Uncle Meat

Released: March 1969


  1. Main Title Theme
  2. The Voice Of Cheese
  3. 9 Types Of Industrial Pollution
  4. Zolar Czakl
  5. Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague
  6. The Legend Of The Golden Arches
  7. Louie Louie (live at Royal Albert Hall)
  8. The Dog Breath Variations
  9. Sleeping In A Jar
  10. Our Bizarre Relationship
  11. The Uncle Meat Variations
  12. Electric Aunt Jemima
  13. Prelude To King Kong
  14. God Bless America
  15. A Pound For A Brown On The Bus
  16. Ian Underwood Whips It Out
  17. Mr. Green Genes
  18. We Can Shoot You
  19. If We’d All Been Living In California…
  20. The Air
  21. Project X
  22. Cruising For Burgers
  23. Uncle Meat Film Excerpts I & II
  24. Tengo Na Minchia Tanta
  25. King Kong Itself
  26. King Kong II
  27. King Kong III
  28. King Kong IV
  29. King Kong V
  30. King Kong VI

Frank Zappa (guitar, low grade vocals, percussion), Ray Collins (swell vocals), Jimmy Carl Black (drums, droll humor, poverty), Roy Estrada (electric bass, chesseburgers, Pachuco falsetto), Don (Dom De Wild) Preston (electric piano, tarot cards, brown rice), Billy (The Oozer) (Mundi drums), Bunk (Sweetpants) Gardner (piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bassoon), Ian Underwood (electric organ, piano, harpsichord, celeste, flute, clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax, special assistance, copyist, industrial relations & teen appeal), Artie (With the Green Mustache) (Tripp drums, timpani, vibes, marimba, xylophone, wood blocks, bells, small chimes, cheerful outlook & specific enquiries), Euclid James (Motorhead/Motorishi) Sherwood (pop star, frenetic tenor sax stylings, tambourine, choreography, obstinance & equipment setter-upper when he’s not hustling local groupies)

22 thoughts on “Uncle Meat”

  1. I have always considered this album to be years ahead of it’s time. The line up currently credited on this page George Duke (keyboards, vocals) Tom Fowler (bass) Ruth Underwood (percussion) Jeff Simmons (rhythm guitar, vocals) Don Preston (synthesizer) Bruce Fowler (trombone, dancing!) Walt Fowler (trumpet) Napoleon Murphy Brock (tenor sax, flute, vocals) Ralph Humphrey (drums) Chester Thompson (drums)
    bears this out!!!!!!

  2. I have to be honest: when I first heard the album “Uncle Meat”, its “chamber rock” angular pieces sounded SO DIFFERENT from anything I had listened to from Zappa before (including “Hot Rats” which came later), I JUST COULDN’T GET INTO IT. Believe me, folks, I REALLY TRIED.

    But over time and tons of constant, FORCED listenings, the amazing beauty of this (mainly instrumental) album began to emerge for me. If one does really get off on the topical, political and pop-satire confections of the earlier albums, this work does come off as something ALIEN FROM MARS. With “Uncle Meat”, Frank suddenly decided that he was going to push things farther ahead as a real COMPOSER OF MUSIC, and take the chance that his listening audience would make the journey with him.

    And it is NOT easy listening by any stretch of the imagination. Many of the “Uncle Meat” pieces are atonal in places, with a monsterous amount of overdubbage, the whole improvisational side of “King Kong” with Ian Underwood squaking away, the heavy percussive “chamber Varese” bits like “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution”, and piece after piece, Zappa seems to be digging his heels deeper into the ground, INSISTING that he will survive and flourish as a PURE MUSIC COMPOSER in the 20th century and beyond. “Uncle Meat” is a perfect example of the way Frank’s instrumental music is the DIRECT DESCENDANT of other 20th Centry modern music pioneers like Stravinsky, Webern, Cage and Varese. When I first encountered this album, it quickly taught me just how LITTLE I truly knew about contemporary music and SERIOUS composers’ works. There is no doubt in my mind today that Frank Zappa was a REAL SERIOUS 20th century composer, rather than just some wacky goon “svengali” guy who released “shock” and novelty records. NOTHING Frank ever did was just tossed off or unrelated to other important musical signposts. The original Zappa music on “Uncle Meat” has a long and varied musical lineage, and Zappa intended to add a few new branches to that tree. Finally acquiring musicians who could really READ music (Ian and Ruth Underwood, Art Tripp), Frank was freed to really COMPOSE away, and let his fertile mind go into hyper overdrive. Today, I feel ashamed that I first dismissed “Uncle Meat” with such shallow small-mindedness. This is an ESSENTIAL Zappa work, and one that stands up to literally HUNDREDS of listens. Give it a REAL close chance and a REAL good listen, and it will repay the favor tenfold. Rich, challenging, muti-varied and composed with care, “Uncle Meat” is a Zappa masterwork.

  3. Wonderful music. But the 30 minutes of the conversation is boring. Really boring. I always skip that one. And is skip the second part of it too. But the rest is great.

  4. Supposedly a soundtrack for an (at the time) unfinished movie, this album is a college of surreal do-wop, jazz jamming, and classical style pieces as played by a rocking teenage combo ( sometimes using massive overdubs.) It is one of my favorite albums. The long bonus track of apparent movie dialogue excerpts on the cd gets boring and I usually skip over it, but the originally album was always one of my favorites and it introduces one of FZ’s best jam songs (“King Kong”)

  5. I’ve listened to the 95 Ryko CD release of this album dozens of times (and skipped the film excerpts dozens of times too) but only discovered the beauty and splendour of the music on this album after I bought the original Bizarre vinyl release.
    “Mr Green Genes” is awesome on vinyl! Zappa really messed with it in his remix for CD, and not having to endure penalty tracks is a joy. Zappa music on vinyl is the best!

  6. The first time I listened to this album I thought it was crap, but after listining to it for half a year I understood the music more and more. Now it is my favorite album. But can anyone tell me if “Tengo na minchia tanta” (translated from italian: “Ive got a big bunch of dick”!) was later put on by Zappa in the 80″s?.

  7. Uncle Meat. What an astonishing piece of work! As you listen to it from track to track, you find more and more how much of an absolute genius Frank Zappa is. The best part is the spoken segments (not the film excerpts, though, although I do find them quite interesting) and the complete mutations supplied by the equipment in the control room. A marvel in the bizarre!

  8. It should have 2 ratings 1) with all the stupid talking 2) without all the stupid talking

    I bet (2) wins by a cuntry mile WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
    Thankfully I burned myself a copy leaving out all the stupid talking, which means the FZ estate owes me money. Er, I think.

  9. Another great work, proving that ’68 was a great year for music. From LUMPY GRAVY to UNCLE MEAT, it was all good. UM really could do without those penalty tracks. After a cople of times, ‘Tengo Na Minchia Tanta’ gets really annoying. But ‘King Kong’ and other tracks make it worth the effort of pushing the >> button two or three times. I still hum ‘The Air’ when I’m in a bad mood, and it makes things a little better! Amongst my family, Suzy Creamcheese is a favourite.

  10. I don’t think UM is anywhere near being the monster teen hit-maker that Zappa always claimed he aspired to spawn – but it may be one of the most vital musical works of the 20th Century:

    The UM theme that recurs is something no “Rock” band would be caught dead doing (if they could), & the music-box precision is accentuated by VERY daring use of overdubs/mixing that gives it a metallic chill, an ambience that noone would be identifying very strenuously w/ until it was revived by the likes of Gary Numan & Peter Gabriel … the divine Ms. Cheez presents an interlude that is cut off by “Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution” – this can still make me feel like either laughing or crying after many MANY listenings; it truly makes me wish that Zappa had put out an unplugged gutbox LP!

    “Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague” has to be one of the most cunningly audacious things on record – both here & on “Project X” a very sexy theme lulls the ear toward the precipice of an ambient abyss, over which it is a mite shocking to be hurled … but oh so worth it. Zappa raves about the smooth action of the Apostolic Studios’ console, w/ good reason – it gave him the freedom to co-engineer a level of weirdness into his songs that the improv/camp of “Monster Magnet” could only imply a mere 2 years previously. Studio tech was innovating furiously & as usual Zappa was betting his hard-won spondulix on its advantages … the results speak 4 themselves.

    Is this “Civilization Faye’s 5”???

    Being an organism w/ scant tolerance 4 the same greasy doo-wop that Zappa so sincerely loved, it’s a thrill 2 hear it being presented 4 my Optional Entertainment in this drastic mutagenic form; a few of the lyrics for “The Air” or “Cruising For Burgers” ALMOST might’ve just been done THIS year by some gang of pubescent uppity math-rock basement-band folks w/ mutual spiritual nausea. Just so long @ they favoured the likes of The Moonglows or barbershop quartets over HIM or Tool, that is…

    Any album that can make me sing along 2 bloody Doo-Wawp – then make me recall the likes of THE RESIDENTS or NEGATIVLAND – would already be mighty mighty deliceux if not Outtasite … but 2 do that back in MCMLXVIII?!?!


  11. I bought the original Bizarre vinyl release when I was still in high school. The record store made a mistake and sold it to me as a single album instead of as a double. What a deal! I listened to Uncle Meat non-stop through out my last year of high school. I couldn’t get enough of it. It had everthing: jazz, rock, doowop, chamber music. Even today, after thousands of listenings, I still get something new out of Uncle Meat. A classic, must have, Zappa work. I don’t have much to say about the 80s add-ons (they don’t take away from the original album, but neither do they add to it), only to say I never got as good a deal on the Ryco CD as I did on the original Bizarre vinyl!

  12. I first discovered Zappa’s Uncle Meat album back during my six-month Zappa phase back in 2000. I was steadily working through the catalogue from the beginning, and each new album proved a consciousness-expanding experience. This was astonishing music – is “music” the right word? For something so immensely diverse, so encompasing of so many different sounds – what other word is there? I could never find one. I still can’t.

    Recently, with my move to vinyl records, I managed to score Uncle Meat in its original vinyl form. Haven’t heard it in years, despite my great respect for it. I drifted away from Zappa for a long time, only to return just now. If anything, it’s a better collection of songs than I remember. It certainly helps to be freed of all those unnecessary extras imposed upon the CD. It also helps to have four album sides instead of one or two CDs. It’s a much better situation with Uncle Meat, requiring more time to meditate upon individual tracks.

    The avant-garde classical is as insane as ever. The King Kong jams on side four are outstanding – perhaps the album’s highlight. I’m more a fan of Zappa’s instrumental work, and the original Mothers of Invention era. It was a much more experimental time, I feel. More effort put into smashing the boundaries of music, of bending reality. The less said of the smutty side of Frank Zappa, the better. He pretty much loses me after Overnight Sensation.

    So, anyway, I’m drifting a bit. No worry, makes sense when talking Uncle Meat (and listening to Great Wazoo on the PC, no less). It’s the very definition of sprawl. This is what made the old double albums so damned good. The sprawl. Uncle Meat isn’t all over the map; it’s a galaxy unto itself.

    I’d say this album should be heard at least once, start to finish, by everyone sometime during the course of their lives. I can’t say whether it would appeal to most of them. Nearly everyone will be bowled over by the sheer “weirdness” of it all. Most will walk away, turn back on the FM radio for another heaping pile of shit. But a few will stick around. Watch those kids. They’re the ones who will ultimately amount to something.

    Oh, look, Brittney shaved her head. Good fer her. Throw on side three.

  13. The most original Zappa album. There is no other music that sounds quite like this, in Zappa’s or anybody’s catalog. The Bizarre double-LP is the best way to appreciate this work. The extra CD tracks just dilute the experience. Do try and find a copy of the vinyl that includes the booklet – artwork which fits this project like a glove.

  14. This is not for the casual fan as it is very complex and there aren’t many vocals. Very big early 20th Century Classical music influence, together with Jazz and, of course Rock. Lots of these pieces performed in more dynamic versions by the 70’s/early 80’s bands.

  15. RAY DAVIES CO- COMPOSER OF KING KONG VI!!!!!!!!!!!!!! just decided to burn a copy of king kong in order to eliminate the unessential part of the 2nd disc & my windows media player is kindly informing me of this composing credit. anybody else notice or have any info about, as to, or WHY????????

  16. You’re right, it does!

    The iTunes database (Gracenote) just credits FZ. Media Player also thinks that KKII is “Interpreted by Tom Dewild”

    Ah, I miss Tom…

  17. It’ll be because the Kinks also did a song called “King Kong”. No relation whatsoever of the Mothers monster, but a fun song nonetheless… “I’m King Kong / Got a hydrogen bomb…”

  18. Of course, everyone knows that “King Kong” was actually written by John and Yoko.

  19. A work of astonishing scope and great beauty. I’ve always kind of taken this album for granted as being pretty damn good, but I just listened to it again after many years, and I am rather taken aback at just how accomplished everything is here – the music, the solos, the editing (which is sublime), Ray Collins’ vocals; and the mix (I’m referring to the Zappa Records CD release here) is incredible – focusing on minute details, eg the bass drum with astonishing clarity. This really is one of Frank’s greatest moments. (Note that I do not refer to the extra tracks available on the CD – ‘penalty tracks’ indeed!)

    Of course, this is not music for the fainthearted – but will continue to surprise you: for years! Essential.

  20. Whenever I listen to this album, I cant help thinking this is Frank saying good-bye to the Mothers. This would be the last album he’d release with them before he broke the band up, and its like he knew it.

    The audio-verite’ showing what it was like to be around those guys, while the haphazard sounding editing (compilation?) of tracks comes off like he’s grabbing material from various projects.

    According to the Ahead of Their Time liner notes, Frank was moving more and more into chamber orchestra. Around the time of these recordings, he had been tinkering with these bits and passages which would be used as a ‘score’ played by the BBC orchestra on the latter album (not on UM).

    But with this classical bend in mind, I find it puts Uncle Meat into a better perspective. The previous albums (aside from Lumpy Gravy) follow a somewhat pop format, while this one is a collage of collages of various musical styles: mostly chamber-music sounding tracks, beautiful jazz and some pop songs.

    It was jarring when I first heard it, coming off the first four albums. Which is what good Zappa does, baffles you, then you love it. I think this album would’ve made more sense had I been familiar with Ahead of Their Time, or The Yellow Shark. Because, in its mutated way, this is a classical album.

    I prefer the 80’s remix of Mr. Green Genes, the Vinyl one’s a bit too muted and has this boxed in, dry feeling. The 80’s adds a cheesy echo-saturation on the vocals and a baritone sax that helps fill the song out.

    1st listen was a 6/10 but 10/10 now.

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