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Chris H
4 stars I think it's time for the Zappa family trust to realize its over with the guitar albums. When Frank himself released Guitar, I'm sure he knew that was that. Trance-Fusion could pretty much work as third and fourth discs for Guitar. Most of the songs sound the same so I'm not going to review every single song because it would be a waste of time. However, I am going to point out that if you liked Guitar, you should still buy this album because songs like "Diplodocus", "Ask Dr. Stupid" and "Soul Polka" bring a whole new element of Frank's playing to the scene here. Another excellent example of Zappa's guitar genius.
Report this review (#104768)
Posted Thursday, December 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well the present issue is almost equal to "Imaginary Diseases" - talking about its power of invention - as well as a very good recording which has been re-mastered by Bob Ludwig in a remarkable manner!! Of course the inventiveness of the early period is more evident, but here is a sense of emotional music breath which is hidden behind the corner: thanks for instance to the drumming by Chad Wackerman - a genius (often inspiring the style of a few great drummers such as Terry Bozzio and Bill Bruford for example ) or regarding of Dweezil Zappa guitar with his fine solo within tracks 1 & 16 (except perhaps toward the final part of "Chunga s Revenge", being just a little bit uneven); therefore think of the magical touch of "Light is All That Matters" and ""Bowling on Charen", where the inventiveness of the guitar is great!! The tour dated 1988 and 1984 witness the last period concerning the career of an immortal artist, even though the majority of his fans is more involved with his old stuff...never mind, this is another "must-have" for the fans and one of the best live performances by Frank...remember him!!
Report this review (#133181)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is official release #79... During the 80's Zappa has revisited his giant recorded work. Zappa has taped nearly everything he could and filed everything in the famous vault in his house. After having choosen the material, he released about twenty CD's most of them double and mostly live. This material was often edited, one track was often combined with one from a different concert with different musicians etc., all according to Z's criteria: is the material interesting enough to be released? Since Zappa's death the Zappa Family Trust releases regularly material from the vault. Up to now I haven't been convinced one single time of the quality of the new releases, compared to what the man himself had already released and keeping in mind that we are not speaking about undiscovered material but variations of ..... Trance Fusion is a 2006 deliverey and follows the guitar solo extract series that Zappa himself had already covered with one triple 'Shut Up and Play 'yer Guitar' and one double CD 'Guitar'. The tracks contain all guitar solos that are extracted fom the original songs and were renamed by Zappa. Same procedure for Trance Fusion, apart from Chunga's Revenge the other tracks received new names. The main part of the tracks come from the 84 and 88 tour bands. I find it still somehow strange to have a new Frank Zappa record with brand new tracks but one.... In the liner notes Gail explains, that this compilation is/was indeed a record project of his late husband, without going into detail about the non-release.... The music itself is as good as the material already released, but in case you already have the other five CD's....
Report this review (#179928)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars It might be obvious by the number of his albums I have reviewed so far that I love Frank Zappa's music. I also love his guitar solos. I consider him one of the great masters of the guitar, and one of the most distinctive players ever. But these albums of guitar solos without the rest of the songs around them are starting to get tedious.

These tracks, mostly edited together into a long, bluntly changing solo. Many of the riffs are obvious. You can recognize The Torture Never Stops (more than once), Inca Roads and Easy Meat, as well as others of Zappa's favorite rhythms to solo over.

His solos, as usual are remarkable. But Zappa usually seemed to prefer to solo over very simple chord progressions. That's where the problem of this album lies. His backing bands were great, and could sometimes make the simplests riffs into something special, but an hour of this gets tiring.

The best parts of the album are the opening and closing tracks, both featuring Frank playing guitar solos along with his son, Dweezil. Their styles are different, but they mesh amazingly well.

Report this review (#452370)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not sure how many casual Zappa fans were clamoring for a third volume of Zappa guitar solos (this time a 1-CD set, as opposed to the 3-CD set of Shut Up and the 2-CD set of Guitar), but I guess the 2007 batch of archive releases was intended for the devoted fan anyway (it should be noted that this was another volume that Zappa was putting together until soon before he died). Unless somebody who buys this is expecting something different from a collection of guitar solos (which is possible: at least the last two volumes told you exactly what you were getting in the title), I can't really see how a fan that comes into this with high hopes would be disappointed. The album mostly focuses on Zappa's last tour (though some tracks go back as far as 1977), and this is nice because it keeps the collection from feeling redundant (Shut Up mostly focused on the late 70's and Guitar mostly focused on the 80's) and it gives a chance to observe the consistent evolution of Zappa's soloing approach over the years. The backing is often even more technophilian than on Guitar, but it sounds ok, and it never gets in the way of Zappa's talents.

Naturally, of course, I can't get through this in one sitting, but then again I never could with the first two volumes either. Also naturally, I mostly can't match the performances to their names, except for being able to pick out the opening "Chunga's Revenge" and the 1:30 "Good Lobna" (named after a Season 4 Simpsons quote), and usually that would be a sign of giving an album a bad grade. Yet while this album is certainly destined only for background listening and contributing tracks to the shuffle function of my iPod, it's a blast in filling both of those purposes. Zappa continues to show endless invention in his solos, and never once do I feel the album is just repeating itself with the same ideas over and over. And ultimately, that's enough for a collection like this. If you don't like Zappa's guitar solos, stay far away, but if you're at all warm towards them, you should be all over this.

Report this review (#457631)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars 'Trance-Fusion' is another album of guitar solos that Frank Zappa worked on prior to his death. It was released posthumously in 2006, but had been announced several times before that without it happening (except in bootlegs). Just like his other guitar solo albums like the 'Shut Up n Play Yer Guitar' series, this album only contains several guitar solo sections from mostly live performances of standard FZ songs.

Instead of describing each track, which would be rather monotonous since they are all guitar solos played against a sparse or repetitive background, I will note where each solo was taken from as far as the venue and the original song and the date it was performed. Yeah, I know it sounds boring, but FZ fans will appreciate it and, who knows, I'll throw in some interesting Zappa trivia about the tracks and you might learn something you didn't know.

The album starts off with 'Chunga's Revenge' at the Wembley Arena in London on April 19, 1988. On this solo, Frank is joined by his son Dweezil. After the concert ended, Mike Keneally was backstage talking to Dweezil when Frank came into the room and gave his son a big hug and proudly said that he was a real musician now. Apparently, it was a difficult backing to play a solo over and they both pulled it off quite well. For FZ solo lovers, this is definitely one that should not be missed as it is quite impressive.

After this, the solos are named differently from the tracks they are taken from. 'Bowling on Cheren' is the solo taken from 'Wild Love' played at The Palladium in NYC at the early show on Oct 28, 1977. FYI, Cheron is one of Pluto's moons named after the boatman that takes souls over the river Styx. 'Good Lobna' is taken from 'Let's Move to Cleveland' performed at Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennesee on Dec 4, 1984. The title is taken from a Simpson's episode of the same name.

'A Cold Dark Matter' is the solo from 'Inca Roads' performed at Memorial Hall in Allentown, PA on March 19, 1988. The track is named after the Cold Dark Matter Theory. 'Butter or Canons' is from the performance of 'Let's Move to Cleveland' this time at The Pier in NYC on August 25, 1984. The solos after Chunga's Revenge have been more 'mellow-ish' and this one is more of a blistering solo.

'Ask Dr. Stupid' comes from 'Easy Meat' performed at Rhein-Neckarhalle in Eppelheim, Germany on March 21, 1979. This solo relies more on the beat driving it (you can easily detect the Easy Meat bass line) keeping the solo quite solid. This was also a title of a Ren and Stimpy episode and the title was taken from that. FZ actually provided voice overs for the cartoon on a separate episode called 'The Powdered Toast Man' 'Scratch n Sniff' comes from the performance of 'City of Tiny Lights' from Brighton Centre in Brighton, UK on April 16, 1988. There are some really cool tone-bending effects on this solo.

'Trance-Fusion' is from the performance of 'Marque-son's Chicken' from Liederhalle, Germany on May 24, 1988. The background is a funky almost reggae-style riff which FZ loved to go wildly off-the-rails on. 'Gorgo' is pulled from the solo for 'The Torture Never Stops' as performed in Stockholm on May 1, 1988. Gorgo was the name of a movie monster on an American rip-off of Godzilla. It was also the name of FZ's cat. After the wildness of the previous track, this one is a nice slowed down and mellow solo.

'Diplodocus' comes from the 'King Kong' performance at the Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island on October 26, 1984. This one revisits the reggae vibe again. 'Soul Polka' is from the performance of 'Oh No' at the Memorial Hall in Allentown, PA on March 19, 1988. As the title suggests, the background is a quick polka with FZ doing a non-polka sounding solo (but that doesn't mean you can't drink beer to it). It is quite a rapid-fire solo though. 'For Giuseppe Franco' is from the 'Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel' performance at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, WA at the late show on December 17, 1984. Giuseppe Franco was FZ's hairdresser. This one has a nice jazz background where FZ shreds quite crazily along especially towards the end.

'After Dinner Smoker' came from the performance of 'The Torture Never Stops' at the Palasport in Genoa, Italy on June 9, 1988. This was a slow performance of the track, so the background and the resulting solo is very blues-y. 'Light is All that Matters' is the solo from 'Let's Move to Cleveland' performed at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, WA during the late show on Dec. 17, 1984.

'Finding Higgs' Boson' is the solo from 'Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Motel' performed in Stadthale, Vienna, Austria on May 8, 1988. 'Bavarian Sunset' is a jam based off of 'I Am the Walrus' which was performed in Munich, Germany on May 9, 1988. This one also features Dweezil.

All of the solos flow into each other almost like a very long track or solo. The solos are all great, no doubt about it, but it can be rather difficult to sit through an album like this that almost seems like one 60 minute guitar solo. But there are fans that demand recordings like this since FZ was one of the best guitarists of all time. As for myself, I find it very difficult to sit through, and by the end, everything starts to melt together making it hard to distinguish one track from another. Yes there are great solos here, but I find the solos much more entertaining when they are kept in the context of the full song. Since the production and sound is great on this, it is still deserving of 3 stars. Every Progressive fan and guitar-God lover should have at least one of the guitar solo albums, but it really doesn't matter which one because they all have some excellent examples of FZ guitar work.

Report this review (#2118118)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2019 | Review Permalink

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