|Well, it's a good good wine,|
It really make you feel so fine
Today I'm going to salute, and hopefully turn a few people on to one of my favorite lesser-known, under-rated and unsung (actually, it was sung) Frank Zappa songs of all time:
"WPLJ" -- (That's White Port and Lemon Juice for all you squares) -- which was the opening track on The Mother of Invention's 1970 album Burnt Weenie Sandwich.
I was a student at Santa Fe High School when Burnt Weenie first came out and WPLJ immediately became part of the jukebox of my mind the first time I heard it.
It's one of Zappa's over-the-top doo-wop extravaganzas. I almost wonder whether this was an outtake from Cruising with Ruben & The Jets, released just a couple of years before. Burnt Weenie Sandwich ends with another Rubenesque number called "Valerie" (originally recorded by Jackie & The Starlites.)
Let's take a listen, shall we:
Like I say, I loved "WPLJ," from the start. The sheer absurdity of going on and on in praising this low-rent drink always made me laugh. But what really made the tune was the finish, that crazy Spanish rap by Mother Roy Estrada at the end of the song:
| “The modern-day pachuco refuses to die.”|
To me it sounded like Santa Fe in 1970! I had tons of friends who talked just like that.
By the way, I ran this through Google Translate and came up with the English version:
Why not get your. . . your carnal buy us some wine that, go ahead, click bato, fucking, man, do not get your butt, man. . . (chale!) Do not be so dense, man (chale!), go ahead, tell, because they deserve, go ahead, click wine, more sua. . . softer, more. . . cuter than a bitch, man, go ahead, click bato man wants your carnal man your carnal that, you, you know, you know this from the move, the move you know, that, you know how it is, you you know, fucking wine, whore, go ahead, click bato, bastard, go ahead
I'm sure that's 100 percent correct.
But "WPLJ" was not a Zappa original. He was covering an obscure Salinas, California doo-wop group called The 4 Deuces, who recorded as a B-side in 1956. The song was used in an ad for for Italian Swiss Colony, a company that produced white port.
Here's how that sounded:
But notice, the Deuces don't include the magical Spanish spoken-word performance at the end. I always wondered what inspired Zappa to do that.
Then in 2002, Arhoolie Records released a bitchen compilation called Pachuco Boogie full of Mexican-American hipster jazz between 1948 and 1950, mainly in Los Angeles. A big chunk of the selections, including the title song were by one Edmundo Martínez Tostado, an El Paso native better known by his stage name: Don Tosti.
Tosti and his group also recorded under the names Don Ramone Sr. y su Orquesta and Cuarteto de Ramon Martinez.
Whatever he called his band, these two songs make me thirsty for some white port and lemon juice and hungry for a burnt weenie sandwich.
I'd say mystery solved.