After 10 years of studio silence, Robby Krieger returns with a killer Frank Zappa album.
The lede is not literal, of course. But the former Doors guitarist, in tandem with FZ alumni co-writer/co-producer Arthur Barrow, drummer Chad Wackerman, keyboardist Tommy Mars and horn players Jock Ellis and Sal Marquez, channel the head Mother shamelessly and with the chops to back it up on the Ritual Begins at Sundown.
Fine-tuned on stages before being transferred to the studio, the eight originals and two covers bear all sorts of Zappa hallmarks like odd time signatures, quirky tempo shifts and an overarching unconventional quality that keep them interesting over repeated spins.
Recalling the jazzy, instrumental stylings of 1982’s Versions, Krieger even plays like Zappa, taking occasional detours into Jeremy Spencer territory on the languid “Slide Home” and soaring like David Gilmour on his recasting of the Doors’ “Yes, the River Knows.”
But even without a carbon copy of “Chunga’s Revenge,” it would be hard to call the Ritual Begins at Sundownanything but an homage to Zappa, something Krieger and his bandmates seem to allude to on the opening track, when the LP’s only words, also the song’s title – What was that? – pop out of the speakers.
It wasn’t Zappa. But the Ritual Begins at Sundown sure sounds like him.