Review Summary: Like most of Zappa's material, Roxy is a grossly overlooked masterpiece. If you like funk, jazz, rock, blues or complete musical insanity, mixed with a healthy does of sardonic wit, than this amalgamation of all those is certainly right up your alley
Please be gentle, it's my first time (criticism gladly accepted and probably needed)!
The album opens up with Penguin In Bondage, which is just as about as silly as it sounds. Musically, it is a disjointed bluesy type number with horns (the whole album is very horny). This song sets a precedent for the entire album, in that the band is extremely talented and right on, as well as energetic as hell. Lyrically, it's... well, its mostly about a penguin being involved in some promiscuous behavior, to say the least. As with most songs on the album Zappa delivers a blazing solo.
Next is Pygmy Twylyte, which starts off with the basic riff in a very happy-go-lucky type timbre. Soon though, the rest of the band comes in and transforms it into a hard-rockin', funky, all over the place song that commands you to groove to it. You, inevitably, will at least spastically tap your foot. The subject matter is an observation of the strange behavior that drug addicts display, especially in the "Quaalude moonlight" of the "downer midnite" (in other words, very late at night). This song segues right into Dummy Up, which is a semi-improve comedy experience with a funky vamp playing in the background to give it that gritty "the dangers of drugs in the 70s" feel to it. The premise is not unlike an after school special, where an innocent happy guy is corrupted by the evils of the drug world (it's semi-satirical and very funny).
Next up, we are treated to Village of the Sun, which is about as close to easy-listening as you'll ever here from Zappa. This is a laid-back song about one of Franks former places of residence, and is apparently a very sentimental song, although it's not totally serious. This song has an excellent, yet by Zappa standards, tame guitar solo that is very relaxing. The function of this song on the album is to ease the atmosphere just before the listener is slammed with the craziest part of the album.
And in an instant, we are thrown into the truly twisted musical Zappaverse with the double whammy of Echidna's Arf (Of You) & Don't You Ever Wash That Thing" From what I can tell, this is a very strange take on jazz-fusion. It would be far to long winded to describe the songs in detail, so simply put: these songs are what Zappa is all about; killer musicianship; stunning solos; absurd song structure and flat out fun. Once again, very energetic and you can expect an amazing guitar solo.
In a different way, Cheepnis is a crazy fast-paced song with a funky feel to it. The song is a story about a monster attacking a large city, and that premise is exploited for it's full comedic possibilities. The song itself is a tribute to the cheesy monster movies that were rampant in the 70s, which Zappa "simply adored", perhaps in an ironic fashion, but there existence merited a song to glorify them, nonetheless. This song, at times, has some interesting studio manipulation that makes it a truly engaging and bewildering listen, mostly by speeding up the recording, yielding your typical singing chipmunk experience, amongst other things.
Following that craziness we are lulled into another relaxing atmosphere with The Son of Orange County. Another laid-back affair, only this time it is very spacey. Seamlessly, the song slowly builds up to a somewhat jumpy, yet still laid-back number. This song is my personal favorite on the album and I could never truly explain why. It's just some perfectly executed music that is so enjoyable its simply must be sinful. As the song builds up, the awesome overflows right into the next number, More Trouble Everyday. This is a reworking of an older 60s blues-rock song of Zappa's. The original version was much like an anthem, whereas this version has a "troubled story teller" type feel to it. It's simply slowed down and adjusted for the extended band to all be able to play on it. Some jamming takes place, and Zappa gets to work out his fretboard again, and he does not disappoint.
And finally there is The Be-Bop Tango (of the Old Jazzmen's Church). This song will most likely join you with the mass amount of Zappa fans who crave the release of the Complete R&E Shows DVD. The first part is Zappa & company trying to nail the very difficult piece that is contained within this track, and because of the fact that its so complex, musically, I can't honestly tell whether or not they play it perfectly, but it's music to my ears either way. Following that is the Audience Participation segment of the show. Here, Zappa brings audience members on stage and has them dance to the scat vocals of George Duke, which are imitating the aforementioned difficult musical number. It leaves much to the imagination, but is a testament to the creative, innovative genius of Zappa and his ability to provide a simply amazing live show. He skillfully leads both the band and the audience to create an astounding album closer.
From start to finish, from the live recording to the editing room, and from the twisted mind of FZ to the musicians' performance and finally on to the vinyl (plastic), this album is one of the most perfectly executed pieces of art to come out of the 70s. I highly recommend it!