[Review] The Mothers of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970)

A Frankenstein feast of tasty leftovers and live tracks from the band what brought you Lumpy Gravy, Uncle Meat and Burnt Weeny Sandwich.

Kronomyth 9.0: Weasels seize hell by the short hairs.

A collection of live and studio recordings from the “difficult” years of 1967, 1968 and 1969 that didn’t make it onto the proper albums Lumpy Gravy, Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich et al. Frank Zappa makes a meal out of these leftovers; in fact, it’s easy to approach this as the next new Mothers record, since it’s very similar in construction and quality to Burnt Weeny Sandwich. You’ll encounter tantalizing melodies in complex classical/jazz arrangements, avant-garde experiments (e.g., “music” scored for laughter, howls and nose), smart send-ups of contemporary popular music and relatively normal blues/rock songs delivered with fire and precision. In other words, more or less the same fare as Weeny, with the caveat that nothing on Weasels is quite as clever as “Holiday In Berlin” or “Little House I Used To Live In.”

In another universe, these might have ended up as outtakes added to the late-century parade of Zappa/Mothers remasters. One can envision “Oh No” as a perfect addendum to We’re Only In It For The Money, if one is inclined to envision such minute details of an alternate future at all (one would think not), or “Didja Get Any Onya” as a detour during Weeny’s “Holiday In Berlin.” Over the long and langorous years, snippets of Weasels have popped up in my mental radio as much as the other Mothers recordings, and I find myself on strange occasions silently mouthing “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama” or reconstituting one of its cacophonous passages from dried memory. Weasels does feature a good amount of calculated noise (albeit meticulously scored), which can feel like having your brain poked with a stick for forty minutes if you’re not inclined toward the avant-garde.

Original LP Version

A1. Didja Get Any Onya (3:44)
A2. Directly From My Heart To You (R.W. Penniman) (5:17)
A3. Prelude To The Afternoon of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask (3:35)
A4. Toads of the Short Forest (4:48)
A5. Get A Little (2:35)
B1. Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue (6:53)
B2. Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula (2:12)
B3. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama (3:35)
B4. Oh No (1:46)
B5. The Orange County Lumber Truck (3:18)
B6. Weasels Ripped My Flesh (2:05)

All songs written and conducted by Frank Zappa unless noted.

The Players

Jimmy Carl Black (drums), Roy Estrada (bass and vocal on A3), Bunk Gardner (tenor sax), Buzz Gardner (trumpet and flugel horn), Lowell George (rhythm guitar and vocal on A1), Don “Sugar Cane” Harris (electric violin and vocal on A2), Don Preston (piano, organ and electronic effects), Motorhead Sherwood (baritone sax and snorks), Art Tripp (drums), Ian Underwood (alto sax), Frank Zappa (lead guitar and vocal on B3) with Ray Collins (vocal on B4). Produced by Frank Zappa.

The Pictures

Cover art by Neon Park.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on August 10, 1970 in the US (Bizarre, MS 2028), the UK (Reprise, K 44019) and Japan (Reprise, P-8003R) with picture innersleeve; reached #28 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Reprise, MS 2028) {tan steamboat label}.
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1991 in the US and Japan (Rykodisc, RCD 10163).
  3. Re-issued on remastered compact disc and cassette in 1995 in the US (Rykodisc, RCD/RAC 10510).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in 2011 in Japan (Rykodisc, VACK-1211).
  5. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 2016 in the US (Zappa).

1 thought on “[Review] The Mothers of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970)

  1. Detail – the Ryko/Zappa Records CD editions had two tracks extended. There was a longer intro to “Prelude…” giving us a clue as to where it fit into the first Albert Hall gig. More importantly, “Didja Get Any Onya”, doubled in length, featured more improvisation related to (the track) “Charles Ives”, and, by way of a coda, 75% of “Kung Fu #1”

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