Third review from Mike and Aaron go to Toronto…Again! This Zappa bought at Sonic Boom for $10.99, original green Rykodisc case intact.
Baby Snakes is the soundtrack album to the Zappa film of the same name, famously using clay animation by Bruce Bickford. This bizarre landmark of a movie deserves a bizarre soundtrack, which Frank ably delivers with his ace band including Tommy Mars (violin) , Terry Bozzio (on two tracks), Adrian Belew (guitar) and more.
Yet the title track is remarkably accessible. Sure, there are the typical Zappa elements: high munchkin voices, low Zappa moans, eclectic and humourous lyrics…and playing out the wazoo! There’s nothing wrong with these “Baby Snakes” as long as you can keep up with the time changes. (This is an edited version of the same song from Sheik Yerbouti.)
Before you know it, you’re live in funky New York listening to “Titties and Beer”. These live tracks were recorded Halloween 1977 at the Palladium. Will Frank sell his soul to the Devil? Is Frank rough enough to get into hell? Does he have the style that it takes? Listen to “Titties and Berr” and find out (I won’t spoil it).
“The Black Page #2” is infamously hard to play, so just listen up and hear how the pros get it done. The percussion alone makes heads spin. Another seamless transition goes into “Jones Crusher” which has a classic soul of rock. The vocal parts are damn fine, the lyrics hilarious, and Frank’s outro solo smokes. A rock and roll slant on “Disco Boy” is a tad faster than the studio counterpart. This hilarious ode to vanity and ultimately masturbation is just fun, because who doesn’t love ripping on disco?
Side two of the original LP was made up of just two tracks, both long bombers: “Dinah Moe Humm” and “Punky’s Whips”. The Ryko CD blends the two sides together without a break. You can hear the band quote “Sunshine of Your Love”) at one point in “Dinah Moe” (they quoted “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” on side one). “Punky’s Whips” is a completely different deal. Apparently, Terry Bozzio had a bit of a man-crush, or at least a fascination with Punky Meadows from the band Angel. This satire poked a bit of fun at the expense of Punky, but who can blame them? Who could blame anyone? “Punky’s lips, Punky’s lips, his hair’s so shiny, I love his hips!” I mean, how can you not make fun of this guy? Even though the lyrics are distractingly hilarious, the music goes into epic soundtrack mode by the time Bozzio’s shouting “Jack it Punky, jack it faster!” Frank ends the song with one of his signature guitar jams, a sound that this world truly does miss.
Of note: this album was originally released on 12″ picture disc. The Ryko CD cover replicates this effect. I like that.