Friday, June 03, 2005

Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers - Bongo Fury (Discreet, 1975)

Old compadres Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and one of the last incarnations of the Mothers of Invention hook up for this live album cut in Austin, TX in 1975. Zappa had produced Beefheart’s classic Trout Mask Replica LP and the two had collaborated on some other projects like Zappa’s own Hot Rats LP. In some ways however, this album documents an uncomfortable collaboration with those concerned clearly heading in opposite directions musically. Beefheart mines his own personal brand of blues and R&B deeply while spinning off some surrealist poetic spoken word such as “Man With the Woman Head.”

On the other hand, Zappa’s satirical bent is evident in his spotlighted parts, continuing to write songs about groupies and sex with “Debra Kadabra” and “Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy” as he had been doing many times, particularly on the older Flo and Eddie material. His guitar is fresh and fiery, however and the Mothers back him very well and this makes up for some of the more self-indulgent lyrics that Zappa spins. “Advance Romance” allows Zappa to stretch out on guitar with the band egging him on. It’s interesting to hear these two great American musical eccentrics perform together, but in the end the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

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