Frank Zappa – The Man From Utopia (1983)

Zappa_UtopiaAfter the overwhelming response to my review of Shut Up and Play Yer’ Guitar I felt compelled to enlighthen the masses about another fantastic Zappa album: The Man From Utopia.  As with nearly every Zappa album, there is always a new twist to the experimentation with rhythm, tempo, vocals and of course content of songs.  Man From Utopia is a fun, energetic and basically an awesome album that just keeps the listener wanting more.  God how I wish I could make a living creating this stuff like Zappa did, so cool!

Man from Utopia is an album that just reflects pure Zappa; relaxed and in his element. Zappa just creates great music and lyrics that just flow and work together.  Cocaine Decisions is well written and just has a great feel for the beginning of an album. The next song Sex is again, well written and refined in its composition and lyrical content.  Tink Walks Amok clearly reflects Zappa’s inate ability to write funky, flowing, and complex instrumental pieces with precision and timing.  As most Zappa fans know only the best musicians could play his compositions; that is why Zappa surrounded himself with such talented guys!  Zappa’s band were basically the only ones that could play this stuff!  Man From Utopia is the second album that  credit’s Steve Vai with “impossible guitar parts”….so that should explain much.

The Radio Is Broken and the Dangerous Kitchen are as brilliant as they are hilarous.  Steve Vai actually had to detune his guitar to play along with Zappa’s out of tune vocals, who does this?  That is the brilliance of Zappa: innovation and creativity in his music.  We Are Not Alone is another incredible instrumental song that just signifies how unique and unapprecaited Zappa was in the larger music world, pure genius is reflected in this song and really, this entire album.

The song The Jazz Discharge Party Hats, well, listen to it with an open mind, laugh out loud and just enjoy Zappa’s unique style.  

Luigi and The Wise Guys, is an interesting song and really shows how much Zappa appreciated the 50’s doo-wop sound. Songs like this can be seen on other albums such as Cheap Thrills (On Cheap Thrills-1998)  and WPLI (Son of Cheap Thrills-1999).  I think this aspect of Zappa is often overlooked and under appreciated.

As I mentioned in my earlier review of Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar (which is purely an instrumental album), if you are willing to overlook what most would consider offensive lyrics (retards); you will discover that Zappa offered so much in the way of talent and variety in his music.   On the other hand, if you decide not to learn what Zappa contributed to the music world you are really doing yourself a disservice.  Please give him a listen and then make an educated decision.

Is Zappa for everyone, certainly not.  But for those of us who appreciate “good music” and appreciate those that push the limits of musical ability and structure Zappa is one not to be ever overlooked.

Joe’s Garage is often the “Zappa training wheels” introductory album for the novice Zappa listener, however, if you decide to choose Man From Utopia as your first introduction it too is a perfect choice in getting to know Mr. Zappa up close and personal, enjoy.

Man From Utopia gets a 5 out of 5.

2 Responses to “Frank Zappa – The Man From Utopia (1983)”

  1. 1 waterviola
    November 10, 2009 at 5:59 PM

    I’m not much of a fan of Zappa (that may change) and I’ve only heard act 1 of Joe’s Garage and Tinseltown Rebellion, so I don’t really know his albums, but I’m familiar with a lot of the titles. However, I’ve never even heard of this album! I downloaded(?) Apostrophe a while back, and I don’t know if I still have it around. I will definitely have to give him a more extensive try.

  2. 2 jacobull
    November 10, 2009 at 6:05 PM

    I applaud you for owning Joes Garage, it’s probably one of the most popular albums by which listeners get hooked. Apostrophe is also an excellent album; hell, they’re all excellent just spin the wheel. The Man From Utopia is one of my favorites, it showcases Steve Vai’s talents on “impossible guitar” since quite simply, they are impossible guitar parts; and also Zappa’s vocals take a new direction on several songs on the album.

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