A Six-Pack of Frank Zappa

“The poodle bites, the poodle chews it”- Dirty Love

If Frank Zappa hadn’t existed, it would certainly be necessary to invent him. As I look at the vast wasteland of garbage that passes for today’s music, I shudder to think how a Zappa would fit into this environment. I suppose he’d still be producing rock-oriented jazz/prog stuff with a bizarre sense of humor and totally juvenile attitude towards all things sex.

And that’s why we love him. I’ve written about Zappa here,and here. It’s kinda hard to pick six tunes as, according to Wikipedia, “During his lifetime, Zappa released 62 albums. Since 1994, the Zappa Family Trust has released 57 posthumous albums, making a total of 119 albums.” But I’ll give it a shot but I will just scratch the surface. I categorized this post under rock and jazz-rock but you might just as well have a category called Frank Zappa and be done with it.

One Size Fits All is the tenth studio album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, released in June 1975. It is the band’s last studio album. According to some dude on a chat board:

“Zappa was inspired to write “Po-Jama People” by those in his band at the time, about 1973-74 . He felt that they were all such intellectuals that they were actually just boring.” Is that true? I don’t know. Frankly, it sounds more like Frank is bragging than complaining.

You know what you’re like. You are like a “Penguin in Bondage,” boy. As FZ himself explains,”The name of this song is Penguin in Bondage. It’s song that deals with the possible variations on a basic theme… And then the variations include maneuvres that might be executed with the aid of extra-terrestrial gratification.”

It goes on from there but you get the idea:

From the great Apostrophe (‘) album comes “Uncle Remus” with a nice George Duke piano intro. This song, and in fact the whole album, really indicate what a strong R&B/blues/doo-wop background Zappa had in addition to his classical leanings and overall weirdness:

I can’t wait ’til my fro is full-grown
I’ll just throw away my do rag at home
I’ll take a drive to Beverly Hills
Just before dawn

An’ knock the little jockeys
Off the rich people’s lawn
An’ before they get up
I’ll be gone, I’ll be gone

Over-nite Sensation was recorded more or less at the same time as Apostrophe (‘) but precded the latter. Fun story – Zappa hired Tina Turner and the Ikettes to sing backup.

Ike came in, listened, said “What is this shit?” and insisted that they remain uncredited. So you will hear Tina and the lovely Ikettes singing not only on “Montana” but also on one of Zappa’s more juvenile (yet funky) tunes, “Dirty Love.” I bet Tina dug the whole thing:

Give me your dirty love
Like some tacky little pamphlet
In your daddy’s bottom drawer

Give me your dirty love
Just like your mama make her fuzzy poodle do

As you may well know, Zappa wasn’t entirely about jerking around in songs and sometimes just played the tunes.

Joe’s Garage is a three-part rock opera.The story is told by a character identified as the “Central Scrutinizer” narrating the story of Joe, an average adolescent male, from Canoga Park, Los Angeles, who forms a garage rock band, has unsatisfying relationships with women, gives all of his money to a government-assisted and insincere religion, explores sexual activities with appliances, and is imprisoned. After being released from prison into a dystopian society in which music itself has been criminalized, he lapses into insanity.”

Tommy it is not. And in fact, this tune, “On the Bus,” sounds less like any of that and more like something that would have fit in nicely with with Wired-era Jeff Beck:

There are times in “San Ber’dino” where it sounds more like you’re listening to ZZ Top. Again, from One Size Fitas All:


17 thoughts on “A Six-Pack of Frank Zappa

    1. It’s so daunting to try to get through all his shit. 119 albums! I know pieces of a lot of them but not anywhere close to all of them. Apostrophe is hands-down my favorite.


  1. To me, Frank Zappa definitely is an acquired taste, and after various attempts to warm to his music, I’m afraid I’m still in the acquisition phase. In general, I find his over-the-top sense of humor becomes quickly overwhelming.

    The one tune that I like, which I bet most Zappa fans don’t care about or hate outright, is his “commercial sellout”, “Bobby Brown”. I find the foul lyrics pretty amusing (though I’m generally not a fan of foul lyrics) and the music weirdly catchy.

    Also, have you ever listened to “Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar”? It’s an all instrumental, very improvisational album. BTW, I have no doubt Zappa was super-talented!


    1. Far be it from me to try to convince you to be an FZ fan. You either is or you isn’t as Frank would say. But before you give up entirely, if you haven’t already, I would urge you to at listen to the soulful “Uncle Remus,” the jazzy “On the Bus” and the (sort of) ZZ Top-leaning “San Ber’dino.”


      1. Happy to report I found another Zappa tune I like: “Flake”, off “Sheikh Yerbouti” (btw, best spoof title ever!), the same masterpiece that included “Bobby Brown” – that parody on Dylan really made me laugh!🤣


    1. “Roxy” is a perennial fave with the cognoscenti. “Apostrophe” is my personal fave of FZ’s and one of my favorite albums of all time


    1. Now I can’t that image out of my head. For the record, This is Frank Zappa on Spotify is a pretty good mix that is guaranteed to send C to the B down a vast rabbithole.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I like the set. I sing Pyjama people pretty regular but San Ber’dino (man is there a lot going on in this song) is just a killer cut. They all are. The Ikettes get into the vibe of the song. They committed to it. “I got a spot that gets me hot”. Old Ike would be out of his tree,


        1. Yeah, fuck Ike, right? Kind of a douchebag. All hail Tina and the Ikettes. Apparently what got Tina to involve Ike was some tough patch on ‘Montana.’ To appreciate FZ fully you must share his sense of the absurd if not the utterly juvenile.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh cool – Zappa can be pretty frustrating for me. I don’t like him so much when he lets the message overwhelm the music – like ‘Dinah-Moe Hum’ feels like it’s way more about provocation than music. But there’s lots of great stuff on his 1970s albums, like Peaches En Regalia and Inca Roads.


    1. Do you have Spotify. This is Frank Zappa has a nice mix. And I can highly recommend ‘Apostrophe’ and ‘Overnite Sensation.’


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