Frank Zappa, Hot Rats

Zappa's first after jettisoning the Mothers of Invention, this brash and breathtaking landmark of acid fusion seamlessly blurs the lines between prog and jazz in over forty minutes of wild-eyed bliss. (Also wild-eyed: the GTOs' Miss Christine on the cover emerging hot, pink and bothered from a concrete crypt.) All six tracks are stellar but "Peaches en Regalia" is the undisputed jewel from its infectious hooks, fascinating multi-instrument harmonies and startling production effects like buzzy reeds yipping away at double speed like kazoos; its little brother "Son of Mr. Green Genes" is nearly as good for nearly the same reasons, and Zappa even got something consistent out of Captain Beefheart for a change as the sole vocalist on "Willie The Pimp." Loses its fifth star solely for its more meandering moments not being everyone's cup of tea, and that's truly the only reason, because instrumentally and technically the album is near peerless. Hardcore Zappatistas will menacingly scrap over the relative virtues of the original LP mix (resurrected on current CD pressings) versus the 1987 Rykodisc CD, the latter largely reflected in a substantially expanded "The Gumbo Variations," but I'm not that rabid and "frankly" either is excellent. It should also be noted that Zappa himself did the 1987 remaster, so there's no use appealing to authority. (Content: mild adult themes on "Willie The Pimp.")