The Mothers of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970)

Didja Get Any Onya? 6:51
Directly From My Heart To You 5:16
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask   3:48
Toads of the Short Forest 4:48
Get a Little 2:31
The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue 6:52
Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula 2:12
My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama 3:32
Oh No 1:45
The Orange County Lumber Truck 3:21
Weasels Ripped My Flesh 2:08
Total Time: 43 min, 5 sec

This album is sort of a compilation of unreleased recordings that the Mothers had made up to that time. The band was about to undergo a major personnel change (or maybe they already had), so this album is sort of a farewell to the original Mothers.

I've gotta admit that the first time I heard this disc, I wasn't thrilled with it. I had picked up a copy in a used CD store, and was glad that I hadn't paid full price for it. But eventually it grew on me, and the very weirdness that put me off at first started to make this one of my favorite Zappa albums. It's definitely one of the most experimental things Frank had released up to that time, and it's not for newbies or the faint of heart. But if your musical philosophy is "the weirder the better", this album is for you.

The disc starts with the fairly bizarre Didja Get Any Onya?, then shifts into a bluesy cover of Little Richard's Directly From My Heart To You, which features some searing violin and heartfelt vocals from Sugar Cane Harris. Prelude to... is mostly made up of a wailing vocal, and the band laughing - although it's unclear whether they're laughing with the audience or at it. Toads of the Short Forest starts out sounding like a pretty little instrumental in the vein of Peaches En Regalia, but after about a minute it suddenly turns much harsher. At one point, Zappa explains to the audience that "we have drummer A playing in 7/8, drummer B playing in 3/4, the bass playing in 3/4, the organ playing in 5/8, the tambourine playing in 3/4 and the alto sax blowing his nose". Just what prog fans are looking for.

Get a Little is a short, blues-based jam. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue is a tribute to the avant jazz musician. It alternates composed sections with improv and weirdness. It took me quite a while to develop an appreciation for this track, and I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it. Dwarf Nebula starts out as a regular band composition, but then launches into a minute and a half of musique concrète. Interesting, but it sounds an awful lot like a repeat of the musique concrète tracks on We're Only In It For the Money.

My Guitar... is probably the most "regular" rock song on the disc. See my write-up for The Ark for more details about this song. Oh No is another catchy little number, with lyrics that are a not-so-subtle attack on the Beatles ("You say love is all we need...I think you're probably out to lunch"). Then again, it was subtle enough that I didn't notice it until someone pointed it out on This song shifts seamlessly into the beautiful instrumental Orange County Lumber Truck. So seamlessly in fact, that it took me years to notice that they were two separate songs. The melody of Oh No was one of the major themes on Lumpy Gravy, and the combination of these two tracks shows up on a couple different live albums, still being played as late as the 1988 tour.

The title track ends the disc, and it's perfectly named - two minutes of sheer, crushing feedback and noise. The recording is from a live performance, and when they finish the audience yells for more. Zappa fans must be masochists.

Overall, this is a must-have album for the hard-core Zappa fans, and fans of experimental music in general. But folks who just like the pop or comedy Zappa albums should probably skip this one.

Album Cover

Image of the Weasels Ripped My Flesh album cover