Frank Zappa: Chunga's Revenge

By Noel Coppage

Stereo Review, March 1971

FRANK ZAPPA: Chunga's Revenge. Frank Zappa (vocals, guitar, harpsichord, drums); Ian Underwood (organ, piano, alto and tenor sax, guitar); Aynsley Dunbar (drums); Jeff Simmons (bass); various other musicians. Transylvania Boogie; Road Ladies; Twenty Small Cigars; The Nancy & Mary Music; Tell Me You Love Me; Would You Go All the Way?; Chunga's Revenge; The Clap; Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink; Sharleena. REPRISE/BIZARRE 2030 $5.98, Ⓑ M 82030 $6.95, Ⓒ M 52030 $5.95.

Performance: Mostly marvelous
Recording: Excellent

"A Gypsy mutant industrial vacuum cleaner dances about a mysterious night time camp fire. Festoons. Dozens of imported castanets, clutched by the horrible suction of its heavy duty hose, waving with marginal erotic abandon in the midnight autumn air." So goes a mess of prose the lovely Frank Zappa turned out for the front cover of this album. Open it up and there's the scene pictured in full color, and more. Put it on and there are Zappa and Ian Underwood and Aynsley Dunbar laying into it like you thought nobody could do any more.

The combination of Zappa compositions and Zappa arrangements (Zapprrangements?) provides a steady progression of unexpected sounds. Almost all of the first side is extremely good acid rock, with Zappa's guitar hurtling through the air at you. Side two has more vocals (they're used in Zappa's 200 Motels, the "classical" portion of which was previewed with Zubin Mehta many months ago in a concert in Los Angeles – symphonic musicians burping on cue and all that), and so there's plenty of Zappa's unique kind of humor, especially in Sharleena and Tell Me You Love Me. On the latter, a hilariously over-sexed piece, Zappa out-Doors the Doors. He also has fun without words, putting a wah-wah pedal on an electric sax for Underwood, who makes a long, not too friendly joke about wah-wah pedals. The song Road Ladies, which is not comedy, shows Zappa's gifts as a rock writer.

If you really allow the sounds on this album into your mind, they can leave it in quite a respectable shambles. Feed your head.