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Frank Zappa - Joe's Camouflage CD (album) cover

JOE'S CAMOUFLAGE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.96 | 33 ratings

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Evolver
Special Collaborator
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars The "Joe's" series of Frank Zappa releases that the Zappa Family Trust has been putting out for about the last decade has mostly been for the hard core fans that must hear everything he recorded (like me). But even so, the smattering of rehearsals, outtake and banter on most of the disks has often been disappointing. This is one of the better of the series.

After the great mid-seventies lineup, that included the Fowler Brothers, Chester Thompson, and of course Ruth Underwood dissolved, Frank worked with a lot of different lineups. This one never got past the rehearsal stage, supposedly for scheduling reasons. I think there may have been other reasons.

Familiar names are here. Roy Estrada of the original Mothers is back on bass and very high vocals. Napoleon Murphy Brock is there, as is Terry Bozzio, Denny walley and Andre Lewis. Unknown to most are guitarist Robert "Frog" Camarena and violinist/keyboardist Novi Novag.

It may be that there just were not many rehearsals, or that this band is not as tight as the groups Zappa put together since the Fowlers graced his stage, but the performances are rough. At best, they remind me of the Burnt Weenie Sandwich period of FZ's career.

There is a lot of good music, however. "Phyniox" (a misspelling of Phoenix) appears in two different takes. This is sort of a fanfare piece, the type that the band would play to warm up at the beginning of the show. It's nice, but not great.

The highlight is "T'Mershi Duween", that sounds less fusiony than any released version I've heard, and more like an Eastern European folk tune. This segues into "Reeny Ra", a silly but amusing track, that ends with Frank explaining to the band just what it is he's trying to get them to do.

Another nice moment is a full band version of "Sleep Dirt". It's only two minutes, but it gives you the idea of what a full blown arrangement of this would sound like.

An early version of "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me" doesn't fare well, with vocals almost inaudible. "Any Downers" also appears, as a single riff song with slightly different lyrics.

This certainly is not for a Zappa neophyte, but there are some interesting tracks for the fans.

Evolver | 3/5 |

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