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Frank Zappa - London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II CD (album) cover

LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA VOL. II

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.02 | 47 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
2 stars As mentioned in the Vol 1 review, this album consists of recordings of Zappa pieces from sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra in early 1983. The main reason it took so long for these tracks to come out on CD was that Zappa was extremely displeased with the way they turned out. In the liner notes, he expresses a great deal of bitterness towards the unprofessionalism with which his music was treated, and comments that everybody who criticized Jazz from Hell for its sterile perfection should love this for all of its mistakes. The most obvious annoyance is the out-of-tune horns in "Strictly Genteel," which ruin the song enough that it becomes clearly inferior to the Orchestral Favorites version. The song is still pretty, but it feels rather perfunctory.

The other two tracks don't change my mind about Zappa as a classical composer, but I do find them vaguely interesting, though not really entertaining. I'm not thrilled to have a 24-minute version of "Bogus Pomp" (double the length of the Orchestral Favorites version), but I do think it's neat that many of the things I don't like about it were actually done purposefully. The reason it sounds like an awkward mish-mash of movie soundtrack cliches is because, essentially, Zappa was shooting for a parody of movie soundtrack cliches. No, I don't really enjoy it, but I can at least respect it, and it is kinda funny to play "spot the cliche" when listening to it.

The remaining track, according to the liner notes, is actually supposed to be a ballet. "Bob in Dacron" mostly strikes me as a pretty ok Stravinsky imitation, but it's got a couple of weird sonic moments that are quintessentially Zappa. Plus, who else would write a ballet about somebody trying to find a hookup in a singles bar?

In the end, this won't convert somebody who isn't already into Zappa the classical composer, but like its predecessor, it is ultimately an important part of Zappa's career. I'd probably give the combined release a slightly higher grade (***) than the individual albums, and somebody really interested in Zappa's career (and not just his best albums) will probably want it.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |

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