An early piece of the strange and wonderful Frank Zappa puzzle, recorded as a solo album by Zappa in 1969. Hot Rats is a spiralling, mostly instrumental suite of music recorded with cutting-edge 16-track studio technology that allowed for greater complexity: you can bet Zappa loved that. Reissued on vinyl by Universal.
8/10 Stephen Customer review, 9th August 2016
“Hot Rats” is probably Frank Zappa’s most well known album. Originally released in 1969, it was his first post-Mothers Of Invention recording. For the most part it is a more serious jazz-rock album than the witty lyrical satire of his previous band. However, The album title, the song titles, the oddly melodic opener “Peaches En Regalia”, in which the melody is played on a number of different and strange sounding instruments, and Captain Beefheart’s vocal on “Willie The Pimp” show that he hadn’t lost his desire to inject a little silliness into his music.
“Son of Mr. Green Genes” is arranged in a similar fashion to “Peaches En Regalia” with nicely resolving melodies interspersed with some very competent guitar noodling. “Little Umbrellas” is the shortest track among a bunch of lengthy ones and has the strangest, most discordant jazz arrangement. The 17 minute epic “The Gumbo Variations” moves the album into Miles Davis “Bitches Brew”/”Live/Evil” territory with some serious skronking and extensive guitar and violin solos. The album closes with the nicely disjointed “It Must Be a Camel” which combines discordant yet soft piano passages more challenging parts. Despite its discordant jazziness I’ve always found it to be quite accessible.
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- Hot Rats by Frank Zappa
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