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TINSEL TOWN REBELLION

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Frank Zappa Tinsel Town Rebellion album cover
3.03 | 114 ratings | 13 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Live, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fine Girl (3:31)
2. Easy Meat (9:19)
3. For the Young Sophisticate (2:48)
4. Love of My Life (2:15)
5. I Ain't Got No Heart (1:59)
6. Panty Rap (4:35)
7. Tell Me You Love Me (2:07)
8. Now You See It- Now You Don't (4:54)
9. Dance Contest (2:58)
10. The Blue Light (5:27)
11. Tinsel Town Rebellion (4:35)
12. Pick Me, I'm Clean (5:07)
13. Bamboozled by Love (5:46)
14. Brown Shoes Don't Make It (7:14)
15. Peaches III (5:01)

Total Time: 67:19

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / lead guitar, vocals
- Ike Willis / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Ray White / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Steve Vai / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Warren Cucurillo / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Denny Walley / slide guitar, vocals
- Tommy Mars / keyboards, vocals
- Peter Wolf / keyboards
- Bob Harris / keyboards, trumpet, high vocals
- Ed Mann / percussion
- Arthur Barrow / bass, vocals
- Patrick O'Hearn / bass on "Dance Contest"
- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums
- David Logeman / drums on "Fine Girl" and first half of "Easy Meat"
- Greg Cowan / featured in the role of eccentric well-to-do Oregonian party giver

Releases information

LP Barking Pumpkin PW2 37336
EMI CDP 7 90077 2 UK: CD EN 5002
Rykodisc #RCD 10532

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Evolver for the last updates
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Joe's Garage Acts I II & IIIJoe's Garage Acts I II & III
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FRANK ZAPPA Tinsel Town Rebellion ratings distribution


3.03
(114 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
13%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (39%)
39%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

FRANK ZAPPA Tinsel Town Rebellion reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Let's hear it for another glimpse of occasional greatness: a live set by turns inspired, stupid, nostalgic, forward-looking, cruel, funny, and so on. This double album leads with its lone studio track, "Fine Girl", the kind of funked-up music that appeared on Ship Arriving Too Late, "included", in Frank's words, "so that conservative radio stations can play something on the air." From there, it's a mix of golden oldies ("Love Of My Life", "I Ain't Got No Heart") and new material performed live and recorded cleanly enough to warrant the live label moot. Typical of Frank's music from this period, the highs are very high, the lows very low. "Easy Meat", "The Blue Light", "Pick Me, I'm Clean" and ""Tinsel Town Rebellion"" are fine additions to the FZ canon. However, "Panty Rap" and "Dance Contest" find Frank playing to the groundlings as he collects female underwear for a quilt and tries to get drunk people to dance (remember the Be-Bop Tango?). The performances are drawn from a few different venues, primarily the Hammersmith Odeon and Berkeley Community Theater. Honestly, I could have survived without the first two "Sides" of music: swap "Easy Meat" for "Dance Contest" and you've got the makings of a great single elpee. From "The Blue Light" to "Peaches III" (another reinvention of the old "Peaches En Regalia" tune) this is great stuff. Whether he's ripping apart the social fabric with the Absolutely Free entry "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" or attacking the Hollywood music scene in ""Tinsel Town Rebellion"", ZAPPA's fury is a force to be reckoned with. Such heavy fare makes the lighter moments seem flimsy, but by now most ZAPPA fans have learned to accept the composer's irregular genius as a glass half full. "Tinsel Town Rebellion" is definitely half full, no worse (and no better) than "Sheik Yerbouti".

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#30031) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This double LP is one of my favorite Zappa's albums: 6 guitarists, 3 keyboardists, a good half dozen of backing vocalists, and TONS of crazy drums! Again, Zappa demonstrates his ability on guitar by performing crazy solos: "Now You See It- Now You Don't" has such a monolithic solo, but the sound is good. This record is, like "You are what you is", a party album. The difference is that here the tracks are quite more sophisticated and complex. Strongly rhythmic, the tracks are really catchy and addictive: IMO this album is one of his best for quality backing vocals. I like the anthemic trumpets & keyboards on "Easy meet": this anthemic combination of trumpet + keyboards is the real trademark of this album. The percussions on "Young sophisticated" are cute! "Love of my life" is a mellow retro jewel, followed by the catchy & rhythmic rock "I ain't got no heart". "Panty rap" and "Dance contest" are interactive entertainment by Frank Zappa himself in front of an animated crowd, while other musicians play discreetly in the background. Another reprise is the intense "Tell me you love me", definitely faster and more loaded than the original. "Tinsel Town Rebellion" is an outstanding retro rhythmic track: you go back 50 years behind with it; it is nicely followed by the 2 speeds "Pick me I'm clean". "Bamboozled by Love" sounds like the rhythmic part of Pink Floyd's Money. The last 2 tracks are the best parts of the album: "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is VERY rhythm changing, catchy, addictive and complex, it must be listened entirely to appreciate. Finally, a reprise of "Peaches en regalia", absolutely better: the sound is perfect, the synchronization is excellent, all the instruments are very well played, and the complexity of the track is clearly shown here.

EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#39633) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2005

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
3 stars Tinseltown Rebellion finds Zappa's late 70's band during a period of transition; a couple of the old guard are still there (Tommy Mars, Patrick O'Hearn, Denney Whalley), but we start to see the faces who defined the 1980's band too, with Ike Willis supplementing Ray White's backing guitar/vocal, and Ed Mann in on percussion. It's also nice to hear a live recording of the Barrow/Colauita rhythm section - in my opinion, one of the most under- rated in the Zappa canon.

The album itself is generally Zappa-lite, concentrating on the shorter pieces, and the crowd pleasers (occasionally embarrassingly so, as in 'Panty Rap' and 'Dance Contest'); notwithstanding this, however, there are some fine instrumental workouts, especially during 'Easy Meat' and a strangely twisted version of 'Peaches III'.

As always with Zappa's live recordings, humour & satire are to the fore; Zappa's rant against the music industry, 'Tinseltown Rebellion' is as relevant now as it was then (perhaps more so), and the blues parody 'Bamboozled By Love' contains the inspired line "Oh Lord, the [&*!#] done hit the fan" (Robert Johnson would be proud.).

In conclusion, then, this is by no means an essential Zappa album, but it is certainly one of his most entertaining - now if it could only be re-released without 'Panty Rap' & 'Dance Contest' (please don't tell me those bought up on stage are representative of your average American Zappa fan.), there would be an extra star in the offing.

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Send comments to Jim Garten (BETA) | Report this review (#43418) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 19, 2005

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For the Sophisticated Zappa Fan?

1981 was a big year for Frank Zappa, not only did he release this album, but he also released entire Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar trilogy as well as the slightly underwhelming You Are What You Is. This album in my opinion has all the things You Are What You Is didn't have, but it still doesn't compare at all to his earlier more commercial efforts like Sheik Yerbouti. This album has a very live feel to it (most of Zappa's albums during this period were mostly taken from live shows where he'd premiere most of his songs anyway), and it really comes to a head with the two songs Panty Rap and The Dance Contest.

Anywho, rather than describe all the tracks, I'll give you a rundown of the ones that really made an impression on me. The first is the opener, the simplistic yet effective Fine Girl, which is a silly track about the girl of your dreams. Following that is the 9 minute Easy Meat, which is filled with Tommy Mars' lush synthesizers and a rollicking Zappa solo that, while a bit long, is terribly effective and makes the song probably the best on the album. For the Young Sophisticate has Zappa repeating the phrase "dear heart, dear heart". It's another song in the vein of Fine Girl, but none the less it's an effective piece. The Blue Light segues from The Dance Contest (one of the songs that really hurts the album), and it has some great synthesizers as well as some catchy Zappa vocals.

Tinseltown Rebellion is another favorite of mine on the album, with it's rapid fire bassline and it's cynical and very humorous lyrics about the music industry. It's probably second to Easy Meat in my opinion. Brown Shoes Don't Make it is a more modern version of the Absolutely Free song, and it still has all the bitter social commentary that the original version contained with a slightly newer edge musically (in terms of instrumentation). The concluding piece of the album is an updated version of Peaches en Regalia, which has Warren Cuccurrullo giving a great overall performance on the intricate melodies.

Overall, Tinseltown Rebellion would be a good album, but there are only 5 or 6 songs amongst the 15 total that really impressed me. For fans of 80s Zappa like You Are What You Is and Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, you may find much to like these albums. For those who enjoyed Sheik Yerbouti and to a lesser extent Joe's Garage, you'll find things here and there that are captivating, but not to the extent of those two albums.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#106328) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 06, 2007

Review by LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Underwhelming might be a fairly accurate word for this.

Tinseltown Rebellion and You Are What You Is are mostly parallel in my mind. Both are long and meandering and featuring a lot of average Zappa tunes. Truth be told, by this point, the commercial leanings of Zappa's late 70s work has overtaken the fluency of his music. Rather than writing tunes with the wild instrumentation and random interludes, we have a mostly vocal-oriented setup, which isn't horrible. However, twelve or thirteen similar songs of standard lyrics and mostly unremarkable music constitutes a pretty weak prog album, in my book.

This album is mostly a direct successor to Sheik Yerbouti, except it lacks that flavor and flair that seemed to dominate that album. Much of the lyrical content is devoted to satire and mockery. Tell Me You Love Me has some wonderful Doors vibes to it, and in fact is one of the more interesting tunes available here--more like something off Sheik Yerbouti. Easy Meat is the closest the album has to a full jam session, which is not a necessary Zappa trademark but one of his strongest suits, I think. Songs like Now You See It - Now You Don't also feature some jamming and soloing, but for the most part, they lack the usual energy that the man often delivers. On the whole, I must say, I find the guitar work uninspiring, despite the presence of five guitarists, one of whom is the venerable Steve Vai.

When it comes down to it, though, the music is rather stock and standard for the milder half of Frank's catalog, showcasing his ability to write fine melodies and awkward lyrics to go with them. If Sheik Yerbouti absolutely trips your triggers, this album would probably work for you. If you are a fan of early Zappa's complexities and depth, I would avoid this release. A bad place to start with Frank's music, but not a terrible release for serious fans.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#184295) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album was a fine girl, a really fine girl. It could get down, get down, all the way down.

This Zappa album perfectly meets the qualifications a of non-essential album, though some would say it doesn't rise above hard core fan status.

Except for Fine Girl, which is the sole studio track, it's a collection of live tracks. It's laced with a few reworked Zappa oldie's: Love Of My Life, I Ain't Got No Heart, Brown Shoes Don't Make It, with a third version of Peaches. Many of the tracks here are only material available only live, and Zappa was often the most fun when working live. It offers some interesting originals like The Blue Light, Now You Seen It-Now You Don't (sounds like it came off of Shut Up 'N Play Your Guitar). One might this album a vocalized supplement to the Shut Up 'N Play Your Guitar series).

It's your standard mix of Zappa silly and often offensive lyrics with great guitar and mostly superb (burp, heh heh) Zappa directed ensemble performance. The subject matter focuses mainly on vacuous female types or perhaps more appropriately, stereotypes of the same from the late '70's and early '80's. Well, considering this was early '81, that can be forgiven. When released, some of those stereotypes carried on into the '80's and were kind of actually like real people.

Poke it around if it dies down...

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#227908) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Wow, what a totally underwhelming live album. Live Zappa recordings have their ups and downs, of course, but this is the first live album of his to not have any tracks that I would consider essential (even Fillmore East had "Happy Together"). The main significant "advancement" of this album is that the horn section has been reduced to a solitary trumpet player, and in its place are really dated, really prominent synthesizers. There are many guitarists, but there's depressingly little guitar (I mean, there are a good number of solos, but there's no thick, satisfying guitar sound that you'd expect from the lineup), and large stretches of the album consist of lightweight synth-based noodling and Frank trying to do a weirdly ad libbed "croon" sound.

There are a few oldies lying around, and they're ok, but they don't go much beyond that. "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" and "Peaches III" (a weirdly metallic interpretation of "Peaches en Regalia") are passable, but they're far below the standards set by the originals. "Love of My Life" (one of the lesser Ruben and the Jets tracks) and "I Ain't Got No Heart" give a nod to the doo wop parodies of yore (I guess they're intended to add some measure of diversity to the recording), and "Tell Me You Love Me" at least has some drive and an effective mix of metallic guitar and electric piano. Now, I'm not somebody who demands that live versions of tracks sound just like the originals, but I do prefer that they have some characteristic that would convince me to listen to them instead of the studio versions. These tracks just don't appeal to me on that level, with the exception of "Tell Me You Love Me" and (slightly) "I Ain't Got No Heart."

More disappointing is that the "new" tracks don't come close to boasting a single classic among them. There are a couple of tracks near the end that are pretty good ("Pick Me I'm Clean" is a moderately fun number that appears to be about a guy bragging about his lack of VD, and "Bamboozled by Love" is a decent bluesy rocker), but I kinda suspect that their apparent quality level is amplified by all that which comes before. A couple of tracks are a pure waste of space; "Panty Rap" is Frank telling the audience for four minutes about how he wants them to pass him bras and panties, while "Dance Contest" (where Frank invites people on stage to dance) is basically a lengthy spoken introduction to "The Blue Light," which has some nice moments but features a whole lot of the aforementioned vegas- based ad libbed crooning. "Easy Meat" is an absolute bore for its nine minutes, filled with overloud bad synths (with a synth-based jam in the middle) and lyrics that do indeed sound like a reject from the Joe's Garage sessions. "Now You See It - Now You Don't" is a rambling guitar solo that at least provides a nice refresher from the rest of the album, "Tinseltown Rebellion" goes from a decent rocker to more atonal half-singing from Frank, and For the Young Sophisticate completely eludes me in this context.

Part of me thinks I'm giving this too high of a grade, to be honest. Then again, the supporting band is (once again) rather tight, and there are a good number of moments where the sound comes together enough for me to forget the flaws, so I guess I'll leave the grade where it is. It also helps that the album starts off with a studio track, "Fine Girl," which is no great shakes but at least sounds like one of the average-quality tracks on the brilliant You Are What You Is.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#351701) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 13, 2010

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars From the word go in this live concert the crude lyrics permeate the music. Zappa's concerts were infamous and this album is proof positive why Zappa became a number one entertainer. It starts off shakily with a dull studio cut, until we get to the huge wild and zany live performance of Easy Meat. There are some insane moments, the improv jazz sweeps of Easy Meat's instrumental are astonishingly off kilter and sounding random, the way only Zappa can do it. The repetitive phrase 'easy meat' grates a bit but this is still a highlight thanks to the freak out mid section that spirals all over the place.

For The Young Sophisticates is the nonsense that turns the average fan off Zappa; weird, 50s style blues and quirky. The xylophone is a great touch though, but those psychotic harmonies are just plain silly. The crowd roars, and we hear Love Of My life, the 50s "Grease" style doo wop does nothing for me, and it's a throwaway for my ears. Perhaps Sha Na Na fans will love it.

In some inspired lunacy Zappa says to the crowd, "we are collecting small articles of feminine underclothing, we are making a quilt, really trust me"; so we have the likeable nonsense of Panty Rap, one way of getting them thrown on to the stage I guess. This is quite a humorous piece and the audience love it of course. I don't mind this type of Zappa as it brings a smile to the dial, and refuses to take itself seriously. "The highest yield of female underclothes" is Chicago, according to Zappa. The thing is improvised according to how the audience responds and they of course do respond. Zappa intros the band, Steve Vai gets introduced as with light blue hair. More 'contestants' offer their pants and Zappa reads a message, 'hi Frank, how about 'wereing' my hat onstage?' Frank makes fun of the spelling error, and continues to intro the band. A fun interlude leading to the raucous weird piano frenzy of Tell Me You Love Me.

The rocking sound is welcome here, and the track pretty much is just a 'let yourself go' kick A blaster. There are mad screams and lead guitar chaos. It is repetitive with some intriguing little riffs and a great lead motif. It segues into Now You Don't that continues the lead guitar prowess, and is quite bluesy, but the dominant guitars are excellent on this.

Dance Contest is the impromptu audience participation thing that Zappa does and he gets 'the dynamic Butch' to dance with 'Lena'. Couple number one and then he proceeds to somehow get more audience members to dance. A great idea in theory and after one listen you may want to skip to the next track, but it is infectious humour that really sets up the party atmosphere. 'Ugliness' he chants, the cute people in the world get a razz up, and then the couples proceed with this absurd contest.

The Blue Light is next and we assume the contest is continuing here with this crazy music blaring out. Lots of improvised stuff here as Zappa raps about American fast food, panties, piddle, hanging out with the others, a body of water and even oil in patches all over Atlantis, and Donovan! I guess this acid tripped stuff is similar to the improv patter that Robert Wyatt churned out with Soft Machine. It is fun, and I never tire of the humour here.

Pick Me I'm Clean is Ok thanks to a psyched up lead break with some amazing jazz playing. The bassline is inspirational keeping a sporadic rhythm and the percussion is all over the place. This is how I like Zappa. The Rock In Opposition is unmistakeable when all the instruments are competing against each other.

Bamboozled By Love has a cool funkadelic rhythm that grabs you immediately, the singing is well executed here and this stands out as a definitive highlight. The lyrics are bawdy as always, and at times sardonic and sadistic; "If she don't change those evil ways I'm gonna make her bleed, if she don't give me what I want she gonna have no head at all". Okay this is Zappa and he injects this content into his lyrics constantly, not that I like this but that's Zappa and there is no escaping it. My favourite moments of Zappa is when he lets loose with these jazz improv delightful bursts of sound, rather than his twisted humour. It is not possible to have one without the other and at times he crosses a line that jars my sense of moral fibre. The toilet humour may have its place but as far as prog goes I steer clear of it, so this album is not one I return to often as with all other Zappa's, apart from the incredible instrumental genius of "Hot Rats"

Brown Shoes Don't Make It has a great little proggish time sig change, but is strange enough to defy description. The Magma like harmonies, high falsetto shrieks, are unnerving, and this one is perhaps the strangest on the set list, with some absolutely warped musicianship. The bursts of xylophone, brass, and glorified tempo changes on percussion are excellent. It never settles on one particular style, there are blues, jazz, 50s style, psych funk, straight rock and even touches of avante garde excesses, and the lyrics are quirky and theatrically sung. So once again a highlight for all these reasons.

The album ends with Peaches III that is virtually a sequel to the infamous Peaches In Regalia. Immediately the melody is recognizable as the original instrumental tune, but there are variations to give it a fresh sound. It is a great way to end and I soon realised I was enjoying the second half of the album way more than the shaky first half. So my 2 1/2 star rating was boosted from one star thanks to some inspirational music on the second half. Tread carefully with this if you are new to Zappa, others will simply know what to expect and it delivers with no holds barred indulgence.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#409017) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars How does one distinguish a live album from Frank Zappa in the 1980s? Most of his recordings around this time were based on live tracks, and then edited and overdubbed until they sounded like studio recordings. On this album, only one track, Fine Girl was recorded in his studio. The rest are edited and spliced, but the overdubs are minimal, and the audience interaction in left in, so it still feels like a live album.

The material is a mixed bag, and there are none of the spectacular, weird compositions Zappa was known for, but there's plenty of good music to make this worth owning. First of all, keyboardist Tommy Mars steals the show. His keyboard break in Easy Meat (a song based on a riff the the Mothers would jam on - heard on some of the "Beat The Boots" albums), is just amazing. And it's his playing that make some of the older songs, especially Brown Shoes Don't Make It and Peaches En Regalia, here called Peaches III, a treat to hear.

Other standout tracks are For the Young Sophisticate, not terribly prog, but a nice tune with funny lyrics, a blazing rendition of Tell Me You Love Me, and an early version of Tinseltown Rebellion, here played without all the eyebrows that really enhanced the song.

My CD of this is an early EMI release (before the Rykodisk deal), where they mislabelled Panty Rap on the cover, booklet and disk itself as Party Rap.

Not an essential album, but not bad either.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#449289) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Part of the tidal wave of novelty rock material Zappa released in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tinseltown Rebellion begins with a studio off-cut from You Are What You Is (if it wasn't good enough for that sprawling everything-and-the-kitchen-sink album, Frank, what made you think it was good enough for this one?) but the rest presents live recordings from the period, covering similar material. Once again, the comedy feels more forced and unfunny to me than Zappa's earlier material - oh, and there's offensive lyrical content too if that bothers you - but on top of that the album is marred by muggy sound quality which subsequent remasters haven't quite managed to solve.

The versions presented of older songs are tepid - in particular, Brown Shoes Don't Make It is an absolute travesty compared to the original studio version - whilst the newer material continues the "novelty rock for frat boys" direction of You Are What You Is without that album's deft production to sweeten the deal. In short, there's little or nothing here to tickle the fancy of those who prefer Zappa's experimental, innovative, technically sophisticated and downright clever side. There's even a dance contest includes, Zappa apparently having not learned from Roxy and Elsewhere that such things are completely pointless in an audio format. At his best, Zappa was a genius, I'll never deny that, but when he just wasn't trying - or was intentionally dumbing his material down - there's nothing worse.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#566798) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011

Latest members reviews

4 stars In 1977 I watched a TV programme at 6pm on one sorry evening. That night decent Rock music was abandoned forever more. Only one man stood in the way of Idiots taking over completely. His name Frank Zappa, & the title track of this album is just what he thought of the Idiots. 1977 programme ... (read more)

Report this review (#72125) | Posted by | Friday, March 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Frank Zappa is much better live than in the studio, and this is just one more album that proves it. If you compare the studio versions of "Brown Shoes..." and "Tinsletown Rebellion" to the live versions on this record, you'll hear that live the songs just sound more exciting and not as forced ... (read more)

Report this review (#39334) | Posted by Goblin11 | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars i've never been Frank Zappa fan, i don't know all his albums , actually i know only few, this one appears really good, Easy Meat is the best song here and i'm finding real pleasure in listening to the others. Leisure mess, for ones who are little bit spun. ... (read more)

Report this review (#30029) | Posted by l-s-d | Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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