Music » Record Reviews

Frank Zappa: 'You Are What You Is'

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Was that really Frank Zappa's face last week on the front page of the iTunes store? I couldn't believe my eyes. After the Beatles (who are now, finally, available on iTunes) and the still-missing AC/DC (which hates it when people buy songs instead of albums), Zappa was arguably the most notorious figure absent from the digital music service giant except for a brief 2005 appearance. The reason? The late genius was always for quality sound, and his estate has always disliked iTunes' mp3 compression. But with rights recently reversing to the Zappa family after years of being held at Rykodisc, and thanks to what widow Gail Zappa calls "an offer we couldn't refuse" by Universal Music Enterprises, you can now have Zappa faster than you can say "Dinah-Moe Hum." The first batch of 60 albums (1966-72) were officially released in late July, but you can find virtually everything now. Get 1981's You Are What You Is, arguably his most representative album (with Joe's Garage and Apostrophe' a close second). Pay no attention to those who accuse him of being "overproduced." Baloney. The album has Zappa's usual left-field hilarious stuff, technical perfection, musical ambition, and the most scathing critique of religious bullshit ever recorded ("There's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" is one of my all-time favorite lines). If you dig Zappa, start downloading. If you're not familiar, get ready for something truly unique.

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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