Monday, October 19, 2009

Frank Zappa's Hot Rats is 40

Frank Zappa
Hot Rats
Rating: ****

Hot Rats is such a remarkable album. Just in 1969, Frank Zappa had split the Mothers of Invention (who would reform a year later with a different line-up) and decided to go solo. Lumpy Gravy was Zappa's first album released his name alone. Hot Rats was a big step for Zappa not only as a musican but as a composer. Five of the six songs on here are instrumental. The album was a flop in the US but for some reason, it was popular in the UK. Zappa would later speak fondly of the album in his 1990 autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book. He said,
"The very idea! An all instrumental album, except for one vocal cut- and that had to feature Captain Beefheart! He's no singer! Why are you wasting America's precious time with this, you a*****e."

My favorite song on the album would have to be "Peaches en Regalia". I think it's his quintessential song. The sound of it describes who Frank Zappa was: a genius ahead of his time. "Willie the Pimp" is the only song with vocals, sung by Captain Beefheart. The rest of the album has wonderfully conducted instrumentals including "Son of Mr. Green Genes", "Little Umbrellas", the 15 minute long "Gumbo Vibrations", and the coller closer "It Must Be a Camel."

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