Frank Zappa - Chunga's Revenge (1970)

Transylvania Boogie 5:01
Road Ladies 4:10
Twenty Small Cigars 2:17
The Nancy & Mary Music 9:27
Tell Me You Love Me 2:33
Would You Go All the Way? 2:29
Chunga's Revenge 6:15
The Clap 1:23
Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink   2:44
Sharleena 4:03
Total Time: 40 min, 23 sec

This album is credited to Frank Zappa (at least on the CD), possibly because the band's line-up had changed so much that it would have been misleading to call this a Mothers album. This disc began the Flo and Eddie period - two vocalists from the Turtles who joined Zappa's band. The liner notes from Freak Out included a quote from a DJ who had told the Mothers that if they let him clean them up, he could make them as big as the Turtles. So, of course, I'm sure Frank loved the idea of having a couple of the Turtles join the Mothers. Other new members included George Duke on keyboards, Jeff Simmons on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums.

The other big change that occurred around this time was that Zappa seemed to become obsessed with sex - an obsession that lasted throughout the Flo and Eddie period, and to some degree for the rest of Frank's career. The sexual overtones had always been part of Zappa's work, even as far back as Motherly Love on the first album, but at this point Frank really started getting blatant about it, with songs like Road Ladies and Would You Go All the Way?. This trend also affected 200 Motels but reached its peak in the "Groupie Routine" on Fillmore East, June 1971. Those who are offended by sexual lyrics might want to skip the Flo and Eddie albums, but you'd be missing some great music.

For example, Chunga's Revenge includes a couple great rock instrumentals: Transylvania Boogie and the title track (which was extended with guitar and other solos when played live - a live version can finally be heard on the 2002 release FZ:OZ, a live album from Australia). Then there's Twenty Small Cigars, a beautiful composition that was also released that same year on Jean-Luc Ponty's King Kong album, and The Clap, a nice little percussion piece. The Nancy and Mary Music is a great live jam that sounds like it might be an excerpt from King Kong or possibly the song Chunga's Revenge itself. It's mostly instrumental, except for some shouts and oddball scatting from Flo and Eddie near the end.

Tell Me You Love Me is OK, but I prefer later, faster live versions (although the guitar sounds mean in this version). Would You Go All the Way is a straight rock tune with lyrics about trying to get a girl to "go all the way" at a monster movie. When that fails, the guy takes her to the USO and asks her to "go all the way for the USA". Juvenile but fun. Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink is the first of Zappa's union-bashing songs. Frank had all sorts of problems with the musician's unions (having to pay studio and orchestral musicians more than they were worth, being prevented from recording concerts, etc), so he struck back with a few less-than-flattering songs. This one paints union representatives as gun-toting thugs.

The album ends with Sharleena, which is a nice little tune, but this version pales in comparison to the one that had been recorded by the Hot Rats band, and would eventually be released on The Lost Episodes. Still, this version is better than the fairly lifeless one that appears on the 80s album Them or Us.

In the end, this is another album that I probably haven't listened to as much as it deserves. I don't know why, but this disc and Burnt Weeny Sandwhich are probably the two most underplayed albums in my Zappa collection. They're good albums, they just fail to spark much interest in me for some reason.

Album Cover

Image of the Chunga's Revenge album cover