Frank Zappa: Sheik Yerbouti

By William Dart

Rip It Up, July 1979

Frank Zappa
Sheik Yerbouti


There was a time, I think it was about 1971-2 when it seemed that Frank Zappa represented the zenith of rock as a sophisticated art form (pant, pant). But some of the old Zappa formulae don’t seem to work the same magic anymore.

Why is a man of Zappa’s age and status bothering to satirise disco dancers still in "dancin’ Fool"? Is "Bobby Brown" an insult to gays, or just a brilliant (?) piece of irony? Why is "Yo’ Mama" allowed to clock in at over 12 minutes? These are some of the questions the new Zappa album raises.

Technically, apart from a feeble "Sheik Yerbouti Tango", it is brilliantly put together – real pyrotechnics stakes, but its main problem seems to lie in its being a double album when it probably only contains enough material for two sides. This is most notably evident in an instrumental like "Rubber Shirt" which is 3 minutes odd of nothing. Perhaps it is revealing that at the end of Side 1 a voice asks, rather incredulously "Did you just record that?". To which the answer is "Yes, and three more sides of it".

All in all then a disappointment, particularly as it marks what could have been a fresh start for Zappa on a new label.