Music legend Frank Zappa would have been 74 years old today. To celebrate the date we’re taking a look at some of the more overlooked (and gleefully weird) albums of his lengthy career. Most people are familiar with the genius of Freak Out!, Hot Rats, and Joe’s Garage, but have probably neglected to travel past. So to rectify that, here are some fascinating Zappa albums that haven’t gotten the same love over the years, but are worth your time nonetheless.
1. Lumpy Gravy – 1968
This one is as experimental to say the least. As with Hot Rats, it’s an instrumental record, but whereas that record was more rooted in free-form jazz, this album veers all over the place. Some moments are jazzy, others feel almost classical; some moments are perfectly pleasant, others would drive the party out of the room. While not exactly a critical favorite, this record certainly has its fans, and if you’re interested in completely understanding the scope of Zappa’s ambition, it’s as essential as anything else he’s recorded.
2. Does Humor Belong In Music? – 1984
A cursory glance at some of the titles Zappa has given his albums and songs over the years should tell you that he has quite a wacky sense of humor, but with this album, he essentially invents the genre of Comedy Rock, or in his case, Jazz Progressive Fusion Comedy Rock. Zappa cracks some one-liners over the course of the recording, and there are some wacky sound effects along the way. Mostly, though, this is an expertly played record that happens to have a foot in the world of comedy. In any case, it’s worth checking out.