Let’s Go Joe

Yes indeed, here we are at the final leg of the three-part saga known as Joe’s Garage. While both Act II and Act III were released on the same disc, it is vital to realize the differences that each section holds. Through the peaks and valleys of Joe’s metaphorical and fictitious life, the audience is reminded that music is the only real friend.

Opening with the track “He Used To Cut The Grass,” Joe is finally released fully from prison and is awoken from his sunken dream to discover a reality of bitter commercialized waste and a society where music is totally illegal. Ike Willis reprises his role as Joe and describes, “I’m out at last, boy, the world sure looks different. Wow, there’s hardly anything fun to do since they made music illegal.” Touching upon Joe’s addiction, Willis continues, “But I’m hooked, I got the habit. I’ve got to have it, I need to play it.” The instrumentation here is more lucid than before and feels like a continuation of “Outside Now” From Joe’s Garage Act II.

But the work on “He Used To Cut The Grass” moves as a segue where the Central Scrutinizer describes, “He not only dreams imaginary guitar notes but to make matters worse… dreams imaginary vocal parts, to a song about the imaginary journalistic profession.” Then as the following piece, “Packard Goose” is a rambunctious assault through rapid instrument ensembles and is truthfully one of the best tracks through the entire production. The way that Zappa enacts the near symphonic level of layers and players together as a stitch work starts with a single verse illustrating, “Maybe you thought I was the Packard Goose or the Ronald McDonald of the nouveau-abstruse.” He continues on, “Well fuck all them people, I don’t need no excuse for being what I am.”

It is nearly a show tune with a barrage and arrangement of off-beats and abstract tunings of the strings to be somewhere between the goofy and the serious tones. The attack and standoffish nature toward writers from Zappa becomes clear with the second verse as he is able to spit a middle finger right through lyrics.

“Fuck all them writers with the pen in their hand, I will be more specific so they might understand. They can all kiss my ass but because it’s so grand, they best just stay away,” Zappa describes over intense instrumentation.

Like much of Joe’s Garage, Act III is comedic through the delivery but the production and immense pressure from the instruments becomes almost overwhelming at times. The jam session on “Packard Goose” is twisted and becomes warped through effects but never loses that emotional draw to the package. And once the groove comes back, the verse takes one more dig before the show stops.

“If you’re in the audience and like what we do, well we want you to know that we like you all too. But as for the sucker who will write a review, if his mind is prehensile. He’ll put down his pencil, and have himself a squat on the cosmic utensil.” While taking a stab at writers and people who critique the work of Zappa, the delivery and performance behind it is admirable.

What follows becomes one of Zappa’s greatest guitar works on “Watermelon In Easter Hay” that features no real lyrics, but instead is a nearly 9 straight minutes of guitar solo works paired with wishful chimes and percussion that is frankly beautiful. Not often a word to describe the works of Zappa, but here “Watermelon in Easter Hay” there is a hopeful and almost uplifting near finale to a tale of torment, misery, and eventually madness.

The higher tuned shrieks hit against the calming background of sound and becomes a representative strike of Joe’s rebellion against the bland society that pushes him away. Somehow still a somber last rites, Joe’s Garage Act III is stunning even if based entirely off “Watermelon In Easter Hay” alone.

Nearly two hours later comes the end of Joe’s Garage Act I, II, & III as a formidable tale of musical excellence but also persecution and obstruction of freedom. Even through the long run time, the addicting nature of Zappa’s writing and comedic undertone conflicts with his ferocious ability to craft and sculpt worlds through sound. And if all else fails, throw the record away and become just like the ones Joe ran from.

Listen To Joe’s Garage Act III Here!!! – Spotify/Amazon/iTunes

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