What a very curious thing this is. There are hints abounding that this actually is the signpost marking the very apex of Zappas real creative flux, and the people he was with were never quite replaced functionally later, whatever you might think (except Ruth Underwood, but that goes without saying). This is about the closest we ever get to Uncle Meat without a direct parallel.
If Zappa hadn't been compelled to go into rock (which wasn't that certain a thing anyhow), listen to Aybe Sea and think about what this guy could really do on a good day. That's for starters. I listen a great deal to Webern and Berio, and Schoenburg, and I must say that Igor's boogie is one of the most clever pieces of pure music I have ever heard. I downloaded a midi file with this (so I could see the way it worked) and this is quite similar to some otherwise rather inaccessible stuff by Mr Stravinsky in his later pieces (histoire de Soldat for instance), but sharper and very much ... denser.. ? Is that the right word?
Where's the rest of the stuff from this studio booking? There must be loads of this left from those days...
I don't know if this is rock and roll, I guess it would be on that particular shelf, but my goodness me, I like it...
on 23 January 2004
This is one of the first Mothers albums I heard, and it's partly responsible for setting me on the deranged course of acquiring every available recorded note of FZ's music. It's title comes from the fact that the album is topped and tailed by two lovely doo-wop tunes, which enclose the more adventurous music within. The highlight is the 18 minute "Little House I Used to Live In" which features solos by Ian Underwood, Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Don Preston and FZ (on organ) as well as more organised, composed music. Other high points are "Holiday in Berlin", the full-blown version of which features an extraordinary guitar solo from Zappa, as does "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich" - a wah-wah and percussion extravaganza. A lot of FZ fans like to listen to this when they're not in the mood for the more extreme end of the Mother's avant-garde stuff - this makes it a good album to start with if you haven't listened to much of their music.
on 5 August 2009
If you only know Frank Zappa through his comedy rock or guitar soloing then you must give this album a try, I'm sure you won't be dissapointed. But then, as a life long fan, Zappa's music has forever formed the soundtrack to my life - I'm biased. This is, in my opinion, one his best from a very long back catalogue. An often overlooked masterpiece this one, with the musicianship of the individual Mothers shining through. Guest spots from Sugar Cane Harris on bluesy electric violin add to the greatness of this album. Ian Underwood, Don Preston and Bunk Gardiner all excel in their contributions too, and Frank'z guitar playing is just absolutely sublime. The album has a nice, small concert hall ambience to it that gives an intimate feel as if this music is being made right there, now, in front of you. Or heard through head phones it will transport you to far off places, I guarrantee!
From the opening doowop number " WPLJ" (wine port and lemon juice) this album takes you through the magnificence of The Mother's ability to interpret the varied styles of Frank's compositions. From neo classical orchestrations and pastoral chamber pieces, woodwind extravaganzas, pipe organ explorations over beautifully precise intricate drumming, blues and jazz improvisations over calculated and richly textured chord structures, to concert piano stylings. The closing track is the encore from a live UK show from '69 - the innocently sweet, but never spoofy doowop love song "Valerie" that always reminds me with regret that, aged 12 years old and in dire straights, I sold my ticket for their show at Newcastle City Hall on that tour! (seen Frank many times since with different bands though!)
Many of the themes that occur throughout Frank's life long recordings appear on this album for the first time and could be termed the definitive versions from which all the others derive. Themes such as "Holiday in Berlin", "Burnt Weeny Sandwich", "Igor's Boogie", "The Little House I used to Live in" can be found throughout his recordings over the following decades and with many different line ups and sometimes under different titles.
I love this album so much, Burnt Weeny, Chunga's Revenge and Weazel's Ripped my Flesh are my holy trinity / trilogy. I insist that all three must be played back to back at my funeral while "The Gumbo Variations" from Hot Rats accompanies my coffin on it's way out. After sitting through that combined onslaught the mourners will be glad to see the last of me!
But this music will live forever! If you never buy another Zappa album (why ever not!!) then this is the one to have.
on 6 December 2010
This is overall my favourite Mothers album because of the sheer musical brilliance contained in it. Showcasing as it does some serious composing as well as performing skills, this album is a mix of studio and live performances and was released almost as an afterthought by Zappa as the band which are featured here had all but ceased to exist as a unit by the time this record came out.
Whilst this is pretty much the same band that featured on the earlier classic 'We're Only In It For The Money' the music here sounds like it could have been the product of a completely different band, featuring as it does mainly instrumental pieces,with a more fully realised complexity than had been heard on earlier recorded work and with some standout performances notably from Frank himself on the sublime 'Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich'(his best recorded guitar solo by far to my mind )and the lovely 'Holiday In Berlin Full Blown' which features the whole band performing a very jazz-oriented composition along with another stand-out guitar display from Frank.
There's also a strong element of Frank's trademark humour present in many of these pieces despite the seriousness of the playing and composing, and largely without the seemingly random insertion of bizarre collages of electronic sounds and vocal eccentricities so characteristic of earlier Mothers albums. 'Holiday In Berlin' beautifully mimics typically mediocre cocktail-bar style jazz yet produces something wholly inspired and affecting. 'Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich' begins with some apparently random guitar noodlings whilst accompanied by various percussion and other noises sounding rather like a group of incompetent removal men were attemptinging to take equipment away whilst the rest of the band play, until the whole thing develops into a very inventive and often beautifully constructed piece of music.
Side two is mostly taken up with the instrumental 'Little House I used To Live In', beginning with some exquisite solo piano before turning briefly into a brass section and percussion tour-de-force and eventually settling nicely into a steady groove featuring the electric violin of Don 'Sugarcane' Harris in addition to more of Frank's distinctive guitar and contrasting electric piano on some very bluesy extended soloing. A couple of Frank's beloved 50's style doo-wop pastiches open and close the album.
Perhaps one of the main difficulties in connecting with and fully appreciating Zappa's work is the way that it often defies easy categorisation, and unless you're prepared to put aside preconceptions as to what music 'should' be it can be easy to overlook much of the originality and inspired creativity present. Zappa's disdain for commercialism and it's trappings, along with the ridiculing of the pervasive slavish mentality of established authority and religion and an often amusing preoccupation with some of the more bizarre expressions of sexuality have been continuing and predominant themes of Zappa's work throughout his career, all infused with the humour that was never far away in any of his compositions.
It's perhaps testament to his genius that the very qualities that ought to have alienated him from any kind of mass acceptance have become trademarks of his popularity and helped define him as one of the outstanding musicians of his generation.The music featured here on this album demonstrates a maturity and progression from earlier output and also points very clearly in the direction that Zappa was to take on the classic 'Hot Rats' album, which was itself recorded probably not long after.
For me,this album still bears repeated listening and whilst it has many of the hallmarks of the era in terms of style (extended soloing and style of instrumentation being probably the most obvious)the sheer absorbing musicality of the pieces transcends any weaknesses it might otherwise have, to produce a real gem of inventiveness which still has the power to sound fresh and original today.
on 5 July 2011
This, the last of the original Mothers' albums, is a long instrumental ride through the lands of fantasy that does not attempt a definitive system, but finds instead spontaneity and grace of true genius. The centerpiece of the album is the twenty-two minutes of 'Little House I Used to Live In' featuring some stunning violin playing from Don Sugarcane Harris. 'Burnt Weeny' is a tour de force of four great soloists (Harris, Preston, Underwood, Zappa) and the rhythm section (the dual battery and Tripp Black). This album is a stylistic masterpiece and ranks as one of Zappas's greatest achievements. This ought to be included in the all-time top 50 albums lists of all those that consider themselves genuine music fans.
on 2 May 2001
see zappa's biggest version of the original mothers tackle some inspired pieces that can not really be sorted into a musical category. Its not classical, its not rock, its not jazz, but one thing is for sure - the pieces are superb, especially the 18 minute tour de force that is The Little House I used to Live In. From Ian Underwoods opening piano to the driving finish it never realeases its grip. Stunning. Every Zappa fan should have this in his collection.
on 5 November 2015
Frank and their mum - another classic example from the maestro of mysteriously marvellous musicery
on 25 October 2006
This album conatins the most beautiful piano piece I have ever heard in my life. The piano prelude to 'The Little House I Used To Live In', played with astonishing presence and beauty by Don Preston. If the rest of the album were crap it would still be worth buying just for this moment alone. But it's not crap. It's quite excellent an an essential addition to any Zappa explorer's collection.
on 13 June 2007
This was just about the last of the original MOI albums("Weasels" was released after they and FZ split)and it is my all time favourite album,not just by FZ but by anybody.
Two covers of 1950s doowop(WPLJ and Valarie)are the bread,the sandwich is the remainder,fantastic instrumentals showing both the Mothers in full flight(mostly in the studio,but some bits,ie the guitar solo in "Holiday in Berlin Full Blown",spliced in from live shows),FZ's blossoming as a guitarist,and lastly his abilities as a composer and bandleader.Highlights are hard to pick out as the music is so good,but "Holiday In Berlin Full Blown","Aybe Sea"(a rare example of FZ playing auocustic guitar)and the piano solo followed by the full force of the MOI at the begining of "Little House I Used To Live In".
Unfortunately,this was the end of the road for the original MOI,FZ went off in different directions after 1970,and though he continued to make fantastic music(most of the time)he could never hit this peak again.Much to his displeasure(see the liner notes for the YCDTOSA CDs)his fans continued to love the original MOI over his current touring lineup.
it should be compulsory for anyone who likes music of any description to have a copy of this!!
MMmm, this is a tasty little sucker as the sleeve says. Not sure what a burnt weeny sandwich is?
A great Zappa and The Mothers album though. Starts and ends with sleazy pop songs and in between ventures far afield. Lots of great Zappa guitar and lots of varied musical styles, the trademark of this period of Zappas output
An essential purchase.
Go to it.