Chunga's Revenge / Lick My Decals Off, Baby

By John Gabree

High Fidelity, February 1971

FRANK ZAPPA: Chunga's Revenge. Frank Zappa, vocals and guitar; rhythm accompaniment. (Road Ladies; Tell Me You Love Me; The Clap; Sharleena; six more.) Bizarre MS 2030, $5.98.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART AND THE MAGIC BAND: Lick My Decals Off, Baby. Captain Beefheart, vocals; rhythm accompaniment. (Peon; Bellerin' Plain; Petrified Forest; Flash Gordon's Ape; eleven more.) Straight 6420, $4.98.

Frank Zappa continues to go his own highly original way with "Chunga's Revenge," his most thoroughly realized album in some time. All the usual Zappa material is here: avant-garde jazz and classical elements combined with rock of every period. There are several first-rate instrumentals, especially the three-part Nancy and Mary Music, which is excellent despite being taken from a live performance. Zappa's rock impersonations include Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink (an assault on the abuses of the musicians' union) and Would You Go All the Way? (a question for every patriotic girl). The sidemen include the ubiquitous Ian Underwood on various saxes, pianos, and organs; Jeff Simmons on bass; George Duke on keyboards and trombone; and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Zappa, as you may have discovered long ago, is a very serious man.

Captain Beefheart, although he enjoys the approval, artistic and financial, of Zappa, is not nearly as good. He lacks all of Zappa's subtleties and his easy humor. Nor is Beefheart nearly as accomplished a performer or composer. In fact. Lick My Decals Off, Baby is as strained as its title. Beefheart's writing and performing โ€“ he sounds a little like Dr. John, the Night Tripper โ€“ are very repetitious. Stick with Zappa or go back to Beefheart's first album, which was much better. J.G.

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