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FRANK ZAPPA

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Frank Zappa biography
Frank Vincent ZAPPA - December 12, 1940 (Baltimore, USA) / December 4, 1993 (Los Angeles, USA)

When he was 10 years old, he moved to California with his parents. The first instrument he played was the drums. At that time, Frank ZAPPA really liked rhythm and blues music. But in 1954, ZAPPA found a copy of "The Complete Works Of Edgar Varèse, Vol. One". He was fascinated by the 'weird' avant-garde pieces and it was probably also ZAPPA's first encounter with atonal compositions, something that would later reappear in his own music. During high school, he played in several garage bands, but he didn't write rock and roll music himself until his early twenties. He began writing classical music at 18. Some of his early compositions he wrote for the B-films "The World's Greatest Sinner" and "Run Home Slow" (written by his high school English teacher). You can find the theme from "Run Home Slow" on the "The Lost Episodes" and "The Mystery Disc". From 1962 'til 1964, ZAPPA wrote several songs for different bands (You can find those songs on "Cucamonga" and "For Collectors Only"). In 1964 ZAPPA entered THE SOUL GIANTS. He renamed the band THE MOTHERS (which was a subtle abbreviation of 'motherfuckers') and soon after the band caught the attention of producer Tom Wilson. THE MOTHERS were contracted by the Verve-division of MGM and after they had changed their name into THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION (to satisfy some MGM Records executives, who thought the other name was too provocative), they released 'Freak Out!', the second double-album ever (after Bob DYLAN's "Blonde On Blonde") and also what is said to be the first concept album ever. This milestone contained a strange mix of rhythm and blues, satyrical lyrics and avant-garde dissonance. With this first edition of THE MOTHERS, Frank ZAPPA recorded a number of progressive rock masterpieces. All of his records from the sixties are fantastic, except for "Cruising With Ruben & The Jets", which is a satiric tribute to doo-wop music. Worth mentioning is the fabulous "We're Only In It For The Money", on which ZAPPA ridicules the hippie-culture in general, and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" from THE BEATLES in particular. The entire sleeve of "We're Only In It For The Money" is a parody on that record. On August 20, 1969, ZAPPA disbanded THE MOTHERS. The most important members of the early MOTHERS OF INVENTION had been Frank ZAPPA (guitar, vocals, much more) Ray COLLINS (vocals), Jimmy Carl BLACK (the ind...
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FRANK ZAPPA discography


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FRANK ZAPPA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.92 | 693 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out!
1966
4.03 | 568 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Absolutely Free
1967
3.19 | 417 ratings
Lumpy Gravy
1968
4.11 | 706 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money
1968
2.75 | 303 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets
1968
4.04 | 557 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Uncle Meat
1969
4.35 | 1712 ratings
Hot Rats
1969
3.90 | 461 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Burnt Weeny Sandwich
1970
3.77 | 458 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh
1970
3.40 | 364 ratings
Chunga's Revenge
1970
3.06 | 245 ratings
200 Motels
1971
3.93 | 541 ratings
Waka / Jawaka
1972
4.32 | 1035 ratings
The Grand Wazoo
1972
4.00 | 668 ratings
The Mothers of Invention: Over-Nite Sensation
1973
4.03 | 736 ratings
Apostrophe (')
1974
4.30 | 1033 ratings
The Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All
1975
3.72 | 448 ratings
Zoot Allures
1976
3.75 | 298 ratings
Studio Tan
1978
3.62 | 310 ratings
Sleep Dirt
1979
3.88 | 538 ratings
Sheik Yerbouti
1979
4.13 | 566 ratings
Joe's Garage, Act I
1979
3.98 | 450 ratings
Joe's Garage, Acts II & III
1979
3.65 | 304 ratings
You Are What You Is
1981
3.58 | 277 ratings
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
1982
3.16 | 251 ratings
The Man From Utopia
1983
3.12 | 125 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I
1983
3.27 | 207 ratings
Them Or Us
1984
2.40 | 168 ratings
Thing-Fish
1984
2.58 | 144 ratings
Francesco Zappa
1984
3.50 | 135 ratings
Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
1984
3.23 | 157 ratings
Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
1985
3.41 | 245 ratings
Jazz from Hell
1986
2.93 | 96 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II
1987
3.76 | 142 ratings
Civilization Phaze III
1994
3.31 | 97 ratings
The Lost Episodes
1996
3.98 | 206 ratings
Läther
1996
3.13 | 61 ratings
Everything Is Healing Nicely [Aka: EIHN]
1999
2.94 | 56 ratings
Joe's Corsage
2004
1.77 | 59 ratings
Joe's Domage
2004
2.18 | 43 ratings
Joe's XMasage
2005
3.44 | 50 ratings
Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison
2011
2.89 | 37 ratings
Joe's Camouflage
2014
3.95 | 73 ratings
Dance Me This
2015

FRANK ZAPPA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 181 ratings
Fillmore East, June 1971
1971
3.19 | 164 ratings
Just Another Band From L.A.
1972
4.37 | 356 ratings
Roxy & Elsewhere
1974
3.56 | 241 ratings
Bongo Fury
1975
4.23 | 283 ratings
Zappa in New York
1978
3.36 | 169 ratings
Orchestral Favorites
1979
3.10 | 176 ratings
Tinsel Town Rebellion
1981
3.27 | 102 ratings
Baby Snakes
1983
3.59 | 94 ratings
Does Humor Belong In Music?
1986
3.64 | 140 ratings
Broadway The Hard Way
1988
3.38 | 132 ratings
Guitar
1988
4.04 | 138 ratings
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1
1988
4.46 | 224 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2
1988
3.66 | 114 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
1989
3.59 | 103 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4
1991
4.36 | 207 ratings
The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life
1991
4.42 | 157 ratings
Make A Jazz Noise Here
1991
3.76 | 39 ratings
Piquantique - Stockholm 1973
1991
2.42 | 26 ratings
As An Am
1991
3.39 | 27 ratings
The Ark
1991
2.72 | 23 ratings
Freaks & Motherfuckers!
1991
2.43 | 26 ratings
Unmitigated Audacity
1991
2.18 | 27 ratings
Anyway The Wind Blows
1991
2.83 | 25 ratings
'Tis The Season To Be Jelly
1991
2.42 | 24 ratings
Saarbrucken 1978
1991
1.52 | 18 ratings
At The Circus
1992
1.96 | 17 ratings
Conceptual Continuity
1992
2.84 | 53 ratings
Playground Psychotics
1992
3.68 | 91 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
1992
3.88 | 90 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 6
1992
2.35 | 19 ratings
Disconnected Synapses
1992
3.04 | 19 ratings
Electric Aunt Jemima
1992
3.15 | 15 ratings
Our Man In Nirvana
1992
3.61 | 16 ratings
Swiss Cheese / Fire!
1992
2.38 | 15 ratings
Tengo Na Minchia Tanta
1992
3.88 | 136 ratings
The Yellow Shark
1993
3.25 | 85 ratings
Ahead Of Their Time
1993
3.93 | 62 ratings
FZ:OZ
2002
3.60 | 39 ratings
Halloween (DVD-Audio)
2003
3.90 | 74 ratings
Imaginary Diseases
2006
3.51 | 70 ratings
Trance-Fusion
2006
4.15 | 67 ratings
Buffalo
2007
4.16 | 79 ratings
Wazoo
2007
3.66 | 49 ratings
The Dub Room Special!
2007
3.63 | 45 ratings
One Shot Deal
2008
3.18 | 32 ratings
Joe's Menage
2008
4.20 | 55 ratings
Philly '76
2009
4.33 | 68 ratings
Hammersmith Odeon
2010
3.84 | 38 ratings
Carnegie Hall
2011
3.16 | 41 ratings
Finer Moments
2012
3.39 | 38 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #1
2012
4.35 | 54 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #2
2013
4.57 | 37 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2013
4.54 | 49 ratings
Roxy By Proxy
2014
4.57 | 14 ratings
Roxy: The Sountrack
2015
3.50 | 8 ratings
200 Motels The Suites
2015
2.36 | 14 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #3
2016
3.08 | 7 ratings
Little Dots
2016
3.75 | 12 ratings
Chicago '78
2016
4.21 | 15 ratings
Halloween 77
2017
4.61 | 18 ratings
The Roxy Performances
2018
3.29 | 5 ratings
Halloween 73
2019
5.00 | 1 ratings
Halloween 81 - Live at The Palladium, New York City
2020
4.00 | 2 ratings
Zappa '88: The Last U.S. Show
2021

FRANK ZAPPA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.86 | 60 ratings
200 Motels (The Movie)
1971
3.38 | 26 ratings
Uncle Meat (Video)
1988
2.78 | 64 ratings
Does Humor Belong In Music?
2003
4.10 | 81 ratings
Baby Snakes
2003
4.19 | 33 ratings
QuAUDIOPHILIAc (DVD-Audio)
2004
4.04 | 48 ratings
The Dub Room Special!
2005
4.04 | 24 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2005
4.17 | 44 ratings
Apostrophe (') Over-Nite Sensation
2007
4.57 | 47 ratings
Zappa In Barcelona
2007
3.33 | 9 ratings
Tratto dal filmato 'A Token Of His Extreme'
2007
4.16 | 24 ratings
The Torture Never Stops
2008
3.14 | 7 ratings
Live In Paris 1980
2008
3.21 | 10 ratings
Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention: In the 1960's
2009
4.10 | 21 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2013
4.55 | 28 ratings
Roxy: The Movie
2015
5.00 | 1 ratings
Zappa
2021

FRANK ZAPPA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.73 | 41 ratings
Mothermania: The Best Of The Mothers
1969
2.00 | 3 ratings
Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
1975
3.73 | 64 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar
1981
4.13 | 57 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar Some More
1981
3.89 | 49 ratings
Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar
1981
3.84 | 114 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar (The Box Set)
1982
3.88 | 8 ratings
The Old Masters, Box One
1985
2.90 | 20 ratings
We're Only In It For The Money / Lumpy Gravy
1985
3.67 | 6 ratings
The Old Masters, Box Two
1986
3.50 | 7 ratings
The Old Masters, Box Three
1987
3.66 | 132 ratings
Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III
1987
4.08 | 24 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Sampler
1988
4.09 | 11 ratings
Beat The Boots 1
1991
2.00 | 2 ratings
Cucamonga Years - The Early Works of Frank Zappa (1962-1964)
1991
4.00 | 9 ratings
Beat The Boots 2
1992
3.30 | 46 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II
1995
3.24 | 57 ratings
Strictly Commercial
1995
3.74 | 34 ratings
Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute
1996
4.15 | 27 ratings
Strictly Genteel
1997
3.24 | 33 ratings
Have I Offended Someone?
1997
2.92 | 46 ratings
Cheap Thrills
1998
2.04 | 55 ratings
The Mystery Disc
1998
2.11 | 18 ratings
Cucamonga (1962 - 1964)
1998
2.96 | 29 ratings
Son Of Cheep Thrills
1999
4.54 | 11 ratings
Zappa Picks - By Larry LaLonde Of Primus
2002
3.94 | 10 ratings
Zappa Picks - By Jonathan Fishman Of Phish
2002
4.73 | 18 ratings
Threesome No. 1
2002
4.53 | 18 ratings
Threesome No. 2
2002
2.67 | 9 ratings
For Collectors Only
2003
2.83 | 20 ratings
The Best of Frank Zappa
2004
3.40 | 37 ratings
The Making Of Freak Out! Project/Object
2006
2.95 | 2 ratings
The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAA Birthday Bundle
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
Beat the Boots III
2009
3.60 | 23 ratings
The Lumpy Money Project/Object
2009
3.13 | 22 ratings
Greasy Love Songs
2010
3.93 | 14 ratings
Understanding America
2012
4.50 | 2 ratings
ZAPPAtite (Frank Zappa's Tastiest Tracks)
2016
3.87 | 11 ratings
The Crux Of The Biscuit
2016
3.88 | 11 ratings
Frank Zappa For President
2016
4.67 | 6 ratings
Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object Audio Documentary
2016
2.98 | 5 ratings
The Guitar World According to Frank Zappa
2019
4.75 | 4 ratings
Zappa in New York (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
2019
4.83 | 6 ratings
Orchestral Favorites (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
2019
0.00 | 0 ratings
Under the Covers (The Songs He Didn't Write)
2019
4.24 | 10 ratings
The Hot Rats Sessions
2019
3.00 | 1 ratings
Zappa (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Deluxe)
2020

FRANK ZAPPA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 10 ratings
How Could I Be Such a Fool?
1966
4.46 | 13 ratings
Trouble Comin' Every Day
1966
3.91 | 11 ratings
It Can't Happen Here
1966
3.73 | 13 ratings
Big Leg Emma
1967
4.22 | 9 ratings
My Guitar
1969
3.65 | 28 ratings
Peaches en Regalia
1970
3.40 | 10 ratings
Tell Me You Love Me
1970
4.00 | 8 ratings
WPLJ
1970
3.67 | 3 ratings
Tears Began To Fall
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Magic Fingers
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?
1972
4.20 | 10 ratings
Cletus Awreetus - Awrightus
1972
3.24 | 13 ratings
Montana
1973
2.87 | 14 ratings
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
1974
4.00 | 4 ratings
Cosmik Debris
1974
5.00 | 2 ratings
Du Bist Mein Sofa
1975
3.14 | 7 ratings
Find Her Finer
1976
3.75 | 4 ratings
Disco Boy
1976
4.00 | 15 ratings
Bobby Brown
1979
4.23 | 13 ratings
Joe's Garage
1979
3.38 | 13 ratings
Dancin Fool
1979
3.46 | 17 ratings
I Don't Wanna Get Drafted 12''
1980
3.71 | 7 ratings
Stick It Out
1980
3.80 | 5 ratings
Goblin Girl (picture)
1981
2.91 | 15 ratings
Valley Girl
1981
4.00 | 1 ratings
Love Of My Life
1981
4.00 | 4 ratings
Harder Than Your Husband
1981
5.00 | 2 ratings
Cocaine Decisions
1983
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou
1983
2.60 | 5 ratings
Rare Meat - Early Productions Of Frank Zappa 12''
1983
3.40 | 5 ratings
Baby Take Your Teeth Out
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
True Glove
1984
4.67 | 15 ratings
Peaches En Regalia (longpack)
1987
4.50 | 12 ratings
Montana (Whipping Floss)
1988
4.67 | 9 ratings
Zomby Woof
1988
3.23 | 12 ratings
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
1988
2.09 | 3 ratings
You Can't Do That On the Radio Anymore
1990
3.08 | 9 ratings
Stairway To Heaven 12''
1991
3.91 | 3 ratings
Clean American Version
1995
3.87 | 4 ratings
Kill Ugly Radio Some More
1995
3.67 | 3 ratings
Kill Ugly Radio
1995
3.33 | 3 ratings
Return Of The Son Of Kill Ugly Radio
1995
4.50 | 6 ratings
Zomby Woof (longpack)
1998
2.33 | 3 ratings
Penguin in Bondage/The little known story of the Mothers of Invention
2011
5.00 | 1 ratings
I'm The Slime
2013
5.00 | 1 ratings
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow / Down In De Dew
2014
2.00 | 2 ratings
200 Motels Overture
2015

FRANK ZAPPA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Road Tapes - Venue #2 by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 2013
4.35 | 54 ratings

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Road Tapes - Venue #2
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. What is it with these live Zappa shows from Finland? When I first spent some time with "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2" from Finland I was convinced it was the best live Zappa record I had heard. Well that was recorded in September of 1974 while "Road Tapes- Venue #2" was recorded in Finland in August of 1973. So this is a year earlier and we have seven musicians compared to five on the second trip. We get nine tracks I believe that are on both recordings and a very similar lineup. For me Frank's banter with the audience on both recordings are some of his absolute best. He seemed to have a soft spot for this nation and he sure spent a lot of time conversing with them.

The intro track which is literally the stage introduction is over 5 minutes long because Frank gets each musician to give the audience a taste of the instrument or instruments they play. He doesn't leave anything out! It's great! Hearing George Duke hit us with clavinet or Ian Underwood hitting us with bass clarinet followed by synths at Frank's prompting. As far as the tunes go it's one killer tune after another really. How about an almost 23 minute version of "Father O'Blivion" on disc two. Anyway these two live recordings from Finland seem to rise to the top for me when it comes to live Zappa. Highly recommended!

 Imaginary Diseases by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 2006
3.90 | 74 ratings

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Imaginary Diseases
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. This is an archival release from 2006 of live music that Zappa did in the Fall of 1972 into December calling the tour "The Petit Wazoo Tour". This is the first recordings of that tour released to the public making a lot of Zappa fans very happy in 2006. This tour followed the larger one they did previous called "The Grand Wazoo Tour" with a bigger band and more. Here we have a ten piece and half play horns while another adds woodwinds. I only recognize Frank's name here.

As others have said this comes across as collection of jams and while the horns don't do a lot for me most of the time especially when they blast away, I find Frank's guitar work really engaging. Like his style on my favourite track "D.C. Boogie". That first 5 1/2 minutes are my favourite on this record and Frank's style has a lot to do with that. It does change after that though so I'm not completely sold on this one. The opener is experimental with audience participation. "Rollo"is one I've heard before and horns blast away here. "Been To Kansas City In A Minor" is pretty good with the horns and guitar soloing much of the time. Frank says "thankyou" a couple of times when it ends. Zappa announces the next track "Farther O'Blivion" with a Tango in the middle of it". At 16 minutes it's the longest. A 3 minute drum solo late. Not big on the closer "Montreal" but the title track is good with those punchy sounds including horns. By the way Frank asks the audience how they want "D.C. Boogie" to end and goes by their applause for each choice of Boogie, Ballad, Marching, Polka or Dog Food Jingle they chose the first one obviously. My rating is for the music and not how significant this release is.

 Hot Rats by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.35 | 1712 ratings

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Hot Rats
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Released in 1969, Hot Rats is one of Frank Zappa's most famous early period albums. An almost entirely instrumental album, Dadaist, with zany titles, and sounds often bordering on farce. A great revelry where the high register is always together with the low register, and Zappa's irreverent fury is expressed in long and quite well elaborated compositions, which move between rock and jazz and blues. In reality, there is little of progressive, at least, as it was thought at the time: in 1969 it was progressive In The Court Of ... by KC, certainly not this contemporary of his, which at most was considered jazz-rock.

The first song is a catchy rockblues, with circus sounds, easy to listen, 1. Peaches en Regalia (3:39) rating 7.5 / 8.

The second song completely changes mood thanks to the raucous voice of Captain Beefheart and the electric violin of Sugarcane Harris, here we are more on an improvised blues. It's a jam-blues masterpiece, similar to what Blind Faith did the same year, great work on Zappa's guitar. We are the antipodes of prog: it is an improvised jam 2. Willie the Pimp (9:23). Rated 8+

The fourth song starts with a strangely pompous beginning for Zappa, but always attenuated by the noisy disorder, we are at the variation on the theme that dominates everywhere, with a music that combines jazz with the sound of a village band, the result is always high, however. 3. Son of Mr. Green Genes (8:57) Rated 8.5

The second side opens with a short passage 4. Little Umbrellas (3:09) Rated 7,5 which seems to resume the previous one but here we have the multi-instrumentalist Undewood who begins to take over, however a nice song that, like the first of the first side, amuses with its catchiness.

5. The Gumbo Variations (12:54) we are in the border area between free-jazz and fiatistic blues at the Colosseum. Again, as the name implies, this is a constant variation, it is music for jazz listeners, and at best of jam blues, not prog rock listeners. A prog lover would define a 13-minute piece as a suite, but here it is only improvisation, there is no work on the musical score, on the composition. Underwood is the leader.

6. It Must Be a Camel (5:17) Final with a hybrid track, the least classifiable on the album. Rated 8.

This album, far removed from prog rock, is a small masterpiece, very compact in sound and setting, producing a farcical jazz-rock hybrid combined with easy-listening but very ambitious small town band music. It is high-level improvisation, which stimulates the senses (but not the heart), manages not to be difficult, but has the limit of the improvisation.

Rating 9. Small masterpiece. Five stars.

 I Don't Wanna Get Drafted 12'' by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.46 | 17 ratings

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I Don't Wanna Get Drafted 12''
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars This single contains two non-album releases and was released in 1980. It is claimed that the A-side "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted" is the same as the track called "Drafted Again" on the album "You Are What You Is", but this single is quite a bit different from that. It is a novelty song that is somewhat funny, but it is also an anti-war sort of a track done with tongue- in-cheek humor. It features mostly the same line up that was around at that same time. It's upbeat and fun, but it's all about the vocals more than anything, of course.

The B-side is a guitar solo taken from the Halloween show at The Palladium in NYC in 1978. This is actually an edited version (4:10) of the same performance on the "Halloween" DVD (which has a duration of 8:23. You get a pretty good idea at the slow but blistering guitar solo that Zappa belted out, and if you have no other albums of Zappa's guitar solos, then this one is a pretty good introduction to his guitar work. The "AAA-FMR-AAA Birthday Bundle" from 2008 apparently has this edited version on it, so it is available elsewhere, but the availability of the birthday bundle is questionable.

The tracks are pretty good, and it is definitely a single you'll want to pick up if you find it, especially if you are a collector. But, overall, you'd probably have more luck finding the "Lost Episodes" version of the A-side (which is pretty close, but not quite the same as the single) and finding the "Halloween" DVD (which is also available as a CD) for the B-side which has a more complete version of the track. But, this single is a bit rare, so pick it up if you see it for a good price.

 The Hot Rats Sessions by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.24 | 10 ratings

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The Hot Rats Sessions
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars As is the case with these immersive box sets, it is always best to weigh whether it is worth it to pay a high price for the set and that goes for any artist that are know to release them. Frank Zappa's estate has been finding out that his fans are happy to pay out the big bucks to get any music that has been previously unreleased by the man since there are always big surprises even in his session tapes, music that Zappa himself never thought anyone would pay money for. But, when you get a valuable and intriguing box set such as this one, based on recording sessions for what is arguably one of his strongest and best albums, it is hard to go wrong. And such is the case with this set.

Yes it helps to be familiar with the music on the "Hot Rats" album as diving into these tracks makes a lot more sense when you already know the music. The "Hot Rats" album consisted of only 6 tracks with only one of them having any vocals which (for those that don't know) are done by guest vocalist Captain Beefheart on the track "Willie the Pimp". One of the things you'll notice about this box set is the fact that, for those that already know the names of the tracks on the original album, there are several other tracks that you won't recognize. That is because there is a lot of previously unreleased music on this box set that was done on these sessions. So, not only do you get a deeply immersive dive into the making of the tracks you are familiar with, which of itself is made up of long jams with music you haven't heard before, but you get other "not so familiar" tracks with it done during those same sessions. Many of these unknown tracks were used in later recordings, however.

I'll try to breeze through this quickly though, and talk about the music that you are not going to be so familiar with just by the titles used here. The set starts off with two piano solo tracks. The first was the short piano sections used for the track "Little House I Used to Live In" from the album "Burnt Weeny Sandwich". The 2nd is a little bit longer and starts off with an unheard piano rendition of the intro to "Peaches en Regalia", but most of it is made up of the piano parts of "Aybe Sea" also from "Burnt Weeny Sandwich". After this, there are several different In Session and Master Tracking sessions of "Peaches en Regalia", taken apart into sections. The most interesting thing about these tracks are the two "Peaches Jam" tracks where only small bits of these jams were used for the track on the original album, so there is a lot of new music here based on the Peaches track. "Arabesque" also shows up on this box set quite often. This particular song, recorded during these sessions, is mostly all new except for the first minute of the finished track which was used for "Toads of the Short Forest" on the album "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". Finally, the first disc ends with an in session recording of a track called "Dame Margret's Son to Be A Bride", and this also ends up in various stages and mixes to follow on this box set. This music would end up becoming the track "Lemme Take You To The Beach" from the "Studio Tan" album in a more abbreviated form.

On Disc 2, after some in session and master take sessions of the track "It Must Be a Camel", you'll notice another unknown title called "Natasha". This was the working title originally for "Little Umbrellas" and here you can listen to it in it's early stages. Then this is followed by another unfamiliar title, "Bognor Regis" which is actually an outtake that wasn't used on the album. Instead, it was used later as a b-side to the song "Sharleena" and is quite unknown. It is an excellent track that fits in quite well with the rest of the music on the original album and is probably one of the things to get the most excited about on the album. It appears is various stages like most of the other music in the box set. Even if you had the b-side the length was a paltry 4 minutes plus change. The unedited master version of this track is over 10 minutes of prime Zappa instrumental fusion. After that there are 4 versions of "Willie the Pimp" in different recording stages, none of them with vocals yet.

For Disc 3, there are now 6 tracks with the title of "Transistion". This would later become known as "Twenty Small Cigars" from "Chunga's Revenge". However, the 6 tracks feature 3 separate sections of this track which is also 3 times longer than the version used on that future album. Then there is an unedited version of a track kjnown as "Lil' Clanton Shuffle" which Zappa afficianados will recognize from the compilation "Lost Episodes", but in a much trimmed down version from this one. "Directly from My Heart to You" was later used for "Weasels Ripped My Flesh", but once again, this is a longer version and also unedited, and the vocals are also here, the first vocals you'll hear on this box set. Finally, for this disc, there is a track "Another Waltz", which is another long jam. Some of this jam was used in part of the center section of "Little House I Used to Live In" from "Burnt Weeny Sandwich". So, Disc 3 has quite a bit of unheard material on it.

Disc 4 features a lot of tracks already touched on up to this point, but in further stages of development. The disc features a lot of unused jam sessions which includes the track "Big Legs", a 32-minute jam which provided a lot of the material used in "The Gumbo Variations" on the original album. Even the extended version released in 1990 only had close to 17 minutes, so a lot of this jam will be unheard of by most people. Disc 5 is the full "Hot Rats" album in it's finished state, but in the 1987 digital version for the best sound. However, the disc doesn't stop there as there are the single mono versions of "Peaches en Regalia" and "Little Umbrellas" plus some radio promos and a different mix of "Lil' Clanton Shuffle". Disc 6 continues in this same vein with more finished sounding tracks, and also different mixes.

For me, this box set is an essential piece of my Frank Zappa collection. It's great because there is a lot of unreleased material here and the entire box set sound amazing even with the in session takes. Some of the mixes and takes are quite good even in their unfinished states. Plus, all of the extra music on here is priceless. I have to say that it would be tough to listen to it all in one sitting, but as far as just putting one of the records on to listen through is quite enjoyable. For that reason, I can easily rate this as a four star collection. But, I think it makes it's best impact on the listener that is already acquainted with the original album. It's a collection I'm proud to own.

 Hot Rats by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.35 | 1712 ratings

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Hot Rats
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lieutenant_Lan

5 stars Hot Rats by Frank Zappa is Zappa's second solo album, the album released in October of 1969. Hot Rats is a mostly instrumental album, The only song with lyrics on it is Willie the Pimp which features Captain Beefheart on vocals, and he delivers a fun and comedic performance that I can appreciate. The rest of the album shows great instrumentation from everyone else involved. The music has a lot of jazzy sections and it works really well with the rocky foundation. I will give this a 5/5 because its great throughout, but whether or not its essential is debatable because I am sure a lot of people who would prefer there be lyrics, but for me, its not essential.
 The Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.75 | 303 ratings

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The Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars The year 1968 was a pivotal year in American history as the USA was shaken to its core with assassinations, riots and political scandals but on the positive side the world got three albums in this calendar year from FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION! That's right, FZ & his boyz in this year began releasing at least two albums a year with a whopping three coming out in 1968. This came about from what was a project called "No Commercial Potential" which produced enough material for four albums. The first released was "Lumpy Gravy" which technically emerged in 67 but for most it was delayed until early 68 followed by "We're Only In It For The Money" followed by this experimental pop and doo-wop soaked release CRUISING WITH RUBEN & THE JETS. The fourth, "Uncle Meat" wouldn't come out until 1969.

While the other three albums were exercises in avant-guard experimentalism laced with political protest and societal satire, CRUISING WITH RUBEN & THE JETS was the oddball of the pack and looked back to the previous decade and served more as a tribute album to the R&B, soul and doo-wop sounds that kept malt shops in America the coolest hippest places of the era. Believe it or not, this album is a concept album that deals with a fictitious Chicano doo-wop band called, you guessed it - RUBEN & THE JETS! However if you're like me you own this and have it sit and the shelf and haven't listened to it enough to figure that out! Inspired by artists like the Four Aces, the Four Freshmen, Frankie Lane, Frank Sinatra and Jesse Baldwin, this is one of those albums that an artist just has to get out of his system before he can move on. Thank the creator that mr ZAPPA did!

After several experimental albums steeped with irreverence towards social norms and pretentious fads, this one seems woefully out of place in the MOTHERS canon as it is the most normal rated G album of the entire ZAPPA universe! There are no digs at power structures, no calling out phony baloney societal nonsense and no freaky sound experiments. None! This is on the other hand a fairly faithful representation of the malt shop music of ZAPPA's youth and honestly not a very good one at that. Ironically radio stations picked up on this one as some sort of long lost doo-wop classic that somehow got overlooked during the 50s and many of the tracks received steady airplay although they were actually referred to as being performed by RUBEN & THE JETS instead of the MOTHERS themselves. ZAPPA sure had a way of playing practical jokes in ways even he couldn't have anticipated!

What we get on this one is basically 13 tracks of doo-wop and 50s soul and R&B with authentic themes and even more convincing sounds however everything is just too faithful to really be of any interest. Another interesting fact is that four years later ZAPPA gave permission for Ruben Guevara to use the name RUBEN & THE JETS for a real band who released two albums. Honestly, if i want to listen to 50s music which i actually do love, i'd rather go straight to the source than hearing THE MOTHERS do a decent but rather unflattering attempt at recreating it. There is nothing inherently bad about this album but seriously if i'm in the mood to hear malt shop music than i'll throw on some Coasters, Flamingos or perhaps Frankie Valli! Grease is the word ya know ;)

 The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.11 | 706 ratings

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The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Despite England's stranglehold on rock music after the highbrow sophisticating effects of The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and a million other worthy acts, the USA can proudly boast FRANK ZAPPA who together with THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION single-handedly outwitted pretty much every single artist tucked away under the rock music paradigm. Emerging from nowhere with the slap in the face 1966 debut "Freak Out!," these wild guys were always 50 steps ahead of the contemporary scene and transmogrified their disdain towards the shameless sheepish compliance to corporate demands into some of the highest intellectual stimulation where parody, experimental rock, psychedelia, doo-wop and music concrète performed unthinkable acts of defiance.

While The Beatles officially launched the art rock scene at least to the masses with its groundbreaking "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" designed to appeal to the largest swath of the public as possible, ZAPPA and the boyz took a completely different direction by taking on the man with a never-ending stream of iconoclastic middle fingers to both establishment lackeys as well as drug-induced drop outs who naively relinquished their own powers for the sake of a pretty flower power party. The year 1968 also began ZAPPA's prolific release of multiple albums per year fueled by a project called "No Commercial Potential" which produced the albums "Uncle Meat," "Lumpy Gravy," "Cruising With Ruben & The Jets" and this third and best gem of 1968, WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY.

Originally released with the goofy drag show album cover with the yellow background, ZAPPA quickly realized that the album could be the ultimate spoof of The Beatles' 1967 art rock project and soon the original March 4, 1968 cover art would be attempted to be replaced by the more familiar "Sgt Pepper's" parody cover but it was rejected which only fueled ZAPPA's contempt for the music biz and the parody cover would have to live on as interior artwork for a while at least. Thematically WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY took shots at both right wing and left wing extremists who simply follow their respective cult leaders as opposed to stepping back and looking at the larger picture. The album excelled at lampooning the culture of shallow superficial phoniness as well as law enforcement harassment that prevented the band from performing on the West Coast which forced a relocation to New York.

To say WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY was a strange beast is an understatement. Even by today's standards some 50 years after its release, it STILL sounds as fresh and relevant as it was when it emerged. While THE MOTHERS had successfully forged their unique wackiness on the previous releases, WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY is where it all came together in a glistening glob of sheer genius where every aspect of the juxtaposing musical ideas gelled perfectly in the context of spitting in the face of a soulless culture run amok. This album flows perfectly from the freakily bizarre opening "Are You Hung Up?" and the following psychedelic rock satire "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" to the patter song "Let's Make the Water Turn Black," the doo-wop comedy act of "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?" all the way to the closing avant-garde mystique concrète fueled "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny."

With eight members in THE MOTHERS proper along with ten other guest cast members, WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY comes off more as a sophisticated sonic mind trip than anything else and is part music, part comedy, part experimental noise and 100% irreverence. While this album was only one of three released in 1968, it is by far the best and only the beginning of the all-encompassing masterpieces that threw in a million disparate ideas and crafted some of the most sophisticated musical experiences within the context of rock music. When listening to the molten madness so perfectly executed on WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, it's not that difficult to understand why FRANK ZAPPA is considered one of the greatest musical geniuses of the entire 20th century. I, for one, will not even begin to refute that because it's so very, very true.

 The Man From Utopia by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.16 | 251 ratings

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The Man From Utopia
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Deatheagle

3 stars This album came out the year I was born. I got into Zappa when I was about 14 or so, but this is an album I always passed up at the cd stores of my youth, and only recently really sat down and listened to. I've heard that this is one of Zappa's least recommended and liked albums among fans of his work. Now I haven't heard every single Zappa album, yet, but what I can firmly state is that this is a good album, if a bit disconnected in the sum of it's parts. The album is host to straight up rock songs, little musical ditties you can tap your foot to, and some strange experiments with spoken word and musical accompaniment. There's a little bit of everything, minus orchestral music, from Zappa's musical sensibility. Over all the album is pretty easy listening, other than some of the lyrical content; and specifically, the tracks The Dangerous Kitchen, The Radio Is Broken, and The Jazz Discharge Party Hats, which are the strange vocal/music songs I spoke of previously. While the playing on these three tracks is, as always, superb; the vocals are actually a bit irritating, being sung in very silly tones of voices, as was common with Zappa; or sung in a very strange speaking manner where all of the words seem to flow together in an almost drunkish sort of way, which was unique to those two tracks, TDK and TJDPH. Usually this doesn't bother me in his work, but these three tracks in particular were, well, a little bit annoying to listen to, if not funny at the same time. The album has a couple of live tracks with overdubbing, but is mostly pristine, almost sterile sounding in its production. Let's get into the songs a little bit more though.

The album starts with the track Cocaine Decisions. It's a fun sounding track with a very un-fun subject. It's about cocaine using business men who are kind of skeezy people, who according to Zappa, control our lives and are completely out of touch with the despair they bring about in the lives of their fellow humans. The music is very fun though, almost pretty at times with the piano sprinkles throughout. Overall, I enjoy this song, even though its a bit depressing. Doesn't make me want cocaine, that's for sure.

Track two is another fun song with some lyrical undertones to it as well, SEX. It seems that Zappa views sex as just another part of life, and urges the listener to accept it in their own lives, even if they are religious or otherwise frigid. The music is straight up rock, with a reggea-ish chorus. A funny song with a strong message underneath, albeit conveyed in kind of a silly way; Zappa's specialty. A good, funny song. I wonder if this is where the phrase "the bigger the cushion, the better the pushin' originated from.

This is the track Tink Walks Amok. I don't know what the title references, but it is an interesting track built around the bass guitar. It's a good instrumental track, and easy to bob your head to, even as progressive as the plying on it is. It almost sounds like 80's era King Crimson at times. Another good track.

Now here's where things get a little weird, with The Radio is Broken. The playing is frenetic and all over the place in this song, and the vocals, part spoken, part sung, are in the forefront. It's a story about someone at the movies, and the movie is described in detail. It has breaks with a little musical breakdown of a repeating phrase, then goes back into the vocals. Zappa can be heard trying not to break out into all out laughter on this track, so they obviously had fun making it. The thing is, the vocals are so overdone and silly, that it's a bit hard to listen to, at first at least. The song is not very melodic at all. He also says the phrase "space war" which to me seems like a reference to Star Wars, which was hugely popular back in the early 80's, maybe more so than it is even now. It has some silly sex jokes about alien women reproducing with Earth men, Zappa always being one to bring up strange sexual things in his music. Overall the music is very disjointed and the vocals are way out there, rendering this track just a little bit irritating to listen to. Not a favorite of mine.

The next track is a return to form, the fabulous We Are Not Alone. It is driven by a saxophone part that is pretty groovy, and an upbeat tempo. It has an almost "Mexican" feel to it to me for some reason. I don't know maybe not Mexican, but certainly a little exotic. Its a really fun track and is easy listening. Some people might not believe this is Zappa if you told them because its so toothless as compared to most of his music. I like it. Great, tight playing on this track.

Now back to the weirdness. Out of the three spoken word tracks, this is the least offensive to the ears. This is one of two songs where the guitar was overdubbed to perfectly match every syllable of the spoken word lyrics, done by Steve Vai. The lyrics are basically just describing a very dirty kitchen. I have seen kitchens like this, and it really is this unpleasant. Overall the song is just a silly little ramble about some gross stuff, and doesn't really have any redeeming qualities other than it isn't totally offensive to the listener with its music. Its alright.

The next song is a cover of a couple of songs from the 50's, The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou. Its a fun song that harkens back to Cruising With Ruben and The Jets, though much more musically embellished. I love the chorus of the Mary Lou section where he says she stole his watch and chain, etc. A really fun song with some great playing and singing. Really enjoy this one a lot.

Next we the track Stick Together, a reggae vamp that stays the same pretty much throughout musically, and is an attack on workers unions, which Frank seemed to be a little paranoid about. He was paranoid about any institution really, so this isn't a big surprise. While this version is good, the version on YCDTOSA Vol. 4 is better, in my opinion. It's another fun sounding track with a darker, though hopeful, message. A good track.

Next we have The Jazz Discharge Party Hats. This song is disgusting, even for someone who grew up on South Park. It's another track where Steve Vai mimics the spoken word of Frank. It's very similar to The Dangerous Kitchen, but the subject matter makes it a lot less listenable. It's about band members sniffing girl's underwear and wearing it as party hats, and the way it describes the underwear is really gross. This is the worst of the three spoken word tracks from this album, but I guess Frank thought we could take it if we made it this far into the album. I really don't like this "song". Its gross and unpleasant to listen to musically. Zappa was always experimenting, and while most of the time it was interesting, in this case it falls a bit flat.

The next track is Luigi and the Wise Guys. This is a song that is done acapella in a doo wop style. It's serviceable, but nothing great. It has very high pitched falestto vocals by Roy Estrada. He did this in a lot of Zappa's music, but here is it so overdone that I can't even understand what he is saying, and don't care to look up the lyrics honestly, as the track just isn't that compelling for me personally. This song is just alright in my book.

The final track is the song Moggio, an instrumental that sounds a lot like Zappa's mid 70's output; like it could have been on Lather or the Roxy albums. The track is led by the xylophone, and navigates through some tough musical waters, as Zappa was known to employ. Overall its a good track, some might even say great. For me it's ok, but nothing I would listen to over and over again. A good track, if a bit all over the place.

In conclusion, this album has some really good stuff, and some really bad stuff; but I would say that the good of the album ALMOST makes up for the bad. I wouldn't call this one of his worst albums, like I would Orchestral Favorites. While challenging in places, its well worth a good listen, and some of the tracks are definitely worth returning to. I give this album a 3 out of 5.

Note: this review is based off of the version on the Frank Zappa youtube page. Track listing may vary from version to version, so if the track listing order doesn't make sense to you, that is why.

 Halloween (DVD-Audio) by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 2003
3.60 | 39 ratings

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Halloween (DVD-Audio)
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars This Halloween performance was released posthumously in 2003 from a series of shows done at The Palladium in New York City from October 27-31, 1978. The performances on this album were taken from various tapes in Zappa's files and were selected for the album by Dweezil and Joe Travers. They picked out what they figured would reflect an actual show, though it's only a total of 70 minutes, thus much shorter than a typical show. The line up of tracks are mostly things that you have heard from so many other live Zappa albums out there, but the sound and the crowds seem to be having a great time.

After a lead-in track featuring the sounds of the NYC Audience, the album begins with "Ancient Armaments". At the time of this release, this was a track that was rarely heard. However, this particular version is the complete version which had previously been heard on the very rare single "I Don't Want to Get Drafted" as the b-side. That version was cut up quite a bit to cut out the chatter with the crowd, so this one retains all of the fun of a Zappa show as he converses with the audience. This is followed by a so-so performance of Dancin' Fool, performed here before the actual release on "Sheik Yerbouti", so the song was actually fine tuned for that album, this is a "raw-er" version of that track, and thus it suffers a bit especially if you are used to the "Sheik" version. The video to this track is offered as a "bonus" under the "Tricks or Treats" section of the album package. The best part about this performance is the specific chatter Zappa has with audience members that he brings on stage.

The tracks continue with another often heard song "Easy Meat", originally from the "Tinseltown Rebellion" album. Again, this is a fairly weak performance until Zappa's extended guitar solo blasts into it bringing it to life. Next up is "Magic Fingers" from "200 Motels". This performance is one that isn't heard as often, and even tends to bring the Mothers feel into it even with Frank, Denny Walley and Tommy Mars doing the vocals in the same spirit as Flo and Eddie would. The crowd goes wild when the ultra-famous "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" comes in. Why it was decided to leave off the rest of the suite is the question, as this song by itself ends up becoming a basic novelty song, and the performance is definitely not the best when this song is presented without the rest of the suite.

"Conehead", a track that was later added to the studio album "You Are What You Is", was another favorite of the time because of the SNL act from back in the day. The repeating of the word "Remulak" gets rather boring until Zappa gives the cue to guest violinist L. Shankar to give a solo, making this the only thing really interesting about the track. This follows into a drum "sola" called "Zeets" which is unique only to this album. This is performed by Vinnie Colaiuta who was fairly new to the Zappa band at the time, and he gets to show why he was selected by Zappa with a great performance.

What follows now is pretty much a typical line-up from many a live album from Frank, and while it may appeal to the new listener or to the hard-core Zappa-phile that has to collect everything, you've heard it all before, except for the interesting repartee with the audience. There's "Stinkfoot" with a really great solo, the boring "Dinah-moe Humm" and "Camarillo Brillo" ending with the typical "Muffin Man". Dweezil and Joe had so many tracks to choose from, but they basically put together a typical show, and there are already a huge number of albums out there with most of the songs on them. Zappa even tends to flatline the spoken parts of the songs because he has recited them so often by this time. The best surprise is at the end with a 16-minute "encore" performance of "Black Napkins (The Deathless Horsie)" that for many would be reason enough to search for this album.

So, while it is a quality recording of parts of the show, it's all been done before and nothing stands out that would make a person want to purchase this live show over any other. It's good for the curious listener that doesn't already own many Zappa live albums and also for the completionist, otherwise, it's pretty average as far as his live albums are concerned.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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