I have often wondered how it is possible that I have listened this record fundamentally every single year of my life and most likely at least 10 or so times per year. This is going to be one of two (possibly three) records which can fall under “storytelling” records which are going to make it into my Top 100 records of all time to listen from beginning to end, and in this particular case, it is literally impossible to skip any of the songs as it is a story, each song leading into the next, telling the life journey of Joe, all of course told by “The Central Scrutinizer” aka Amerika’s Moral Majority and every present eye in the sky.
Mistaken for parody, childish, vulgar as only Frank could be, this is no ordinary record, it is an absolute masterpiece of both storytelling, scathing social commentary and of course musical composition. I began listening to it in Italy the year it was released, but when I moved to the United States in 1982 I simply could not believe how it touched actual American day to day realities! I will not get into sordid details, but I was recruited to play football at St. Joseph’s College (a Catholic University) and it was there that I met “Catholic Girls” and … o.k. I better stop here or else La Regione will ban my column.
For us that grew up with this record the bond is eternal and immediate friendships are born the moment someone invariably uses passages from the record. Things like:
- With a tongue like a cow, she can make you go wow.
- Kind of young, kind of wow.
- Add water it makes its own sauce
- Of course I will introduce you to Warren
- Hey, you’ll love it
- Home is where the heart is. On the bus!
These and literally dozens more have become expressions used in every day’s life and the moment you hear them and recognize it, eyes meet, a broad smile appears, and you are brothers.
A difficult album to appreciate if you do not speak English, however the music is also spectacular and as usual a Zappesque mix of Jazz, Rock, Blues Rock fusion with a good dose of guitar genius, awesome drumming, and even a blues harmonica!
Finally, a word about guitar solos, there are those musicians who pretend to “improvise” and then there is Frank Zappa and so for all the Zappa haters out there, do drop the needle onto “Wet T-Shirt Night” but before you do so, buckle your seat-belt so that you can readied yourself for what is one of Rock’s ultimate guitar improvisations of all time.