Burnt Weeny Sandwich review by Frank Zappa

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  • Released: Feb 9, 1970
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (5 votes)
Frank Zappa: Burnt Weeny Sandwich

Sound — 10
After the Mothers of Invention disbanded, Zappa decided to release two albums that featured some unreleased material. Burnt Weeny Sandwich was the first, Weasels Ripped My Flesh came out a few months later. Weasels featured mostly live improvisations that the Mothers would perform. Burnt Weeny Sandwich is a much more rigidly structured album that showcases The Mothers of Invention's insane jazz fusion and progressive rock capabilities in the studio. This is one of my absolute favorite Zappa albums. The album opens and closes with two doo-wop covers. The first being WPLJ. It's a great track that eases you into the album while paying tribute to the genre that inspired Zappa. There are a few transitional tracks that pay tribute to Igor Stravinsky as well. Igor's Boogie Phase 1 and 2 are both interesting avant-garde instrumentals that really aren't that long. Then of course there is the Burnt Weeny Sandwich title track, which is a nice flowing song. The song features a lot of random percussion at the end that is played over the main theme. There is a mini-suite entitled Overture to A Holiday in Berlin and Holiday In Berlin: Full Blown which has some of zappa's catchiest melodies ever. Holiday In Berlin: Full Blown is a three parter that has separate performances glued together seamlessly. The intro builds with a very Hot Rats like sound. The middle section of the song is absolutely delightful. It has a piano, sped up toy percussion (much like Hot Rats had) and groove-filled drum rolls. The ending is a beautiful guitar solo played by Zappa himself. The album is now shifting into the center-piece. There is a mysterious sounding track called Aybe Sea that really preps the listener for what's ahead. The Little House I Used To Live In is an 18 minute long track consisting of many different takes and recordings mashed together, flawlessly. It starts out with a piano solo by Ian Underwood (the greatest of zappa's alumni, imo)This builds up into the first melodic passage. Many solos are performed in between these passages. The rhythms in this song are ever-changing and mind-blowing. A few minutes into the song, Sugarcane Harris begins playing one of the best violin solos I've ever heard. He makes love to the blues scale and really gets the song going in a 6/8 groove. Another piano solo, played by Don Preston, is a bit more avant garde and chaotic than Ian's, and really changes the mood of the song. The song goes back to it's earlier gentle, soothing, woodwind filled tone. Then it ends with zappa playing the Aybe Sea theme on a ringing organ. It ends with nearly 30 seconds of audience clapping. He gets into an argument with a person in the audience. Zappa of course outwits him and everyone laughs. What a way to end such an amazing track.

Lyrics — 9
There are no vocals, aside from the bookend tracks. They are delivered as expected. Lots of falsetto doo-wopish vocals. This is purely an instrumental album aside from those albums.

Overall Impression — 10
The album is a Zappa/Mothers album, so of course it's going to be superior that the majority of music out there. If you enjoy Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock, you'll love this album. The most impressive songs are Holiday In Berlin: Full Blown and The Little House I Used To Live In. I loved almost everything about this album. The only thing I hated was the quality of some of the production in the live sections. These should have been recreated in the studio, although they could have lost a lot by doing so. Who knows.

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