Frank Zappa: Waka/Jawaka – Hot Rats

By Noel Coppage

Stereo Review, January 1973

FRANK ZAPPA: Waka/Jawaka – Hot Rats. Frank Zappa (guitar, percussion); Aynsley Dunbar (drums); Sal Marquez (trumpets); Erroneous (bass); other musicians. Big Swifty; Your Mouth; It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal; Waka/Jawaka. REPRISE-BIZARRE 2094 $5.98.

Performance: Rambling
Recording: Very good

When I was a kid I heard or read at least once a week that the big bands were coming back. Despite being only eight and a certified non-genius, I knew enough to keep saying "baloney." Now I hear or read once a week that jazz is coming back. I'm still saying "baloney." Here, however, and for what it's worth, is Frank Zappa banking his sound off the left-field wall. Unlike the original "Hot Rats" album, which was tightly played, though progressive, rock, "Waka/Jawaka – Hot Rats" is loose, improvised jazz. As with rock, Zappa cannot decide whether to play it or make fun of it. But whereas that conflict produced an artistic standoff in rock, it produces a clear-cut victory for satire in the present case. It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal, featuring a zany vocal in Russian accent, comes off nicely, but the more "serious" Big Swifty amounts to seventeen very tedious minutes. Zappa is perhaps sorting himself out. Let us hope he passes through this particular phase quickly.