(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
The mercurial and ever formidable Frank Zappa, had just disbanded his first (and most innovative) lineup of The Mothers Of Invention, retaining only the great multi-instrumentalist, Ian Underwood, whom shined just as greatly as Frank himself throughout the album in review, Hot Rats.
Frank like his Jazz counterpart, Miles Davis, had been absorbing all of the innovation of the pop music of the Sixties, and was not afraid to borrow in favor of producing great music. Often known as composer of satirical, but yet complex music, Hot Rats thrusted Frank Zappa into "guitar god" status. For all whom were not Zappa fans, were into this album. With its guitar heavy compositions, Frank on the six songs, proved that he was not only a great composer, but a lightning fast guitarist, whom improvised as great as any of the greats of his era.
All of the songs on Hot Rats are considered "classics", all would become live staples well into Zappa's winding days. From the re-recorded beauty of "Son Of Mr. Green Genes", to the harshness of the album's opener, "Peaches En Regalia" to the majestic epic of "The Gumbo Variations" displayed here in it entire form with Frank's directing at the beginning of the song.
The other three songs are not to be discounted, as Frank's buddy, Capt. Beefheart provides vocals to the album's only vocal track "Willie The Pimp", which also has some fine fiddlin' from violin great, Sugar Cane Harris. The brief but, lovely keyboard-driven, "Little Umbrellas" like "Peaches En Regalia" has become a standard outside of the rock world, often considered to be one of Frank's greatest compositions. The last track, "It Must Be A Camel" is a bit anti-climatic, being that it follows up one the albums greatest tracks, and seems a bit redundant to my ears. But despite that, "It Must Be A Camel" is still a wonderful song to listen to.
Not too many in rock were as prolific as Frank during this time, and Frank shocked everyone by committing six "serious" minded songs that would change many views of him and become a major influence on the "guitar" rock of the Seventies.