23 August 2013

Frank Zappa - The Man From UTOPIA

It has been too long since we have had a Zappa review - and saying as there is millions of the little buggers to get through, it is time for another one.  Recently I have been paying attention to this one after finding my old copy of it after a hard-drive crash, it was one of his lesser known work and it is one of his albums that has Steve Vai on it (it was released after he had left the band in 1982 - Zappa would call Vai his "stunt guitarist" on the two tracks of his which appear on this album).  This was released in 1983 inbetween the brilliantly titled 'Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch" and the soundtrack to the film "Baby Snakes".  Like lots of Zappa albums, this is a mixture of live music, studio sessions and plain old out-there mental cravings from the man himself.  I was warned off this one for a while as I was told - and I quote this from our blogger Chris Chaney - I would find it too hard as it is one of his harder pieces of music.  If there was a challenge in there, it would be accepted at this stage.

For all of the challenge that I was promised here, this is not the challenge that I was expecting.  Yes it has some slightly surreal moments such as the break downs on "The Radio Is Broken", but for every one of these moments like "The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou".  You have both sides of Frank on here the crazy and outrages like the insanely funny "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" (it has to be heard to be believed - seriously messed up).  There is also a return to the Doo-Wop style of ...Rubens & The Jets with "Luigi & The Wise Guys". The messed up Jazz is also on show (almost a prequel to the upcoming Jazz From Hell) with the track "Moggio".  You also have one of my favourite instrumentals by Zappa in the shape of "We Are Not Alone".

The thing about the album though, it is not the easiest album to love to be honest.  Now I am a massive Frank Zappa fan, seriously love his stuff and always will.  But apart from the recent itch I have had to listen to "We Are Not Alone" (really this is the track of the album) - I could give or take the rest of the album compared to some of his other works.  Songs like "SEX" are ok, would be fun at a party or being a teenager, but other than it is not an important Frank Zappa release.  The main thing that works on this instrumentals - as I may have mentioned, I have a slight crush on "We Are Not Alone", but I love "Tink Walks Amok" and "Moggio" are both really good as well - they save this from being slightly dull by Frank's own standards.  But being a little bit of a dull Frank Zappa album is like being second in a beauty contest (either gender) - you’re still going to be very good indeed, it is just a shame by his own standards it doesn't really add up to more than a decent album.  I can see why I was warned against it in some ways, and whilst there are some gems on here, it is still a little bit of a disappointment.  For fans (such as me) only....

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can purchase the album from Amazon here in one of the various formats out there

You can visit the Frank Zappa album here 

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Live version of Cocaine Decisions

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