Personnel: Frank Zappa (guitar, bass, percussion); Captain Beefheart (vocals); Jean-Luc Ponty, Sugar Cane Harris (violin); Ian Underwood (clarinet, saxophone, piano, organ); Max Bennett, Shuggie Otis (bass); John Guerin, Paul Humphrey, Ron Selico (drums).
Engineers include: Dick Kunc, Jack Hunt, Cilff Goldstein.
Recorded from August to September 1969.
HOT RATS was digitally remixed in 1987. "The Gumbo Variations" has been extended an extra 4 minutes from the original LP version. All of the tracks have been remixed, and in some cases sound quite different.
Personnel: Frank Zappa (guitar, percussion); Ian Underwood (flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano).
Having temporarily disbanded the Mothers Of Invention, Frank Zappa recorded this exceptional solo album. His group was renowned for musical satire, but here the artist opted to showcase his prowess on guitar. Aside from "Willie The Pimp," which features a cameo vocal by Zapppa's old friend Captain Beefheart, the set is comprised of instrumentals. The players, including Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Ian Underwood, are uniformly excellent, combining to provide a solid jazz-rock platform for Zappa's compulsive soloing. Here the guitarist relishes a freedom which, while acknowledging past achievements, prepares new territories for exploration. As such, HOT RATS was a pivotal release in Zappa's oft-misunderstood career.
Rolling Stone (3/7/70, p.48) - "...If you're eager for a first taste of Beefheart or interested in the new approaches to instrumental style and improvisational technique being developed these days, this is as good a place to start as any..."
Entertainment Weekly (12/17/93, p.36) - "...This album, Zappa's first without the Mothers, is his attempt to make jazz appealing to non-fans....lush instrumentals still sound up-to-the-minute. RATS also includes Captain Beefheart singing the epic 'Willie The Pimp.'..."
Q (8/95, pp.150-151) - 3 Stars - Good - "Secure and melodious, this captures Zappa's art as it lost the febrile nature of the early Mothers and ossified....into easy-listening jazz-rock. Nice tunes, though."
Option - Highly Recommended
Mojo (Publisher) (p.139) - "[A] cogent exercise in jazz-rock fusion with the added attraction of FZ's serrated edge."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.105) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "HOT RATS saw Zappa, in his first proper album without the Mothers, perfectly melding jazz and rock....Full of power, this down-and-dirty album delicately fuses both genres successfully."
Uncut (magazine) (p.68) - "[T]his rocking, brilliantly ambitious follow-up to an album of 1950s doo-wop pastiches was Zappa's biggest UK hit..."