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Frank Zappa - Roxy & Elsewhere CD (album) cover

ROXY & ELSEWHERE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.39 | 226 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Frank Zappa: Roxy & Elsewhere [1974]

Rating: 9/10

Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.

It is with Roxy & Elsewhere that Frank Zappa finally created a live album worthy of his prowess. His previous two both contained a fundamental flaw: a lack of balance. They focused solely on humor and performance pieces, and the music thus fell by the wayside. Roxy is the exact opposite. It strikes a perfect balance between comedy and complexity. The result of this balance is not a two-sided album; there aren't 'funny songs' and 'serious songs.' Rather, comedic zaniness and instrumental zaniness merge to create a brilliant final product that is uniquely Zappa. This is made even better by the sublime lineup featured here; George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock alone would be reason enough to label this band as one of the best Zappa ever played with.

'Penguin In Bondage' is a sublime representation of Zappa's jazzy blues-rock hilarity, with a superb guitar solo to boot. The short and catchy complexity of 'Pygmy Twylyte' is followed by 'Dummy Up', a funky track featuring a brilliant skit about smoking a high-school diploma (among other things). 'Village of the Sun' is a slice of twisted R&B about the turkey-raising fiefdom of Palmdale, California. The complexity begins to ratchet up with 'Echidna's Arf (Of You)' and 'Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?' These two tracks form a fourteen-minute whirlwind of uncannily tight musicianship and seamless jazz-fusion insanity. The sax and drum work are both particularly impressive. 'Cheepnis' is Zappa's tribute to old monster b-movies. Lyrics aside, this track is a fantastic jazzy hard-rock song. 'Son of Orange County' is musically similar, with phenomenal guitar soloing throughout. The fantastic 'More Trouble Every Day' is a slowed-down rendition of one of the greatest early Mothers songs. 'Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)' is a lengthy piece of complex jazz-fusion. George Duke's keys really shine here; he manages to exude stunning musicianship even during the funny and more conversational portions of the track. In addition, one cannot forget Bruce Fowler's incredible trombone solo.

Roxy certainly is a masterpiece; almost any Zappa fan would agree. It is also a good introduction to Zappa's music, because it perfectly represents so many of the things that made him great. His sense of humor, the sophistication of his compositions, the jaw-dropping musicianship of his band, and the general irresistible zaniness of his persona are all seamlessly showcased here. It's quite difficult not to enjoy to this album; needless to say, I highly recommend it. Where else could you obtain vital information about smoking a college degree or learn about the evil great big poodle dogs known as Frunobulax?

Anthony H. | 5/5 |

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