From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 5, 1972
RecordedApril 17–21 and May 5, 1972
StudioParamount Studios, Los Angeles, California
ProducerFrank Zappa
Frank Zappa chronology
Just Another Band from L.A.
The Grand Wazoo
Frank Zappa (solo) chronology
Chunga's Revenge
Apostrophe (')
Audio sample
Sample of the album's title track
Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB[4]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[6]

Waka/Jawaka (also known as Waka/Jawaka — Hot Rats) is the fourth solo album, fifteenth album counting the work of his band the Mothers of Invention, by Frank Zappa, released in July 1972. The album is the jazz-influenced precursor to The Grand Wazoo (November 1972), and as the front cover indicates, a sequel of sorts to 1969's Hot Rats. According to Zappa, the title "is something that showed up on a ouija board at one time."[7]


"Big Swifty" is a jazz-fusion tune, similar to many of Zappa's pieces from the jazz period of his compositional timeline. It features many horns to achieve a thick brassy sound as well as room for improvisation and use of multiple time signatures. The tune initially alternates between 7
and 3
time signatures, soon settling on a 4
swing feel for several extended solos. Known recorded live versions expanded rhythmic diversification to 11
and rubato parts (e.g. live in Texas, 1973).[8]

The track "It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal" is a strange tale of hallucinations sung by Sal Marquez and Janet Ferguson (the "tough-minded" groupie in 200 Motels). Sneaky Pete Kleinow's pedal steel guitar sets up a dream-like, smooth quality, but with the words "but you should be diggin' it while it's happening cause it just might be a one-shot deal", though played in real time rather than achieved with a splice, it again sounds as if the music has started to run backwards.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Initial reviews for the album were mixed. Rolling Stone's Rob Houghton compared it to "second-rate Miles Davis," but concluded that Waka/Jawaka was "one of Zappa’s most enjoyable, less hypertense efforts."[10] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau was less charitable: "With Sal Marquez playing 'many trumpets' all over 'Big Swifty,' there are times you could drop the needle and think you were listening to recent Miles Davis. That's certainly what Zappa's been doing. But where Davis is occasionally too loose, Zappa's always too tight—he seems to perceive only what is weird and alienating in his influences, never what is humane. Also, Sal Marquez doesn't play trumpet(s) as good as Miles."[4] However, the album's reputation has improved over time. In UDiscoverMusic in 2022, Jamie Atkins wrote, "Waka/Jawaka stands up on its own as one of Zappa’s most vibrant and enjoyable explorations of jazz-rock."[11]


It was reissued in a digitally remastered version on CD by Rykodisc in 1988 (with much digital reverb added and missing the back cover artwork) and in 1995 (restoring the rear cover, but with identical sound). In 2012, Universal Music released a CD containing a remastered version of the original vinyl mix. On December 16, 2022, Universal Music released Dolby Atmos & Dolby TrueHD mix of this album along with The Grand Wazoo as part of a 4CD+1Blu-Ray set named Waka/Wazoo, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the albums. The album was also released in black & colored vinyl to celebrate the 50th Anniversary.[12]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written, composed and arranged by Frank Zappa.

Side one
1."Big Swifty"17:22
Total length:17:22
Side two
2."Your Mouth"3:12
3."It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal"4:16
Total length:18:43


Musicians on the album[edit]


  • Producer: Frank Zappa
  • Engineers: Marshall Brevitz, Kerry McNabb
  • Mastering: Frank Zappa
  • Supervisor: Marshall Brevitz
  • Concept: Sal Marquez
  • Creative consultant: Sal Marquez
  • Design: Cal Schenkel
  • Cover Design: Cal Schenkel
  • Cover illustration: Marvin Mattelson
  • Illustrations: Marvin Mattelson
  • Photography: Philip Schartz
  • Back cover: Philip Schwartz
  • Packaging: Cal Schenkel
  • Repackaging: Ferenc Dobronyi


1972 chart performance for Waka/Jawaka
Chart (1972) Peak
US Billboard 200[13] 152
2022 chart performance for Waka/Jawaka
Chart (2022) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[14] 24


  1. ^ Couture, François. "Roxy & Elsewhere - Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b Mars-Jones, Adam (2015). Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father. Penguin Books Limited. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-84614-876-7.
  3. ^ Couture, F. (2011). "Waka/Jawaka - Frank Zappa | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Z". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 23, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  5. ^ Henderson, Paul (28 January 1989). "Slippery Customers". Kerrang!. No. 223. p. 18. ISSN 0262-6624.
  6. ^ Houghton, Rob (2011). "Frank Zappa: Waka/Jawaka". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  7. ^ Frank Zappa interview, November, 1972, on WGOE-FM Richmond VA interview by Jerry Williams from the Frank Zappa GSW Project Vol. 6 1971-72, disk 2 track 22
  8. ^ Couture, François. "Big Swifty - Frank Zappa | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  9. ^ Page 199; Frank Zappa: "The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play" by Ben Watson, St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 1995
  10. ^ Houghton, Rob (October 12, 1972). "Waka/Jawaka". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  11. ^ Atkins, Jamie (November 29, 2022). "'Waka/Jawaka': Frank Zappa's Fusion Masterclass". UDiscoverMusic. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  12. ^ Rolli, Bryan (October 18, 2022). "Frank Zappa's Jazz Albums Commemorated With 'Waka/Wazoo' Box Set". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  13. ^ "Frank Zappa Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  14. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Frank Zappa – Waka / Jawaka" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved December 23, 2022.

External links[edit]