"Uncle Meat" marks an important part in Zappa's history as it is the last record to characteristic the unique Mothers in full swing ("Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" were considered posthumous releases, since they were mainly crafted from outtakes, not new material). Additionally, it is the debut of Ruth Underwood on vibes (then Ruth Komanoff), who later started to be a featured member of Frank's ensembles into the mid-70's. Additionally, it marked the very first time that good ole Uncle Frank started breaking heavily into the realms of classical and jazz, while still preserving the heavy rythmn and blues and doo wop styles of the previously records. Lyrically, this album is dense and full of inside jokes and references, sandwiched in between passages graced with trumpets, clarinets, and saxophones. As Frank himself states in the liner notes on the double LP gatefold, this is mainly an instrumental record and designed to serve as a soundtrack to a movie that The Mothers had not yet obtained the money to finish.

Find out some of what I consider highlights? Well, there's the starting 'title track,' which says a whole lot in two minutes by smooshing together classical and jazz and neat vibe sounds and army rhythms (the later "Uncle Meat Variations" is also nice, particularly when it gets into the goofy area with the high, high-pitched voices singing something relating to fuzzy dice). There's "Nine Kinds of Industrial Pollution," a six-minute demonstration of Frank's skills at producing electric guitar sound like acoustic (or is it acoustic? I can't tell), that never once bores me. There's "Dog Breath, In The Year of the Plague" (and the later "Dog Breath Variations"), one of the finest catchy-pop/jazz fusions I could ever imagine (and really, now that I'm reminded while listening, this is where the fuzzy dice bit first pops up). There's a entertaining live excerpt of Frank playing the chords to "Louie, Louie" on the giant pipe organ at The Royal Albert Hall (the very thought of this makes me bust out in laughter if I'm not careful), and another of the band doing "God Bless America" in such a twisted and messy and grossly ironic way that I love it. There's... well, there's even more stuff I like (even the bits of Creamcheeze banter, and the part where Jimmy Carl Black is grumbling about the band never getting gigs, and the part where Ian Underwood explains how he came into the band, which is followed by him wanking on his sax for a great while).

General, "Uncle Meat" is a challenging, eclectic listen, filled with lots of twists and changes, that leave an involved listener on the advantage of his or her seat, and out of breath at the conclusion. The experience is exclusive to say the least and unforgettable. Its an experience that I am happy to return to, again and again, and feel is essential to any Prog lover's collection, and definitely an album that no self-respecting Zappa fan can be without.



Disc I:
Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme 1:54
The Voice of Cheese 0:27
Nine Types of Industrial Pollution (a.k.a. 400 Days of the Year) 5:56
Zolar Czakl 0:57
Dog Breath, In the Year of the Plague 5:51
The Legend of the Golden Arches 1:24
Louie Louie (At the Royal Albert Hall in London) 2:28
The Dog Breath Variations 1:36
Sleeping in a Jar 0:49
Our Bizarre Relationship 1:05
The Uncle Meat Variations 4:40
Electric Aunt Jemima 1:53
Prelude to King Kong 3:24
God Bless America (Live at the Whiskey A Go Go) 1:22
A Pound For A Brown on the Bus 1:29
Ian Underwood Whips it Out (Live on Stage in Copenhagen) 5:08
Mr. Green Genes 3:10
We Can Shoot You 1:48
"If We'd All Been Living in California..." 1:29
The Air 2:57
Project X 4:47
Cruising For Burgers 2:19
Disc II:
Uncle Meat Film Excerpt Part I 37:34
Tengo Na Minchia Tanta 3:46
Uncle Meat Film Excerpt Part II 3:50
King Kong Itself (as played by the Mothers in a Studio) 0:53
King Kong II (its magnificence as interpreted by Dom DeWild) 1:15
King Kong III (as Motorhead explains it) 1:44
King Kong IV (the Gardner Varieties) 6:17
King Kong V (as played by 3 deranged Good Humor Trucks) 0:29
King Kong VI (live on a flat bed diesel in the middle of a race track at a Miami Pop Festival...the Underwood ramifications) 7:22

  • Personnel

  • Musicians

THE MOTHERS – at the time of this recording were:
Frank Zappa – guitar, low grade vocals, percussion
Ray Collins – left the group in May 1968 swell vocals
Jimmy Carl Black – drums, droll humor, poverty
Roy Estrada – electric bass, cheeseburgers
Don (Dom De Wild) Preston – electric piano, tarot cards, brown rice
Billy (The Oozer) Mundi – drums on some pieces before he quit in December 1967 to join Rhinoceros
Bunk (Sweetpants) Gardner – piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bassoon (all of these electric and/or no-electric depending)
Ian Underwood – electric organ, piano, harpsichord, celeste, flute, clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax, special assistant, copyist, industrial relations & teen appeal
Artie (With the Green Mustache) Tripp – drums, timpani, vibes, marimba, xylophone, wood blocks, bells, small chimes, cheerful outlook & specific inquiries
Euclid James (Motorhead/Motorishi) Sherwood – pop star, frenetic tenor sax stylings, tambourine, choreography, obstinance & equipment setter-upper when he's not hustling local groupies

  • Special thanks to:

Ruth Komanoff – who plays marimba and vibes with Artie on many of the tracks, and
Nelcy Walker – the soprano voice with Ray & Roy on "Dog Breath" & "The Uncle Meat Variations."

  • Uncredited:

Pamela Zarubica as Suzy Creamcheese
Production[edit|edit source]
Frank Zappa – producer
Jerry Hansen – engineer
Euclid James Sherwood – equipment technician, choreographer
Art Tripp – adviser
Cal Schenkel – package design
Roy Estrada – prop design
Ian Underwood – copyist, public relations, special assis


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