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Frank Zappa - 200 Motels CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.06 | 214 ratings

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4 stars 200 Motels is probably the hardest Zappa album to find. It was never released on CD before 1997, and even that single CD release is out of print since 2002, so you have to be very lucky to find this.

But if you do, trust me, it's a very good album. I like it because it features all side of Zappa's work: you get hard rock (Mystery Roach, Magic Fingers), you get orchestra (Dance Of The Just Plain Folks, Redneck Eats), both (Tuna Fish Promenade), and even opera (countless pieces).

If you have London Symphony Orchestra, you will notice that many pieces from this album became part of the Bogus Pomp track, but here sound different, much... how can I say?... ancient, and that's a good thing.

With this review I will not try to analyze the movie in any way, but I'll tell you about the music contained on this album

The album starts with Semi-Fraudent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture, which is nothing but the first theme of Holiday In Berlin arranged as an orchestral piece, which suddenly explodes in a 200 Motels chant. Then, we go on with the excellent rock Mystery Roach, and with the brief orchestral Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers.

Then comes one of the highest part of the album, in my opinion: the tuna fish suite, which is presented as 5 separated tracks. We start with a vocal theme, followed by Tuna Fish Promenade, which is one of the most complex and beautiful pieces of the album, combining catchy rock, and orchestral arrangments. The song is followed by Dance Of The Just Plain Folks, which is just part of Bogus Pomp (or Piece 2 on the Mystery Disc), by a reprise of the vocal theme, and by another orchestral/rock version of the song called The Sealed Tuna Bolero, very very different than Tuna Fish Promenade.

The funny Lonesome Cowboy Burt, sung by the old Mothers Of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black, ends side one. The lirycs are very funny, but also the music is great: mixes catchy music, but complexity, as the song is in various sections.

Side two starts with Touring Can Make You Crazy (the title should explain the story of the movie), which is just another part of Bogus Pomp.

Would You Like A Snack? is not the song Zappa will record with Jefferson Airplaine, but the same Holiday In Berlin theme featured in the overture, but arranged in a pop way. Then comes Redneck Eats, a personal favourite, which is yet again Bogus Pomp (or Piece 1 if you have Mystery Disc), but here it does have a very weird atmosphere... hmmm, I don't know how to describe it, you should just listen to the piece. Centerville continues the Redneck Eats-like atmosphere, but less in memorable way.

She Painted Up Her Face, Half A Dozen Provocative Squats, Shove It Right In starts all in the same way, but continues each of those very differently. As the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 6 album will prove, the suite will be played live together. Not on the studio album though, as the three tracks are followed by three orchestral pieces, which are very Zappa-esque and complex, but also a bit distracting placed there. And with this the first LP ends.

The second vinyl is not as great as the first one, as contains too much opera pieces in my opinion. However it contains some of Frank's best rock songs, such as Magic Fingers, which contains one of Zappa's best guitar performances!

Penis Dimension is another classic, but the studio version, compared by the ones that can be found in various 1971 bootlegs is a bit reductive.

What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?, Motorhead's Midnight Ranch and Daddy, Daddy, Daddy show all Zappa's great compositive and executive's skills, and are all great.

The album ends with Strictly Genteel (The Finale), which is one of Frank's most beautiful orchestral pieces. This version is not the best, unfortunately, because it's penalized by the silly vocals on it. However, it's not actually the end of the album, because there's also another great hard rocking song (which will be listed as 200 Motels Finale on You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 6), which is very catchy. The album is still great, despite of some parts that can bore, so my rating is of 4 stars well deserved!

JethroZappa | 4/5 |


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