You should be diggin’ it
While it’s happening
‘Cause it just might be a one shot deal
I was excited to hear Waka/Jawaka. The cover references Hot Rats explicitly and that is probably my favorite Zappa album. But I was pretty disappointed really to the degree that I’m going to say some things about this album that I never expected to say about a Zappa album. There are only four tracks; two lengthy instrumentals and two shorter vocal songs. The instrumentals are basically a wash in my opinion. Big Swifty opens the album and is almost eighteen minutes long, but it’s a really meandering and unmemorable piece. I found that my mind kept wandering when I tried to listen to it and, whether I was loving it or hating it, no other Zappa track had allowed my mind to wander. Waka/Jawaka closes the album and isn’t as bad. It has some fine guitar work, but it’s still just kind of lackluster. The two vocal songs are of varying quality; Your Mouth is of no interest whatsoever & It Might Just Be a One-Shot Deal is fun only because it’s a pretty good impression of the Allman Brothers (and I do love those musical impressions). The guitar bits in One-Shot Deal that purposely evoke the Allmans are nice. The production is good, of course. Beyond that, I really have nothing to say about this album. This isn’t an album I hate; nothing on here is “bad” exactly, but nothing’s really any good either. It’s kind of wallpapery, to be perfectly honest. It might be worth pointing out that Zappa put out three albums in 1972. On the one hand, if you put out three albums in a calendar year, they probably won’t all be winners; on the other hand, if you’ve put out two albums in a calendar year, no one’s making you put out a third. To this point, Zappa has been often great, often awful & always engaging. But this album is none of those things. It’s something totally unique so far: bland. I never thought I’d encounter a Zappa album this lackluster and uninteresting. Again, it’s not terrible and that’s good. But, you know, something I never expected to say about a Zappa album, it’s just pretty dull. 2 stars.
tl;dr – Zappa album isn’t bad, isn’t good & isn’t interesting; always iconoclastic & interesting musician takes a break from those things to produce a dull, forgettable album.