Author Topic: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #39 - 'The Perfect Stranger'  (Read 19531 times)

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Offline Ultimetalhead

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #175 on: November 04, 2015, 03:45:38 PM »
The size and scope of Uncle Meat always turned me off of it. I've only listened to it once or twice, but there's a fair deal of excellence here. King Kong, especially. What a brilliant piece.
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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #176 on: November 04, 2015, 04:58:14 PM »
Uncle Meat has some of Frank's best melodies. It's also probably the start of studio albums full of material that was eventually greatly improved in the live setting. Still, the original recordings hold up well enough and there's a lot of songs that have just been forgotten due to not being played or whatever. It does feel like a compilation, but I also think it represents the live Mothers better than previous albums.

The "penalty" tracks are baffling, but easy to skip. It is kind of disappointing to the uninformed listen, thinking they're getting a full length double album when in reality there's about one CD of material on there.


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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #177 on: November 05, 2015, 01:09:04 AM »
I agree about the added material here. I saw some of the movie. A girl wearing a t-shirt rubbing herself with hamburger under the shower, delivering the same line over and over again... it must be art.

Uncle Meat as a record is great. There's a lot of socio-commentary on Uncle Meat, but not as pushy as it was on We're Only In It For The Money. And a lot of great instrumental tracks as well. Dog Breath is fantastic. Roy Estrada delivers his signature pachuco vocals here with gusto. The lyrics are something to behold: 'Fuzzy dice, bongo's in the back. My 'ship of love' is ready for attack'. Mr. Greene Genes is another great live staple. The harmonies are insane, the melodies terrific. A great audio recording of Jimmy Carl Black in 'If we'd all been living in California..' about the lack of money coming into the band, a rare glimpse of future similar audio recording use by Zappa and a glimpse into the real life of 'professional musicians' in that day and age. 'The Air' has always been one of my favourites. The lyrics are so stupendous it left me howling with laughter when I first heard them. Cruising for burgers is another fan favourite, as is King Kong, which is resplended in all its glory.

One factor that shouldn't be overlooked is not only the addiction of Ruth 'Underwood' to the band, but even more importantly her to-be-husband Ian. He added a lot to the broadening of the sound of the live mothers.

The artwork is another thing that sould be mentioned. It is fantastic. Great work by Cal Shenkel.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 05:13:11 AM by Cyclopssss »
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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #178 on: November 05, 2015, 01:33:28 AM »
Ian Underwood was on WOIIFTM, I don't think he was on Ruben and the Jets though. But he does get quite the introduction on this album!

I keep forgetting Ruth is on this. It's weird, she's on this album and 200 Motels but aside from that I don't think she was a full time member yet. She's not on any other albums until Overnite Sensation with the start of the legendary 74 band.


Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #179 on: November 05, 2015, 02:54:51 AM »
Ian Underwood was on WOIIFTM, I don't think he was on Ruben and the Jets though. But he does get quite the introduction on this album!

I keep forgetting Ruth is on this. It's weird, she's on this album and 200 Motels but aside from that I don't think she was a full time member yet. She's not on any other albums until Overnite Sensation with the start of the legendary 74 band.

Actually, I was reading up on her role in Zappa's discography, and she wasn't with the band for that long. Like you said, 74 was really when she became a full time member and (from the top of my head) she was gone in 76. So that's only a couple of years, but she has had a great impact on Zappa's music.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #180 on: November 05, 2015, 12:34:24 PM »
The size and scope of Uncle Meat always turned me off of it. I've only listened to it once or twice, but there's a fair deal of excellence here. King Kong, especially. What a brilliant piece.

Yeah, that's what I was saying with it being too much at points. If it was a single 79 minute CD I don't think I'd be able to make it through.

I actually listened through the bonus pieces. Yes, to all of the movie dialogue too. There's really nothing in there that's worth checking out.
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #181 on: November 05, 2015, 05:55:31 PM »
Uncle Meat is the best album from the 60s Mothers IMO. The first time I heard this, I went from laughing so hard it hurt, to being flabbergasted at the music I was hearing, and the absurdity of it all. But over time, it's beauty is revealed, as with most Zappa albums that are a little edgier, or harder to get into. It contains Zappa's first real advancement into jazz-fusion, and the music is way out there. Lots of instrumentation, this album is the most colorful one from this band. Also, original versions of quite a few live staples on this one, as already noted. Pound For A Brown, Dog Meat, King Kong, pig noises, etc...

Ian Underwood was on WOIIFTM, I don't think he was on Ruben and the Jets though. But he does get quite the introduction on this album!

I keep forgetting Ruth is on this. It's weird, she's on this album and 200 Motels but aside from that I don't think she was a full time member yet. She's not on any other albums until Overnite Sensation with the start of the legendary 74 band.

There's a lot of albums with her on it, many of them are Zappa's best albums.

The size and scope of Uncle Meat always turned me off of it. I've only listened to it once or twice, but there's a fair deal of excellence here. King Kong, especially. What a brilliant piece.

Yeah, that's what I was saying with it being too much at points. If it was a single 79 minute CD I don't think I'd be able to make it through.

I actually listened through the bonus pieces. Yes, to all of the movie dialogue too. There's really nothing in there that's worth checking out.

I did that once. Combined with the 80s bonus track, I'll never get those 35 or so minutes back...

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #182 on: November 05, 2015, 08:47:46 PM »
I keep forgetting Ruth is on this. It's weird, she's on this album and 200 Motels but aside from that I don't think she was a full time member yet. She's not on any other albums until Overnite Sensation with the start of the legendary 74 band.

There's a lot of albums with her on it, many of them are Zappa's best albums.

I love Ruth.  The first Zappa/Mothers I ever heard was One Size Fits All, though it was Roxy & Elsewhere that we played over and over, so Ruth and her tuned percussion was a big part of what I loved about that version of The Mothers.  I started my own Zappa collection with Sheik Yerbouti, and Ed Mann does some great stuff on that album, so I've always associated the marimba and xylophone with Frank and The Mothers.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #183 on: November 05, 2015, 09:12:21 PM »
One Size Fits All was my first too! The tuned percussion really stuck out to me, as I was coming from more of a prog rock/metal background with a little bit of jazz. So it was a totally new sound and one I too associate with Zappa. Probably the most defining thing about his music other than the guitar.

Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #184 on: November 07, 2015, 11:28:40 AM »
Surprised at the lack of discussion on UM, besides Ruth. If you have a problem getting into the 60s Mothers, Uncle Meat is probably the one that can be appreciated the most.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #185 on: November 07, 2015, 12:06:01 PM »
I'm not I said it quite like this before, but I don't have the time, money or energy to listen to every Zappa album (who does?? :lol), so I will only be contributing when it is a record I actually know.  I'm sure every record will have a "Yeah, but you need to hear this one" fan, and that is all well and good, but it won't change my mind. :biggrin:

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #186 on: November 07, 2015, 05:53:04 PM »
I'm not I said it quite like this before, but I don't have the time, money or energy to listen to every Zappa album (who does?? :lol), so I will only be contributing when it is a record I actually know.  I'm sure every record will have a "Yeah, but you need to hear this one" fan, and that is all well and good, but it won't change my mind. :biggrin:

Half of his albums are under 40 minutes. Instead of SDOIT for the umpteeenth time, put on some Frank ;)

Spotify? Youtube?

What I'm saying is, Yea, but you need to hear this one. No, you really do. Too many classics on Uncle Meat. You'll appreciate the later versions of King Kong, Pound For A Brown, Dog Meat, etc...

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #187 on: November 07, 2015, 06:08:08 PM »
I guess he has a point. I was never a fan of Uncle Meat, and there's still no actual need to listen to ALL of it, but you could check out the essential tracks. Of course, that's why they are essential  ;)

Anyway, I'm preparing for the next release, which should be over with soon since it's only a best of: Mothermania.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #188 on: November 07, 2015, 10:16:25 PM »
Surprised at the lack of discussion on UM, besides Ruth. If you have a problem getting into the 60s Mothers, Uncle Meat is probably the one that can be appreciated the most.

From here on out, I'm most likely going to be reading a lot more and commenting a lot less.  But I'm reading VERY intently.  I love reading about this stuff.  It lets me know what to look out for buying next.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #189 on: November 07, 2015, 11:51:20 PM »
I agree that Uncle Meat is an essential one. If you want essential Mothers, I'd say these: Freak Out, Money, Uncle Meat. Absolutely Free and the two post humous albums are very close, but I think you at least need the three I mentioned to understand the scope and sound of that lineup.

And it's not a long album at all. 76 minutes is the average length of a DT album.  :lol They're very short songs too.

But generally speaking, for a casual FZ fan I'd say there are usually just 1 or 2 essential albums per era.

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #6 Uncle Meat
« Reply #190 on: November 08, 2015, 08:48:26 AM »
Official Release #7 'Mothermania'
(Released 03/1969)




Background Information:
A best of. After only six albums Zappa, well actually the record company, deemed it time to release a best of.
Actually, only three albums of the earlier released albums are represented on this compilation. (Which is quite logical since Lumpy Gravy was a solo record, Ruben & The Jets already contained reworked versions of earlier songs, and Uncle Meat was only released in the same month)
If you’ve checked out the first albums, you’ve heard these tracks. Even if you’ve only checked out the earlier mentioned essential tracks, you’ve only missed 4 songs (You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here, Plastic People, Hungry Freaks Daddy and America Drinks and Goes Home)
A couple of songs are reworked, remixed or recut on this album, but that’s not really worth the listen.
The upside to this record is that it’s a good best of. It contains most of the greatest tracks of the earliest three actual Mothers’ records.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 11:18:35 AM by Nihil-Morari »
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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #191 on: November 08, 2015, 09:50:05 AM »
I've never listened to this. Always found it odd that it was cataloged under the "official" Zappa cannon. There are a couple other record label produced Best Of albums aren't there? Anyway I'll check it out tonight maybe.

Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #192 on: November 08, 2015, 11:21:36 AM »
I've never listened to this. Always found it odd that it was cataloged under the "official" Zappa cannon. There are a couple other record label produced Best Of albums aren't there? Anyway I'll check it out tonight maybe.

It is odd. Actually Frank didn't really considered it an official release either until later. There are a couple more best of records, yes, a couple of good ones too. Maybe we'll get to that later. There's tons of un-official releases too, as if 102 wasn't enough  :lol
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #193 on: November 08, 2015, 07:49:07 PM »
This album does feel like it's own album. Zappa once said he could re-organize all the songs on all his albums and make completely new albums, and it would work. With this album, it makes sense. And Frank actually made this album, as opposed to most other Zappa compilations. Of course the mixes are different for some tracks, too, but that also adds to the 'need' to hear this at least once if you become a hardcore Zappa fan. Mother People is here presented as the unedited version, and It Can't Happen Here is similar to the MOFO mix. Worth at least one listen, but non-essential.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #194 on: November 08, 2015, 10:53:37 PM »
Ahhh, just dropped in to say I'm falling behind here due to being in the thick of the film festival. I have Uncle Meat but haven't listened to it in a long time. Mothermania I don't have but know all the songs.
Oh Jackie, always jumping to the most homoerotic possibility.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #195 on: November 09, 2015, 12:34:03 PM »
Well I decided to give it a try. Some thoughts:

Brown Shoes Don't Make It is still the champion of Original Mothers material.

Mother People doesn't work out of context. I wonder if he just put it in there so that he could finally release the uncensored version.

Absolutely Free is surprisingly filled with perfect "greatest hits" material. There are a few other songs that aren't on this that would've worked well.

Very interesting version of Idiot Bastard Son. Totally different mix.

Overall, some of the mixes have very subtle changes that are easy to miss. I'm sure I missed a ton. Things as minor as a different guitar fill in Hungry Freaks Daddy. Other things a bit more obvious. It's cool he put something slightly different together to keep it interesting for the completionists. Wouldn't recommend to a new Zappa fan though.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #196 on: November 10, 2015, 05:27:35 AM »
Ahhh, just dropped in to say I'm falling behind here due to being in the thick of the film festival. I have Uncle Meat but haven't listened to it in a long time. Mothermania I don't have but know all the songs.

Dammit, Jackie! Stop slacking off!  :loser:
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #197 on: November 13, 2015, 11:57:03 AM »
So, I'm diving into Hot Rats. Write up coming in the next couple of days. I really forgot how big of a leap this is in terms of sound. It sounds NOTHING like Mothermania, or any other Mothers release.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #198 on: November 13, 2015, 01:08:14 PM »
Hot Rats is where Frank got Serious (or, even more serious) about the music. It´s a fantastic album.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #199 on: November 13, 2015, 01:19:30 PM »
Hot Rats is where Frank got Serious (or, even more serious) about the music. It´s a fantastic album.

Can't really agree with you on that last bit though. But that's too come  :D
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #200 on: November 15, 2015, 09:31:26 AM »
Official Release #8 'Hot Rats'
(Released 10/1969)




Background Information:
So in 1969 Zappa and the Mothers were asked to play a small Jazz tour on the East Coast. Backstage in South Carolina, in a joint with ‘useless’ equipment for them to use, he saw Duke Ellington begging the booker 10 dollars advance, just to get round.
Suddenly it hit him, he wasn’t going to continue to pay 10 musicians a salary, 200 dollars a week, every week, ánd pay for touring costs playing the music he wanted to play.
Funny thing is that that is the story Zappa wrote in The Real Frank Zappa Book. Don Preston reacted in Zappa: A Biography: ‘That’s not what happened. A lot of stuff in that book is bullshit. It was just his imagination.’ According to Preston Zappa couldn’t handle the fact that the audience responded more to improvisations and the visual aspect of the show, and less to his complicated compositions. (Add to that, that a lot of friction came from the fact that he couldn’t pay everybody their salary, and still he seemed to just keep on hiring additional musicians)
Though he broke up with the Mothers, he kept one: Ian Underwood. The inside of the album pictures Zappa and Underwood as the only two ‘band members’, all other musicians were hired guns, it appears.

The Album Itself:
This album is a lot more Jazz, or Jazz rock oriented. And while, according to Preston at least, he wanted less improvisation and more composition in his music, half this record is improvisation. The album could be split in short compositional pieces, and long improvisational pieces, the shorter songs being Peachen en Regalia, Little Umbrella’s and It Must be a Camel. The other three songs have really extended solo’s.
For the CD version, Zappa added 4 minutes of solo’s to The Gumbo Variations, and one could argue if the song needed more.
This album was the first Zappa record for which he used a 16 track mixer, making it way easier to overdub and keep piling on extra parts. That’s why Ian Underwood could be credited to play ‘all clarinets, all saxes’, though you hear at least a couple of each.
In terms of sound, next to even more overdubs than he was already doing earlier, the half speed recordings remain in Zappa’s musical vocabulary. Uncle Meat had a lot of that, and while it’s more tastefully applied on this album, there’s still quite of lot of it.
Another notable thing is the inclusion of Jean-Luc Ponty on this album, someone who would work together with Zappa for a couple of years. Ponty even recorded an entire album of Zappa’s music released in May 1970, called King Kong, which featured George Duke. Ponty was already playing with Duke, and the three of them would be quite the team for years to come.


Essential Tracks:
Peaches en Regalia
Willie The Pimp
Son of Mr. Green Genes


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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #201 on: November 15, 2015, 12:30:12 PM »
Thanks for sharing all the interesting history! I fucking love this album. Ponty is badass. I actually have that album he did on vinyl.
Oh Jackie, always jumping to the most homoerotic possibility.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #202 on: November 15, 2015, 01:15:13 PM »
I think it's quite an uncommon opinion, but this album doesn't do much for me. Maybe leaving out The Gumbo Variations would help, I'll have to try that.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #7 Mothermania
« Reply #203 on: November 15, 2015, 05:22:18 PM »
For the CD version, Zappa added 4 minutes of solo’s to The Gumbo Variations, and one could argue if the song needed more.

One could argue that, but they would be wrong.  ;D They actually reverted back to the original Gumbo for the 2012 master, as well as a completely different mix, so for those new to this album I highly recommend both versions. And if your only experience with Hot Rats is the 2012 master or the vinyl version, give the original Ryko CD a try.

Anyway, Hot Rats is what propelled me into a hardcore Zappa fan. I still remember the day I saw the CD in the record store. I was really only familiar with the 74 band at this point, having heard Overnite and One Size Fits All, maybe one or two others. I recognized the title so I figured it might've been one of his more popular albums. Little did I know I had just struck Zappa gold.

This was a moment of "perfect album at the perfect time". I had just begun to really warm up to Jazz, particularly fusion. I was starting to listen to the likes of Weather Report and Miles Davis' more fusion driven stuff such as Bitches Brew. This album really linked Rock and Jazz, so it was very transitional to me. Suddenly I had a better understanding of what was going on in those Weather Report albums. This album brings a lot of memories of a very exciting period of musical discovery for me. So it always puts me in a really great mood.

I love the extended jams on this. You get hints of Zappa's guitar playing on the original Mothers albums but this album really propels him into guitar hero territory. He wasn't the most technically advanced guitarist, even for his time, but what he had that many of the (as he would put it) stunt guitar players lacked: a distinct voice. He had a really unique way of phrasing, lots of odd rhythmic groupings and a predominantly bluesy but equally modal style that nobody else really did. I actually think he's underrated as a player.

Ian Underwood is great too. He had the wackiness akin to Motorhead Sherwood (or probably more accurate to compare it to Eric Dolphy) but the chops to back it up. Big influence on my own sax playing in high school. The solo in Gumbo Variations is one of the absolute highlights of the album.

So yea, love this album. One of the best. Very revolutionary too, with the 16 track recorder and all. One of the first albums to use such a machine. Plus it's a very early example of jazz fusion. The style didn't really explode until a year or so later.

BTW, Jean Luc Ponty only appears on one song: It Must Be a Camel. And he isn't featured prominently enough IMO. The rest of the violin parts (including the Gumbo Variations solo) were played by Don "Sugarcane" Harris, who was a great player in his own right. He has some stellar moments on the next two Mothers albums, but I'm getting ahead of myself. One of the major misses of Zappa's career is that we never got a proper release featuring Ponty. There are a couple post humuous things I think, but I'm not sure what the quality is on those. He was one of the greats and adding him to the already magnificient 74 band was just awesomeness overload.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #204 on: November 15, 2015, 05:38:10 PM »
This is one of my go-to albums from Frank and company.  I can always put this one or Roxy & Elsewhere on and I'll be fine.

I used to make these silly tapes, supposed to be a radio disk jockey, recorded on my cheesy Sears all-in-one stereo I got when I was 12.  I had a microphone, and could mix that with what was on the turntable.  My theme song was "Peaches en Regalia".  I love that tune.  Made these tapes with me blabbing and playing mostly prog tunes and talking about them, and passed them around to my friends.  They seemed to like them.  I was a prog ambassador to my high school.  I remember playing this album and Sheik Yerbouti on the stereo in the band room at school.

Another album where Frank played with the mixing and stuff when he made the CD.  Mine, anyway.  Hopefully the original mixes are on CD somewhere now.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #205 on: November 15, 2015, 09:12:25 PM »
I'm pretty sure the new 2012 master is the original mix.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #206 on: November 15, 2015, 11:25:20 PM »
Mosh, totally agree with your post. I got this one at a very jazzy period in my life, so fell in love with it instantly and it always puts me in a great mood as well. I recently put it in my car on a busy work day to de-stress and rocked the fuck out  :lol
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #207 on: November 16, 2015, 03:41:06 AM »
Aside from Peaches, I never really dug the rest of it.  Peaches is probably one of the best compositions of all time tho.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #208 on: November 16, 2015, 03:49:32 AM »
Aside from Peaches, I never really dug the rest of it.  Peaches is probably one of the best compositions of all time tho.

I was starting to get the feeling that I was the only one.  :lol

I like the sound of the album, but it's a lot less diverse than earlier Zappa records, with of course a notable exception of Ruben. So that's possibly why I love the first track, really like the second, and like the third, but after that I lose interest more and more. I'll try starting halfway the record. And I'll try to hunt down a good vinyl version one day.
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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #8 Hot Rats
« Reply #209 on: November 16, 2015, 04:35:38 AM »
Well, Nihil, we might not see eye to eye on Hot Rats, but when I bought the vinyl version of this record, I expected much but not the great musicianship and improvisation displayed on most of the tracks.
The only track that sticks out (not like a sore thumb, but musically) is Willie the Pimp. Always a live favourite of mine, but somehow the humorous track sounds out of place here. Zappa used different drummers and bassplayers on this record, all of which sounds very refreshing  to me. Especially the drumwork is fantastic overall. Peaches en regalia is off course the standout well known track, but the other compositions are all great too. You already mentioned a lot of Jazz influences, but I would say there's a lot of blues as well. I see Hot Rats as a precursor for later releases like Grand Wazoo, Waka/Jawakka and Studio Tan.   
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