Being a revolutionary came naturally to Frank Zappa, and "Joe's Garage" primes the auditory palate for a far-out trip to the world of government corruption and its hallucination.
Bursting out of the fire at the end of the 1970s, "Joe's Garage" is a three act rock play following the journey of Joe, a disillusioned musician, as he leaves home, contracts a few sexually transmitted diseases, has his heart broken, and gets thrown in jail for destroying an android. Zappa leaves the real reason for Joe's jailing up in the air, but he leans toward explaining it with the motives of a corrupt government.
In Zappa's 26th release he stays true to his past, pumping each track with humor and strong musicianship. Zappa's work spans the complete spectrum of music, but he is best in his natural form: rock 'n' roll. "Joe's Garage" remains a sparkling gem among Zappa's crown of musical accomplishments and climbs above the rest of his repertoire with its activist theme.
Eager to share his message with the world, Zappa's made "Joe's Garage" as a piece rife with political commentary on the regulation of music. Made clear by the Central Scrutinizer, the album's narrator: "Our criminal institutions are full of little creeps like you who do wrong things … and many of them were driven to these crimes by a horrible force called MUSIC!" (Insert diabolical snickering here.)
In a world where anything is happening, it's not too hard to sit down and wonder if this might not be the future. The world that Zappa prognosticates is one of uniform boredom. Everyone is labeled a criminal at birth, so if the government is upset with their activities, it is a quick and easy process to remove them from the scene of everyday life.
This album is a masterpiece of sound. Zappa's 15-piece band rips through song after song, shooting homing missiles of humor and scoring points in the most obscene and wacky ways. Written prior to his fight with Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center over the regulation of music, Zappa seemed to be warming up his chops for a long season of arguments that would last for a large portion of his life.
Creepy and chiding, the tracks pick at your brain until you ask, "Did he really just say that? Hilarious!" However humorous "Joe's Garage" may be, the core of this masterpiece is it's message: Humankind must beware itself! Music is a precious thing. "Joe's Garage" is an essential part of any music lover's education. If you're not into the tunes, you're just another Central Scrutinizer.
If you like Zappa, check out: Captain Beefheart, Devo, Steve Vai, or some of Zappa's longtime collaborators and influences: Igor Stravinsky, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.