Q (8/95, pp.150-151) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "A live recording on which the usual Mothers style is given a rawer blues texture, courtesy of Beefheart's harp and Denny Walley's slide guitar..."
Down Beat - 3.5 Stars - Very Good
Uncut (magazine) (p.70) - "[A] live deliciously heavy album..."
Personnel: Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals); Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet (vocals, harmonica); Denny Walley (slide guitar, vocals); Napoleon Murphy Brock (saxophone, vocals); Bruce Fowler (trombone); George Duke (keyboards, vocals); Terry Bozzio, Chester Thompson (drums).
Engineers: Kerry McNab, Mike Braunstein, Kelly Kotera, Mike Stone, Davey Moire, Frank Hubach.
BONGO FURY was recorded live at Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas on May 20-21, 1975. "200 Years," "Cucamonga" and the introduction to "Muffin Man" were recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, California in January-February 1974.
Digitally remastered by Bob Stone in 1987.
Personnel: Frank Zappa (vocals, guitar); Captain Beefheart (harp); Denny Walley (vocals, slide guitar); Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals, saxophone); George Duke (vocals, keyboards); Bruce Fowler (trombone); Terry Bozzio (drums).
Recording information: Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX (01/1974-02/1974); Studio Wonderment (01/1974-02/1974); The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA (01/1974-02/1974); Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX (05/20/1975-05/21/1975); Studio Wonderment (05/20/1975-05/21/1975); The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA (05/20/1975-05/21/1975).
Photographer: John Williams .
Zappa and Beefheart were birds of a feather. Though each was fiercely individualistic, idiosyncratic and uncompromising, they both followed their own path of sophisticated wierdness so far that each was probably the only artist the other could relate to in terms of peerage. The pair had collaborated here and there many times, but BONGO FURY is their only album-length effort. Recorded at a 1975 Austin concert, this is essentially a Zappa program, with Beefheart sitting in (Zappa's monstrously talented mid-'70s band featuring Terry Bozzio and George Duke provides accompaniment). Beefheart is incapable of making a passive guest appearance, though, and his rugged, blues werewolf growl dominates the proceedings every time it appears. Compositionally, Beefheart contributes only a couple of brief tracks, but he meshes well with Zappa's arrangements and compositions. BONGO FURY is a classic example of succesful collaboration; Beefheart's rawness is contrasted nicely by Zappa and company's technical facility, and Zappa's refined style is given some grit by the good Captain.