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Frank Zappa - Does Humor Belong In Music? CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



2.82 | 70 ratings

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Jim Garten
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin & Razor Guru
3 stars Taken from an open air concert on the 'Them Or Us' tour in 1984, 'Does Humor Belong In Music' captures one of the tightest, and most stripped down lineups Zappa took on the road; three perfect pairings, in fact (sorry Mr Fripp):

Thunes & Wackerman playing off each other constantly (with Thunes providing many a comic moment), Martin & (the rarely seen) Zavod, facing each other at the back doing their level best to out-do each other (Martin winning due to superb vocals throughout) and the inspired pairing of Willis & White sharing guitar & vocal duties with the Man himself.

Despite the vast range of material played live by this lineup, the DVD concentrates largely on the comedy songs (hence "Does Humor....."), and while there's nothing wrong with this, I feel the film does not do Zappa justice; although the classics 'Trouble Every Day' and 'Hotplate Heaven' are included, the excerpts included clock in at less than four minutes in total. The only times we really get to see Zappa do what he does best (ie shut up & play his guitar) are in the opening 'Zoot Allures', the set closer 'Cozmik Debris' and the marvellous final encore 'Whippin' Post' (yes, the Allman Brothers' song). For the rest of the time, he is Zappa the entertainer/ringmaster, proving that avant garde rock, blues parodies, satire and downright smut can be easy bedfellows.

Throughout the film, we are also treated to clips from interviews with Zappa, where he shares his varied views on everything from cigarettes (berating the citizens of Los Angeles who believe they "wil live forever if they stamp out tobacco smoke"), women, and the high levels of drug abuse at Barry Manilow concerts...

When this was originally released on VHS in 1984, it was snapped up due to the lack of any decent concert material available on film. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing at all wrong with this DVD if you like Zappa's comic moments; if, however, you prefer to see Zappa the musician, I would recommend you try 'Baby Snakes' first.

Jim Garten | 3/5 |


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