Hot Rats — второй сольный альбом Фрэнка Заппы, выпущенный 10 октября 1969 года. Состоящий по большинству из инструментальных композиций, за исключением Willie the Pimp с вокалом Captain Beefheart, Hot Rats был первой работой Заппы после роспуска группы The Mothers of Invention. Один из участников бывшей группы, мультиинструменталист Иэн Андервуд, сыграл важную роль в записи.
Hot Rats is the second solo album by Frank Zappa. It was released in October 1969. Five of the six songs are instrumental (the song "Willie the Pimp" features a short vocal by Captain Beefheart). It was Zappa's first recording project after the dissolution of the original Mothers of Invention. In his original sleeve notes Zappa described the album as "a movie for your ears."
Because Hot Rats focuses on instrumental jazz-like compositions with extensive soloing, the music sounds very different from earlier Zappa albums, which featured satirical vocal performances with extensive use of musique concrète and editing. Multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood is the only member of the Mothers to appear on the album and was the primary musical collaborator. Other featured musicians were Max Bennett and Shuggie Otis on bass, drummers Aynsley Dunbar and John Guerin and electric violinists Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty.
This was the first Frank Zappa album recorded on 16-track equipment and one of the first of such recordings released. Machines with 16 individual tracks allow for much more flexibility in multi-tracking and overdubbing than the professional 4- and 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorders that were standard in 1969. While Zappa was recording Hot Rats The Beatles were working on their Abbey Road album, but were limited to 8-track technology.
The album was dedicated to Zappa's new-born son, Dweezil Zappa. In February 2009, his band, Zappa Plays Zappa, won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for their rendering of "Peaches en Regalia."
Zappa composed, arranged and produced the album himself. His primary instrument on the album is lead guitar. "Willie the Pimp", "Son of Mr. Green Genes", and "The Gumbo Variations" are showcases for his powerful and unconventional solo guitar performances. Four of the tracks have intricately arranged charts featuring multiple overdubs by Ian Underwood. Underwood plays the parts of approximately eight to ten musicians, often simultaneously. His work includes complicated sections of piano and organ, as well as multiple flutes, clarinets and saxophones.
The song "Peaches en Regalia" is widely recognized as a modern jazz fusion standard and is one of Zappa's best known tunes. Zappa plays a short octave-bass solo. Underwood contributes flute and multiple saxophone, clarinet and keyboard parts. Zappa later re-recorded the song several times in live performances. It has been re-interpreted by many other jazz and rock artists, including Phish, the Dixie Dregs, and Frogg Café.
"Willie the Pimp" is a blues-rock tune. It has violin by Don "Sugarcane" Harris and guitar solos by Zappa in what appear to be loose jams, though the performances were edited before release. This song features vocals by Zappa's longtime friend and collaborator Captain Beefheart. The title Hot Rats comes from the lyric of this song.
"Son of Mr. Green Genes" is an instrumental re-arrangement of the song Mr. Green Genes from the Mothers album Uncle Meat. The unusual title of this song led to an urban legend that Frank Zappa was related to the character Mr. Green Jeans from the television show Captain Kangaroo. This is the only song on the album to feature both intricate horn charts and extended guitar solo sections.
"Little Umbrellas" is similar in style to "Peaches", another short carefully arranged tune with numerous keyboard and wind overdubs by Underwood.
"The Gumbo Variations" also is a jam performance which was edited for the LP. In addition to the Zappa solo, it features a tenor saxophone solo by Underwood and violin solo by Don "Sugarcane" Harris.
"It Must Be a Camel" is also an intricately arranged tune with numerous wind and keyboard overdubs by Underwood. The very unusual tune often makes large melodic leaps. The title may come from the fact that these leaps resemble "humps" when written on paper. The recording contains a violin performance by Jean-Luc Ponty.
A recording from the Hot Rats sessions titled "Bognor Regis" was set to be released on the B-side of an edited version of "Sharlena", a track from the 1970 Zappa album "Chunga's Revenge." The single release was canceled, however, an acetate disc copy was leaked to the public and the track has appeared on Zappa bootlegs. The song was named after Bognor Regis, a town on the south coast of England. Musically, "Bognor Regis" is a basic blues instrumental with electric violin solo by Don "Sugarcane" Harris. Another track recorded during these sessions, titled "Twenty Small Cigars", was later released on "Chunga's Revenge."
Zappa used the most advanced recording equipment available to create an album of outstanding technical and musical quality. The album was recorded on what Zappa described as a "homemade sixteen track" recorder; the machine was custom built by engineers at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood in late 1968. In 1969 Ampex completed their 16-track MM-1000, which was the first 16-track audio recorder put into mass-production. The 16-track technology was far more sophisticated than the usual 4 and 8-track productions of the era. Additional tracks made it possible for Zappa to add multiple horn and keyboard overdubs by Ian Underwood. Only a few musicians were required to create an especially rich instrumental texture which gives the sound of a large group. It was this use of advanced overdubbing that was the main motivation for Zappa, who hated playing in a studio.
The additional tracks also made it possible to create a realistic stereo drum sound. Zappa was among the first to record drums on multiple tracks. Prior to 1969 the entire drum set was typically recorded to a single (mono) track of an 8-track recorder. On Hot Rats, however, four of the tracks were assigned to the main drum set, including individual tracks for the snare and bass drums and left and right tracks for other drums and cymbals. In this setup the engineer had unprecedented control over the sound of each drum component in the final mix. This technique was widely imitated and become the norm in the early 1970s when machines with 16 or more tracks became widely available.
Zappa pioneered the use of tape speed manipulation to produce unusual timbres and tonal colors. On "Peaches en Regalia", "Son of Mr. Green Genes", and "It Must Be a Camel" Zappa plays "double-speed percussion." After recording basic tracks (drums, bass, guitar and piano, etc.) at the fast speed of the recorder, Zappa played additional drum overdubs while listening to the basic tracks at half speed. On the finished recording, played at normal speed again, the overdubs are heard at twice the usual speed and pitch. This gives the drum overdubs a surreal, comical quality, much like toy drums.
Other instruments were processed in a similar way, including keyboards, saxophones and bass. Zappa is credited with "octave bass" (a bass guitar sped up to double speed)—the resulting sound is similar to that of a guitar. Additionally, a processed electronic organ was integrated as an orchestral voice within an ensemble of woodwinds and piano. "It Must Be a Camel" features the sound of a hard plastic comb being stroked, sounding almost like a jerky, audio slow-motion bell tree or wind chime; Zappa also 'plays' a ratchet wrench as percussion on "Willie the Pimp". This was all done with analog technology more than 10 years before modern digital sound processing equipment became available.
The colourful, psychedelic aura of the late sixties is apparent in the graphic design and photography of Hot Rats, though Zappa himself actually disdained the psychedelic movement. At a time when foldouts were usually reserved for double-disc albums, this one-disc album had a foldout emphasizing the photography as well as the elaborate artwork of Cal Schenkel. The cover photo by Andee Cohen Nathanson, utilizes infrared photography and reflects Zappa's taste for a visually striking expression, combined with the absurdly humorous. The woman pictured on the cover is "Miss Christine" Frka of The GTOs. The inside of the original gatefold LP cover has a collage of color pictures, many of which were taken during the recording sessions. On the initial CD edition many of these were removed, and the few that were included were printed in black and white. The 1997 reissue restored the full gatefold artwork.
- "Peaches en Regalia" – 3:38
- "Willie the Pimp" – 9:16
- "Son of Mr. Green Genes" – 9:00
- "Little Umbrellas" – 3:04
- "The Gumbo Variations" – 16:56
- "It Must Be a Camel" – 5:15
- Frank Zappa – electric guitar, percussion, octave bass
- Ian Underwood – organ, clarinet, flute, piano, saxophone
- Max Bennett – bass on all tracks except "Peaches en Regalia"
- Captain Beefheart – vocals on "Willie the Pimp"
- John Guerin – drums on "Willie the Pimp", "Little Umbrellas" and "It Must Be a Camel"
- Don "Sugarcane" Harris – violin on "Willie the Pimp" and "The Gumbo Variations"
- Paul Humphrey – drums on "Son of Mr. Green Genes" and "The Gumbo Variations"
- Shuggie Otis – bass on "Peaches en Regalia"
- Jean-Luc Ponty – violin on "It Must Be a Camel"
- Ron Selico – drums on "Peaches en Regalia"
- Lowell George - guitar (uncredited)
- Harvey Shantz – Snorks
- Producer: Frank Zappa
- Director of engineering: Dick Kunc
- Engineers: Cliff Goldstein, Jack Hunt, Brian Ingoldsby, Dick Kunc
- Arranger: Frank Zappa
- Cover design: Cal Schenkel
- Design: Cal Schenkel, John Williams
The LP version was released on the blue Bizarre Records label in 1969. In 1973 the album was re-issued by Reprise Records. The Reprise version was deleted in the early 1980s when Zappa's contract with record distributor Warner Bros. Records ended.
In 1987 Zappa remixed Hot Rats for re-issue on Compact Disc. The remix drew criticism from fans who preferred the "more musical" original 1969 mix on the LP. "Willie the Pimp" is edited differently during the introduction and guitar solo. "The Gumbo Variations" has 4 minutes of additional material including an introduction and guitar and saxophone solo sections which were cut from the vinyl LP version. Piano and flute which were buried the LP mix of "Little Umbrellas" are prominent on the CD. Other differences include significant changes to the overall ambiance and dynamic range.
The original 1969 vinyl LP mix was re-issued in 2009 as a limited edition audiophile LP by Classic Records. This version has a Barking Pumpkin Records label (Zappa's own record company.) It is the preferred edition for many Zappa fans and collectors due to its excellent sound quality and historical accuracy.