Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 21. 5th September 1973
The Grand Wazoo: — Songfall: — Rosie:
The Grand Wazoo:
The Grand Wazoo has all the best elements of Frank Zappa's last six or seven albums blended with the new Mothers music in the totally innovative and unique manner that has made Zappa so famous, The first track "For Calvin (and his next two hitch-hikers)" with its mock-horritic lyric and toneless voicing recalls the best (or worst) of Zappa's masterpiece Uncle Meat.
Besides composing and arranging all his music Zappa is an excellent guitarist and the frisky wah-wah effect which made the 1969 "Hot Rats" album so unforgetable sets the second track "The Grand Wazoo" of on its sometimes chaotic course.
The new Mothers comprise 22 members and are particularly strong in their brass and wood wind sections: and it is interesting to note that some of these musicians are retired jazz-men Zappa had 'found' languishing as obscure session 'cats'. He has certainy wrested the best from these old professionals as Bill Byers brilliant trombone solo on thi song "Grand Wazoo" will testify, with its fusion of serious jazz and Zappa-esque insanity.
In arranging many of his compositions Zappa begins with a simple catchy melody line gradually building by adding and mixing additional instruments to climax in a blaze of Fairground-like activity On side two "Eat this question" follows this design with a grand finale reminiscent of the best of one of his later works "Burnt Weenic Sandwich" in its frenetic helter-skelterish intensity.
Frank Zappa is often called a genius but in recent years, many had to begin to wonder if he had not reached his artistic peak. Happily The Grand Wazoo" destroys that notion and re-establishes Zappa as the wizard of contemporary music; rock or otherwise, and in addition it can serve as a good introduction to those who have never heared the man.
It's fascinating to consider the Mothers of Invention's 1964 "Atrocities" (toy giraffes squirting cream over the audience etc. etc.) in relation to Alice Cooper and today's fashionable quasi-surrealist troupes. Zappa did it all years ago without even trying, but today we confront a maturer artist, more concerned with serious music than creative entertainment.
The gentle business of Good hand Taits voice with its unpretentious musical accompaniment took a few weeks to bring a reaction but this album has proved to be a find. Aside from a tendency towards a repetitive sound, 'Songfall is a very mellow, balanced work from the traditional Buddy Holly standard "Everyday" with its simple piano backing to the hymn-like "Processed" with its revival sentiments.
From the singers ecstatic expression pictured inside the record-jacket and scattered clues such as the gently banal song "Child of Jesus", one might deduce that the artist is himself some kind of religious revivalist but happily this line is not over emphasised. The record is curiously pleasant and Phillip Goodhand-Tait's name may well be one to remember.
Sandy Denny justified the existence of the Fairport Convention. The present bunch of folkies are Fairport Convention by name only and there seems little point in churning out another album, 2YA will give us all the Irish jigs we need. Jimmy Shand (and his band) have said it all, but still the Fairport Band plods on. Dave Swarbricks braying makes me cringe but I realise there is a place for this music. "Rosie" itself is a nice enough ditty but it's not a reason for an album. The record jacket takes the form of a gift-box of candies with a pretty ribbon, hut as usual, he wary of shoddy merchandise in a bright wrapper.