Frank Zappa
Sheik Yerbouti



by Chris Jackson USER (177 Reviews)
July 28th, 2006 | 15 replies

Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

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.

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FritzTheCat420 (4)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 28th 2006


I haven't heard this entirely, but there are some good songs on here. He has so many albums, I just don't know which ones to hear next. Nice review too, like always.

I was thinkinking of reviewing Joe's Garage sometime soon...

The Jungler
July 28th 2006


Nice review, happy to see some of Zappa's holes (in his discography) being filled.
My dad's a huge Zappa fan and I'm starting to see why he likes him so much.

July 29th 2006


I don't have this, but I'm a huge fan of Zappa. Doesn't really seem like it's worth getting now though. Great review.

August 11th 2006


whhhaaaaatt zebra you crazy this is a rockin Zappa album. Cool review.

August 31st 2006


I can't believe some people saying this is a cool review, especially from my viewpoint of a die-hard Zappa fan, so I feel inclined to right some wrongs here. In "Rubber Shirt" Zappa took the bass part of a 4/4 track, and superimposed it on a slow 11/4 drum track and it makes for some interesting listening in a cool, jazzy way. He did the same in the "Yo' Mama" guitar solo, which is imo the best guitar solo ever.
It's also not a joke pre-dominant album, but more like an eclectic mixture of styles all melted in 70 hot minutes.

2.5 my a**, this deserves a fat 5!

August 31st 2006


I just got the title of this album.

August 31st 2006


I just got it after thinking about it for 5-10 seconds after you said you got it.

August 5th 2009


This album has some great lyrics but is otherwise not particularly entertaining.

December 22nd 2009


I love the album title. Got a chuckle when I saw it.

December 10th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

I definitely disagree with the review (although it was well-written so no neg on my part, it's old anyway). This album is a turning point for Zappa really. His last albums were (I'm pretty sure so correct me if I'm wrong) all under the WB umbrella and this is the first album where he had full control so we get to see his Dada ideas and his social commentary (the humorous end) come together as a unit. You get a real feel for the nuts and bolts of his work here. Whether it's Rubber Shirt with his ideas of xenochrony or it's Broken Hearts are for Assholes/Flakes/Jewish Princess with his amusing(albeit ham-handed) social commentary

This is a great album. His best, no. Definitely one for anyone's library who wants to include Zappa.

April 20th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

dont fool yourself girl, its goin right up your poop shoot ;)

December 21st 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

Happy Birthday Frank.

April 21st 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

Well this review misses the point of why Zappa made this album completely... it's not just for laughs, even if the lyrics are

mainly that.

"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."

It's not like its an either or thing. Comedy doesn't mean there's no talent or complexity. I enjoy most sides of Zappa (bar

his orchestral stuff... ) Plus the album still has great instrumentation.

Digging: Dr. John - Gris-Gris

November 23rd 2015


In order to really understand the album, you have to understand its cultural context. It came out in the late 1970s, near the end of the disco era, and in a time when rock/pop music had become quite vapid. The first song is a satire of Peter Frampton's song "I Am In You".

Other songs reference TV commercials of the time, (I'm a moron and this is my wife, she's baking a cake with a paper knife), and cultural fetishes such as cute but stupid boys IE: Vinnie Barbarino, (I'm So Cute), Quaaludes, (City Of Tiny Lights). The album provided insightful social criticism of the general decadence of the disco era as free love turned into meaningless promiscuity, and drug use for expanded consciousness devolved into self-destructive hedonism. For those of us stuck in the middle of it, Sheik Yur Booty was a breathe of fresh air that made you feel you were not alone in thinking that American culture had become disgusting.

November 23rd 2015


Album Rating: 4.5

What he said^

Though that description makes me see "Bobby Brown (Goes Down)" in a new light...

Makes me wonder what Zappa actually thought about gay people... and then there's Thing-Fish...

WAIT I FOUND A QUOTE that Zappa said in an interview discussing "Bobby Brown" and "He's So Gay": "Some people miss the joke. In general, I was a convenient enemy and they could get exposure for their causes by coming after me. But I'm not antigay. When Ross Perot announced he was running for president, I wanted him to choose Barney Frank as a vice-presidential candidate. He is one of the most impressive guys in Congress. He is a great model for young gay men."

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