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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Clark Colborn

Frank Made Me Do It

Review by Jason Hillenburg

Clark Colborn's latest release, Frank Made Me Do It, is ostensibly a loving homage to legendary composer and musician Frank Zappa, but is really much more. Colborn never sets out to ape Zappa's style, but instead uses his music as inspiration for stretching out in thrilling, unpredictable ways. This is a tribute album in the purest sense of the word, an aural thank you filtered through Colborn's own unique musical consciousness.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Gimpy the Weasel

The first song, "Gimpy the Weasel,” is an extraordinary musical workout. The sound recalls mid-80s King Crimson more than the production style typically heard on Zappa's work from the same or earlier periods, particularly in its hyperactive guitar work. Colborn's playing reminds me of Jackson Pollock's "drip" painting - to the uninitiated, it can initially sound nonsensical or unmanageable, but the attentive listener can hear how these individual notes accumulate into a discernible musical shape and feel.

Elephant Hoosegow
This opens with an enormous, belligerent guitar riff that sounds one part Black Sabbath, another part Spinal Tap. Colborn's froggy vocal musings about "Radio Moscow" and other surreal free associations reinforce the song's humorous side. Colborn's imagination respects no limits here as he manages to include harmony backing vocals and jazzy inflections into the lunacy to delightful effect.
The Stalker Song
Here is a darkly comic tale of man's instinct for picking up the wrong woman. Very much in the vein of Zappa's comic monologues, Colborn resists the same scatological streak that Zappa possessed. This doesn't mean it is some pale imitation - instead, it feels less like a performance than Zappa's take on this kind of subject and hits higher comedic marks as a result. Colborn's hilarious delivery of this tale of woe resonated deeply with me and has an ideal musical backing.
Happy, Happy Man Pants
The ribald humor of "Happy, Happy Man Pants" is another highlight of the album. Colborn unleashes another brash guitar riff to hang his hysterical paean to unrepentant lust on, but the instrumental break late in the song is the true highlight. Colborn succeeds in deconstructing the first half of the song to the point of near chaos before bringing back the tune's disparate elements for a powerful conclusion.
My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama
The finale, "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama,” is the release's only Frank Zappa cover and is an outstanding choice for the final song. Colborn's version is closer to Dweezil Zappa's cover than Frank's original, but is an ultimately faithful rendition pushing Colborn's blistering fretwork to the fore.

 

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