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Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is CD (album) cover

YOU ARE WHAT YOU IS

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.65 | 249 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After the success of the great "Shiek Yerbouti" and the decent "Joe's Garage" albums, Frank had decided to work on a huge 3 disc collection of live performances called "Warts and All" but ended up scrapping that project because it got to be to lengthy. So next he decided to work on another album which was to be called "Crush All Boxes" which was to be a single disc album of mostly new studio tracks (many of which are on this album). He also decided to nix that project because he wanted to use as much as possible of the material that had been collected from all of these projects. What ended up happening was this 2 disc album and the album "Tinseltown Rebellion" which he felt would be a good representation of his talent. He also decided to work on the "You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore" series and the "Shut Up and Play Your Guitar" series. All of that came to fruition. Talk about an ambitious person.

So that is that background for this album. This one ended up being mostly humorous and pop/rock oriented. Unfortunately, it tends to be an album that wears out it's welcome, not because of the material so much as the presentation of it. There are 3 lead vocalists and they are almost always singing together which causes a dense sound because the singers are all strong in their midrange, so the harmonies are very dense and heavy. The vocals are also mixed close to the front, so the instruments are not so emphasized here. After a few songs, this dense vocal sound gets old and the tracks start to sound the same.

There is only one short instrumental on this album and it is one of the best tracks on this album. It is very avant garde and has the thickness of most of FZ's instrumentals. Other than that, there are a few short guitar solos that sound great when they start, but are over way too quickly. A few of the tracks are overly repetitive and should have been faded out or ended sooner. There are several themes throughout the album and the tracks that deal with the same material are arranged together on the album. You have the usual off color humor songs, a few songs about Charlie and her enormous mouth, and several songs about religion, which are actually the better songs on here because you get some reprieve from the denser vocals, but not completely.

As much as I respect Frank and as badly as I want to like this album, it just does not live up to "Shiek Yerbouti" which was a better album by a long shot because of it's variety. That album has a little of everything and has very little wrong with it. This one is the opposite in that there is hardly any variety on it at all. I would rather listen to a full album of FZ's instrumentals or guitar solos than this thick album. The vocals are just too dense and the songs are too much all the same.

I do like a few of the tracks like the title track, "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing" and "Jumbo Go Away" but 20 tracks of this is way too much. Not much prog here either, some, but not enough. I can maybe let it squeak by with 3 stars, but only barely.

TCat | 3/5 |

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