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Frank Zappa - Roxy & Elsewhere CD (album) cover

ROXY & ELSEWHERE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.39 | 289 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Jazz is Not Dead! It Just Smells Funny

Since no one else has used this quote from the song Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church) as a headline in their reviews of Roxy & Elsewhere I just could´t resist the tempation to use it. It cracks me up every time. Call me primitive and simple but I simply love how Zappa delivers this improvised line. His timing is outstanding. So is everything else on this fantastic album.

Roxy & Elsewhere is a live album released in 1974 by American experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was recorded during the American part of the 1973- 1974 world tour. The recordings mainly took place during three nights ( December 10, 11 and 12, 1973) playing at The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, California but there are material from a few other concerts later on the tour too. All basic tracks are recorded live but there are quite a few studio overdubs on the album which is explained in the liner notes by Frank Zappa himself ( if you´re interested in hearing what the 1974 band truly sounded like live you should take a listen to You Can´t Do That On Stage Anymore vol. 2 (1988) where there´s a full concert with the 1974 band from Finland without overdubs). Zappa´s band at the time are one of his most celebrated and loved lineups with musicians such as Ruth Underwood on percussion, George Duke on keyboards and vocals, Napoleon Murphy Brock on vocals, flute and saxophone, Ralph Humphrey ( on the tracks recorded at The Roxy Theatre) and Chester Thomson ( on the tracks recorded at elsewhere) on drums, Bruce, Tom and Walt Fowler on trombone, bass and trumpet respectively, Jeff Simmons on guitar and vocals and Don Preston on synthesizer.

The music ranges from blues based rock songs, instrumental jazz soloing and some of Zappa´s greatest arranged instrumentals ever. There´s quite a lot of talking between the songs by Zappa which is really great and very humourous at times. The introductions to songs like Penguin in Bondage, Cheepnis and Be- Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church) are legendary and the Dummy Up routine which was partially improvised at the different shows on the tour is also quite funny. The rythm section often plays in jazz/ fusion influenced style but the music is not really jazz even though there are many jazz elements in songs like Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? and Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church). The latter is with its 16:41 minutes the longest track on the album and has a hilarious audience participation part. The audience is invited on stage to dance to some impossible keyboard notes played by George Duke. Zappa´s commentaries throughout this song are again delivered with an outstanding timing and I find myself smiling and laughing every time I listen to it. When Zappa´s manager at the time, Herb Cohen enters the stage around the 11 minute mark to dance to those funny little notes that George Duke plays, it´s noteworthy that George Duke plays a tiny snippet from Stink-Foot ( Apostrophe´(1974)). Probably not a coincidence. It´s a hilarious detail IMO.

The enourmous skills of the 1973-1974 band are showcased to the full on songs like Echidna's Arf (Of You) and Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?. Very challenging instrumental songs with lots of fast runs, impossible to play parts and difficult time signature changes. Zappa always loved to show what his musicians were capable of and we´re witnesses to just that on those two songs in particular. The rest of the songs are of course extremely well played too. Most of the songs on the album appear on Roxy & Elsewhere for the first time but Son of Orange County and More Trouble Every Day are re-arranged Mothers of Invention songs. Lots of great guitar soloing by Zappa in those two songs but his solo in Penguin in Bondage does takes the price IMO.

The sound quality is excellent but as I mentioned above there are quite a few overdubs on the album. People who crave authentical live recordings without overdubs might be put off a bit but personally I haven´t got the slightest problem when Roxy & Elsewhere sounds as great as it does.

Roxy & Elsewhere is one of the most important Frank Zappa albums IMO. It´s great both for the newcommer and for the experienced Frank Zappa fan. A 5 star rating is fully deserved.

UMUR | 5/5 |

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