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Frank Zappa Joe's Camouflage album cover
2.91 | 37 ratings | 2 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Phyniox ( Take 1) (02:28)
2. T'Mershi Duween (02:28)
3. Reeny Ra (04:13)
4. "Who Do You Think You Are" (01:39)
5. "Slack 'Em All Down" (01:25)
6. Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me? (04:16)
7. The Illinois Enema Bandit (06:26)
8. Sleep Dirt - In Rehearsal (01:08)
9. Black Napkins (08:12)
10. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (01:55)
11. Denny & Froggy Relate (00:31)
12. "Choose Your Foot" (01:19)
13. Any Downers? (06:11)
14. Phyniox ( Take 2) (04:18)
15. "I Heard A Note!" (01:19)

Total Time 47:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitar, vocals

- Robert "Frog" Camarena / vocals, guitar
- Denny Walley / guitars, vocals
- Andre Lewis / keyboards, vocals
- Napoleon Murphy Brock / tenor sax, vocals
- Novi Novag / viola, keyboards, vocals
- Roy Estrada / bass, vocals
- Terry Bozzio / drums

Releases information

Rehearsals by a band Zappa assembled in the summer of 1975 but never recorded or toured with (Vol. IV of rarities recovered from the archives by Joe Travers)

Artwork: Keith Lawler

CD Vaulternative Records ‎- VR 2013-2 (2014, US)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA Joe's Camouflage ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (30%)
Poor. Only for completionists (14%)

FRANK ZAPPA Joe's Camouflage 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
3 stars The "Joe's" series of Frank Zappa releases that the Zappa Family Trust has been putting out for about the last decade has mostly been for the hard core fans that must hear everything he recorded (like me). But even so, the smattering of rehearsals, outtake and banter on most of the disks has often been disappointing. This is one of the better of the series.

After the great mid-seventies lineup, that included the Fowler Brothers, Chester Thompson, and of course Ruth Underwood dissolved, Frank worked with a lot of different lineups. This one never got past the rehearsal stage, supposedly for scheduling reasons. I think there may have been other reasons.

Familiar names are here. Roy Estrada of the original Mothers is back on bass and very high vocals. Napoleon Murphy Brock is there, as is Terry Bozzio, Denny walley and Andre Lewis. Unknown to most are guitarist Robert "Frog" Camarena and violinist/keyboardist Novi Novag.

It may be that there just were not many rehearsals, or that this band is not as tight as the groups Zappa put together since the Fowlers graced his stage, but the performances are rough. At best, they remind me of the Burnt Weenie Sandwich period of FZ's career.

There is a lot of good music, however. "Phyniox" (a misspelling of Phoenix) appears in two different takes. This is sort of a fanfare piece, the type that the band would play to warm up at the beginning of the show. It's nice, but not great.

The highlight is "T'Mershi Duween", that sounds less fusiony than any released version I've heard, and more like an Eastern European folk tune. This segues into "Reeny Ra", a silly but amusing track, that ends with Frank explaining to the band just what it is he's trying to get them to do.

Another nice moment is a full band version of "Sleep Dirt". It's only two minutes, but it gives you the idea of what a full blown arrangement of this would sound like.

An early version of "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me" doesn't fare well, with vocals almost inaudible. "Any Downers" also appears, as a single riff song with slightly different lyrics.

This certainly is not for a Zappa neophyte, but there are some interesting tracks for the fans.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Crux of the biscuit # 3

The tracks for 'Joe's Camouflage' were recorded during rehearsals in the summer of 1975 on a 4 track recorder by Denny Walley.

In the summer of 1975 Zappa was looking for musicians for a forthcoming world tour. For these rehearsals he kept Napoleon Murphy Brook, Terry Bozzio, Denny Walley and added Andre Lewis on keyboards and vocals, Novi Novag on viola, keyboards and vocals, Robert Camarena on guitar and vocals and former Mothers member Roy Estrada on bass and vocals. This would be in majority also the band going on the 75/76 world tour.

Knowing that it would be impossible for new musicians to learn the highly complex music of the former Mothers, Zappa moved on and for one simplified his music and put himself more on the forefront as a soloist.

The new compositions, he rehearsed in the summer of 75 were to a large extent short modal pieces that could serve as a foil for extended solos, 'Black Napkins' becoming the most well known, which makes here its first appearance.

So what's on the menu :

Two older tracks 'T'mershi Duween', one of the staples of the former Mothers shows which would not remain on the concert list and 'Take your clothes off' in a reggae version. Maybe a coincidence, but 1975 was also the year that Bob Marley was becoming popular and Zappa would use quite often reggae versions of his songs from now on.

Two new social commentary songs that would remain for quite a long time in the live repertory: 'Honey, Honey' and 'The Illinois Enema Bandit'. The versions here are basic, but the lyrics are already definitive.

As already mentioned the main dish on this record is 'Black Napkins' in a nearly finished version with a great solo and good viola work by Novag.

'Phyniox' is an interesting overture in form of a march that Zappa would never use again.

'Reeny Ra' sounds a bit like an older Pachuco influenced track maybe with the idea to feature Roy Estrada on vocals. This version without lyrics and only Zappa style vocalizing gives way to a great Zappa solo including a citation of 'T'mershi Duween'. From some studio chatter one could guess that Zappa wanted to combine both pieces. 'Sleep Dirt', the track that would appear as a acoustic guitar duet on 'Sleep Dirt' appears here with Zappa double tracking on acoustic guitar plus viola and some bass.

'Any Downers' is build around a riff and serves as background track for a dialogue improvisation between Zappa and Napoleon (like 'Room Service') about drug users and some Pachuco vocals by Estrada including also a great Zappa solo. This track would also not appear elsewhere.

All in all an interesting document, seen that half of the tracks have never appeared elsewhere and that the musicians have never played again in that combination. The sound is good even so the balance between the instruments is not perfect.

The two records that would make a good complementary listen are 'Zoot Allures' (studio) and FZ: OZ (from the early 76 Australia tour)

4,0 Stars for Zappa fans

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