Frank Zappa – One Shot Deal [Zappa Records, 2008]

Frank Zappa - One Shot DealThe latest release from the Zappa vault is sort of like a miniaturized version of the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore series, spanning several different Zappa eras. The first track on One Shot Deal contains the unmistakeable vocals of Napoleon Murphy Brock and George Duke, getting down and dirty with the greasy gutter funk of Bathroom Man, which spot-lights Duke’s lively, up-beat singing and keyboard playing, followed by a blistering blast of guitar from Frank. Next up is the interstellar dissonance of Space Boogers, one of my favorites on the album, which conjures up a musical meeting between Edgar Varèse and The Max Rebo band at a wake for William S. Burroughs. Space Boogers would have felt at home on Weasels Ripped My Flesh, as would the song that follows it, Hermitage, with more zany head-melting minimalism. After that we have Trudgin’ Across The Tundra with its mellow yet slightly maniacal percussion and bass which gives off the distinct aroma of Willy The Pimp, and is quickly joined by a skittering trumpet solo by Gary Barone which is rather reminiscent of ye olde Waka Jawaka.

I just realized that if anyone reading this is not a fan of Frank Zappa then I may as well be talking in tongues. I’m just assuming that if you’re a fan of weirdomusic, then you’ll be a fan of Frank’s too. But then again, as Al Franken says, when you assume, you make an ass of Uma Thurman. Sorry Uma, but let’s move on, shall we kids? For fans of Frank’s guitar work, Occam’s Razor is the original, unedited guitar solo that became On The Bus, and truly shines without the narrative distraction on Joe’s Garage. Heidelberg is another little guitar gem taken from a performance of Yo Mama from 1987. It begins with familar territory, yet veers off becoming funkier and even catchier than the original solo. Following those 2 magical numbers we take a bit of a nose-dive in my view, with yet another version of The Illinois Enema Bandit. Having said that, the band plays brilliantly, and Zappa’s guitar solo is raw and rude, with Frank fairly well strangling the damn thing towards the end.

The Australian Yellow Snow is one for fans who like to hear amusing Zappa stage banter about huskies and piss, (among other familiar topics), which finally moves on into a killer orchestral section which doesn’t last long enough, particularly after 7 minutes of Zappa’s waffling. But the closer on the album makes up for it: Rollo is a kind of big band version of St Alphonso’s Pancake Breakfast and it kicks the proverbial poodle’s ass!

Overall, I would say that One Shot Deal is one of the best posthumous Zappa releases I’ve heard so far.

Joe Pickell

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