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CIVILIZATION PHAZE III

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Frank Zappa Civilization Phaze III album cover
3.77 | 93 ratings | 14 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (56:10)
1. "This is Phaze III" (0:48)
2. Put a Motor In Yourself (5:14)
3. "Oh-Umm" (0:50)
4. They Made Me Eat It (1:48)
5. Reagan at Bitburg (5:39)
6. "A Very Nice Body" (1:00)
7. Navanax (1:40)
8. "How the Pigs' Music Works" (1:49)
9. Xmas Values (5:31)
10. "Dark Water!" (0:23)
11. Amnerika (3:04)
12. "Have You Ever Heard Their Band?" (0:38)
13. Religious Superstition (0:43)
14. "Saliva Can Only Take So Much" (0:28)
15. Buffalo Voice (5:12)
16. "Someplace Else Right Now" (0:33)
17. Get a Life (2:21)
18. "A Kayak (On Snow)" (0:29)
19. N-Lite (18:00)
1. Negative Light
2. Venice Summerged
3. The New World Order
4. The Lifestyle You Deserve
5. Creationism
6. He Is Risen

Disc 2 (57:39)
1. "I Wish Motorhead Would Come Back" (0:14)
2. Secular Humanism (2:41)
3. "Attack! Attack! Attack!" (1:25)
4. I Was In A Drum (3:38)
5. "A Different Octave" (0:58)
6. "This Ain´t CNN" (3:21)
7. "The Pigs´ Music" (1:18)
8. A Pig With Wings (2:52)
9. "Tis Is All Wrong" (1:43)
10. Hot & Putrid (0:29)
11. "Flowing Inside-Out" (0:46)
12. "I Had A Dream About That" (0:28)
13. Gross Man (2:55)
14. "A Tunnel Into Muck" (0:21)
15. Why Not? (2:19)
16. "Put A Little Motor In ´Em" (0:51)
17. You´re Just Insultin´ Me, Aren´t You!" (2:13)
18. "Cold Light Generation" (0:44)
19. Dio Fa (8:19)
20. "That Would Be The End Of That" (0:36)
21. Beat The Reaper (15:23)
22. Waffenspiel (4:05)

Total Time: 113:49

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / composer, conductor, producer, compiler, editor, voice (1967), synclavier
-Spider Barbour / voice (1967)
- All-Night John / voice (1967)
- Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood (a.k.a. Larry Fanoga) / voice (1967)
- Roy Estrada / voice (1967)
- Louis "The Turkey" Cuneo / voice (1967)
- Monica / voice (1967)
- Gilly Townley / voice (1967)
- Unknown Girl #1 / voice (1967)
- Unknown Girl #2 / voice (1967)
- Moon Unit Zappa / voice (1991)
- Michael Rappaport / voice (1991)
- Ali N. Askin / voice (1991)
- Catherine Milliken / voice (1991), oboe, english horn, baritone oboe, didjeridoo (Ensemble Modern)
- Walt Fowler / voice (1991)
- Todd Yvega / voice (1991)
- Michael Svoboda / voice (1991), bass trombone, alp horn, didjeridoo, conch (Ensemble Modern)
- Michael Gross / voice (1991), trumpet, fleugel horn (Ensemble Modern)
- William Formann / voice (1991), trumpet, fleugel horn (Ensemble Modern)
- Uwe Dierksen / voice (1991), trombone, pygmy trombone (Ensemble Modern)
- Stefan Dohr / voice (1991), french horn (Ensemble Modern)
- Daryl Smith / voice (1991), tuba (Ensemble Modern)
- Franck Ollu / voice (1991), french horn (Ensemble Modern)
- Hermann Kretzschmar / voice (1991), piano, celeste (Ensemble Modern)
- Dweezil Zappa / voice (1991)
- Dietmar Weisner / piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute (Ensemble Modern)
- Roland Diry / clarinet (Ensemble Modern)
- Wolfgang Styri / tenor sax, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet (Ensemble Modern)
- Veit Scholz / bassoon, contabassoon (Ensemble Modern)
- Peter Rundel / violin 1 (Ensemble Modern)
- Mathias Tacke / violin 2 (Ensemble Modern)
- Hilary Sturt / viola (Ensemble Modern)
- Friedemann Dähn / cello (Ensemble Modern)
- Thomas Fichter / contrabass, electric bass (Ensemble Modern)
- Detlef Tewes / mandolin (Ensemble Modern)
- Jürgen Ruck / guitar, banjo (Ensemble Modern)
- Ueli Wiget / harp (Ensemble Modern)
- Rumi Ogawa-Helferich / cymbalom, percussion (Ensemble Modern)
- Rainer Römer / musical saw, percussion (Ensemble Modern)
- Andreas Böttger / marimba, percussion (Ensemble Modern)

Releases information

CD Zappa/Barking Pumpkin 56

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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Civilization Phaze 3Civilization Phaze 3
Barking Pumpkin Records 1995
Audio CD$73.39
$40.00 (used)
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FRANK ZAPPA Civilization Phaze III ratings distribution


3.77
(93 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
33%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
27%
Good, but non-essential (27%)
27%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

FRANK ZAPPA Civilization Phaze III reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars Wow , what a fabulous looking object . I bought that second hand two months after it came out so the previous owner probably had not given a second chance , but I can see ( or hear ) why. This is among the most experimental music Zappa has ever made . Most of this stuff was recorded INSIDE a piano (vocals included) and this is downright weird. I shall not tthrow the stone at my predecessor on this CD because I got rid of it two months ago (looking for shelf space) after one last try (the eighth in in ten years). Only for Music Scientist.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#30278) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 03, 2004

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are several Frank Zappas. There's a Zappa who wrote zany rock operas, a Zappa who recorded doo-wop pastiches, a Zappa who played superb jazz-rock, a Zappa who wrote angry protest songs, a Zappa who wrote avant-garde music for orchestras, and several more. Many of Zappa's albums are easy to enjoy the first time you hear them, but CIVILIZATION PHAZE III sounds frightening. I bought it as soon as it came out, and I don't think I've played it five times since then. Nevertheless, it's a kind of masterpiece.

The compositions Zappa wrote and performed on synclavier for this album bear a remarkable resemblance to the work of Olivier Messiaen, one of the greatest 20th century composers. To the average reader they'll sound like random tinkling, but they possess an abstract beauty of their own. The question is how often you'll feel the inclination to listen to them. Messiaen had strong religious beliefs, and his 'tinkling' is meant as a celebration of life − it gets very ecstatic at times. With Zappa, religious belief is missing, and when he constructs a climactic piece ('Beat the Reaper') by combining synclavier with eerie sound effects, the result is deeply pessimistic.

Fortunately, the pessimistic nature of CIVILIZATION PHAZE III is mitigated by Zappa's absurd voice collages, which have a wonderfully comic effect - even though I'm not sure if they were intended that way. Deadpan utterances by Germans ("Telefonkarte. Qualitat und Sicherheit aus einer Hand!"), Italians and even Flemings ("Die spreekt geen normaal taal!") were stapled together, as it were, in a rhapsodic sort of way, but the prize for the craziest contributions goes to Spider Barbour, whose bizarre enunciations had been recorded as long ago as 1967.

Not for the faint-hearted, but essential to all Zappaphiles!

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#126763) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
5 stars If you are just a casual Frank Zappa fan, be warned. This album is not like anything else in his catalog. Sure, it has voices recorded from inside of a piano, like on "Lumpy Gravy", even some voices from that recording session. And there is Synclavier like on "Jazz From Hell". So while there is a tenuous resemblance to those two albums, the music is entirely unique. There is no rock music on the album whatsoever. it is all an acoustic and electronic blend of Zappa's classical music compositional style, with a nod to many of the late master's idols, like Varese, Stravinsky and Messaien.

Despite the lack of traditional structure in every piece, there is an amazing sort of cohesiveness that makes it impossible to stop listening. In this, Zappa proves once and for all that he was one of the musical geniuses of the twentieth century.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#315888) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 12, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is the strangest album I've ever heard in my life. Now, it is true that my tastes, despite the fact that they aren't 100% mainstream, don't trend towards the extremely "out there" or avant-garde, so my observation along these lines should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I'm sure that many musicians have made albums that go beyond the bounds of, um, eccentricity that are set with this album, and that somewhere somebody could name me a dozen albums more "far out" than this one without breaking a mental sweat. Just know that, within the bounds of my collection, this is the strangest album I've ever come across, and it's definitely the strangest Frank Zappa album.

And yes, that means it's stranger than Lumpy Gravy. The thing about Lumpy Gravy's weirdness is that it was so all over the place that, ironically, it became easier to categorize its approach than if it had been more centralized. If this doesn't make sense, imagine, if you will, a crazy homeless person who stands on a street corner speaking all sorts of nonsense to anybody who'll come by and listen. If the person talks about really ridiculous things, then at first the person will seem strange and interesting. If the person then changes topics completely every two minutes or so, though, the effect will subside, and soon the overall reaction will settle on, "Oh, it's just another crazy homeless person." On the other hand, let's say the person, within his insane babblings, actually manages to create something that, at least in some ways, vaguely resembles something with a coherent narrative. In this scenario, your mind would be more likely to keep some focus on all of the insane stuff coming out of the person's mouth, and the effect of the babblings would be much more pointed. Essentially, you would have before you a sensible crazy person, and this would certainly seem to me a much odder and more compelling case than somebody babbling about anything under the sun with no shape or form.

The album is essentially two albums running in parallel to each other. One is relatively straight forward: it consists of a bunch of new classical compositions, mostly programmed into the Synclavier, with Ensemble Modern contributing some performances on the second disc. The second, then, is not so straight forward. It consists of voice recordings from 1967 (the same general set of recordings from which the conversations on Lumpy Gravy were extracted) and 1991, done by people speaking into a recording device inside a piano. The voice recordings, based on cues that Zappa would give from the control room, are rearranged into a story involving people who live inside a piano, have been living inside the piano since forever, discover that there are pigs and ponies living somewhere inside the same piano, and some other various things. The "story" (and it really isn't even that) is complete nonsense (and incredibly bizarre: I really don't think that I can properly relate how strange I think it is), but it's strangely fascinating nonsense, and it's fun to have it pop up repeatedly between the classical recordings. It really drives home to me that the main thing missing from Lumpy Gravy was something resembling a tangible, continuous thread: the thread here may be the strangest idea ever, but at least it exists, and it makes me want to give this at least a little more of a chance than I did LG.

Then there's the music. I'm really not sure how especially different the music on this album is from the bulk of Yellow Shark. Sure, the bulk of it here is from Synclavier instead of from an orchestra, but it seems more or less the same kind of thing that made up YS. And yet, I think the music here works better than did the music on YS, even if I'd be hardpressed to name any tracks that especially stood out to me for any particular reason. One thing that helps here is that there is definitely a common vibe throughout, one that's kinda bleak and dark and post-apocalyptic (probably because of the use of the Synclaiver, which lends itself to a weird "futurist" feel). Mood aside, while there are certainly a few tracks that lose me very quickly, there are also a number of cases where I find myself getting sucked in (and not repelled) by the complexity of what I'm hearing. If there's a better side-by-side comparison than YS and this of weirdness that's compelling and weirdness that's repelling, I haven't heard it.

Now, I really don't think that anybody but Zappa fans would have use for this: most people would roll their eyes at the ridiculousness of the piano people plot, and likewise most people wouldn't be able to handle the complexity of the compositions. And yet, while this isn't necessary for people who aren't Zappa fans, it's probably essential for any serious Zappa fan. It's very out of print (as of writing), and any copies of it will cost you an arm and a leg, but if you're hardcore enough to have bought The Yellow Shark, you're probably hardcore enough for this.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#451288) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The final album completed by Zappa in his lifetime sees him returning to Lumpy Gravy and making a piece which is simultaneously a sequel to, expansion of, and key to unlocking the mysteries of that album. With further extracts of the discussions taking place inside the piano that were interspersed through Lumpy Gravy, plus additional piano talk written later on, and musical interludes produced on the Synclavier, at least some of the mythology contained on the former album is explained, which will thrill those addicted to Zappa's "conceptual continuity", but in terms of a pleasant musical experience I'm afraid I have the same problems with this album as I do with most of Zappa's other heavily Synclavier-based pieces.

Specifically, Zappa is clearly trying to very ambitious things with the Synclavier, and the technology just hasn't caught up with him yet. Sure, you can tell what the instruments are meant to be, more or less, but what you get is still an extremely primitive and dated mimicing of said instruments rather than anything you'd ever mistake for the pieces themselves. And frankly, this results in something which sounds more like a rough draft or a guide track for people trying to reproduce this material with real instruments than something to be listened to in its own right. I'd be very interested to hear anyone attempting to reproduce pieces such as Put a Motor In Yourself with real instruments, but I can't listen to the piece as presented here because it just doesn't feel ready for prime time. (To be absolutely clear: I'm not against synthesisers or think that they aren't "real" instruments. But it's very clear to me that here Zappa is using the Synclavier synthesiser as a stand-in for other instruments - in other words, it's Zappa's compositional approach which treats the Synclavier as a substitute for other instruments as opposed to an instrument in its own right.)

In retrospect, it was probably a good thing for Zappa that he discovered the Synclavier since with it he was able to put out a lot of music which, had he waited to produce it with the instruments it was actually composed for, he might not have been able to accomplish in his lifetime. But the end result is still not an album which I can take any pleasure from listening to.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#614841) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2012

Latest members reviews

5 stars What I seem to find is that most Rock-in-Opposition music is so closely related to 20th Century Classical music. That is what this album is, for want of trying to describe it. This is the last album FZ was working on. In fact, he died before it's completion and release. But this type of musi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1312605) | Posted by TCat | Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow. The best thing I can say about this album is that it should be approached with extreme caution. I bought this not long after it came out, in 1995 or so. I had no idea what it was, and had only heard 3 or 4 Zappa albums up to that point (and only owned two; Hot Rats and Live Roxy). Those ... (read more)

Report this review (#169022) | Posted by infandous | Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm afraid it took about 5 or 6 listens before I learned to love this album. It is very difficult going but if you have some 'conceptual continuity' clues beneath your belt, some knowledge of his earlier works, then persevere. This is an object of strange beauty. A fitting swansong from a true 20 ... (read more)

Report this review (#60513) | Posted by | Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars first off, i know i am going to go over 50 words. sorry. as some of your earlier reviews mentioned, only those listeners to all of fz's music can truly understand what this project was about... this was his last work and he wanted it to stand out and alone from everything before. this is no ... (read more)

Report this review (#53626) | Posted by | Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is Zappa's most serious work, basically his own requiem completed during his last days on earth -- the climax of the second disc being nothing less than Zappa's musical commentary on mortality (his own & everyone else's.) Which is not to say there isn't also humour, politics and everythi ... (read more)

Report this review (#50425) | Posted by | Friday, October 07, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I'd like to say this album is worth getting for the artwork alone (it's really nice), but I just can't. I am a full-fledged Zappaphile and I just can't sit through two discs of random noise like this. Zappa really could have used a good editor from time to time. But he did fight long and ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#30282) | Posted by Custodian | Monday, December 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the last work released by Frank before he died. It's importance can't be overstated, it IS a true MASTERPIECE. It can be seen as the culmination of Zappa the Composer (which is how his real fans understand him). The different sides of Zappa's musical character are all still in here, ... (read more)

Report this review (#30281) | Posted by | Thursday, July 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you're not familiar with the musical language of mid to late 20th century music, i.e. Webern; Boulez, Pendercki, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Varese, etc, this album will probably sound like incomprehensible rubbish to your ears. If, however, you are familiar with and like mid to late 20th century ... (read more)

Report this review (#30280) | Posted by The Mentalist | Wednesday, June 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Forget any pre conceptions you have about Frank Zappa-indeed about music because this is really where the true essence of what Frank was about lies. Read the libretto whilst listening and it will make the strangest of sense. This is art beyond the boundaries of art, it is perfect. It's not Roc ... (read more)

Report this review (#30279) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 04, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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