Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums # 36 Them Or Us

artwork by David Roller Wilson

Them or Us is a double album by Frank Zappa that was released in October 1984 by Barking Pumpkin Records. As with other Zappa rock albums of this era, many of the tracks are sourced from live recordings and later on studio overdubs were liberally applied, although there is no mention of these overdubs in the album notes.

This was my first Zappa album I bought and although I loved it at the time, it does not bear many repeat listenings in my household. Now it has the usual mix of Zappa infused rock, blues (In France is an excellent bluesy number featuring the always fantastic Johnny’Guitar’Watson on vocals) and doo-wap: the album’s opener The Closer You Are is one of Zappa’s best vocal moments. It also has a ton of guitar solos: the title track, a reworking of Sharleena, Marque-Son’s Chicken and Sinister Footwear II, for the more complex solos; and there’s nothing really too bad on here: Planet of My Dreams, a 1981 studio recording taken from the score of Zappa’s unrealized 1972 stage musical Hunchentoot, it OK it just seems out of place amongst all the guitar solos and Ya Honza, a song satirising the ‘backward-masking’ panic of the 80’s and featuring lyrics from Sofa #2, Lonely Little Girl and unreleased Moon Unit vocals from Valley Girl, is OK for the first few listens but is easily skippable, are probably the two weakest ones on here. The best two on here are Zappa’s version of The Allman Brothers’ Whipping Post (a cover 7 years in the making, thanks to recruiting Bobby Martin for Zappa’s ’81 tour who knew the song) and Be In My Video, which pokes fun at clichés in music videos with particular reference to David Bowie and his Let’s Dance video, and yet despite all these highlights the album is disjointed and lacks any focus. It’s a good album with some good stuff on here but it’s not an album I want to listen to the wholeway through. 3/5

Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
Ray White – guitar, vocals
Steve Vai – guitar
Dweezil Zappa – guitar
Tommy Mars – keyboards
Bobby Martin – keyboards, saxophone, vocals, harmonica
George Duke – piano, vocals
Brad Cole – piano
Scott Thunes – bass, Minimoog
Arthur Barrow – bass
Patrick O’Hearn – bass
Ed Mann – percussion
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ike Willis – vocals
Napoleon Murphy Brock – vocals
Roy Estrada – vocals
Johnny “Guitar” Watson – vocals
Moon Unit Zappa – vocals
Bob Harris – vocals
Thana Harris – vocals

Published by labarbaazul8067

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

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