Frank Zappa: Sheik Yerbouti

By Cole Springer

Trouser Press, June 1979

Sheik Yerbouti

Zappa SRZ 2-1501

While plowing through the 18 tracks that make up Zappa's latest two-disc gross-out (recorded live, natch), I fought off boredom by making up the following notes: "I Have Been In You": well-deserved pisstake of Frampton's "I'm In You." Still, the title alone accomplishes that; the music and lyrics are superfluous.

"Flakes": notable solely for an over-long impression of Bob Dylan that might have been funny five years ago. "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes": little Frankie is out to shock everybody with all the dirty words he knows. Ho-hum. The musical accompaniment is, once again, strangely incidental.

'Tm So Cute": Here Zappa tells all the ugly people listening that they should kill themselves with cyanide. Of course, it's okay for him to say this since he's a rather ugly guy himself. But it doesn't make the song any less stupid or boring.

"Dancin' Fool": a good put-down of disco, even though that's a sitting duck. Actually, didn't Frank do "Disco Boy" way back on Zoot Allures (almost as dull an album as this one)?

"Bobby Brown": contains the only funny line of the entire album, "Now I got a job doing radio promo/ And none of the jocks can even tell I'm a homo." Still, it's nasty, meanspirited humor.

"Jewish Princess": beyond nastiness, this is inexcusably vicious in its sexism and anti-Semitism.

I suppose that if you are exceptionally lame in the brain, or of junior high school age, you might find some of this stuff funny. But then you've probably never heard Freak Out or We're Only In It For the Money. Hell, even more recent songs like "Yellow Snow" or "Dinah Moe Humm" were humorous, tasteful and musically solid, not like the rhythmic slop that masquerades as music here.

Zappa has made disappointing records in the past, but he always bounces back with quality stuff sooner or later. So let's just say that if you liked The Mothers Live at the Fillmore East or Zappa in New York, then Sheik Yerbouti is the album for you. If not, wait awhile and hope that his next album is listenable.

– Cole Springer