I used to think that Frank Vincent Zappa could do no wrong. After owning some of his more well known albums such as Hot Rats
, Jazz From Hell
and Freak Out
I immediately assumed that almost all Zappa albums would be worth purchasing. On my next trip to the store I forced myself to pick up two more of his albums and one of them just so happened to be Sheik Yerbouti
. The main attraction would be the odd attire that Mr. Zappa had on. Just by the looks of it it seemed like one of his less critically acclaimed albums so I took a risk and picked it up.
After listening through it many times I've come to the conclusion that Sheik Yerbouti
is an inconsistent album featuring some tracks that strive on pure humor rather then musical arrangements. Although I enjoy Franks odd sense of humor he tends to go a bit overboard, if you are looking for some of Zappa's more guitar driven work then do not look here. Like most Zappa albums no two songs sound similar and influences of soul, funk, hillbilly rock, swing, and classic rock can all be found on this disc. This can either be a good or a bad thing depending on how much variety you enjoy having on one album.
While you listen to Sheik Yerbouti
you will instantly be able to notice the wide variety of genres that I mentioned earlier. He brings out soul music with the slow and mildly psychedelic I Have Been In You
, Zappa's mesmerizing vocals will suck you into the laid-back nature of the song and towards the end he even showcases a trippy guitar solo.Jewish Princess
takes this same sort of route. The song focuses on Franks humorous lyrics and comedic rhyming skills rather then instrumentation which is quite disappointing. Bobby Brown Goes Down
surprisingly features no instrumentation at all, it's just Frank poking fun at a poor soul named Bobby Brown. While the song is hilarious the first time you hear it the comedy doesn't hold up well after multiple listens. However Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
finds a good medium of comedy and music. While Zappa sings about nonsensical topics he also incorporates a classic rock-esque guitar line into the music that gives the song a more rocking and energetic edge.
There are three instrumentals that appear on Sheik Yerbouti
and they are probably some of the best songs off the album. Rat Tomago
is five and a half minutes of pure guitar rockage. Zappa's screeching guitar solo is obviously his best work off the album that will easily impress anyone who is interested in listening to or playing the guitar. The Sheik Yerbouti Tango
is a ragged, jarring experience that will be hard to swallow at first listen. It features an extremely high pitched guitar line that plays and wales throughout the whole track. Although the song can get irritating at times it is one of the most unique tangos I've ever listened to. The most unexpected and random track off of Sheik Yerbouti
would have to be Rubber Shirt
. It is comprised of a slinky bass line over some soft drumming and I'm really not sure what to make of it. It possesses a cool, jazzy and late-night sort of feel but has no real direction or point.
The last portion of the album is full of spontaneous and overly upbeat songs. Dancin Fool
focuses on Franks quick paced, jittery vocals as he rants about dancing like a preposterous fool. It's a pretty fun and lively tune but once again no interesting instrumentation is used. Baby Snakes
features a frequent rockin' guitar line as well as some comedic 70's female vocalists, the genre hints towards cheesy glam rock more then anything. The albums closer Yo Mama
starts off with some jazzy piano notes and Zappa's soothing vocal delivery. It has a very relaxing feel until some strange brass instruments come into play and Frank goes into a long, funky guitar solo that ends Sheik Yerbouti
I really don’t know what to make of Sheik Yerbouti
. It branches out to many different genres but Zappa's boisterous humor can get quite irritating and tiresome throughout the course of the album. At first I thought this record was quite humorous but after various listens Franks sense of humor got old and monotonous. While Sheik Yerbouti
contains some well done guitar driven tracks it doesn’t hold a candle to other Zappa albums such as Hot Rats
or Freak Out
. If you enjoy Franks music because it is comical and entertaining then you will probably enjoy this album but if you're looking for some spicey, jazz-funk influenced songs then steer clear because Sheik Yerbouti
doesn't contain much of it.