19 May 2014

Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention - Burnt Weeny Sandwich


A bit of real life before I get into this blog; on the day I am starting this blog I have just completed another lap of the sun. To celebrate this day, the lovely Helen purchased me this album; she is not the biggest Zappa fan and wonders how he got away with some of his music.  However she does like some of his more sane works and continues to feed my addition to the music with this sort of thing.  To help her I have a list of the albums I own, so she can make sure that she does not duplicate them.  She went for this one as she thought it was a funny title and I have to agree here; she also likes the cover and thinks it is interesting.  Zappa himself said in an interview that it comes from an actual snack that he enjoyed eating, consisting of a burnt Hebrew National hot dog sandwiched between two pieces of bread with mustard.  This might just be Zappa playing with the interviewer, but it made it a more interesting story.  This album differs from a lot of the other albums done with the Mothers of Invention as it is mostly a studio album with a more focused and tighter arrangement.  So, will this birthday present be as delicious as it sounds?

Starting off with the album's single "WPLJ", this is one of the more straight forward doo whoop songs it is all about a strange cocktail which was popular.  It is also a cover of a song originally by The Four Deuces; it is a catchy and wonderful beginning to the album.  I found myself wishing for a drink (maybe something different to be honest), but the song itself could easily have album been taken off 'Cruising With Ruben And The Jets'.  Next is a 30 odd seconds number called "Igor's Boogie, Phase One" which sounds like a woodwind section warming up, quick and over before you know it. Then it is "Overture To A Holiday In Berlin" which sounds like the soundtrack to a nightmare trip to the end of the world.  It is all slightly off key to make the effect more noticeable and it is not something that should be tried without firstly being fully educated in Zappa.  Of course, I love it......

"Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is next, fading in slowly in a crazy jam which is neither out there or focused to be anything other than good.  For Zappa this is strange as it is usually either one of the other, it is a little too relaxed for my Zappa tastes and that is something I never thought I would say.  "Igor's Boogie, Phase Two" which much like its earlier cousin, is over before you know it.  The same cannot be levelled at "Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown" which brings back the theme introduced earlier but is much more fleshed out.  It is a number very much in the mould of "Peaches En Regalia" and like that number it is impossible not to be smiling by the time the song is over. This is a perfect example of Zappa in control of his surroundings and the band is also on fire as well.

"Aybe Sea" is a bizarre creature to say the least.  Almost all pianos, harpsichord and the usual level of strange that you would expect from the Mothers of Invention, it is over far too soon and could have been more.  I really enjoy the song and have been listening to it an awful lot as of late.  Next is "The House I Used To Live In (Live)" which starts off with a piece of piano work by Yvar Mikhashoff which would later feature on "Yvar Mikhashoff's Panorama of American Piano Music".  Breaking into the more traditional type of number, this song has many different facets and at just shy of nineteen minutes you would expect nothing less for the band.  It has the stage jazz fusion and full out rock.  Ending the album is another doo whoop cover, this time a song called "Valerie" originally by Jackie And The Starlities. This is again a very straight laced cover and shows the talent of the band (as if that was ever in doubt".

As an album there are a few too many tracks that could have been made a little longer or formed into one, but overall it is a great album.  Full of everything that you have expected from The Mothers of Invention, it has two of the best numbers that the band ever committed to record and it is a perfect example of the band at the top of their powers.  You should check it out as a matter of course and a great present to yours truly.

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

Top track - Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Zappa website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for our Deezer users

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