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Frank Zappa London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II album cover
3.50 | 49 ratings | 3 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc one (49:38)
1. First Movement (5:36)
2. Second Movement (6:32)
3. First Movement (4:47)
4. Second Movement (5:02)
5. First Movement (4:47)
6. Second Movement (10:04)
7. Third Movement (12:50)

Disc two (45:56)
1. Envelopes (4:04)
2. Pedro's Dowry (10:25)
3. Bogus Pomp (24:31)
4. Strictly Genteel (6:56)

Total Time: 95:34

Line-up / Musicians

- The London Symphony Orchestra / conductor by Kent Nagano
- David Ocker / solo clarinet
- Chad Wackerman / drums
- Ed Mann / featured percussionist

Releases information

Rykodisc #RCD 10540/41

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Joren for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FRANK ZAPPA London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Now this is Zappa at its most serious, in fact so serious that we're not sure that it is the right disc in the jewel case, so serious that we're actually a bit worried to Frank's mental health at this point of his life, so serious that this album is a bit boring, unless you happen to be a Stravinsky fan, in which case you're in heaven. Zappa ha always shown his infatuation with XXth Century classical music almost from day one of his recording career (Absolutely Free is the first album featuring some), but in general this was embedded in his doo-wop fascination, his jazz-rock penchants and his obsession of humour (usually tacky or tasteless >> his scatology phase) in music; that last aspect was often ruining (or drowning) the often interesting music in a sea of absurdity and even ridicule for the sane listeners.

I'm rather not used reviewing classical oeuvres, so I won't go deep into the music (rarely do anyway) to describe it. If you're familiar with Stravinsky's oeuvre like the Rites Of Spring or the Firebird Suite (just to mention those), than you won't be phased out with Zappa's composition and arrangements, here. And I mean that this is classical orchestral music in the Stravinsky way, which means that the music often veers slightly dissonant, but not more so than good old Igor did. Fortunately for most of us, Zappa sticks to Stravinsky-type of classical music and doesn't try to add some Edgar Varese, Pierre Boulez or Stockhausen influences in these two albums as he would for Civilization Phase 3 or his Boulez album, so Orchestral Favourites is still fairly accessible for us common mortals. It's relatively pointless to start describing the individual tracks as they are all too Stravinsky-esque to be described as anything but that. Just know that Vol I is in three tracks that are subdivided in two or three sections, while the second isn't: four undivided tracks, including a sidelong Bogus Pomp that earns its name in sorts, especially if you're no Igor fan. Only the closing Strictly Genteel sticks out from the lot (that's both albums), being slightly more accessible and more "grand public" with its atrocious pomp.

This two-disc set is the compilation (re-titled London Symphonic Orchestra under the Zappa name) of the two separate Orchestral Favourites albums recorded a few years apart (83 & 87), but you wouldn't know it from listening to both to compare. Certainly a very ambitious oeuvre, even though that is not what I expect from Frank, because this is absolutely not groundbreaking, since everything was said during almost 100 years ago. Not essential, but definitely good enough if you care for Zappa's classical aptitude, no doubt this will be right up your alley.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars When Rykodisk remixed and reissued Frank Zappa's entire catalog after his death, they chose to couple the two London Symphony Orchestra albums together in this double CD package. And they did a nice job with them. Aside from the remix, that sounds a bit better than the Volume 1 single disk, they reordered the pieces so that companion pieces, Bob In Dacron and Sad Jane are sequential, and the two "200 Motels" based pieces are also in together.

The music mostly has as air of Stravinsky, aklthough the style is all Zappa. A few songs, the "200 Motels" pieces, Bogus Pomp and Strictly Genteel and Envelopes are re-orchestrated pieces that appear on other albums, and occasionally you can hear flashes from other well known Zappa songs (for example: there is a distinct line from Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt that pops up in the first and third movements of Mo 'N Herb's Vacation.

This isn't the best of Frank's orchestral albums, but it is a fine classical album.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Review #158 Let's start with the obvious: this is not a Progressive Rock album, this is anything of a rock album, this is absolutely a Classical Music masterpiece. Frank ZAPPA had already experimented with Classical Music in a lot of his earlier recordings but he hadn't left his rocky style out o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2639284) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Friday, December 3, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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