Sunday, December 18, 2011

Frank Zappa Chunga's Revenge 1970

Well, Zappadan continues, and so we continue to celebrate all things Zappa. This one is harder to celebrate than most of Zappa's work, though it has its moments. Most of side one is pretty good.

Transylvania Boogie kicks things off with one of those crazy Zappa time signatures. The song is essentially a guitar solo, and a pretty good one at that. Road Ladies follows, and it is cool to hear Frank playing guitar in a basic blues structure, and Aynsley Dunbar's drums are a standout. Twenty Small Cigars is an almost jazz composition, and Zappa plays this mellow guitar lead that is another unusual setting for him, so that's fun to hear. The live The Nancy And Mary Music is an extended jam that includes at least two drum solos, some good guitar, and a minute of dueling pianos from Ian Underwood and George Duke that is pretty exciting, but it doesn't live up to Frank's usual quality standard.

Side two is what makes this a disappointing Zappa record. Tell Me You Love Me is standard issue stuff, and nothing saves it. Would You Go All The Way, Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink, and Sharleena all make you wonder what Frank saw in Flo and Eddie, and all three are some of Frank's least interesting songs. Chunga's Revenge is an instrumental jam with a irritating sax played through a wah wah pedal, and Frank's guitar is less than stellar. The song is too long for the one idea it contains.

When you make as many records as Zappa did, there's bound to be some that just don't stand up next to the best ones. This is one of those. I don't mean to pick on Zappa during the holiday, so just think of it as a public service.

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