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Zappa & Inca Roads

I think this is the best song on the album One Size Fits All and one of Zappa’s greatest compositions and arrangements.

One Size Fits All (1975) is my favorite Zappa album, and probably the most well-crafted studio album I know in terms of how the songs flow into one another and create an overall theme or texture. That is a lot of “bests,” I know, but this song also has what I think is Zappa’s best guitar solo (starting at 2:00), one of my favorite guitar solos anywhere, ever. The solo was actually recorded at a concert and seamlessly spliced into the studio recording. (BTW, from 4:23 is the only time I’ve heard a guitar sound like bagpipes.) One Size Fits All also has one of the best and funniest album covers in the world, both front and back. (For an enlarged front cover image go here. There’s a super great back cover image here. Check out the constellations.)

Inca Roads crosses back and forth through many characteristic Zappa modes: weird and unsettling vocal lines, whimsy, irreverence, crashing intrusions, dizzying unison passages, pensive and sometimes plaintive guitar meditations, down and dirty rock licks, mock heroic blasts, soaring lyricism . . . Unbelievably tight playing.

The song is goofing on the Chariots of the Gods? craze of the 70s (the thesis that aliens were responsible for ancient human civilizations). The ending is abrupt because it segues right into the next song, “Can’t Afford No Shoes.”

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