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Frank Zappa - FZ:OZ CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.94 | 58 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Taken from a concert in Australia in 1976, this album features one of the most stripped down versions of Zappa's touring bands, featuring just one guitarist, bassist, drummer, saxophonist, and keyboardist. Fortunately, all the musicians are capable of playing the material well and some of the best mid-70s material get represented on this album. Most of the setlist is derived from the Zoot Allures/Bongo Fury albums, but there's a lot of material from earlier albums and even a few unreleased songs at this point. The one thing about this album that sets it apart from most of the other Zappa live ventures I've listened is the down-to-earth nature presented throughout the entire show, and the band's cohesiveness also allows for a dynamic and very intuitive live excursion.

Early versions of The Illinois Enema Bandit and Keep it Greasey show Zappa experimenting with pieces before they get their official release (for the first one it was Zappa in New York, and the latter was released in a slightly more complex version on Joe's Garage). My favorite pieces are the instrumentals Black Napkins and Zoot Allures, which have wild extensions and Zappa really sets the mood for the entire album with his fluid, emotive guitar solos that rip up the stage. Other songs like Chunga's Revenge and Advance Romance show the versatility and the fluidity of the band.

The more vocal pieces like Wind of Workin' in a Gas Station and Dinah-Moe-Humm don't disappoint either, although there are better versions of the latter, it's nice to see a live version of the first one (it's a rarity on live albums from what I've gathered). The ending medley of Camarillo Brillo and Muffin Man is also one of the best live concoctions Zappa would create (watch the Baby Snakes version of this piece and you'll see what I mean).

Overall, this is a great live set, that while a bit difficult to find, is definitely something to look out for. Fans of the mid-70s version of Zappa's music will definitely find a lot to enjoy with this album. I can't say it's the best live album from him I've listened, but let it be know that this is one of the better ones.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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