Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #44 Thing Fish

I was recently stopped in the street and asked who my favourite vampire was. I said the muppet from Sesame Street. “He doesn’t count,” came the reply. “Oh I assure you, he does.”

Thing-Fish is an album by Frank Zappa, originally released as a triple album box set on Barking Pumpkin Records in 1984. It was billed as a cast recording for a proposed musical of the same name, which was ultimately not produced by Zappa, but later performed partially in 2003, ten years after his death.

Another concept album by Frank in a similar vein to Joe’s Garage, but this one falls short on execution and it could do with some trimming. It’s not an album to casually have on in the background whilst you do chores, or drive to work or try to relax after a long day of adulting; it demands your complete attention and that can be quite draining and a little disappointing.

I’ve left a Wikipedia link at the bottom of the post, as that explains the story of the making of this album better than I could, but to paraphrase it’s a story about an evil, racist prince/theater critic who creates a disease intended to eradicate African Americans and homosexuals with some feminism and conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure. Most of the album’s tracks are reworkings of songs from Zappa’s recent releases (which was criticised at the time by contemporary reviewers) with singer Ike Willis (the titular Thing-Fish) using a King-fish voice (from old TV show Amos’n’Andy) mixed with a Paul Laurence Dunbar-esque vernacular, singing over the top of them.

There is some good stuff on here (The Evil Prince and Brown Moses are cracking songs) and the first two sides of the album are strong but overall it gets kinda lost halfway through the middle and continues getting lost all the way up to the end. Hardcore Zappaphiles only. 2/5

Ike Willis — Thing-Fish
Terry Bozzio — Harry
Dale Bozzio — Rhonda
Napoleon Murphy Brock — The Evil Prince
Bob Harris — Harry-As-A-Boy
Johnny “Guitar” Watson — Brown Moses
Ray White — Owl-Gonkwin-Jane Cowhoon
Frank Zappa – Book & lyrics, music, arrangements, direction of characterizations and album production
Mark Pinske & Bob Stone – Recording engineers
Mark Pinske – Engineering mixer
Ladi Von Jansky – Cover Photo
Jene Omens – Prosthetics of “THING-FISH” & “SISTER OB’DEWLLA ‘X”
Robert Fletcher – Costumes
The Musicians
Frank Zappa – guitar, synclavier,vocals
Steve Vai – guitar
Ray White – guitar
Tommy Mars – keyboards
Chuck Wild – broadway piano
Arthur Barrow – bass
Scott Thunes – bass
Jay Anderson – string bass
Ed Mann – percussion
Chad Wackerman – drums
Steve De Furia – synclavier programming
David Ocker – synclavier programming


Published by labarbaazul8067

I'm just a creature from the heap so excuse my savage ignorance.

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