The Mothers of Invention - Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970)

WPLJ    2:52
Igor's Boogie, Phase One    0:36
Overture to a Holiday in Berlin    1:27
Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich    4:32
Igor's Boogie, Phase Two    0:36
Holiday in Berlin, Full-Blown    6:23
Aybe Sea    2:46
The Little House I Used To Live In  18:41
Valarie    3:14
 
Total Time: 41 min, 8 sec

After a few albums credited to Frank (and Ruben), we return to a full-blown Mothers of Invention disc. By this time the Mothers had evolved into a band that could play the most complex things Zappa could throw at them.

This is an album that I have sadly underappreciated. For some reason, it's just one that I never get the urge to pull out and listen to. I have no idea why - it's a great album of prime Zappa instrumentals, sandwiched in between two catchy doo-wop tunes.

WPLJ stands for White Port and Lemon Juice, a fact that the song's chorus makes perfectly clear. Originally by the Four Deuces, this cover version is repetitive but catchy - you'll definitely be singing the chorus long after the song's over. At the other end of the disc is Valarie, a track that the Mothers often played in concert. I could have sworn this was a cover song too (I thought I even had the original on tape somewhere), but no other writing credit is given.

In between these two "pop" tracks is some serious instrumental music. The Igor who is boogying is Stravinsky, although I'm not sure how these two short tracks relate to that composer's work. Holiday In Berlin is a great piece, with a main theme that is repeated on several Zappa albums. My favorite version is the one with vocals that appears on one of the Beat the Boots discs - I'll get to it eventually. But this instrumental version is great too.

Aybe Sea is a nice little solo piano piece by Ian Underwood - I'm guessing on the original vinyl it was the last track on side one, but on the CD it acts as a perfect prelude to the lengthy Little House I Used to Live in. Another song that the Mothers perfected on the road, this studio version is fantastic. It would later be given some fairly obscene lyrics when the Flo and Eddie era band performed it. I agree with one poster on alt.fan.frank-zappa who said he wished he had never heard the Fillmore album, so that he could listen to this version of "Little House" and not hear Flo and Eddie singing "my dick is a monster!" in his head. Anyway, this track also features a killer violin solo that sounds like Sugar Cane Harris, but the CD liner notes don't give any musician credits. Whoever it is, he smokes. [I got an email from Felix Homann who's liner notes are apparently more complete than mine, as his do credit Sugar Cane Harris with that violin part. It also gives writing credits for Valerie to Jackie & the Starlites.]

At the end of Little House Zappa makes some quick replies to a heckler in the crowd. The guy shouts something like "Take off that fucking uniform before it's too late!" (possibly talking to a security guard that can be heard trying to get people to get back in their seats), and Frank replies "Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform, don't kid yourself". The heckler continues shouting, and eventually Zappa just says "You'll hurt your throat. Stop it."

In summary - a worthwhile album for people who like Frank's serious, instrumental, proggy/jazzy side. And an album that I'll have to dig into more myself.

Album Cover

Image of the Burnt Weenie Sandwich album cover