44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2003
That this album should be so good belies the trouble that went into it's production.
Beefheart had hogtied himself with contractual problems and so Frank invited him out onto the road to perform and to earn some much needed cash.
The resulting tour became a nightmare, Beefheart baiting Frank onstage and arguing with him offstage. Just look at the cover. Frank glowers unhappily at the camera as the Captain hides his face beneath his hat.
In one of Frank's last television interviews you could see that he was still fairly upset by the affair. After all, he and the Captain had grown up together in Lancaster.
But out of such seeds of discontent grew an album of fine quality. Frank's exceptional production skills made this a thrilling and inventive live document that still sounds polished but raw, inventive and yet controlled.
Captain Beefheart's contributions are truly excellent, his prose and singing effortlessly meld with the wondrous performances of the band.
And this album contains what is arguably Frank's best live guitar performance.
The legendary 'Muffin Man'.
Buy it now.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2002
This is both one of Zappa's AND one of Capt. Beefheart's greatest albums. They both seem to inspire and discipline each other, and the resulting tension brings out the best in both of them. Beefheart's voice is kept within a kind of Tom Waits range, though the lyrics are of a dementia only psychoanalysts can be familiar with. The music is in Zappa's most restrained rock style, including the psychopathic country ballad "Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead", a vitriolic attack on the commercial loin-girding and main chance-eyeing going on in the USA prior to the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. The few songs without the Captain are disappointing in his absence, but don't let that stop you buying this seventies masterpiece, still just as thrilling today.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2005
Rock's mad scientist and Dadaist extraordinaire team up for the first time since 1969's "Hot Rats" and deliver a totally manic, freeform, and above all, entertaining live record. The opening track "Debra Kedabra" hurls round so many musical hairpin bends it's hard to keep track of what's goin on. Every track on here sounds so fiendishly difficult to play one can only listen in awe of the skill of this incarnation of Zappa's band. It's mostly led by Zappa's overdriven guitar and the Captain's demonic growling, but with various flashes of horns and keyboards clashing with insane time signatures. It isn't without the humour which often comes with Zappa, such as in "200 Years Old" (a "celebration" of the USA's 200th birthday), or the gloriously bonkers Beefheart psycho-rant "Man with the Woman Head".
It's a shame then that such a great collaboration should have ended in an acrimonious split, leaving these two childhood friends barely speaking to each other. However, it is still a great record, despite the tensions, and contains the moment in which Zappa sealed his reputation as a guitar-wizard to equal Hendrix, in the sublime "Muffin Man".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2008
Astonishingly, an FZ album which DIDN'T really grab my attention upon first listening. Subsequently, however, it has grown into one of my absolute favourites. Right up there in the pantheon of the indispensables.
Lots of interesting background in the previous reviews. I didn't realise the FZ/CB rift dated back to this album, but they must have gotten each other's creative juices flowing. This wondrous album features, i would say, some of FZ's finest guitar work. Check out the wicked solos on "Carolina Hard-core Ecstasy" and "Advance Romance", for starters. Marvel to the brilliant "Muffin Man". The Captain is also pretty much at the top of his game, with his zany interventions. Growling and howling his way so menacingly, that you'd wonder if the man isn't totally psychotic.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2013
This is a great live album and I thoroughly recommend this new 2012 CD edition to anyone curious enough to wonder how Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart & The Mothers of Invention sounded when they played together in concert back in 1975. The disc also includes two 1975 studio recordings - "Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top" & "Cucamonga".
Sound quality wise this CD edition of Bongo Fury accurately reflects the recorded musical vibes as they were first heard back in 1975 on the original DiscReet LP.
** NOTE - All reviews dated before 2012, and still listed by Amazon for this product, are about previous, different sounding editions. Here is a great review that puts all the differing CD versions sound quality/authenticity issues into better prospective -
"All pre-2012 CDs suffer from a lousy digital transfer (dig that dropout at the beginning of "Debra Kedabra"), along with added digital reverb and what sounds like a halfhearted attempt at fake-stereo processing--bass on left, treble on right. The 1995 CD has some restored cover/booklet artwork that wasn't on the original CD. The 2012 is grand and sounds almost exactly like the vinyl."
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2006
This is as good a record as we'll ever get of the '74 Zappa/Beefheart tour. It's consistently excellent and is a testament to Frank's tolerance of the insulting disrespect he received from Beefheart on a tough tour. As Zappa himself said, the reason he took Beefheart out on tour was that the Captain had tied himself into contractual knots meaning he couldn't tour or record alone.
Frank was helping out an old friend.
The result is a great album that fuses driving dirty blues, massive fuming guitar solos and moments of inspired madness. In fact the Beefheart tracks are really very good and as whole the album shows no sign of the unpleasantnesses going on. It hangs together beautifully.
But look at the cover. The look on Frank's face as he gazes up at the camera says it all.
This project was a hard thing to do.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2002
Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart are two musical genius's of the twentieth century and Bongo Fury proves it. This is Zappa and Beefheart at their best, mixing the melodic with the the downright bizarre. The title of the album comes from 'Sam with the Showing Scalp Flat-top', a great track that includes what is probably one of the best riffs in rock music ever. Bongo Fury also includes some straight-forward blues tracks, but with the trademark digs at American society. Also on this album is 'Muffin Man', a live favourite that is a great album closer. Most of Bongo Fury is a live recording from two American shows in 1975 and has to be one of the best and funniest albums of the era. Anyone who is a fan of Zappa should have this!!!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2001
In this album Captain Beefheart drives Frank Zappa and his crew to an unparalleld state of artistic expression. Listening through the tracks one after the other i am driven to a climax reaching its top with that divine Muffin Man and ending up with my soul purificated and relaxed...... If there was a six star rating for the best ever music album recorded i would give it to BONGO FURY
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2007
It's a close run thing between Uncle Meat and Bongo Fury. What might swing it in favour of BF is that it might just be the best place to start for someone who - God forbid - had never heard any FZ before.
Buy this album. If you don't love it, I'll move in next door to you and your lawn will die.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2011
According to Frank Zappa,Vaclav Havel,then president of Czechslovakia,spoke with FZ and told him "Bongo Fury" was his favourite album.Given FZ's popularity amongst disaffected eastern Europeans from the 1960s onwards,high praise indeed.
The 1975 tour,where the live bits of this come from,was a lifesaver for Beefheart,who had so tied himself in legal knots that he could neither tour nor record under his own name.Beefheart didn't enjoy the experience of touring with FZ-he used to sit around painting during large parts of the shows.
The highlight is "Muffin Man",a wonderfully sleazy-sounding guitar blow-out,but the two studio tracks "Cucamonga"(where FZ for once sounds almost wistful and sentimental)and "200 Years Old" (a diatribe against the 1976 US bicentennial)are cool as well.Beefheart's two lead tracks are a bit odd,as the Mothers were not rehearsed or trained by him,but they're worth a listen.
Worth it if you can get a cheap copy.More essential for FZ than Beefheart fans,as this is the last of George Duke or Napoleon Murphy Brock touring with FZ.