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Frank Zappa Does Humor Belong In Music? album cover
3.62 | 107 ratings | 6 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Zoot Allures (5:26)
2. Tinsel-Town Rebellion (4:43)
3. Trouble Everyday (5:31)
4. Penguin In Bondage (6:44)
5. Hot-Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel (6:42)
6. What's New In Baltimore? (4:47)
7. Cock-Suckers' Ball (1:05)
8. WPLJ (1:30)
9. Let's Move To Cleveland (16:43)
10. Whippin' Post (8:23)

Total Time: 61:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitar, lead vocals
- Ray White / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Ike Willis / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Bobby Martin / keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Alan Zavod / keyboards
- Scott Thunes / bass
- Chad Wackerman / drums
- Dweezil Zappa / guitar solo on "Whippin' Post"

Releases information

EMI CDP 7 46188 2 (1986)
Rykodisc #RCD10548 (1995)
UMe 2012 CD

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to darkshade for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA Does Humor Belong In Music? ratings distribution

(107 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FRANK ZAPPA Does Humor Belong In Music? reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I love this live-album! "Does Humor Belong in Music?" was recorded at several different places in the US in 1984, and was released in 1986. The VHS version with the same name is completely different though. The sound quality on the remaster is great, giving you the live "sound" necessary to make this release even better than it already is. Musicianship is incredibly tight and solid throughout, as with most of Zappa's 80's live stuff.

You can hear many elements of Jazz-Rock/Fusion on the outro's of many of the tracks and the guitar solo's are top-notch stuff as always. There are some old "classics here too, like "Penguin In Bondage" from the fantastic "Roxy & Elsewhere" album released in 1974. It sound equally as great here. The excellent and atmospheric version of "Zoot Allures" is also worth mentioning. It sounds ten times better here than on the original studio version from 1976. There are also many tracks that is typical 80's Zappa songs that might not appeal to all 60's-70's Zappa fans, but are a must for 80's Zappa fans! I love both era's so it doesn't matter to me.

Overall, A very underrated live-album if you ask me! Great performances, excellent solo's, very fun and interesting to listen too. A must if you are a Zappa fan! I'll rate it 4.5/5 Highly recommended, especially to 80's Zappa fans!

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Them or Us tour of 1984 yielded much live material, the most recognizable of which would be the Does Humor Belong in Music? CD/Video collection. While completely different from one another, it's definitely worth mentioning that if you didn't really like the video version, then this one probably won't change your mind that much. If you like the song list and have heard them all prior, then there's nothing that should keep you from getting it, as they are mostly performed pretty well.

This album does have some songs going for it. Zoot Allures as usual is played precisely by the group and Zappa really lets one hell of a solo go. Trouble Everyday gets a modern face-lift with slightly reworked lyrics to fit with the current MTV trend. Penguin in Bondage is just as humorous as ever, although the original Roxy & Elsewhere version sticks out better in the mind. And Let's Go to Cleveland has some great solo sections, although like Richardw stated earlier, it does tend to drag in the middle.

Once again, if you like the track list, then you'll probably find things to like with this album. A lot of songs were performed on this tour, so I find it surprising that Zappa didn't unleash some of the relics performed. However, for what it's worth, Does Humor Belong in Music? the album is a significant improvement over Does Humor Belong in Music? the video. Good live affair, but not near Zappa's best.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars It's the eyebrows!

If you have been paying attention, you will know that the value of Frank Zappa live recordings is the "eyebrows", the little flourishes, improvised moments, and additions that Zappa and his band would put into the songs, which changed from concert to concert. This album is rife with eyebrows.

The album begins with a nice rendition of Zoot Allures. But the realn fun begins with Tinsel-Town Rebellion. The original version, from the album of the same name is okay, but this, with references to all sort of bands and songs added in, is great. Trouble Every Day, actually more like More Trouble Every Day from "Roxy & Elsewhere", has been sped up, and the lyrics modernized. And Penguin In Bondage, while played fairly straight, still has some fun moments.

The album also includes two of Zappa's later great (mostly) instrumental pieces, What's New In Baltimore? and Let's Move To Cleveland. The latter had some nice band choreography that is seared into my brain. By the way, I saw a few shows on this tour, and Zappa intoduced both of these songs with different titles, and the few lyrics were different every time I heard them.

For the prudes out there, there's C***-Suckers Ball (a traditional piece?). And political junkies, don't miss Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel.

The album concludes with Frank and Dweezil soloing together on Frank's wonderful arrangement of The Allman Brothers' Whippin' Post.

This fine album has a little for everyone.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars The only major problem with this live album is that it feels kinda pointless by Zappa standards. Most Zappa live albums (apart from the You Can't Do That On Stage series), before and after this one, made a point of either introducing a lot of new material or a lot of significant rearrangements of older material. On this album, the new material only accounts for three of the ten tracks (though I should note that two of them take up a large portion of the album). The first of these is "Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel," an amusing political song (about poverty) with fun sax parts (which are otherwise significantly underused in the album) and another interesting guitar solo to add to Frank's collection. The second is the one-minute "Cocksuckers Ball" (dedicated to the Republicans in the audience, of course), and the third is a sixteen-minute mostly instrumental piece called "Let's All Move to Cleveland." It's overlong, and there's a drum solo, but otherwise it's a very interesting mix of strong guitar lines, jazzy bits of piano and bits of synth for texture.

The rest consists of various Zappa standards done with more synthesizer and less brass than I'd like, but the synths are nowhere near as crummy sounding as they were on Tinseltown Rebellion. Speaking of which, that album's title track is done here, and while I still don't love it (there's still that long bit of half-singing in the second half), I do think that Frank cuts back on the self-absorbed smarminess just enough to make the good aspects shine through as best they can. Among the other tracks, the standouts are probably "Trouble Every Day," which gets a lyrical update to make it partially a bash on MTV (otherwise it just sounds like what you'd expect a 60's track updates with 80's instrumentation would sound like), and "WPLJ," which gets transformed from doo-wop to boogie-woogie. The other tracks ("Zoot Allures," "Penguin in Bondage," "What's New in Baltimore," "Whippin' Post") don't change a lot from their original versions, aside from maybe some cosmetic changes in the case of older material (as expected, the latter two haven't changed much at all, aside from some different soloing in "Whippin' Post").

In short, completists won't mind having this album, but there's really no need for a casual fan to grab this. Supposedly this was put together without Frank's consent, and while it's not bad, that's probably enough of a reason to ignore it. And what does the album title have to do with the material?

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Does Humor Belong In Music?' - Frank Zappa (6/10)

In Frank Zappa's case, the answer is No. However, that doesn't stop him or his band from playing a great performance on his live album 'Does Humor Belong In Music?'. Touring for the less-than-satisfying 'Them Or Us' album, I did not have high expectations for this recording considering my weak enjoyment of the man's studio recordings, but in front of an audience, Zappa and his band's greatest strength is made quite clear. Seeing Zappa Plays Zappa a couple of years back, the dynamic musicianship of the musicians is what really made the performance so good, disregarding what I felt was emotionally shallow composition and lyrical themes. With 'Does Humour Belong In Music?', Zappa and his comrades do a very good performance of the music, although I fear that the compositions and songwriting here will never open up to me.

Much of the music here is a pretty straightforward rendition of the music heard on studio albums, although the live setting of the music does give a stronger, more dynamic feeling to the way the music is played and performed. Not being a Zappa fan by any regards, I cannot necessarily compare these tracks in detail to the originals, but it does feel like each track here benefits greatly from the setting; each musician sounds as if they are really enjoying the performance, and the musicians will often play off one another during the longer drawn-out jam sections; an effect that cannot be recreated in most studio settings.

Of course, Zappa's voice here doesn't strike me as being anything good or great, but this is not a problem exclusive to this one live album. I still find the compositions generally very upbeat and somewhat too peppy to elicit an emotional response for me. The sections in which the band breaks down into jazz improvisation is the best 'Does Humour Belong In Music?' has to offer. There's little here that really surprises me, and Zappa's bad attempts at comedy are still here in full, but the performance is what saves this record.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is a pretty decent live recording of various FZ shows performed between October - December of 1984. It was originally released in 1986, but not in the U.S. Apparently, this original recording did not have a quality sound, so it was re-released in 1995 in a remixed form and the sound quality improved tremendously. The track "Let's Move to Cleveland" also got another minute added to it's playtime. The reissue is the one to own if you are looking into purchasing a copy. There was also a video of the same name which also has some of the tracks on the CD, but they are all different versions, so these particular recordings are all exclusive to the CD only (and a bootlegged copy in vinyl).

As I said, the reissue is an excellent recording. The album has a lot of "eyebrows" or special unique moments not available on other studio or live recordings of the same tracks. The tracks are all substantially different also, especially the many many guitar solos evident here. The solos are all very well done and worth the purchase alone. One of the bad points, at least in my opinion, is that all of the vocal tracks except for "Whippin' Post" is sung by FZ as the lead. If it weren't for the great guitar solos, the first half of the disc would be lacking a lot.

However, the last two tracks, which are over 16 minutes and 8 minutes respectively are excellent and really make this a great recording. "Let's Move to Cleveland" demonstrates how wonderfully the band at this time played off of one another. The 16 minute track flows along without hardly a boring minute and seems like it's a lot shorter than what it is because it is so good. You get solos from most all of the musicians here and they are all top rate. Even the percussion solo is entertaining with some really great moments verging on avant gard, but not quite. "Whippin' Post" is also an excellent cover that is a worthy conclusion to the album. The amazing guitar solo is done by Frank's son Dweezil and he proves to be a great understudy.

So, this being a mostly guitar/rock oriented concert (nothing really difficult to listen to) with a lot of humor mixed in the first half with original material scattered throughout that make this recording unique makes this a very accessible FZ album and a good way to introduce someone to his music. I wouldn't call it the best live collection, but there are plenty of things about this album that make it an excellent addition to your collection. 4 stars.

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