Frank Zappa / Frank Zappa & the Mothers

I'm the Slime

Composed by Frank Zappa

Song Review by

Probably written in 1972, "I'm the Slime" was released as a single (DiscReet, 1973, backed with "Montana") and included on the LP Over-nite Sensation. The lyrics are in two parts, so to speak. First is a riddle: "I am gross and perverted...I am the tool of the government/And Industry too...I may be vile and pernicious/But you can't look away." Who is he? "I am the slime oozin' out/From your TV set." Then follows a harangue where listeners are told that they shall obey him: "Your mind is totally controlled/It has been stuffed into my mold/And you will do as you are told/Until the rights to you are sold." Then follows a short chorus.

This critic of the television as the tool of power to render the masses numb has not aged one iota since it was written. Frank Zappa's low whispery voice (the same one he'll use in the studio version of "The Torture Never Stops") frightens and hypnotizes at the same time. No wonder it remained a popular song in his repertoire, enough to be included on the compilation album Strictly Commercial.

"I'm the Slime" was performed live from 1973 to 1977, and again during the 1984 tour. Three official versions, all very different, are available. The 1973 studio version is a slow rock with the aforementioned cartoonish evil voice. You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 contains a live recording from 1973 (from the same show where most of the Roxy & Elsewhere album was recorded) where the clavinet riff is replaced by George Duke's jazzy electric piano completed by swing hi-hat work. But the best version remains the one included on the CD reissue of Zappa in New York: the bass line had been modified to mimic a vampire movie soundtrack and the "You will obey..." rant was delivered by actor Don Pardo, turning it into intense TV preaching.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Over-Nite Sensation 1973 Rykodisc 3:34
blue highlight denotes editor's pick