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Frank Zappa

The Grand Wazoo

Review by Gary Hill

An almost completely instrumental album, if anyone has an argument about Frank Zappa landing under prog rock, they really need to listen to this. It's jazz-based rock that is adventurous, experimental and so cool. I think this thing, challenging as it is, really holds up well all these year later.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)
Coming in slow moving and tastefully weird, there is a psychedelia meets jazz concept at play here. The vocals bring even stranger angles here. There are classical vibes to this. There is also a real sense of danger and dread. The instrumental section takes us into some weird seemingly free-form zones. This is art music at its most artsy and tastefully strange. So many things merge here. There are numerous cool twists and turns on the closing extended instrumental section.
The Grand Wazoo
Classy jazz concepts with some hints of funk bring this epic (almost thirteen-and-a-half-minutes) jam into being. There is some killer twists and turns in a jam that has so much freeform and crazed jazz built into it. It is weird, but so cool. There are sections of this that feel like marching band music. Other parts seem more mainstream rock with a jazz angle. It's all exploratory and pretty crazed. It's also all trademark Zappa.
Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus
A fast paced jam with plenty of jazz and Zappa trademarks gets this underway. The cut explores that sonic territory as it continues. While this is still far from mainstream music, it is closer aligned that middle-ground than the last one was. There are some non-lyrical vocals (although it sounds like both male and female, it's actually Zappa and  George Duke) near the end.
Eat That Question
A cool, vaguely funky keyboard jam opens this. Eventually the rest of the instruments join, and we are off into zones that make think of the Apostrophe album. This shifts to an electric guitar dominated movement later that really brings the rock, but in a somewhat restrained way. Then it explodes out into more jazz rock jamming that fits the rest of the track from there.
Blessed Relief
This is a cool jazz rock tune that has some great twists and turns.
 
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