Frank Zappa

Funky Nothingness
Frank Zappa

The stream of archival Zappa releases would be overkill if not for the fact that the quality remains excellent – a testament to the high standard to which FZ held himself. Recorded in 1970, after the classic Uncle Meat, these 25 tracks feature one of the best groups Zappa ever assembled – Mothers of Invention keyboardist/saxophonist Ian Underwood joined by blues violin virtuoso Don “Sugarcane” Harris, session bassist Max Bennett, and drummer Aynsley Dunbar following the dissolution of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation.

Clearly cut during a creative high, the material is mostly instrumental, but Frank sings Muddy Waters’ “I’m A Rollin’ Stone,” featuring battling wahs, guitar, and violin. The leader further dips into his rhythm-and-blues roots for “Work With Me Annie,” featuring soulful vocal by Harris and a blistering Zappa solo. Three different versions of “Chunga’s Revenge,” averaging 18 minutes, feature Zappa’s distorted, squawky guitar, but the title cut is a simple, bluesy acoustic ditty. “Khaki Sack” highlights some of his most-straightforward blues licks.

Listeners continue to realize what an impressive guitarist Zappa was, in the same way that lay people discover a serious composer who had more to say than “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow.”

This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

No posts to display