Hot Rats-FRANK ZAPPA-1969

Just to give all the “he-can-only-make-fun-of-good-emotional-music-this-guy-cannot-be-taken-seriously” critics a swift kick in the nuts, Zappa went all instrumental, cast aside all the doo wop and spoken word parodies, and made an awesome all music all the time album which is my favourite Zappa album from the 60’s, as well as coming in the top 3 of my Zappa collection. Honestly even if this one only had Peaches En Regalia and the rest was corny Zappa jokes, I would still give this album a thumbs up because (a) Zappa jokes are Zappa jokes, some of them hit home some of the time, (b) Peaches En Regalia is the best damn Zappa song ever. It is just an awesome composition, not an improvisation, mark ye, just a great piece of composition, which fuses so many motifs in its short running time (more than the whole of Yes’s 80’s career and Tales of Topographic Oceans plus the whole of Phil Collins and late Genesis as also most of the later Tull albums and all music made in the last decade or so) that it is just a mind blowing piece of music. It ably demonstrates the strengths of careful composition (more in the vein of classical music and good death metal music) which avoids the predictability of normal rock verse chorus structure over random improvisation (let me come to that). Yes sirree. Hear that and tell me with a straight face that you cannot listen to Zappa because he doesn’t take music seriously. He does take it seriously, just not in the way all those neo prog/corny black metal/Yngwie Malmsteen people take it.

It is not about repetition mind you, which is a part of all of western music (and all pop music all over the world. Cannot comment on all the folk/classical styles of the rest of the world, though I am pretty sure that such a vital element is common to all human music) but about avoiding the mindless mainstream pop wherein if you cut one part of a song and compare it with a part which comes later on, you would not be able to tell which comes first and which comes last.

The rest of the album, here is the thing; it is directly a contrast with the opener, in that, it is mostly all what they call, improvised jazz fusion, (making my foregoing adjective utterly superfluous). However, it is Zappa-tized, so you never get the feeling of the music be distracting and over bearing, rather the improvs are very strong, carrying out the motifs and story telling in a compelling manner, especially in Willie The Pimp. Only by the last track do I feel the “now thats enough I need something else” feeling. Excellent.

It is hard to categorize Zappa as anything, but in my mind he will always be what I deem to be progressive music, not in the traditional Marillion-Tull-Spock’s Beard-esque sense, but more in the King Crimson-mid period Yes sense-breaking barriers, truly experimenting with music. Listen to this stuff and have patience.

Baba T


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