You Are What You Is review by Frank Zappa

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1981
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (13 votes)
Frank Zappa: You Are What You Is

Sound — 10
A beautiful package of Frank Zappa's 1981 band and the material of that period. As with many other releases of this period in his career, Zappa takes tracks recorded on the road and then went into the studio to further "tweeze" them. This particular offering runs the gamut from FZ's beloved doo-wop stylings (Doreen), jazz like improvisations (theme from the 3rd movement of sinister footwear), country&western (Harder Than Your Husband), and pop music (Drafted Again) once again demonstrating Mr. Zappa's complete mastery of American musical styles. This album along with the other releases throughout the 1980s show Zappa extending his influence on American culture as well as music in its variant forms.

Lyrics — 8
Never one to suffer fools glady, this album contains some of Frank Zappa's most acidic observations on religion as practiced in a modern video influenced society. One need only listen to the biting triology the meek shall inherit nothing/dumb all over/heavenly bank account to be overwhelmed with Zappa's use of whithering humor to lampoon. There is a wonderful moment on this album when Zappa utilizes Jimmy Carl Black from the old MOI band to bridge the generations of old fans who remember Lonesome Cowboy Burt from 200 Motels to the newer fans with Harder Than Your Husband. The music and lyrics mesh perfectly. Some fans will be put off by Teenage Wind and Beauty Knows No Pain, but subsequent listenings will draw out the lyric genius present here as well.

Overall Impression — 10
One of the best of Zappa's 1980s releases. This album is often overlooked because of the wealth of material released by Frank Zappa during that time span. The core of the touring Zappa band from the 80s is present here (Ike Willis, Ray White, Stevie Vai, Tommy Mars, Ed Mann, and Arthur Barrow) along with some special guests and interim artists of note (Ahmet, Motorhead Sherwood, Moon) It was stolen at one point and I had to rely on my poor old worn out vinyl edition until I could get a cooperative record outlet to get me a new CD copy. As mentioned above, the religious triology are very hard to overlook as is the title cut and society pages. It is a wonderful example of an artist at his creative and performing best.

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    seriously, this is one of my top five albums of all time. the satire is hilarious, the music greatly done.