What a great album. No question, one of my top 5 favorite albums from the 90s.
Bursting at the seams with pop-prog anthems, Steely Dan homages, frantic Zappaesque fusion instrumentals and grunge tinged guitar skronk, this disc is a must have for all those people that say no one makes good guitar-based rock anymore.
While Keneally's budding penchant for Bacharachian lilting melodicism is strong on this album, when it crosses with his Zappa style angularity it makes for an absolutely fascinating hybrid feel I've never heard anywhere else.
A few favorite moments:
Potato" is a perfect pop masterpiece. Easilly dismissed, yet it's as difficult to put together something like this and get it SO right as it is to build the most complex progsong played in 13. The melody is as satisfying as those accessible Todd Rundgren songs from the early 70s. That the lyrics are so ridiculous and tongue in cheek only makes me smirk in delight right along with MK.
The frantic and gut wrenching bass histrionics (courtesy of Bryan Beller) of "Why am I your Guy?" will having you shaking your head in disbelief. In a perfect world, songs like this get played on the radio.
"Looking for Nina" is just dowright bizarre. Atonal and all wrong on first listen, but once it all aligns in your head, you'll want to play it 300 times in a row. Music like this feels like a perfectly fitting gasket between my brain cells.
"Frozen Beef" is a hilarious gouge at the grunge mentality. Difficult and broad shouldered metallicism with a soul. Insane shredding, but it SERVES the song perfectly.
The guitar solo in the wonderfully sweet "Tranquillado" is an uncanny Skunk Baxter, Steely Dan moment. I'm telling ya, this one song alone tells me that this guy can really write, WAY better than any of the other FZ alumni.
The epic "Chatfield Manor" is a monster of slow prog excessive drama. I hear a lot of Rush in this. I like the non-standard way the song just fades away, it's beautifully done.
The Gerry Raferty crossed with Bevis and Butthead lyrics of of the frantic "Voyage to Manhood" kill me.
"Egg Zooming is a 6+ minute guitar freak out that really shows why Zappa was so wowed by this kid when he auditioned for him. It really shows his FZ influences, especially the last few minutes which has that skewed Zappa "imperial" quality complete with an unmistakable Tommy Mars synth knock off.
His guitar sound on "Own" has that great distorted gag that Frampton made so famous. Now if only Frampton could have written anything so compelling . . .
I love the way "Cardboard Dog" is broken into 2 sections that are SO different, yet complimentary. The first half is 60s Bacharach all the way, the second, a brain rattling jazz improv. I hear Vince Guraldi in here too.
This album is a lost gem. For any fan of Zappa, or the guys that played with him, this is a must. But it's also a must for anyone trying to find some artful rock and fusion with an open-hearted, sheer JOY of making music.
I haven't spun this recently after playing at least once a day for the first 6 months I had it. It's in the player today, at least twice now. Thanks for making me remember just how excellent this disc is.
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