Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats Boxed Set Reviewed

Source: Frank Zappa.

The Hot Rats Sessions falls somewhere in between these two poles. There are radically extended versions of pieces that would be edited down, and have elements added later, like the 15-minute unedited master take of “Willie the Pimp,” which is missing Captain Beefheart‘s vocals but has even more grotesque guitar mangling from Zappa, and some really nice violin from Don “Sugarcane” Harris. There’s also a nearly 33-minute unedited master take of a piece called “Big Legs,” which would be retitled “The Gumbo Variations” on the final album and chopped down to just under 13 minutes, later expanded to 17 on the 1987 Rykodisc CD (the 1987 mixes are included in this box). Since that’s easily the best track on the album, a raucous R&B stomp featuring wild, nearly free jazz saxophone from Underwood and more Harris violin, it’s great to have a half hour of it.