Frank Zappa – Hot Rats (1969)
It wouldn’t be Movember without a Zappa reference.
I think two of his quotes describe Hot Rats effectively:
1. From his original sleeve notes, Hot Rats is “A movie for your ears”
2. As self-deprecatingly quoted the 1001 Albums book, “The very idea! An instrumental album, except for one vocal cut – and that had to feature Captain Beefheart!…Why are you wasting America’s precious time with this, you a**hole!”
That lone vocal track, Willie the Pimp, is the standout. Beefheart’s growl in the opening few minutes adds a certain je ne sais quoi and the extended guitar solo drives the song the rest of the way. What really brings it all together? The violin doubling up on the lead part in the intro and outro.
The 5 instrumental cuts feature:
– unusual harmonies, particularly Ian Underwood’s woodwind parts
– unconventional arrangements, with The Gumbo Variations extending to almost 17 minutes
– unique recording methods, creating interesting effects by changing the tape speed when recording overdubs
Which is what listening to a Frank Zappa record should be all about. Certainly not the waste of time he declared it was!