Lumpy Gravy is considered the most curious album Frank Zappa has been involved in to date, and in many different ways the music just doesn't make it; as it says on the cover, "a curiously inconsistent piece which started out to be a ballet but probably didn't make it." The record was recorded in February of 1967, and Zappa conducts the "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra and Chorus," that is made of stray Mothers and some of Hollywood's best studio music artists. On the back of the album we are asked by Zappa, "Is this phase 2 of We're Only In It For The Money?" however Lumpy Gravy is hardly a sequel in quality or kind to Money, although it does share some thematic material with the later Mothers' group.

 ‘Lumpy Gravy’ is a precisely contrived collection of the classical, jazz-influenced and popular music genres, accompanied by comedic spoken word components. For anyone familiar with Edgard Varese, his affect will be almost at once glaringly apparent. On first listen, much of the album tends to come across as arbitrary, and even dissonant; on future approaches to ‘Lumpy Gravy’, a greater sense of construction will become clear, and a level of respect for the piece will grow without relent.

Zappa has split the record into two parts – each a little over 15 minutes – which are both home to several song-like components. A number of these tunes are available in different forms elsewhere in the Zappa catalogue; ‘Oh No’ pops up on ‘Weasels Ripped My Flesh’, while the illustration of surf music, which closes out this album, appears in song form on ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’ (as ‘Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance’).

While definitely not the pinnacle of Zappa’s ‘musically serious’ perform, ‘Lumpy Gravy’ is a vastly interesting listen, which is more than what can be said for a lot of other experimental debuts. Best listened to as a whole, the sonic pleasure granted by the orchestral and instrumental music, the strange ambience fashioned by the influence of Varese and Zappa’s oddity, along with the comic relief of the spoken elements, all amalgamate into the creation of a landmark release, and a distinct experience.


 1. Lumpy Gravy Part One (15:48)

1. The Way I See It, Barry
2. Duodenum
3. Oh No
4. Bit Of Nostalgia
5. It's From Kansas
6. Bored Out 90 Over
7. Almost Chinese
8. Switching Girls
9. Oh No Again
10. At The Gas Station
11. Another Pickup
12. I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again

2. Lumpy Gravy Part Two (15:51)

1. Very Distraughtening
2. White Ugliness
3. Amen
4. Just One More Time
5. A Vicious Circle
6. King Kong
7. Drums Are Too Noisy
8. Kangaroos
9. Envelops The Bath Tub
10. Take Your Clothes Off
Total Time: 31:39


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