Frank Zappa Listening Session 2: Weasels Ripped My Burnt Weeny Flesh Sandwich

Posted: January 13, 2013 in music, Song Clip, Uncategorized, vinyl, Zappa
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Burnt Weeny Sandwich – The Mothers Of Invention   1970 Bizarre (blue label)

Disclaimer: There is nothing I’d rather listen to on vinyl thank Frank Zappa albums. They are always recorded, mixed and mastered impeccably, written and played with meticulous attention to detail, wildly creative and packaged with great artwork(most of the time). If I am lucky enough to track down a mint pressing, there is no better treat for my turntable than Frank’s bizarre offerings. Now, on with the review…

2_Originals_Of_The_Mothers_Of_InventionThese two albums, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh, are like the two sides of a coin. They were recorded together before Frank dissolved the Mothers between 1967 and 1969 and were even released together on vinyl as 2 Originals of the Mothers of Invention for a time. This is why I thought I would talk about them together. That and the fact that even before I knew about them being released or recorded together, I used to listen to the together(along with 200 Motels, but that’s for a different review…once I find a mint press on vinyl).

004Here goes…Burnt Weeny Sandwich: First, I love how diverse this record is, even for Frank. Kicking off and wrapping up with Doo Wop covers(WPLJ and Valerie respectively) really sets the table for a bizarre meal. Side one has the two love letters to Stravinsky, Igor’s Boogie Phase 1 and Igor’s Boogie Phase 2. These snippets are brilliant abstracts that gives one the feel of being at the rehearsal of some martian marching band rehearsal(a good thing, to be sure). These tracks sandwich both Overture to a Holiday in Berlin(Another incredible march, this time having the feel of a late 60’s Italian crime film that had the courage  NOT to get Morricone to do the score…and I love Morricone, but you get the point) and Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich(with it’s great fuzz/wah driven guitar solo). The more I describe this side, I realize it really has the feel of 200 Motels…anyway…Then come my favorite part of the side…Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown. I love the feel and the time signature shifts in this one. I especially love the shift into the almost scumbaggy gigolo horn section. So good.

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009010Before I flip the record to side two, I have to point out the album art and packaging. Frank almost always(except for the albums that should’ve made up the Lather album:Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan and Orchestral Favs covers were all weak in my opinion…Zappa in New York is the exception there) had great album art. Here is no exception. Even the sleeve is interesting. Just click the thumbnails and check it out.

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Side 2 is all about the epic The Little House I Used to Live in. This is an absolutely amazing journey that is punctuated by Don “Sugarcane” Harris’ violin solo. The track is also a puzzle of time signatures being overlaid on each other while never losing momentum. It is truly incredible to listen a nice pressing of this. The recording and mastering are both so good, the separation of instruments basically places you in Frank’s rehearsal space with each part of the song cascading over you, leaving you enveloped in the bizarre majesty that was the Mothers. Here is the whole record, as I could not find good versions of individual tracks. Still, buy Frank’s albums. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBRUcElxhJU

Now on to Weasels Ripped My Flesh…

031Weasels Ripped My Flesh – The Mothers Of Invention   1970  Bizarre Records (Blue Label)

032Weasels is definitely the more song-y of the two albums and is made up of a mix of both studio and live recordings from 1967-1969.  It does start out abstract like Burnt Weeny with the track Didja Get Any Onya? This gives way to an electric violin driven, almost psychedelic, blues cover of Little Richard’s Directly from My Heart to You. Up next is the insanity of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask. I don’t know why I think of this album as the song-y one…Maybe compared to Burnt Weeny. Still, to me it’s all about side two. Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue is a favorite of mine. I love Frank tracks that have a heavy vibes/marimba feel and this one has a great vibraphone intro that gives way to some nice interplay between percussionist and guitarist before building to a cacophony in the middle of the song. True Mothers stuff here.  Then there is the trio of My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Momma, Oh No and Orange County Lumber Truck. I will let the tracks do the talking…

ManAgainstWeaselmanI will not go into much more depth on the rest of the music here, as I feel dissecting these pieces take away from the whole. I will mention the packaging though. Again, the artwork has it’s own little story too. Frank brought an issue of Man’s Life to his artist because the cover story interested him. He told artist Neon Park to come up with something worse than that and Neon combined the Weasels attacking idea with an ad for an electric shaver. Frank loved it and, legal problems with Shick aside, the iconic cover was born. You should see the German cover…Google that one for a laugh.

The pair of albums can be looked at as either separate, distinct projects or as companion pieces to each other. Either way has it’s merits. I like to experience them together, as I like Frank’s larger works that seem to loom in scope. Though these two albums don’t have a cohesive narrative theme like Joe’s Garage or Thing-Fish, that doesn’t mean they don’t complete each other in some ways. So do yourself a favor, track down some nice presses of these two records, sit down in front of a nice stereo(or make friends with someone if you can’t find one on your own) and surrender to the insanity. Don’t worry if it makes sense beyond the music. Like Frank said, “Information is not knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom; Wisdom is not truth; Truth is not beauty; Beauty is not love; Love is not music; Music is the best.

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Comments
  1. JS Bach says:

    I just checked out these reviews. They’re an interesting read. Great to hear that someone’s still listening to FZ on vinyl.

    I’ve enjoyed these LPs for years, but I currently do not own a Grammophone (not even a Deutsche). I have only recently gotten back to them since I acquired the 2012-remastered releases. The older Ryko BWS, W/J and WRMF discs always disappointed me.
    I already am in heaven, but the new releases certainly make it even more exciting this side of the Hades.

    I compiled an album top 100 sometime around 1980. WRMF was in position# 0 at the time, because it was hors catégorie for me then and, I realise now, it still is. Mind you, dear reader, my taste ranges 400 years of (ba)rock music from Monteverdi, through my friend Buxtehude to Ellington, Brel and Sandy Denny, to give you an idea of my audioscope.

    I hope you’ll be reviewing more Zappa stuff, Staplegun. Keep firing them and I’ll keep checking your blog.

    Tschüss, JS

    _________________
    My name isn’t Fritz, it’s Johann. Jawohl!

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