You Are What You Is was another of Frank Zappa's periodic post-Over-Nite Sensation efforts that concentrated on tight songwriting supported by satirical lyrics. Originally a two-record set featuring 20 songs, You Are What You Is skewered a variety of targets, from teenagers, punk rock, disco, and country music to the media, yuppies, the beauty-and-fitness industry, upper-class vice, religious hypocrisy, suicide, and the military draft -- all the trappings of Reagan-era America. Occasionally, Zappa's satirical points seem ill-thought-out, if not unnecessarily malicious; "Jumbo Go Away" is perhaps the most offensive song in Zappa's huge canon of potentially offensive songs, a tale of a whining, VD-riddled groupie who is portrayed as deserving the punch in the face she gets from an irritated musician. Despite that misstep, though, You Are What You Is is quite ambitious in scope and in general one of Zappa's most accessible later-period efforts; it's a showcase for his songwriting skills and his often acute satirical perspective, with less of the smutty humor that some listeners find off-putting.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey