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Frank Zappa: Uncle Meat/Roxy & Elsewhere

Two more mothers out again on vinyl...

The fifth Mothers of Invention album, 1969’s Uncle Meat was originally planned as part of Frank Zappa’s grandiose, aborted multimedia project, No Commercial Potential. Over four sides of vinyl, Zappa demonstrates his own conceptual, instrumental and compositional breadth, and the limits of the recording technology of the time.

It can be an intimidating listen: free-form percussion meets sped-up guitar (Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution); spoken word interludes of varying obscurity; a rock’n’roll tune restated in a number of different musical forms (Dog Breath Variations), Louie Louie performed at the Royal Albert Hall, and classic Zappa instrumental King Kong.

More accessible Roxy & Elsewhere (1974) featuring live performances from an impressive Mothers line-up including Chester Thompson and George Duke. Side two would be a good starting point for any Zappa newbie, with the bittersweet funk of Village Of The Sun running into a couple of jaw-dropping, jazz-tinged instrumentals.

Add to that some trademark Zappa humour (Cheepnis, Dummy Up, and Be-Bop Tango), and a clear, vinyl-friendly production job, and Roxy is a certified classic.