheik Yerbouti Tango and Yo' Mama. And Patrick O'Hearn gets to step out for a bass solo on Rubber Shirt. But to me, the musical highlights are mostly by keyboardist Tommy Mars, who was one of the finest keyboardists Zappa ever employed.

While this may not have enough "serious music" for the humorless fan, and might be too racy for the prudish listener, this album could serve as a great introduction as to what Zappa was all about.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Having split from Warner Bros. Records and set up his own label, Zappa appeared to follow a strategy of producing garishly commercial albums of songs geared for the novelty music crowd in order to rake in cash for his more experimental projects. The first of these was Sheik Yerbouti, showcasing a compositional approach much like that on Zappa In New York.

Like that album, Zappa's lyrics become increasingly obnoxious. It's not just that they are offensive (although they are - the idea that gay men end up that way because they were effeminised by strong women is abhorrent and an unworthy sentiment for a song with such a wonderful backing track as Bobby Brown Goes Down) - it's that they're both offensive and stupid. Whilst Zappa had always been the former (and didn't we all love him for it), it was rare that he was the latter, but there you have it. Simplistic parodies, sneering attacks which make ample use of racial stereotypes, yet another attack on disco (as if the one on Zoot Allures weren't enough), the lyrics lack the playful and imaginative side which made albums like the similarly crude Overnite Sensation so compelling.

However, looking beyond the lyrics to the music, it's undeniable that the standard is higher this time around. It's just that the album is incredibly schizophrenic. One moment there'll be a driving art rock wonder like City of Tiny Lights or a burst of high-quality fusion like Rat Tomago, the next there'll be goofy, shallow parodies of other musical genres pitched for the Dr. Demento crowd. Were the music up to scratch, I'd have passed by the lyrics, but as it is the album is a little too inconsistent for me to give a passing mark to.

Review by stefro
5 stars At first glance what appears to be a fairly straightforward live release, 1979's epic 'Sheik Yerbouti' is actually anything but. Featuring 18 tracks spread over four sides of vinyl, this is the kind of album that almost perfectly sums up the never-ending sonic experimentation that characterizes Zappa's boundary-shattering career. The deal here is that Zappa has taken bits and pieces from various live shows - usually performed in-and-around the late-seventies - and stitched them together with studio over-dubs, effects and vocal lines to create one of the best concert albums of the era. Except, of course, it isn't a concert album. However, the effect gives off the appearance of a seamless live show(bar a couple of surreal albeit brief interludes) creating one of Zappa's most endearing and impressive albums. The great thing about 'Sheik Yerbouti', apart from the title, is that you have virtually every facet of Zappa's sonic style on show, ranging from his signature smutty comedy-rock('I Have Been In You'), bluesy doo-wop acid-pop('Broken Hearts Are For Assholes') electric jazz-funk('City Of Tiny Lites') and psychedelic dream-prog('Yo Mama') all segued together with the great man's usual intricate attention to detail and eye for beautifully-delivered solo's. Backed by a star cast that includes the likes of future King Crimson alumnus Adrian Belew(guitar, vocals) Terry Bozzio(drums), Napoleon Murphy Brock(sax, vocals) and a whole host of top-notch performers from the Mothers past-and-present, 'Sheik Yerbouti' is a defining and hugely-enjoyable record from one of rock music's most iconic performers. Alongside the likes of 'Apostrophe', 'Joe's Garage', 'Overnite Sensation' and 'Roxy & Elsewhere', this must surely rank as a seminal Zappa release. Fantastic.


Review by Chicapah
4 stars In 1977 Frank Zappa's contract with Warner Brothers ended and he finally got the unfettered freedom that he'd been yearning to have for years. "Sheik Yerbouti" was the first release on Zappa Records and I get the feeling that Frank wanted to celebrate the occasion by having some fun. While many might consider this double LP too frivolous I beg to differ. The man's humorous side was never hidden from public view so to expect him to conceal it as if it were something he was ashamed of is to dismiss a huge part of his personality for no good reason. For those inclined to limit themselves to his more "serious" endeavors there's plenty of albums available that more readily accentuate Zappa's adventurous jazz/rock fusion explorations but I think to do so hampers one's ability to completely understand his genius. This wasn't just some wise guy with distinctive facial hair who surrounded himself with eclectic collections of musical virtuosos, this was FRANK ZAPPA! He was openly rebellious and to expect him to play by the rules was pure folly. This is no masterpiece of prog rock or modern jazz but I doubt that he was trying to make one this time around. I think he just wanted to reiterate to the industry that in his realm there were no sacred cows to be revered and, by combining live tracks with studio add-ons and effects, demonstrate that he refused to be restricted or corralled by traditional methodology. "Sheik Yerbouti" displays splendidly the mixture of wit and immense talent that made Frank the stellar, one-of-a-kind 20th century savant who influenced millions of musicians worldwide during his too-short 52 years on Terra Firma.

The first five cuts are a non-stop medley of tunes that appear to be a lampoon of the trends that surfaced and thrived (at least for a while) during the 70s, starting with a hilarious send up of R&B Doo-Wop sensibilities entitled "I Have Been in You." I find the crude lyrics and the high-pitched backup vocals to be an absolute hoot because Motown was never this brutally honest about sex although they sang about it all the time. From there he cruises into "Flakes," a great skewering of Californians in general coupled with proggy interludes and rhythm guitarist Adrian Belew's faux Bob Dylanisms that only the mind of Mr. Zappa could make work. "Broken Hearts are for Assholes" is next, a rocking stab at the New Wave movement that also gives a wink to the pretentious performance artists of that era via free-form word association. "I'm So Cute" then barges in. It reminds me of some of the silly British glam acts that tried so hard to be outrageous but were only successful at becoming ridiculously dated. The southern-fried boogie craze gets its turn on the grill with "Jones Crusher," a driving number faithfully rendered complete with inane words and an overblown concert finale. "Whatever Happened to All the Fun in the World?" is the first of several brief forays into an abstract dimension that'll give you cause to grin. It's not all vaudeville, though. On "Rat Tomago" Frank cuts loose on the fret board and proceeds to dazzle and stun your ears with his inimitable axe-wielding ferocity. It's pretty much a droning on-stage jam but who cares when the guitar playing is this fierce? "Wait a Minute" is another short spasm of incidental hijinks. Those of the politically correct persuasion had best skip "Bobby Brown Goes Down," a bold slice of satire that's bound to offend the sensitive. My opinion is that if you can't enjoy a chuckle over this song then you're taking yourself way too seriously (Something Zappa avoided like the plague.) Lighten up, for heaven's sake.

"Rubber Shirt" is an experimental detour into jazz land where Terry Bozzio's drums and Patrick O'Hearn's bass guitar roam free. Frank, ever the mad scientist, combined two totally unrelated tracks to construct something intriguing. It goes to show that he was never afraid to "put it all out there." He wasn't as concerned about the common man's acceptance of his fearless craft as he was of staying true to it. "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" is a strange journey into Latino territory where Zappa colors far outside the well-defined lines. It's definitely not for the musically conservative ear. On the odd little ditty, "Baby Snakes," it's back to unapologetic funny business for a few minutes. "Tryin' to Grow a Chin" is a sly poke at rock & roll theatrical productions. (Makes me wonder what FZ would've thought of extravaganzas like the recent insipid "Rock of Ages" stage show and movie.) "City of Tiny Lites" is a prime example of why there'll never be another Frank. It's a tightly-compacted conglomerate of rock, prog, funk, jazz and humor that's a testament to his unmitigated gall. "Dancin' Fool" follows, an incredibly spot-on swipe at the vapid disco phenomenon. (The tune actually crossed over into dance clubs for a spell in '79 to Zappa's astonishment.) "Jewish Princess" is Spike Jones on LSD. Sometimes making music can be made for no other purpose than to elicit a giggle or two and I'm okay with that. Let it be exactly what it is and don't overanalyze. "Wild Love" is a highly complex, intricate arrangement of musical passages and assorted absurdities that defies description. Think jazz/rock fusion tossed in a blender. The album ends with 12:36 of "Yo Mama," an epic that showcases Frank's progressive leanings eloquently. Here structure and spontaneity get swirled together brilliantly. I realize that a lot of folks won't "get it" but I'm glad that I do. It's greatness.

"Sheik Yerbouti" went on to become Zappa's biggest seller. It rose to #21 on the LP charts and, to date, has sold over 2 million copies. Not bad for an anti-establishment non-conformist. While I can dig that this stuff ain't for everybody I think it's still better than most of the self-righteous garbage I hear on radio and TV today. No one dares to be sarcastic anymore for fear of reprisals from the right or left and that's a shame because we need to be reminded from time to time that we're all crazy, neurotic messes that don't seem to know when to take a chill pill and have a good laugh at ourselves. Frank Zappa took on that dirty job with pleasure and, in hindsight, it's obvious that he didn't scar anybody for life with his playful jabs. "Sheik Yerbouti" is a harmless yet entertaining escape. 3.5 stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "Martian Love Secrets". Those were the words that Zappa claimed he saw on a toilet paper dispenser in a restroom (Steve Vai said it was actually on the wall) at the Record Plant, the studio where Zappa was recording at the time. That was going to be the title of this album, or at least, it was the working title for quite a while during the process. Then, Lynn Goldsmith, the photographer for the album cover, convinced the reluctant Frank to wear a sheik head-dress, she took pictures, suggested that since the album had some parodies of disco music, it should be called "Shiek Yer Bootie", and the name stuck, though it ended up being stylized and spelled a little differently. And so, Frank's most popular album (to that point anyway) was born.

"Sheik Yerbouti" is one of my all time favorite albums ever, and it was my first real introduction to Zappa. While attending a concert for a mostly unknown band (at the time at least), the roadies played this album over the loud speakers, and I fell for it right away. Suddenly, this band called "Van Halen" that I had 2nd row seats to but whom I knew very little about, was starting to sound like a great idea after all. Of course, the band came out and blew everyone away, and David Lee Roth was pretty much jumping off the stage and singing in the audience, but I will always remember that night more because that was where my love for Zappa began.

So what makes this album so great, other than it is a sentimental favorite? Well, it is one of Zappa's funniest and most engaging of them all. Though it is hard to tell, most of the album is live. However, the songs that are on it were never presented on an album before, and with all the overdubs and etc. on the finished product, it is very hard to tell. The production is so slick, you would never know, and the tracks flow from one to the other almost seamlessly. All of the tracks work so well together, and the track line up is virtually perfect.

The band involved on this album is one of the best line-ups also. Even though some of the personnel changes from one song to another, it is still pretty solid. It wasn't at the time, but now it all seems like a who's who supergroup of artists: Adrian Belew, Tommy Mars, Peter Wolf, Patrick O'Hearn, Terry Bozzio and others are on almost every track. Belew later said that most of the tracks were actually soundchecks, and that is believable seeing that the audience is only heard on a few of them.

The album starts off with "I Have Been In You" which is a satirical take on Peter Frampton's "I'm In You", which was a big hit at the time. The basic track here comes from the Hammersmith Odeon in London on January 25, 1978 and this is also the case with the first four tracks (though some were recorded on the 27th). Of course, you get Zappa's irreverent lyrics that poke fun at Frampton's lyrics. The next track is "Flakes" which is about the plumbers' union and also has a section with Adrian Belew imitating Bob Dylan. Again, hilarious lyrics and an engaging, progressive sound make this one stand out. More hilarity follows with "Broken Hearts are for Assholes" which features some more progressive sound and changing meters. "I'm So Cute" makes fun of sexy rock stars and their egos, but has a definite punk sound to it as it was lampooning punk music.

"Jones Crusher" (recorded at The Palladium in NYC on October 31, 1977) shouldn't take a lot of imagination to know what this track is about. However, one non-English reporter was a bit confused when she asked if the song was about Zappa's hatred for cult leader Jim Jones. Of course, Frank had to explain it had to do with strong vaginal muscles, to which she replied "Oh?.Well that's very different". The following track is just some group banter and noises about one of the road managers that committed suicide and connects the next track "Rat Tomago", which is a guitar solo taken from a performance of "The Torture Never Stops" performed in Berlin on February 15, 1978. The title of the track comes from the name of a drawing from Ahmet Zappa that he made and named when he was a child which Frank found quite amusing. The track was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition. After another short, connecting track featuring more banter, "Bobby Brown" comes next, and of course it is the main reason the album was such a big seller. The track was a single and was the label's (CBS) biggest hit in history in Scandinavia. Funny, irreverent lyrics made this one nearly impossible to play on the radio in the US. Since it was made long before the artist of the same name became popular, so it has nothing to do with him, but more to do with self-pleasuring devices. "Rubber Shirt" is another instrumental which originally comes from 3 different solos, a guitar, the bass, and the drums, which Frank edited together making the separate tracks work with each other. O'Hearn's bass solo comes from an overdub used on the "Inca Roads" track. The 3 instruments playing on this track were never played together, but they sound like they were.

Another instrumental follows with "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" which is from the guitar solo taken from the performance of "The Little House I Used to Live In" in Berlin on Feb. 15, 1978, another complex little ditty. This is followed by "Baby Snakes", a song with many different meanings sung by Zappa and Tommy Mars. "Tryin' to Grow a Chin" is another silly track that uses a riff and quote from a song by The Velveteens called "Dog Patch Creeper". Then there is the ever popular concert staple "City of Tiny Lights", a song about drug dependence and the crazy mind trips that accompany it, sung by Adrian Belew. This is always one of my favorites in concert as it always seems to inspire amazing guitar solos from Frank. This track was actually used many times in concert before being premiered on this album.

More fun follows in the disco satire "Dancin' Fool" and the kooky "Jewish Princess" which continues to offend people. The very interesting "Wild Love" is one of Frank's oddest tracks. I find it interesting the way he takes musical clichés from disco music here and then incorporate them into a complex and entertaining song. The album couldn't end better than the blistering "Yo' Mama", with silly lyrics and a killer, cinematic guitar solo, one of Zappa's best. It is said the lyrics were written about two of his band members, one had previously been ousted and the other was still active, but it is not certain who they were. Like most of the tracks here, the vocal sections were recorded at the usual Hammersmith Odeon, but the guitar solo was performed in Germany on Feb 25, 1978 using a four-track recording system and also utilizing many overdubs. In any event, it turned out a perfect ending for a perfect Zappa album.

This is definitely one of Frank's albums that could be considered a perfect entry point for his music. There is a lot of crude humor, excellent instrumentals and guitar solos, band field recordings, great melodies and it still has room for complex experimental weirdness. I know that when I heard it, I just had to dive in feet first to all of his discography. But don't think that all of his albums are going to be like this because Zappa was complex and dynamic. For me, I just had to understand what made this guy click, and it was after listening and becoming familiar with his music and his life, that I started to understand it all. Frank Zappa is not a musician that you come to appreciate over night, it takes a lot of commitment and interest in his music, motives, and mind to "get it". But in this album, you get to hear some of his complexities, yet be completely entertained at the same time. Definitely one of his best and most important albums, Sheik Yerbouti is one that I would consider recommended listening for those wanting to get to know Frank's music, especially from the more commercial side. But you better be prepared because this isn't for the faint of heart or for the easily offended.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Sheik Yerbouti" is an album release by US artist Frank Zappa. The album was originally released in March 1979 as a double vinyl release through Zappa Records. It was the first release on Zappa´s own label after his acrimonious split with manager and business partner Herb Cohen in May 1976, which meant the end of their co-owned DiscReet Records and a host of lawsuits and disagreements over the remaining part of their distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records. "Sheik Yerbouti" bridges the gap between the two last (out of four) individual albums that Warner Bros. Records released featuring material which was originally meant to be released on the four-LP box set Läther. A box set which was shelved and split into four albums and released by Warner Bros. Records without Zappa´s full consent. The two albums bookending "Sheik Yerbouti" are "Sleep Dirt" from January 1979 and "Orchestral Favorites" from May 1979.

"Sheik Yerbouti" ended up being Zappa´s most commercially successful release and it laid the foundation for the mainstream success (well...relative mainstream success) he had in the 80s. Most of the basic tracks were recorded during 1977/1978 live performances and later spliced with studio overdubs. In typical Zappa fashion it´s most of the time impossible to hear where the live tracks and the studio overdubs start and end. What you´ll experience as a listener is just a very well produced album, featuring an organic, professional, and detailed sound production, helping the material shine like the best quality productions always do.

"Sheik Yerbouti" is loved by many but loathed by just as many as a consequence of the sexually explicit lyrics (although some of them are hidden behind secret words and descriptions) and lyrical topics poking fun at union workers, disco, a certain type of Jewish women, egotism...etc. "Jewish Princess" is considered particularly controversial and even some interpret it as anti-semitic. Zappa refused to apologies though and maintained that he just described a certain type of women that he had observed. "Bobby Brown" is another song which is often considered controversial because of the sexually explicit lyrics which includes stereotyping of lesbians, golden showers, rape, and anal sex. It´s all done with a gleam in the eye and the great social satirical angle that Zappa was known for.

"Sheik Yerbouti" is overall a very eclectic release featuring pop/mainstream oriented songs, which could have been played on commercial radio (and were in some countries), if it wasn´t for the explicit lyrics, rock songs, progressive rock songs, avant garde pieces, jazz/fusion, punk, and silly spoken word dialogue from the band members. Featuring no less than 18 tracks and a total playing time of 71:40 minutes, there are a lot of material and minutes for Zappa to guide us through the many different sounds and styles of "Sheik Yerbouti". The vocal part of the album deserves a special mention. It´s primarily Zappa himself and drummer Terry Bozzio who sing the lead vocal parts on the album, but Napoleon Murphy Brock is credited for singing lead vocals on "Wild Love" (along with Tommy Mars) and Adrian Belew sings the lead vocals on "Jones Crusher" and "City of Tiny Lites" (as well as performing the Bob Dylan impersonation on "Flakes"). Bassist Patrick O'Hearn is also credited for performing some lead vocalst. Naturally with that many lead vocalists and a host of backing vocalists, the vocal part of the album is equally as eclectic in nature as the instrumental part of the material.

It would be wrong to call any Frank Zappa related release an easy listen or mainstream oriented, but parts of "Sheik Yerbouti" are probably the closest you´ll get to that with Zappa. However the eclectic nature of the album ensures that the listener is constantly kept on his/her toes and challenged by the clever compositions and high level musical performances. Are some of the lyrics offensive or in bad taste? I guess it depends on the ears that hear and the morale and political/social values of the listener. Personally I find the lyrics quite brilliant, and in my opinion even the most silly and borderline mean lyrics should be understood as social commentary rather than hateful rantings. Upon conclusion "Sheik Yerbouti" is one of the essential albums in Zappa´s discography, and especially essential if you´re looking for his most accessible comedic/satirical releases. A 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

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Report this review (#1695675) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a excellent album. I'm not sure if you can call this a "live" album, but if it is it's the best one ever! The first song I ever heard on hear was "Bobby Brown", which is a funny, dirty little song that is great. I think that the opening track is great, "I Have Been in You", which parod ... (read more)

Report this review (#466700) | Posted by FloydZappa | Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars heik Yerbouti is an album by Zappa that's main instrument is humor, rather than strange guitar notes or extended jams. There's still a good deal of prog to be found on the album, and most prog fans should eat it up. The songs on Sheik Yerbouti seem a bit more listenable than most earlier Zapp ... (read more)

Report this review (#218834) | Posted by topofsm | Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well I think good old Frankie needed to do such record. I mean some people say 'Zappa went commercial'. Of course if you compare it to some previous albums this seems to be not such experimental and definitely more pleasant for ear. I think the production of this release is excellent. Sound is ... (read more)

Report this review (#214014) | Posted by LSDisease | Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was my first Zappa album ever. I don't think I got right away, but to my defense I wasn't very old. Now it has grown to actually being one of my favorites of him. It's almost a best of album since a lot of these tracks became live classics. It's one of the few albums to feature Adrian Belew ... (read more)

Report this review (#170146) | Posted by Devnoy | Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The double-lp ''Sheik Yerbouti'' was the turning point for Frank Zappa. Let us alltogether welcome the 80's. Unlike most bands, he does not fail in making his music more accessible and also interesting. The quality here is constant throughout the album - there are nearly no spectacular movements ... (read more)

Report this review (#170011) | Posted by Luke. J | Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In comparison to Zappa's high standard of work, i would rate this a excellent addition to any prog music collection as no doubt a truly great album and many songs on Sheik Yer Bouti had always remained on the live shows,almost turning it into a greatest hits compliation. So for anyone needing a ... (read more)

Report this review (#134777) | Posted by mrcozdude | Saturday, August 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Of all the Zappa albums I have at the writing of this review (a whopping 17!), Sheik Yerbouti probably my favorite. Perhaps that's because it was my introduction to the man and the music, and I'm sure that's a piece of the puzzle, but no doubt the gratuitous amount of excellent music on the al ... (read more)

Report this review (#85443) | Posted by stonebeard | Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok, now when I was 15 I heard this. Before I heard this album in my life, I was mostly an unhappy person. I had not liked any band at any sufficient amount to listen to their albums at all. Lets just say my music taste was mainly restricted to nothing because of all the crappy music I heard bef ... (read more)

Report this review (#81395) | Posted by BaboonSweat | Saturday, June 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In the same vein of Joe´s Garage, it´s direct predecessor, and built in the same ideological and musical basis of Zoot Allures and Live in New York, including a very powerfull band and lots of very classic stuff, Sheik Yerbouti is a definitive Zappa´s masterpiece. The album is fullfilled with ... (read more)

Report this review (#48365) | Posted by rguabiraba | Sunday, September 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's astonishing to see this album didn't get a 5-star rating yet. I think that, along with several other titles, this is a Zappa disc that showcases all of his tricks in one vigorating brew. It's recorded live with a LOT of overdubbing afterwards, which gives it the intended live-and-studio-f ... (read more)

Report this review (#29941) | Posted by Kaztor | Saturday, May 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I bought this record when it first came out, when I was a teenager. The reason I bought this was because it made me laugh. Lots of teen humor here and I played it over and over. If my parents knew what I was listening to! I have never stopped listening to it. If you took out all the lyric ... (read more)

Report this review (#29940) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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