The third album to document Eugene Chadbourne’s collaboration with original Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black, Uncle Jimmy’s Master Plan was recorded live in Italy and Slovenia in 1996. Black is a pretty straightforward musician when compared to the guitarist’s other regular percussion acquaintances (Paul Lovens, Han Bennink), but his rootsy background inspires the Doctor to concentrate on his and others’ songs.
This CD contains no wild free improvisation and no crude sound collages or experiments. It focuses on stripped-down vocals-guitar-drums songs. The repertoire includes blues and country covers (Harpo’s “King Bee” is a highlight, Wells’ “Honky Tonk Angels” is less convincing), jazz, and rock. “Medley: Ornithology, Now’s the Time/Purple Haze,” putting Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix in direct relation, may not be as good an idea as it may have first seemed, but Captain Beefheart’s “Pachuco Cadaver” and Chadbourne’s own “Bo Diddley Is a Communist” fit together very well.
Frank Zappa fans are treated to three songs from We’re Only in It for the Money. “Take Your Clothes off When You Dance” is given an entertaining interpretation, but “Mom & Dad” lacks the pathos of Zappa’s studio and live renditions. Black can really sing the blues; Chadbourne’s vocal prowess is an acquired taste.
The energy they put in these concert recordings attenuates their imperfections. All in all, Uncle Jimmy’s Master Plan is superior in terms of sound quality, choice of content, and performance to Locked in a Dutch Coffeeshop. Recommended.