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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

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on 26 September 2006
There is a difficulty in recommending Frank Zappa's music: it does not lie in the quality - it's all good - but in the shere variety of it. It's possible to be an ardent fan of some of Zappa's work, only to find the rest of it inaccessible or just simply not your cup of tea. Sheik Yerbouti may be a difficult album to recommend - paradoxical as this may sound - due to it's fairly straightforward nature. There is nothing particularly avante-garde or virtuoso about this record (in comparison with many of his other albums) and therefore may fly against the expectations of some first time listeners. At the very least, though, this album gives a balanced picture of his varied output and like all his records it is indefinably yet unmistakably Zappa.

One recurring theme of Zappa's music is humour and the impression you get from listening to him is a refusal to take anything seriously. This extended not only to the lyrics/subject matter and the presentation but even the notes themselves - Frank Zappa made funny music. On virtually all of Zappa's albums there is a guitar line, blast of trumpet, vocal harmony, etc that sounds odd, unfamiliar and often funny. This image as a musical humourist is abundant on Sheik Yerbouti. Whether it be the overblown fanfare of 'Flakes' or the caustic lyrics of 'Broken Hearts are for Assholes' the humour is always evident and rarely subtle.

It is particularly the lack of lyrical subtlety that may cause some listeners to have a problem with the album. It forces criticisms of it being of novelty value only. I disagree. If a song is merely a novelty then it wouldn't stand repeated listening unlike the songs collected here. Why do they? Because of the quality of the songs themselves, some of which are the catchiest of Zappa's career; 'Tryin' to Grow A Chin', 'Flakes', 'Bobby Brown', 'Dancin Fool', etc, are just great pop/rock records. What must also be taken into consideration is the humour was often a medium for making a social observation and although it's understandable that songs about lazy tradesmen ('Flakes') is not everyone's idea of a subject worthy of mention the question has to be posed: why not? What is a worthy subject for song? How should a song be presented? These are questions Zappa answered all his life through refusing to stick to any pre-conceived musical norms. Here he answers them as well as anywhere else.

Sheik Yerbouti is a contentious, sarcastic, occassionally ridiciculous, fantastic record that is never for one second dull. One of his best.
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on 29 January 2008
The other reviews of this wonderful record concentrate on the songs which are indeed very good, with vulgar lyrics and great melodies which you will be humming for evermore.

However, there is so much more to enjoy as well. For starters, the album contains guitar playing up there with Zappa's best; Rat Tomago and The Sheik Yerbouti Tango are superb guitar solos and the magnificent twelve minutes that is Yo' Mama builds and soars to a massive climax, (sorry, there is no other way to describe it), accompanied by Tommy Mars only slightly overblown keyboards.

Some of the vocal and musical arrangements are stunning too. Apart from Yo' Mama, Bobby Brown, Dancin' Fool, Jewish Princess and the oft overlooked Wild Love are sooo good.

The band providing the basic live tracks was an excellent one, but almost all the songs benefit from having been heavily overdubbed, in the studio - a fact Zappa openly admits in the booklet notes.

Finally, even though City of Tiny Lights is my least favourite Zappa song, any album that has an impression of Bob Dylan moaning about his car not being fixed on time has got to deserve five stars.
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This album of mostly humorous, melodic and powerful rock songs was recorded during the height of the disco era. It doesn't only satirize the disco culture as in "Dancin' Fool," but also deals with other, more controversial subjects in a politically very incorrect way, always with amusing results. I might have been offended, for various reasons, by "Bobby Brown Goes Down," but instead it's my favorite track on the album. I love Zappa's unconventional sense of humor! The music is very accessible, although there are a couple of more experimental pieces too. Recommended for those who love intelligent rock music and are sufficiently open-minded. It's right up there with Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Joe's Garage and You Are What You Is.
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on 5 August 2009
Between 1976 and 1979,FZ and Warner Bros were in a state of intermittent war,most obviously when they butchered the "Live in New York" album."Sheik Yerbouti" was the first post-Warners album.
Lots of this was originally on "Lather",though these versions are different(with the exceptions of the spoken word intervals).Highlights are two great guitar solos recorded in Berlin,"City of Tiny Lites","Yo Mama"and "Dancin' Fool" which I remember being played on Radio One in 1979,almost a hit.
If you get this,try and get "Lather" too,so you can hear large chunks of this in it's original context.
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on 1 July 2000
If you want to know what Zappa was up to in the middle of his career, this is a good place to start. Good tunes, ace guitar licks, savage humour and absolutely first rate musicians. This is probably as close as he got to producing a mainstream rock album and if you're put off by endless discordant guitar solos, you won't find (too many!) here.
However, if you're sickened by pornographic lyrics... don't buy it! There's some weird stuff here... not as weird as he was capable of but weird enough. However, if you can forgive Frank his obsessions, buying this CD could be the start of a beautiful relationship. No one plays guitar like him and he ruthlessly got the best out of his musicians. The depth of his subject matter is what attracted me to Frank Zappa. Apart from songs about exotic sexual practices [Jones Crusher, Broken Hearts, Bobby Brown], he was a keen commentator on American life [Dancin' Fool, Flakes].
He recorded an amazing amount in his time and you will find the musical themes laid down here repeated in his later work. If you like this, the next ones to go for are the 'You can't do that on stage anymore' series... there are six of them! This is not the artist for obsessive compulsive collectors of recordings! His own catalogue will bankrupt you and you'll have to sell your kidneys...
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on 20 October 2014
'Sheik Yerbouti', released in 1979, is essentially a live double album (albeit with some subsequent overdubbing) lasting 70 minutes and packaged on a single disc. Typically, Zappa's assembled musicians are a tight and talented team and, after a few listens, I grew to like much of this collection of eclectic songs more than I initially thought I would. However, it has to be said that I found some of the material too unsubtle and lacking in inspiration - personally, I prefer the likes of 'Over-Nite Sensation', 'Apostrophe' and 'One Size Fits All'.

Picking out just a few of the highlights here; the naughty, but nice, 'I Have Been In You' runs seamlessly into the quirky 'Flakes' whilst Zappa produces another of his legendary guitar solos on 'Rat Tomago'; the fast and funky 'City of Tiny Lites', featuring the powerful vocals of Adrian Belew, is quite superb as is the classy 'Wild Love'. Although this is not my favourite Zappa album, there is plenty of good, juicy material here to make it worth checking out.
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on 2 August 2011
As a long time Frank Zappa fan I would say any album that you miss would be a strong indication of the goodness/greatness of it.This isn't Zappa's 'We're Only In It For The Money' (which for me should be up there with The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' or The Beatles 'Sgt Pepper') or 'Hot Rats' by Zappa which to me is a much more musically serious album.That said, a fair chunk of the songs stick in your head and bring a smile to your face.My personal favorites are 'Flakes (humour and Bob Dylan impression)/I'm So Cute(humour and musicality)/Jones Crusher(humour and musicality)/Bobby Brown goes down (humour)/Rubber Shirt(musicality)/Baby Snakes(humour)/City of Tiny Lites(humour and musicality)/Dancin' Fool(humour)/Jewish Princess (humour) & Yo Mama (for the humour and fantastic guitar solos).The other tracks aren't bad, in fact i would say they are just as good, but you have to be in the mood for them.And the usual top tip.Don't put it on when granny is within earshot.
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on 28 January 2007
I am not a fan of the long guitar solos or obsessive muso ramblings and so I approach every Zappa album with some fear. For me, when he lets his humour run riot he was at his best and when you have to listen through a nine minute guitar solo he was at his worst. I know that is not a popular opinion with many Zappa fans, but if you are like me then the good news is that this is the album for you.

There is a huge amount of humour, some restraint in the instrumentals and if you do get bored occassionally then there is enough variation in the album to mean that there will be something else along in a minute. 'Dancin Fool' is fun, 'Jewish Princess' and 'Bobby Brown' are marvellously offensive, 'Trying to Grow a Chin' has an addictive chorus and there is a delight in just about everything on the album.

For me (although bear in mind my overall opinion of Frank Zappa), this is his best work.
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on 3 August 2001
Out of the 15 or so Zappa albums I own this is by far the funniest. This has quite possibly the funniest songs I have ever heard in Bobby Brown goes Down with lyrics like "oh my god I'm so fantastic thanks to Freddie I'm a sexual spastic..." and I Been In You. Just listen to the lyrics and you will be thoroughly entertained and amazed at how creative one man can be with his words.
Musically this is one of his greatest though in this department I side with Hot Rats or Guitar. I strongly urge any fan of music that is as humorous lyrically as it can be serious musically to invest in this album. I would also recommend the record to anyone even remotely interested in checking out this talented artist as the first record to buy of his.
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on 13 April 2002
I haven't read the other reviews of this album, but I guess they can only be full of the same superlatives mine will be.
This album is beautifully segued, scintillatingly produced, exceptionally performed, marvellously written - in short, all we expected from Frank Zappa. Oh - the songs? If you don't know 'Bobby Brown...' you really have no right to even use the name of Frank Zappa, although my personal favourite from this album is 'Snakes' (with a delicious co-vocal from 'Bob Dylan'), particularly for the line "I am a moron, and this is my wife...". Only Zappa can throw lines like that away into the middle of a song, knowing that we will still be listening. And exquisite listening it is. Here's my last ditch sales pitch (this is why I never went into advertising): YOU MUST BUY THIS ALBUM.
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