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THE ARK

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Frank Zappa The Ark album cover
3.26 | 23 ratings | 3 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Live, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Intro (0:51)
2. Big Leg Emma (3:42)
3. Some Ballet Music (7:16)
4. Status Back Baby (5:48)
5. Valerie (3:30)
6. My Guitar (6:46)
7. Uncle Meat/King Kong (23:49)

Total Time 51:53


Recorded at The Ark, Boston (July 1968)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


Frank Zappa / Guitar & Vocals
Roy Estrada / Bass & Vocals
Don Preston / Keyboards
Buzz Gardner / Trumpet
Ian Underwood / Alto Sax & Piano
Bunk Gardner / Tenor Sax
Motorhead Sherwood / Baritone Sax
Jimmy Carl Black / Drums
Arthur Dyer Tripp III / Drums

Releases information

July 1991 US Rhino Foo-eee R2- 70538
July 1991 UK Castle Essential ESMCD 957

Thanks to Richardw for the addition
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FRANK ZAPPA The Ark ratings distribution


3.26
(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
6%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (56%)
56%
Collectors/fans only (0%)
0%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

FRANK ZAPPA The Ark reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the earlier tapes in Frank Zappa's 'Beat the Boots' collection of unauthorized concert recordings is also one of the best, with the MOTHERS OF INVENTION in their prime during a 1968 gig at the Boston club of the album's title. The set is generous (nearly 52-minutes long); the sound is excellent (a professional recording, not an audience bootleg); and the performance is a revelation for someone (like me) familiar with only the band's first few studio albums.

Even better, there's some classic Zappa banter between each song, introducing and commenting on both the music and the music industry, already a nemesis at this embryonic stage of his career.

I'm guessing the set list was more or less typical for an early Mothers gig, beginning with the fun stuff and only later moving to the more challenging (but no less playful) part of the show. Thus the comedy pastiche of (according to Frank) the "smash-flop single" 'Big Leg Emma' leads to a modern mock-ballet sequence, no doubt presented for laughs, but played for real, and credibly so. This was long before Prog Rock began robbing the tombs of Europe's more polite classical composers, but Zappa was always ahead of the cultural curve.

And no amount of anarchic humor can hide the genuine intelligence on display, particularly during the 24-minute 'Uncle Meat' / 'King Kong' medley, filling all of Side Two on the cheap audio-cassette unearthed at my local library. The eight-piece band is here playing almost like a small orchestra, featuring an exciting drum duet (I assume it's Jimmy Carl Black holding down the steady beat, while Arthur Dyer Tripp flails away on top), and at least one jaw-dropping solo: a free-jazz spine curler by ace trumpeter Buzz Gardner.

It's hard to connect the very real virtuoso thrills here with the Doo-Wop vamps and private jokes heard elsewhere in the early Mothers repertoire. And it's even more difficult to believe a fusion of classical-jazz-rock this advanced was being played in 1968, when Herb Alpert was at the top of the charts.

Too bad the album (each side of the cassette version) is cut off in mid-jam by the now anachronistic sound of a phonograph needle skittering over vinyl. It's a clever way to edit an overlong tape to fit on one side of an LP, but the unexpected cuts are frustrating nonetheless. With only a slight face-lift (just a little digital nip-and-tuck) this could have been released as a legitimate CD, without the stigma of a bootleg to scare away any prospective fans, who might otherwise miss an exciting, entertaining show.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#241064) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars You have to wonder what Frank Zappa was originally planning to do with this recording. During the show, he announces the recording of the show to the audience, and describes the set up. Apparently there were three microphones spread across the house, in front of the PA system. But the sound must not have been up to Frank's standards, as he never released it, until the "Beat The Boots" releases. And if this was taken from the original tapes, I can understand why. The sound, while very good for a bootleg, is not anywhere near what Zappa seemed to expect on his albums.

The performance itself was very very good. While there are a few simple songs on the album (Big Leg Emma, Status Back Baby this played in a different rhythmic style than on "Absolutely Free, Valerie and My Guitar), the prize cuts are the instrumental gems.

Some Ballet Music (Frank kept the title as it was written on the original bootleg album) is a piece that eventually was used in "200 Motels". And if you are a Zappa fan, you should know Uncle Meat and King Kong. These are played in a medley form. Both tracks underscore just how good and versatile Zappa's band was in those years.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#307680) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 31, 2010

Latest members reviews

3 stars Another bootleg which was "stolen" back by Frank Zappa and sold as a single CD and also as the 2nd disc in the Beat the Boots I collection. There are a few stories circulating around about the recording of this bootleg, one of which is that the venue (the Ark) set up it's own recording equipmen ... (read more)

Report this review (#489872) | Posted by TCat | Sunday, July 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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