Weasels Ripped My Flesh
The Mothers of Invention
Released: September 1970
Chart Peak: #189
Weeks Charted: 3
"Yes, well, Zappa is always delightful, isn't he?" And for once, here is a jacket that is worth the price of the record alone. (How can you possibly describe a record cover that lives up to the title Weasels Ripped My Flesh?)
Here it is! Another nifty collection of music inspired by Frank Zappa's pre-occupation with Edgar Varese, death, bopping and jacking off.
Once I thought that Zappa and his group might be the saviors of pop music. Now after all the music that they've produced since their Suzie Creamcheese period I'm not sure that I don't still feel much the same. This random collection of editing room snippets recorded at the Mothers' concerts over the last few years finds the group peerless in the field of amalgamating satire, muaical adventuresomeness, and flash. This could be because they're the only ones attempting it, but no matter.
It's all here: more assaults on the calibrated sexuality of early rock, and jousts at the pomposity which musical avant-guardism has traditionally engendered. Held together with Zappa's Spike Jones-ish bag of tricks and the Mothers' usual impressive control over electronic technology.
Everytime a live audience demands that the group re-hash its circa '67 Supremes imitations the Mothers seem to advance one step further into the realm of musical extremism. "Weasels" is a grand example of the latter. But it's not all Alban Berg revisited by any means; for this latest Zappa comes closer than any other record I can think of to meeting the needs of both rock and jazz listeners. A consummate example of this is the group's version of Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart To You." The song is rendered against a hard-edged blues back-up that manages to integrate into its midst a swinging Forties-style jazz violin. It coalesces into something at least as "nouveau nouveau" as anything you'll find in recent release on ESP Records.
- Bill Reed, Rolling Stone, 10/1/70.
Zappa's uncanny understanding of all types of music and the Mothers' total concept of music as a whole give this album a head start on the charts. There is the usual Zappa comment on everything as the instrumental tracks lean to an avant garde jazz style. As usual the only adjective that can be applied to the Mothers is "far out."
- Billboard, 1970.
Talk about "montage" -- the construction here is all juxtaposition, the composition all interruption. Together with some relatively straightforward instrumentals and "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," the album's two finest strokes -- a metal remake of Little Richard's "Directly from My Heart to You" and "Oh No," a devastating reply to "All You Need Is Love" -- would make for a highly enjoyable film. But if Brecht considered pure enjoyment counterrevolutionary, Zappa considers it dumb -- that's why he breaks in constantly with dialogue and vocal or electronic sounds whose musical interest/value is essentially theoretical. I find most of these engaging enough to think I might want to listen again some day. But all that means is that I enjoy it, quite moderately, in spite of itself. B+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
An album of live material recorded from 1967 to 1969 and featuring an expanded lineup with horn section. Highlights include Sugar Cane Harris's violin work on Little Richard's "Directly from My Heart to You" and Zappa's vocal on "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama." * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1969) and Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970) are two volumes of a projected career retrospective that never materialized, but they're Zappa's most consistently great albums. Ween contains "WPLJ" and "The Little House I Used to Live in," while Weasels has "Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" and "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama." * * * *
- Daniel Durchholz, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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