The first portion of Uncle Meat comprised of the initial LP, which spans the majority of the album, is hard to pin down all on its own. Composed as a mostly instrumental soundtrack to a film that never materialized, it's hard to box Uncle Meat neatly into any particular category. Part sound collage, part experimental jazz and rock, the album simply goes in whatever musical direction it may please at any given time. There are the usual call-back sounds, like Suzy Creamcheese and the snorting pig noises, and there are vocal snippets that serve as in-jokes between the members of The Mothers of Invention like the long conversation in Our Bizarre Relationship, but majority wise this is just a pure mess of instrumentals that at times coalesce in understandable ways, but at other times just bounce from thought to thought. It's a fascinating listen if you have the patience to work through it all; being offered eclectic instrumental pop, avant-garde jazz, and even off songs about Aunt Jemima.
The second portion of the album is a scattered set of vocal lines that are like the script to the unreleased Uncle Meat film. The nearly forty minute set of recorded dialogue almost has some semblance of a story running through it, with details about hamburger meat and what makes the characters hot. It's an interesting audio experience because there really is almost nothing going on, but it's all tied together in puzzle-like precision that keeps you listening even if you feel lost. The album then contains various versions of an improvisational song entitled King Kong.
Uncle Meat is a wild ride and feels like the most elaborate snapshot of Zappa's mind musically. Where many albums explore different versions of Zappa's interests, Uncle Meat somehow is capable of finding room for it all within one home. It's long, it's arduous, but it is rewarding, and that makes this the album that I would likely point to first to have a better understanding of the influence and legacy of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.
Favorite track: Sleeping in a Jar (for obvious MF Doom reasons)