photo & text by nacrowe
what makes listening to FRANK ZAPPA engaging and pleasurable is the experience of just being swept away with the ECCENTRIC ORCHESTRATIONS, COMPLEX COMPOSITIONS and ODD SONIC JUXTAPOSITIONS that he came up with at varying points in his career. ZAPPA was a singular creative force and an absolute original, complete with OPAQUE, seemingly DADA-esque nonsensical lyrics that appeared designed to confound and challenge.
such is the case with the mostly instrumental HOT RATS (REPRISE, 1969) and its two most famous tracks, "PEACHES EN REGALIA" and "WILLIE THE PIMP," the latter being the only song with lyrics and an appearance by noted ZAPPA conspirator, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART. in the MULTI-LAYERED mix are references to LATIN rhythms and percussion, JAZZ-influenced guitar voicings and looping chord patterns as well as the requisite BLUES-based ROCK N ROLL song structures.
its difficult to come up with an apt analogue to compare this record to because there are none in ROCK N ROLL. you have to look outside to the world of JAZZ or modern CLASSICAL MUSIC with the likes of ORNETTE COLEMAN or IGOR STRAVINSKY, artists that defied convention and audience expectation. HOT RATS still very much sounds EXPERIMENTAL decades after its release in part dude to its multi-part composition and highly IDIOSYNCRATIC sense of ORCHESTRAL DYNAMICS.
like i said, HOT RATS is very much about going on an AURAL JOURNEY that feels almost CINEMATIC. it confounds audiences to this day and is most definitely worth revisiting or checking out for the first time. highly recommended.