Frank Zappa - Hot Rats (1969), 7/10

Hot Rats is exceptional not only for its excellent compositions and performances, but also for its accessibility despite its complexity and harshness of sound. This is not always the case for Zappa, but perhaps the lack of extreme eccentricities takes the blame for its catchiness. "Peaches En Regalia" is obviously legendary, and we even get a rare, perfectly executed Beefheart appearance on "Willie the Pimp". Although the record itself doesn’t reach the fantastical weirdness of some of its contemporaries in 1969, it still achieves such a grandness that it would be silly to ignore its colossal presence at this stage in rock’s progression and evolution. While some of his other work can be muddled with insanity or frankly frustrating capriciousness, Hot Rats funnels Zappa’s technical talents for composition and performance directly into the music without being tainted by his individual sense of humor, that sometimes is endearing, but did not always land effectively resulting in a jagged and inconsistent discography. Regardless of how you feel about his other work, Hot Rats is an entirely individual album that tears into the foundations of rock, classical and blues music to birth this vehement musical statement. Although I am confused as its being labeled jazz fusion (maybe jazz or fusion inspired? ish?) it still reaches across genre lines at times, blatantly so with his trademark touches of classical composition. Still, his technical prowess is undeniable and satisfyingly skillful during his lengthy improvisations, no moment feels forced but rather exhibits a free-flowing spirit, driving and forcefully electric. There is still an underlying quirkiness that you can hear flow from the self-taught guitarist, but this is Zappa in his most adept and fresh form. The accompaniments are satisfying, the sound punchy, and his interplay with Underwood supremely tuned. Hot Rats is an undeniable giant in improvisational rock music and a successful piece even for Zappa outsiders such as myself.