Picks and Pans Review: Frankly a Cappella
The Persuasions (EarthBeat!)
And now for some bizarre bedfellows. On this tribute to the late avant-garde composer and social satirist Frank Zappa, leader of the Mothers of Invention and wearer of surreal facial hair, the Persuasions perform 13 Zappa titles, among them "Lumpy Gravy," "Electric Aunt Jemima" and "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," from Mothers albums such as Freak Out, Uncle Meat and Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Unusual fare for a group of six middle-aged gentlemen famous for their earnest a cappella vocalizing. Yet the Persuasions—who launched their recording career in 1969, when Zappa signed them to his Straight label after listening to a tape a friend played for him over the telephone—deftly manage the complex arrangements and intricate rhythm structures that Zappa wrote to challenge a generation of virtuoso instrumentalists. And the group does not shy away from the bitter sarcasm of tunes such as the Mark Twain-inspired "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing." We're persuaded.
Bottom Line: Vocal beauty with bite