Q - 8/95, pp.150-1513 Stars
- Good - "...long solos interspersed with country references."
Down Beat3.5 Stars
- Very Good
Uncut (magazine) - p.69
"[T]his sees Zappa moving heavily into jazz fusion territory..."
Personnel: Frank Zappa (acoustic & electric guitars, percussion); Tony Duran (vocals, slide guitar); Jeff Simmons (vocals, Hawaiian guitar); Sal Marquez (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn, chimes); Erroneous (vocals, electric bass); Chris Peterson, Janet Ferguson (vocals); "Sneaky Pete" Kleinow (pedal steel guitar); Joel Peskin (tenor saxophone); Mike Altschul (tenor & baritone saxophones, piccolo, bass flute, bass clarinet); Bill Byers, Ken Shroyer (trombone, baritone horn); Aynsley Dunbar (drums).
Recorded at Paramount Studios, Los Angeles, California.
Recording information: Paramount Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Philip Schwartz.
Arranger: Frank Zappa.
While performing at England's Rainbow Theater on December 10, 1971, Frank Zappa sustained a serious injury when an overzealous fan pushed him off the stage. Zappa was forced to keep a low profile while recovering from this traumatic event, but he was in the middle of a very fertile recording period--his classic albums HOT RATS, BURNT WEENY SANDWICH, and CHUNGA'S REVENGE had all recently been released. Instead of moping around, Zappa immersed himself in writing new music, and 1972's WAKA/JAWAKA was his first album to appear since his accident.
Although not as instantly rewarding as the aforementioned HOT RATS, WAKA/JAWAKA is still a solid Zappa album. Like its predecessors, the album contains elements of Frank's instantly recognizable jazz-rock fusion. But due to its gritty rock production, the four-song album (two tracks are very lengthy, the others shorter) is not your normal fusion effort. The opener, "Big Swifty," leans more towards rock (thanks to Zappa's distorted guitar riffs), while the closing title track is jazzier, as a horn section plays the tune's multiple melodies. This release can be seen as an important step in Zappa's evolution: the scored, large ensemble fusion pieces and jazzy improvisations would play an increasing role in his music through the '70s.