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Frank Zappa Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison album cover
3.44 | 50 ratings | 2 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Feeding the Monkies At Ma Maison (20:12) *
2. Buffalo Voice (early version) (11:35)
3. Secular Humanism (early version) (6:37)
4. Worms From Hell (5:31)
5. Samba Funk (11:29) *

* Previously unreleased

Total Time 55:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / synclavier DMS, arranger & producer

- Moon Zappa / vocals

Releases information

Recordings from around 1986, compiled from the archives by Joe Travers

Artwork: Elite Packaging

CD Zappa Records ‎- ZR20012 (2011, US)

Thanks to Evolver for the addition
and to TCat for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison ratings distribution

(50 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (24%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

FRANK ZAPPA Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars It's a bit comforting that here we are, eighteen years after Frank Zappa's untimely passing, and there is an album of unreleases material that just came out. Thank you, Frank. And thank you Gail.

This album was recorded around the time of "Jazz From Hell" (vaultmeister Joe Travers believes it was recorded after that album, and I would not disagree), and the first three tracks were meant to be releases on a vinyl LP, with the same title used here. The last two tracks were added on by Gail Zappa and Joe Travers, and seem to fit perfectly with the other pieces.

Two tracks, Buffalo Voice and Secular Humanism were edited down by Frank and used on the "Civilization Phase III" album. Here they are in their original form, each over twice the length of the previously released versions.

I will admit that Zappa's Synclavier works are an acquired taste. He used the Synclavier the way Conlon Nancarrow used player pianos, as a means to perform the music in his head, music that mere mortals could never accomplish.

The music, on the surface is chaotic and random. But when you listen intently, moods appear in the madness, and even sometimes sounds and phrases from other Zappa works poke through. And all of it is spiced with Frank's sense of humor. Some parts might even make you laugh out loud.

While to me this is a five star album, I cannot call it essential to everyone. And it is not rock by any definition. So I give it four stars.

Review by TCat
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars This album, which is #90 in the list of official Zappa releases, was released (posthumously, of course) by the Zappa Family Trust. However, it was recorded by Zappa around 1986 and was meant to be a 3-track vinyl album released at that time, but never was. The music is all performed by Frank on his synclavier, which he used more and more extensively in his later years. The instrument provided Frank a way to hear the 'impossible music' that resided in his head, music that he deemed impossible to play by a human-based orchestra/band. It was also an instrument that was becoming more and more complex and useful, allowing him to record longer and more complex compositions as its memory capacity grew larger through the years and its sound became better.

In the case of this album, Gail Zappa and Joe Travers decided to finally release this album in 2011 much to the joy of Zappa- aficionados everywhere. Imagine how happy they were to get new music from their hero. Gail and Joe decided to add two more tracks to the album (the last two on the track listing for the CD), thus actually making the album a 'compilation' in their reckoning. Since Frank planned on releasing this as an original album, I think it is best to consider it an original recording, however, and just think of the last two tracks as bonus tracks. Either way, all 5 tracks are performed on the synclavier (with a guest appearance from Moon Unit).

The first track, the 20-minute title track, is original to this album and hasn't appeared in any form any where else prior to its release. Trying to describe this music is a bit tough as it is very complex. This (and pretty much everything on the album) is quite avant-garde and dense with no real traditional melody as you might expect in some of Zappa's more rock or jazz influenced tracks. This one is considered the more 'classical-influenced' style of music, with what might seem like random, orchestrated sounds to the untrained Zappa-listener, but in reality, it is all structured usually by certain sets of rules that are not easily apparent. If you like the music from albums like 'Jazz from Hell' or 'Civilization Phaze III', then you will like this. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you might want to approach this with caution. It does take some time to adjust your 'ear' to this style of music.

Speaking of 'Civilization Phaze III', the next 2 tracks, 'Buffalo Voice' and 'Secular Humanism' originally appeared on that album. However, they were both edited for that album. Now, for the first time, you get to hear the complete versions of these tracks, the former runs over 11 minutes, the latter is over 6 minutes. They both have some interesting vocalizations with Frank's vocalist of choice, Moon Unit Zappa. I'm pretty certain he must add some of his own vocalizations in the later one, which also seems to have more of a humorous edge to it. With all of the vocal manipulations, you will be reminded of something Mike Patton would do.

The last two tracks are the 'bonus tracks' that were added by Gail and Joe. It starts with the shortest track on the album, 'Worms From Hell'. Most of this one is exclusive to this album, but about 30 seconds of it was used for the introduction to the video release 'Video From Hell' released in 1987. Since the track is over 5 minutes, most of it is original to this album. This one is a little more traditionally structured than the previous tracks with some repeating riffs, but really not by much. It also seems to be more lighthearted, but it's still quite complex. The last track is the 2nd fully original track on the album, the 11 minute 'Samba Funk', a track the mixes bizarre complexity with some off-beat percussion.

Strangely enough, I find this music quite intriguing. It did take me some time to get to that point though, I will admit. It's not something that I tend to listen to a lot as I have to be in the right mood for it, but when I am, I find it full of color and moods. I can even make sense out of it which makes it even more interesting. One thing for sure, the sound of this and some of the latter synclavier albums is much better than those that came earlier, and that also helps. The sound is more dynamic and realistic, not as choppy as the albums produced that way from earlier years.

This is definitely not for everyone. As I said earlier, I have to be in the right mood to listen to this, and it's much more complex that 'Jazz From Hell', but more along the lines of 'Civilization Phaze III', but without the intelligible spoken word sections. This is definitely not one for first-time Zappa listeners, and probably even for many Zappa fans, but it is intriguing nonetheless, and it is well constructed and produced. I can easily give it 4 stars for its complexity, but I know there will be many out there that won't be able to listen to it at all, so I think 4 stars is fair enough.

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