“Willie the Pimp” is one of my favorite Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart songs. From Zappa’s 1969 album “Hot Rats,” “Willie the Pimp” is a nasty, bluesy extended hard rock jam with wonderfully sleazy vocals by Beefheart. A standout track from a standout album.
From Zappa and the Mothers’ classic 1968 skewering of the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and hippie culture, “We’re Only In It For the Money.” Proof positive that you don’t have to be a card-carrying Conservative to consider hippie culture insipid and annoying. Used during a pivotal scene in director Haskell Wexler’s terrific and notorious 1969 countercultural film “Medium Cool.”
From Zappa’s magnificent and gleefully obscene 1979 album “Sheik Yerbouti” comes “Flakes,” an anthem about unreliable repair technicians and the people that hire them. The Bob Dylan impression and the reference to “frosting a cake with a paper knife” are especially nice touches. “Flakes” is an unusually clean (though not that clean) track from “Sheik,” apparently Zappa’s best-selling album of all time. “Sheik” is also arguably the least politically correct and filthiest album to hit the Billboard Top 25 album chart until the ascendency of gangsta rap. That’s a compliment, by the way.
Zappa’s mildly snarky, but ultimately affectionate tale of the rise and fall and rise of a 60s garage punk band.