It’s another Monday in Corporate Hell and despite the progress I make on my projects, there just seems to be an insurmountable accumulation of other crap to get to; each more important than the last crisis I was told to focus on. Ah well. At least it’s keeping me busy.
I’m taking a quick “breather” then (and I use that term loosely) to squeeze in my core workout before I have to join some business calls later on. And, seeing as how I only have one more Frank Zappa album in my collection to listen to, I might as well get it over with now so I can better fully engage in an inevitable new direction for the next 1-2 weeks, the ‘Sheik Yerbouti‘ album.
‘Sheik Yerbouti’ (get it?) is a double album made up of material recorded in 1977 and 1978, but released in March of 1979 as the first release on Zappa Records. The album represents a major turning point in Zappa’s career, emphasizing the comedic aspect of his his lyrics more than ever before, beginning a period of increased record sales and mainstream media attention. In fact, ‘Sheik Yerbouti’ remains Zappa’s biggest selling album worldwide with over 2 million units sold to date.
In order to finance his artier excursions, which increasingly required more expensive technology, Zappa recorded several collections of guitar- and song-oriented material in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which generally concentrated on the bawdy lyrical themes many fans had come to expect and enjoy in concert. Sheik Yerbouti was one of the first and most successful of these albums, garnering attention for such tracks as the Grammy-nominated disco satire ‘Dancin’ Fool‘, the controversial ‘Jewish Princess‘, and the equally controversial ‘Bobby Brown Goes Down‘, a song about closeted homosexual experimenting with “golden showers” and something called a “Tower of Power”. (I don’t even want to know what that is!)
The song became a substantially HUGE hit in European clubs.
Needless to say, this is an album I’m choosing to listen to without the impressionable ears of HRH around to absorb it.
I’m all for freedom of expression n’ all, but choruses around ramming things up one’s poop chutes is a bit much to expose pre-teenage girls to.
I will, however, give you full credit for that awesome guitar solo in ‘Yo Mama‘.
That shit is killer!
While Zappa’s attitude was even more politically incorrect than usual for him, it didn’t stop the album from becoming his second-highest charting ever. Social satire, leering sexual preoccupations, and tight, melodic songs dominated the rest of the record as well, as Zappa stuck to what had been commercially successful for him in the past. The “dumb entertainment” (as Zappa liked to describe this style) on this album was some of his dumbest, for better or worse. One has to wonder then about what Zappa thought of his fans in that he had to make “dumb music” in order to be successfully but, hey, that’s just me. Zappa wasn’t known for being an overly lovey-dovey kind of guy.
While the satire is some of Zappa’s most scathing and unsympathetic, and the music is equally loud and unrelenting – especially when showcasing the talents of sidemen Terry Bozzio and Adrian Belew. If I could skip all the gay and misogynist shit and stick with the awesome solos, this might be among my favorite albums but, unfortunately, this album is another of those Zappa offerings that rides the rails of hit and miss with me – landing somewhere in between.
Hey, it’s at least an interesting listen through my 20 minute core program on my mat this afternoon. And, inevitably, it sure beats some of the shit I will inevitably have to suffer through later on today.