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Frank Zappa The Lost Episodes album cover
3.35 | 98 ratings | 4 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Blackouts (0:22)
2. Lost In A Whirlpool (2:47)
3. Ronnie Sings? (1:05)
4. Kenny's Booger Story (0:33)
5. Ronnie's Booger Story (1:17)
6. Mt. Saint Mary's Concert Excerpt (2:28)
7. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance (3:51)
8. Tiger Roach (2:21)
9. Run Slow Home Theme (1:25)
10. Fountain Of Love (2:08)
11. Run Home Cues, #2 (0:28)
12. Any Way The Wind Blows (2:15)
13. Run Home Cues, #3 (0:11)
14. Charva (1:59)
15. The Dick Kunc Story (0:46)
16. Wedding Dress Song (1:15)
17. Handsome Cabin Boy (1:21)
18. Cops & Buns (2:37)
19. The Big Squeeze (0:43)
20. I'm A Band Leader (1:14)
21. Alley Cat (2:47)
22. The Grand Wazoo (2:13)
23. Wonderful Wino (2:47)
24. Kung Fu (1:06)
25. RDNZL (3:50)
26. Basement Music #1 (3:46)
27. Inca Roads (3:43)
28. Lil' Clanton Shuffle (4:48)
29. I Don't Wanna Get Drafted (3:25)
30. Sharleena (11:54)

Total Time: 71:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitars, piano (14), celesta (19), synclavier (22), synths (26), bass (10,12,14), drums (1,10,12,14), percussion & kazoo (19), backing vocals (10,14,30), arranger & producer

- Wayne Lyles / vocals (1)
- Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) / vocals (2,8,20-22)
- Ronnie Williams / vocals (3,5)
- Kenny Williams / vocals (4)
- Ray Collins / vocals (10,12)
- Ricky Lancelotti / vocals (23)
- Ike Willis / vocals (29)
- Dale Bozzio / vocals (29)
- Terry Bozzio / vocals (29)
- Ray White / vocals (29)
- Elwood Madeo, Jr. / guitar (1)
- Bobby Zappa / rhythm guitar (2)
- Elliot Ingber / slide guitar (21)
- Terry Wimberly / piano (1)
- Danny Helferin / piano (7)
- Don Preston / keyboards (16)
- George Duke / keyboards (23-25,27)
- Tommy Mars / keyboards & vocals (29)
- Tony Rodriguez / alto sax (7)
- Chuck Foster / trumpet (7)
- Ian Underwood / saxophone (23,30), woodwind (25,27), Fender Rhodes (28), keyboards (30)
- Bruce Fowler / trombone (23-25,27)
- Sal Marquez / trumpet (23)
- Jean-Luc Ponty / violin (25,27)
- Don "Sugarcane" Harris / violin (28,30)
- Caronga Ward / bass (7)
- Janschi / bass (8)
- Roy Estrada / bass (16)
- Alex Dmochowski / bass (23)
- Tom Fowler / bass (24,25,27)
- Arthur Barrow / bass (29)
- Max Bennett / bass (30)
- Chuck Grove / drums (7)
- Vic Mortenson / drums (8)
- Jimmy Carl Black / drums (16)
- John French / drums (21)
- Aynsley Dunbar / drums (23,30)
- Chester Thompson / drums (24)
- Ralph Humphrey / drums (24,25,27)
- John Guerin / drums (28)
- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums (29)
- Art Tripp / marimba & vibraphone (16)
- Ruth Underwood / percussion (24,25,27)
- Orchestra unknown (6)
- Dick Kunc / narrator voice (15)

Releases information

Compilation of previously unreleased material from since 1958 (tracks 1 & 2) into the late 1970s.

Artwork: Gabor Csupo

CD Rykodisc ‎- RCD 40573 (1996, US)
CD Zappa Records ‎- ZR 3889 (2012, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FRANK ZAPPA The Lost Episodes ratings distribution

(98 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

FRANK ZAPPA The Lost Episodes reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris H
3 stars Prepare for the wonder of Frank Zappa like you have never heard Zappa before!

Virtually all of these tracks are recorded in Zappa's basement on any means of recording available. This collection gives you a taste of many of Zappa's early styles, from the late 50's where we was a drummer for the band Blackout ("The Blackouts") up to the early 70's with his 11 minute guitar epic "Sharleena" from Chunga's Revenge. Along the way we are given a taste of his many collaborations with Don Van Vliet better known as Captain Beefheart ("Lost In A Whirlpool", "Tiger Roach", "The Grand Wazoo") and the Williams brothers, Kenny and Ronnie ("Kenny's Booger Story", "Ronnie's Booger Story").

Sure there is a lot of experiments to pick through, but there are many gems here as well. Most notable is Ricky Lancelotti's performance of "Wonderful Wino" on a much improved version over what went onto Zoot Allures. Also the "Wedding Dress Song/Handsome Cabin Boy" medley is very impressive, as well as another short keyboard piece "Kung Fu".

If you aren't a Zappa fanatic that owns all or most of his studio work, I would recommend that you steer clear of this album. However, if you are one of those few people that know Zappa from head to toe and are looking for more, this is the perfect collection for you. From his drumming days to his perfect guitar solos and everything in between, all the lost gems are here!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Lost Episodes" is an album release by US rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was released though Rykodisc from February 1996. The Lost Episodes is a posthumous archive album released after Frank Zappaīs untimely death on the 4th of December 1993. All material on the album are unreleased or unreleased versions of previously released tracks. The tracks were recorded between 1958 and 1981.

There are some very early blues recordings by Frank Zappa and his youth friend Captain Beefheart on the album as well as some pre-Mothers of Invention recordings from the early sixties ("Fountain of Love", "Any Way the Wind Blows" are here in very early versions) and some recordings from the classical movie score Zappa made for his English teacher for his "Run Home Slow" movie. Thereīs an instrumental lounge jazz version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" from 1961 that deserves a mention for being very different from the version which appears on "We're Only in It for the Money (1968)".

The really interesting tracks appear towards the middle and the end of the album though. Songs like the unreleased 1967 recording of "Wedding Dress Song/Handsome Cabin Boy" and the fantastic 1973 recorded Ricky Lancelotti led version of "Wonderful Wino" are some of the highlights on The Lost Episodes. The latter would have fit right in on "Overnight Sensation (1973)". Other songs I treasure on the album are the 1972-73 bandīs studio versions of "Kung Fu", "RDNZL" and "Inca Roads". Really great jazz rock/fusion/experimental rock. "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted" appears here in the single version. The original album version from "You Are What You is (1981)" is a great track, but this single version is great too. Note the excellent piano part, which sets this version apart from the album version.

The sound quality varies from rather poor on some of the early recordings to really well sounding on most of the songs. Upon conclusion "The Lost Episodes" is a good quality compilation of unreleased material by Frank Zappa. The quality is not equally high on every track though and I wouldnīt call the the compilation a mandatory listen. There are a couple of gems here though and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This collection is something Frank Zappa put together when he knew his time was running out. It's a collection of rarities and tidbits from throughout his career. There are a lot of spoken tracks (without music) and a few of the tracks have popped up on bootleg albums throughout the years.

The album is important for it's historical aspect, as much as the musical. There is a track from the fifties with Frank on drums. There's another fifties track, with Frank and his brother Bobby both playing guitar, with Don Van Vliet singing some literal toilet humor. And there is a little snippet from a 1963 concert, where Frank hired a college orchestra, and conducted some of his earliest pieces.

But the best treasures on this come later, with music from Run Home Slow (a film Zappa scored), a medley: Wedding Dress Song/Handsome Cabin Boy, a bluesy jam, Alley Cat, again with Don Van Vliet, Ricky Lancelotti singing lead on Wonderful Wino, some great stuff from the band with Ruth Underwood and the Fowlers, Kung Fu, an early RDNZL, an instrumental Inca Roads, and more.

While I wouldn't recommend this to a Zappa newbie, it does provide much pleasure to the Zappaphile.

Review by tarkus1980
4 stars As suggested by the title, this album features a lot of Zappa material that had managed to get lost in the winds of time. It's not exactly a comprehensive collection of rarities, as that would require a lot more than just one CD, but it gives a really fascinating look at aspects of Zappa that never made it onto record previously (and that's a pretty amazing feat, given how much material he had). Casual fans might not care, but for somebody who thinks they've otherwise assimilated everything there is to know about Zappa, this is a pretty neat listen.

The structure of the album is a little crazy, interspersing the "real" material with recorded dialogues/monologues and short orchestral bits, and while this isn't exactly new for Zappa, I have to admit that it bothered me a little on first listen. I had expected this album to mostly consist of unreleased music, and all these other little bits made it seem to me like the people who compiled this were just dumping whatever they could find to fill out the space. I eventually got used to this, fortunately: I'm not thrilled with all of the spoken bits (Two takes on a story about boogers? Seriously?), but a lot of them are funny, and they certainly give the album a very fun, loosey- goosey kind of feel. The funnest bits are a recording of a cop complaining about repeatedly having to visit Zappa's apartment due to complaints about the noise (and Zappa attempting to bribe him with buns), and Captain Beefheart reading a piece reflecting Zappa's memories playing in bands led by people with no musical competence ("I'm a Band Leader").

The main purpose of the album, though lies in the music. There's a lot of material from Zappa's musical life before Freak Out! and before the Mothers, and it's fascinating to see that Zappa's musical skills and bizarre sense of humor were well honed from a pretty young age. A few of them feature a young Captain Beefheart (as Don Van Vliet) on vocals, and they're a total hoot. "Lost in a Whirlpool" starts with Don pulling off an eerie imitation of a female blues singer, before switching into his more typical vocal style, and it's really funny to hear this voice singing lyrics that are this hilariously raunchy (especially for before 1960!). "Tiger Roach" is some kind of up-tempo blues number (I think I detect some surf elements in there too, though I might be wrong), and it's highlighted by a moment where Van Vliet makes a sound that kinda sounds like a hog squeal. Then there's "Alley Cat," a light blues jam over which Van Vliet improvises some clever lyrics, all to good effect, and finally there's "The Grand Wazoo," which has nothing to do with the jazz number but instead features Van Vliet reading a script Zappa wrote and a Synclavier composition Zappa later wrote to accompany it. It's not brilliant, but it's not bad either.

The early days are well-represented with other interesting and strange highlights. There's an excerpt from a concert performance (by a small orchestra) of a classical piece Zappa wrote as a young man, and it's immediately followed by an awesome 1961 jazz instrumental version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance." There's an early version of "Fountain of Love," and it's most notable for having a fuzz bass part that completely overpowers the mix and makes it rattle, and a straightforward (not silly like on Freak Out!, and not overdone as on Cruising) version of "Any Way the Wind Blows" that would have been a hit in a fair and just world. And finally, the other big highlight from this era is "Charva, "a hilarious doo-wop piss-take that could have easily fit in with the "regular" songs on Freak Out!. I know that humor is subjective and all, but anybody who doesn't at least smirk a bit at, "I love you more and more/I swear it ain't because your father owns the liquor store" is either lying or is somebody I wouldn't enjoy hanging out with.

Past the early days, there's an interesting smattering of material from Zappa's career through the end of the 70's or so. Fans of Zappa's more complex material will be happy to hear early versions of "RDNZL" and "Inca Roads," neither of which have been expanded as far as they would go but both of which already have many of the recognizable themes in place. Fans of his sillier work will be really amused at a version of "Wonderful Wino" sung by Ricky Lancelotti (the guy who sung on "50 50": I like the Zoot Allures version plenty, but Ricky's vocals are more perfect for the song than Frank's could ever be) and an early, slowed-down version of "Drafted Again" (here called I Don't Wanna Get Drafted) that has a light funk, almost disco-ish feel to it. Serious Zappa historians will be fascinated by "Basement Music #1," a neat 1978 instrumental that sounds an awful lot like synth-based electronica from the 90's and beyond. And finally, there are a couple of great performances done by people from the Hot Rats lineup: a blues shuffle ("Lil' Clanton Shuffle") dominated by great violin work from Don Harris, and an early version of "Sharleena," sung by Harris and featuring more great violin work (as well as great playing from everybody else). The latter of these actually ends the album, and while it's not really the perfect way to end the album (it seems like kind of an arbitrary and odd finishing point), it makes me think well of the album.

This isn't a perfect collection by any means, and it's not essential, but it's sure a lot of fun. Zappa fans could find much worse ways to spend their money.

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