Heavy Vanguard: Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention // Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Frank Zappa, sadly, remains one of those artists whose work hasn’t gotten the attention it truly deserves. Although he has gotten some acclaim for what he’s done, it all has a vague, cultish feel to it, as if the mainstream has never completely been in love with what he did. And maybe that’s exactly how Zappa wanted it, being a musical, social, and political iconoclast from his starting days with The Mothers of Invention to his 1993 passing from complications relating to prostate cancer.

The truth of the matter, however, is that Zappa stands out as one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century; he was one of the first artists to bring together the works of the modern classical movement and the more popular music of the time, such as R&B, rock, and jazz. On top of this, he was a guitar virtuoso and a relentless artist whose output remains as one of the most prolific discographies in music.

The album we chose today, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, isn’t usually given much attention as opposed to other bright stars in the Zappa catalog—Freak Out!, Hot Rats, Joe’s Garage, and Apostrophe (‘) come to mind—partially because of its status as a post-breakup Mothers of Invention album culled from numerous live performances. However, these forty-three minutes of music go through nearly everything Zappa was musically capable of, and therefore serves as the ideal Zappa album to start. (Not to mention it has one of the greatest album covers of all time.) Weasels has everything from free improvised jazz, electroacoustic experimentations, and straight-up rock tunes, all strung together with Zappa’s infamous sardonic wit and general irreverence towards the norms of modern society. While there are arguably more fleshed-out Zappa recordings out there in terms of musical cohesion and thematic concepts, this has a little bit of everything for one to try out.

Recommended Zappa Listening:

  • (For Electroacoustic Fans)
    • Lumpy Gravy
  • (For Jazz Fans)
    • Hot Rats
    • Waka/Jawaka
  • (For Rock Fans)
    • Freak Out!
    • Apostrophe (‘)
    • Over-Nite Sensation

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