Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

FRANK ZAPPA

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Frank Zappa picture
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...
read more

FRANK ZAPPA forum topics / tours, shows & news


FRANK ZAPPA forum topics Create a topic now
FRANK ZAPPA tours, shows & news Post an entries now

FRANK ZAPPA Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all FRANK ZAPPA videos (5) | Search and add more videos to FRANK ZAPPA

Buy FRANK ZAPPA Music


Hot Rats (50th Anniversary) [6 CD Box Set]Hot Rats (50th Anniversary) [6 CD Box Set]
UMe 2019
$95.99
Over-nite Sensation [LP]Over-nite Sensation [LP]
Zappa Records 2013
$16.15
$12.87 (used)
Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object [3 CD]Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object [3 CD]
Zappa Records 2016
$8.34
$7.60 (used)
The Roxy Performances [7 CD][Box Set]The Roxy Performances [7 CD][Box Set]
Box set
Zappa Records 2018
$44.09
$52.45 (used)
Orchestral Favorites 40th Anniversary [3 CD]Orchestral Favorites 40th Anniversary [3 CD]
UMe 2019
$21.94
$19.91 (used)
Apostrophe [LP]Apostrophe [LP]
Zappa Records 2014
$21.36
$16.88 (used)
One Size Fits AllOne Size Fits All
Zappa Records 2012
$7.00
$6.39 (used)
The Grand WazooThe Grand Wazoo
Zappa Records 2012
$5.95
$22.99 (used)
Joe's Garage, Acts I, II, & III [2 CD]Joe's Garage, Acts I, II, & III [2 CD]
Zappa Records 2012
$9.26
$7.98 (used)
Bongo FuryBongo Fury
Zappa Records 2012
$5.88
$12.60 (used)

More places to buy FRANK ZAPPA music online Buy FRANK ZAPPA & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

FRANK ZAPPA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.93 | 639 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out!
1966
4.05 | 529 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Absolutely Free
1967
3.19 | 385 ratings
Lumpy Gravy
1968
4.11 | 660 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money
1968
2.80 | 280 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets
1968
4.07 | 520 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Uncle Meat
1969
4.33 | 1597 ratings
Hot Rats
1969
3.91 | 425 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Burnt Weeny Sandwich
1970
3.77 | 422 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh
1970
3.41 | 341 ratings
Chunga's Revenge
1970
3.08 | 226 ratings
200 Motels
1971
3.93 | 501 ratings
Waka / Jawaka
1972
4.33 | 952 ratings
The Grand Wazoo
1972
4.02 | 610 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Over-Nite Sensation
1973
4.03 | 676 ratings
Apostrophe (')
1974
4.31 | 944 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: One Size Fits All
1975
3.73 | 423 ratings
Zoot Allures
1976
3.75 | 278 ratings
Studio Tan
1978
3.62 | 286 ratings
Sleep Dirt
1979
3.87 | 498 ratings
Sheik Yerbouti
1979
4.14 | 527 ratings
Joe's Garage, Act I
1979
3.98 | 420 ratings
Joe's Garage, Acts II & III
1979
3.67 | 283 ratings
You Are What You Is
1981
3.53 | 253 ratings
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
1982
3.16 | 236 ratings
The Man From Utopia
1983
3.12 | 116 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I
1983
3.28 | 189 ratings
Them Or Us
1984
2.45 | 155 ratings
Thing-Fish
1984
2.60 | 134 ratings
Francesco Zappa
1984
3.52 | 124 ratings
Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
1984
3.25 | 144 ratings
Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
1985
3.42 | 227 ratings
Jazz From Hell
1986
2.97 | 89 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II
1987
3.78 | 133 ratings
Civilization Phaze III
1994
3.34 | 90 ratings
The Lost Episodes
1996
3.98 | 198 ratings
Läther
1996
3.18 | 53 ratings
Everything Is Healing Nicely [aka: EIHN]
1999
3.00 | 52 ratings
Joe's Corsage
2004
1.85 | 54 ratings
Joe's Domage
2004
2.35 | 41 ratings
Joe's XMasage
2005
3.33 | 44 ratings
Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison
2011
2.99 | 34 ratings
Joe's Camouflage
2014
3.99 | 66 ratings
Dance Me This
2015

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

3.23 | 166 ratings
Fillmore East, June 1971
1971
3.19 | 152 ratings
Just Another Band From L.A.
1972
4.39 | 330 ratings
Roxy & Elsewhere
1974
3.56 | 223 ratings
Bongo Fury
1975
4.24 | 259 ratings
Zappa In New York
1978
3.35 | 158 ratings
Orchestral Favorites
1979
3.09 | 162 ratings
Tinsel Town Rebellion
1981
3.28 | 99 ratings
Baby Snakes
1983
3.59 | 86 ratings
Does Humor Belong In Music?
1986
3.62 | 129 ratings
Broadway The Hard Way
1988
3.42 | 120 ratings
Guitar
1988
4.04 | 129 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1
1988
4.55 | 211 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2
1988
3.64 | 106 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
1989
3.56 | 98 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4
1991
4.36 | 193 ratings
The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life
1991
4.41 | 147 ratings
Make A Jazz Noise Here
1991
3.76 | 38 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
2.46 | 27 ratings
Unmitigated Audacity
1991
2.18 | 27 ratings
Anyway The Wind Blows
1991
2.84 | 26 ratings
'Tis The Season To Be Jelly
1991
2.42 | 24 ratings
Saarbrucken 1978
1991
1.59 | 18 ratings
At The Circus
1992
2.04 | 17 ratings
Conceptual Continuity
1992
2.84 | 49 ratings
Playground Psychotics
1992
3.67 | 86 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
1992
3.86 | 86 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
3.89 | 125 ratings
The Yellow Shark
1993
3.24 | 78 ratings
Ahead Of Their Time
1993
3.93 | 59 ratings
FZ:OZ
2002
3.87 | 36 ratings
Halloween (DVD-Audio)
2003
3.99 | 72 ratings
Imaginary Diseases
2006
3.51 | 68 ratings
Trance-Fusion
2006
4.12 | 63 ratings
Buffalo
2007
4.16 | 75 ratings
Wazoo
2007
3.65 | 47 ratings
The Dub Room Special!
2007
3.64 | 45 ratings
One Shot Deal
2008
3.19 | 30 ratings
Joe's Menage
2008
4.19 | 53 ratings
Philly '76
2009
4.32 | 66 ratings
Hammersmith Odeon
2010
3.80 | 36 ratings
Carnegie Hall
2011
3.17 | 42 ratings
Finer Moments
2012
3.35 | 35 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #1
2012
4.58 | 50 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #2
2013
4.54 | 32 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2013
4.58 | 43 ratings
Roxy By Proxy
2014
3.43 | 7 ratings
200 Motels The Suites
2015
4.33 | 9 ratings
Roxy: The Sountrack
2015
3.08 | 6 ratings
Little Dots
2016
3.60 | 10 ratings
Chicago '78
2016
2.33 | 14 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #3
2016
4.13 | 11 ratings
Halloween 77
2017
4.46 | 13 ratings
The Roxy Performances
2018
3.00 | 1 ratings
Halloween 73
2019

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

2.85 | 56 ratings
200 Motels (The Movie)
1971
3.40 | 25 ratings
Uncle Meat (Video)
1988
2.77 | 61 ratings
Does Humor Belong In Music?
2003
4.10 | 79 ratings
Baby Snakes
2003
4.19 | 33 ratings
QuAUDIOPHILIAc (DVD-Audio)
2004
4.00 | 44 ratings
The Dub Room Special!
2005
3.95 | 20 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2005
4.16 | 43 ratings
Apostrophe (') Over-Nite Sensation
2007
4.56 | 44 ratings
Zappa In Barcelona
2007
3.33 | 9 ratings
Tratto dal filmato 'A Token Of His Extreme'
2007
4.15 | 22 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
4.07 | 20 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2013
4.42 | 22 ratings
Roxy: The Movie
2015

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

3.71 | 39 ratings
Mothermania: The Best Of The Mothers
1969
2.09 | 3 ratings
Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
1975
3.68 | 59 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar
1981
3.94 | 52 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar Some More
1981
3.87 | 46 ratings
Return Of The Son Of Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar
1981
3.94 | 102 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar (The Box Set)
1982
3.88 | 8 ratings
The Old Masters, Box One
1985
2.89 | 19 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
3.63 | 121 ratings
Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III
1987
4.12 | 22 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Sampler
1988
4.09 | 11 ratings
Beat The Boots 1
1991
2.00 | 1 ratings
Cucamonga Years - The Early Works of Frank Zappa (1962-1964)
1991
4.00 | 9 ratings
Beat The Boots 2
1992
3.29 | 42 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II
1995
3.24 | 57 ratings
Strictly Commercial
1995
3.75 | 32 ratings
Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute
1996
4.09 | 26 ratings
Strictly Genteel
1997
3.26 | 30 ratings
Have I Offended Someone?
1997
2.92 | 45 ratings
Cheap Thrills
1998
2.05 | 54 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
3.92 | 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
3.59 | 22 ratings
The Lumpy Money Project/Object
2009
3.14 | 21 ratings
Greasy Love Songs
2010
4.00 | 15 ratings
Understanding America
2012
3.83 | 10 ratings
The Crux Of The Biscuit
2016
3.75 | 9 ratings
Frank Zappa For President
2016
4.50 | 4 ratings
Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object Audio Documentary
2016
2.91 | 3 ratings
The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa
2019
0.00 | 0 ratings
Zappa in New York (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
2019
4.00 | 1 ratings
Orchestral Favorites (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
2019

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

3.89 | 9 ratings
How Could I Be Such a Fool?
1966
4.42 | 12 ratings
Trouble Comin' Every Day
1966
3.80 | 10 ratings
It Can't Happen Here
1966
3.73 | 13 ratings
Big Leg Emma
1967
4.00 | 7 ratings
My Guitar
1969
3.61 | 26 ratings
Peaches en Regalia
1970
3.38 | 8 ratings
Tell Me You Love Me
1970
3.80 | 5 ratings
WPLJ
1970
2.00 | 1 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
4.13 | 8 ratings
Cletus Awreetus - Awrightus
1972
3.20 | 12 ratings
Montana
1973
2.82 | 13 ratings
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
1974
3.50 | 2 ratings
Cosmik Debris
1974
5.00 | 1 ratings
Du Bist Mein Sofa
1975
3.17 | 6 ratings
Find Her Finer
1976
4.00 | 1 ratings
Disco Boy
1976
3.93 | 14 ratings
Bobby Brown
1979
4.17 | 12 ratings
Joe's Garage
1979
3.32 | 12 ratings
Dancin Fool
1979
3.60 | 15 ratings
I Don't Wanna Get Drafted 12''
1980
3.50 | 6 ratings
Stick It Out
1980
3.80 | 5 ratings
Goblin Girl (picture)
1981
2.85 | 12 ratings
Valley Girl
1981
4.00 | 1 ratings
Love Of My Life
1981
4.00 | 4 ratings
Harder Than Your Husband
1981
5.00 | 3 ratings
Cocaine Decisions
1983
3.50 | 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
4.64 | 14 ratings
Peaches En Regalia (longpack)
1987
4.45 | 11 ratings
Montana (Whipping Floss)
1988
4.63 | 8 ratings
Zomby Woof
1988
3.21 | 10 ratings
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
1988
2.09 | 3 ratings
You Can't Do That On the Radio Anymore
1990
3.11 | 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
4.40 | 5 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
0.00 | 0 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
 Sleep Dirt by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.62 | 286 ratings

BUY
Sleep Dirt
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars

Frank Zappa continues to be the most misunderstood person in rock music, and his album "Sleep Dirt" continues to be one of the most misunderstood albums in his discography. It seems that there are conflicting stories out there about this album that is causing a lot of confusion, and I hope this review will help clear things up.

The Story of "Sleep Dirt"

"Sleep Dirt" came into being because of the now famous lawsuit with Warner Bros. that plagued Zappa and his music during the last half of the 1970s. For those that don't know the story, Warner Bros. (WB) demanded more albums from Zappa than what he was legally obligated to give them. This dispute came about because Zappa had given them a 4 disc album called "Lather" and WB rejected it because they thought they couldn't market a 4 disc album. So, to be nice, Zappa made 4 individual albums with material that came from these 4 discs: "Zappa in New York", "Studio Tan", "Sleep Dirt" and "Orchestral Favourites".

WB released "Zappa in New York", but then insisted that Zappa still owed them 4 more albums. Frustrated, Zappa then tried to release "Lather" on another label and WB sued, so he had to put that project on ice. WB grew impatient and in 78 and 79, released the other 3 albums without Zappa's consent. The label also commissioned album art that Zappa didn't approve, and the recordings were taken from the tapes that Zappa had provided WB without any overdubs or other studio enhancements. The sound was not up to Zappa's standards, plus the songs were taken out of sequence and other tracks were used that were intended for the shelved albums.

"Sleep Dirt" ended up getting the blunt end of the deal. First of all, Zappa wanted to call the album "Hot Rats III". Second, only two of the tracks that appear on this album were intended for this album; "Flambay" and "The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution". The other 5 tracks were meant to be used on "Lather". WB took the liberty to use the shelved tracks and released the record without vocals that were intended to be added before the music was released. Hence, the original LP version does not have vocals, but the tracks are all instrumental. When the CD was reissued in 1991, the vocals (sung by Thana Harris) were overdubbed in along with drums by Chad Wackerman, and this turned into a completely different album. Thirdly, as I mentioned before, WB used the master tapes without Zappa's consent. Zappa had the dolby versions of the tracks, but was not part of the production process since WB released the album without his okay.

In other words, if Zappa had his way, and if these 4 albums had been released as originally intended, we would have had an epic 4-disc album that showcased most of Zappa's styles. Instead, we ended up with 3 albums that were sort of sub-par, yet interestingly enough, still attest to Zappa's brilliance in music, just not as well as they should have. We would have also had what would probably have ended up being an excellent album called "Hot Rats III", which, by the way, would have sounded very little like what "Sleep Dirt" ended up being. As far as "Lather" is concerned, it was released later posthumously.

The main reason for explaining all of that is to clear up the reasons why this album is so strange and inconsistent, it originally wasn't supposed to be an album. But, this is what we ended up with. So, if you own an original vinyl, you probably have the all-instrumental versions of the tracks. If you own a CD after 2012, you have overdubbed vocals and drums. Either way, Zappa didn't have any say in the final production of this album.

Now let's get on with the tracks, because they all have stories of their own.

Track by Track History and Analysis

The album begins with "Filthy Habits" (7:33), a track that, in his live shows, Zappa used as part of the famous "Poodle" routine which was made up of "Stink-Foot", "Poodle Lecture", "Dirty Love" and finally "Filthy Habits". This track was originally intended to be on another Zappa-shelved 2 disc project that was to be called "The Night of the Iron Sausage". The album that was released in its place was "Zoot Allures" which was a single album and this track was left off of that album. This track also shows up on the posthumous "Lather" as it was intended, in a shorter version (6:02). This instrumental features Zappa on guitar and keys, Dave Parlato on bass and Terry Bozzio on drums. The edits on "Lather" come at 2:59 ? 3:07 and at 4:49 ? 6:04 in case you were interested. This is a dark and moderately slow instrumental featuring Zappa's moaning and whining guitar work. Completely recorded in-studio in 1976, it is a bit dissonant and quite heavy.

"Flambay (4:54)" is one of the vocal numbers. Since the vocals were added in later editions, it is apparent that this must be a part of some other idea in Zappa's head that didn't quite come to fruition as he would have liked. This track was part of a longer comedy sketch type opera that has become known as the "Hunchentoot" comedy. The tracks included on "Sleep Dirt" are out of order from their appearance in the comedy, and, of course, is not the entire story. The vocal numbers in the CD version are from the character named "Drakma, The Queen of Cosmic Greed". Again, WB released this unfinished and out of sequence, but at least Zappa was able to get Bob Harris' wife Thana Harris to sing the somewhat goofy operatic parts. The music is definitely of the avant-garde style, is done in a sort of dramatic way, as it would have been in the sketch. The track was basically recorded in 1974 with the overdubs added much later. Along with Harris and Wackerman, we have George Duke on keys, Patrick O'Hearn on bass, Ruth Underwood on percussion and if you have the LP, Chester Thompson on drums. On its own, it doesn't make much sense, but with the explanation above, it might make a bit more sense, but taken out of context, it just doesn't seem to fit with what Zappa intended. If you have the original LP, then it just sounds like a complex instrumental, which in my opinion, is better. The version on "Lather" is called "Flambe" and is cut to 2:05 with the vocals removed.

The following track "Spider of Destiny" (2:33) is another vocal taken from this comedy sketch. It has the same lineup as the previous track except Zappa contributes some guitar to it.

"Regyptian Strut" (4:12) was intended for the "Lather" album, but again was place on WB's "Sleep Dirt" album. It is thankfully an instrumental which starts with it's regal introduction and then showcases the band. The versions on "Sleep Dirt" CD and "Lather" are the same. The "Sleep Dirt" LP has Chester Thompson's drums while the 1995 CD has Chad Wackerman's overdubbed drums, but all other issues are the same as the original LP. Other than that, you get Zappa on percussion, George Duke on keys, Bruce Fowler on brass, James "Birdlegs" Youmans on bass, and the excellent Ruth Underwood on percussion.

"Time Is Money" (2:47) is the last of the vocal tracks. It pretty much has the same line-up as the other vocal tracks. It also makes a reference to the "Sofa" from past Zappa hijinx that Zappaphiles with understand, but other than that, it just doesn't stand on it's own the way WB used it.

"Sleep Dirt" (3:21) is one of the very few examples of an acoustic guitar solo recorded in studio by Frank Zappa, which he admits is one of his best in-studio examples. He complained that he never got a good in-studio guitar solo except for this one. The only other person along for this track is James "Birdlegs" Youmans playing acoustic rhythm guitar. At the end of this quite amazing piece of solo work is some banter between Zappa and Birdlegs when Zappa called him out on the tempo and he complained that his fingers got stuck. This unfortunately brought a premature end to the track.

The album ends with a track that was intended for the Hot Rats III album, "The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution" (13:15). This one involves some very interesting guitar from Zappa where he tuned his guitar strings all independent of each other, sort of similar to the sound heard on some Captain Beefheart tracks. I won't go into details because only a guitar player would appreciate it, but it results in a very interesting sound. You almost would believe that Zappa sped up the guitar part on the recording as he was known to do that, but that is not the case. At 7 minutes, Zappa changes to a guitar tuned "normally". The original intention of this track was to edit it down to 5:32, which is how it appears on the "Lather" release. The "Lather" release skips the first 4:43 minutes, then edits out a short 4 second section at the 7:30 mark. The line-up for this amazing instrumental that shows off Zappa's skills is FZ on guitar and synth, Patrick O'Hearn on string and electric bass, and Terry Bozzio on drums.

In Summary

So, that long spiel will hopefully clear up some questions on this odd album. It is actually a mixture of various tracks that were available that were meant for other projects and released by a greedy record label against Zappa's will. Obviously, all of these tracks would have been better off if kept in their original formats and then finalized by Zappa as most of the rest of his music was. All in all, it's not a bad album, especially if you get the version of it without the vocals. When they are added, they are out of place and completely inconsistent with the rest of the album, and it is no wonder that people listen to this album with a big question mark over their heads. But this is what we are now stuck with, and if you mostly ignore the vocal tracks, it's quite good, a bit more avant-garde than most of his "rock" albums, but I still enjoy it and own the original vinyl. That is how I would suggest you get this album. Or get the "Lather" album.

 The Mothers Of Invention: Uncle Meat by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.07 | 520 ratings

BUY
The Mothers Of Invention: Uncle Meat
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by EbbsUnion

4 stars TLDR: This makes the days of sadness and suprise worth living. RIP Zappa.

Here's some info about this album if you don't know: Uncle Meat is a imagined movie soundtrack to a film Zappa didn't get enough money to produce. In a recent reissue of this, there's audio that details the making of the movie. That's boring though, so let's get to the songs. We first start off with The Uncle Meat Variations, which is a variation of the uncle meat theme song. As always, the music is well-composed, and well-played. Whimsical and Talented. Then, after that, Suzy Creamcheese steps up into the mic, telling you about the various groups that she got kicked out in, and how she went back to "her mothers",

After that, a minimal-avant drum and guitar piece, "Nine Types of Industrial Pollution" which is a little boring, but it's good, then Zolar Czakl". which is a proto-zolo shortie which shocks you with weird sounds and surreal notes.

We then detour to "Dog Breath" Which is a Doo-wop infused dada-pop banger that then transforms into a RIO track that reminds me of the free improv side of the collective.

I could go through all of the tracks, but that would get a little tedious. But long story short, this is a great album. Even though it's not zappa's best work, it has a place in my heart.

-Ebb.

 Son Of Cheep Thrills by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1999
2.96 | 29 ratings

BUY
Son Of Cheep Thrills
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars Frank Zappa's 2nd budget compilation and companion album to 1998's 'Cheap Thrills', this time called 'Son of Cheep Thrills', released a year later, is a similar package to it's 'father' in that it contains quite a kaleidoscope of Zappa styles. I consider it a little bit better than the first in that it does contain some lesser known tracks, but also demonstrates Zappa's wide variety of styles. Since the first collection was such a big seller, this one was pretty much designed the same way, with 11 tracks that span 40 minutes. This time, all of the tracks are album versions. The trick is, how do you make all of these styles work together? Maybe that shouldn't matter, but it does. If they don't flow well, then these tracks (taken out of their album context) might not make a lot of sense to the average, non-Zappa-fied listener.

It starts off safely enough, with the rock/doo-wop classic 'WPLJ' from the album 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich'. This is a good selection and stands alone quite well. Recorded in 1969, it features the Mothers classic line up with 'Flo & Eddie'. 'Twenty Small Cigars' from 'Chunga's Revenge' also recorded in 1969, is a soulful, jazzy instrumental that sounds like something from an old movie with a strong European feel. This makes a sudden transition to a cartoon-ish feel as it flows into another instrumental, this one a little more in the avant-jazz style, with 'The Legend of the Golden Arches' from 'Uncle Meat'. This version starts with the theme from 'Pound for a Brown', moves to variations of the 'Uncle Meat Theme' and ends with Suzy Creamcheese's voice. This one might seem a bit chopped up for first-time listeners, but demonstrates how Zappa would paste music together from different sessions to make a single track. We stay in 1969 for these first three tracks.

There is a sudden change in style and sound as the very odd choice 'Ya Honza' from the 1984 album 'Them or Us' comes next, which is mostly reversed sections of the older tracks 'Sofa' and 'Lonely Little Girl' played at a slower tempo against a constant moderate beat and guitar loop going forward. It's over 6 minutes long, and probably didn't win Zappa any new listeners. The whole point of this track was Frank's way of giving the middle finger to those religious leaders that claimed satanic messages were hidden in rock music when you played it backwards, hence the reason why it was played backwards slowly on this track , to make it sound like the devil. There is a cool guitar solo at least on the last part of it. Next, in contrast, comes one of my favorite Zappa tracks 'It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal' from 'Waka/Jawaka' released in 1972. This track features a lot of things including guest vocalists Janet Ferguson and the excellent slide guitar solo from Tony Duran and a Hawaiian guitar from Jeff Simmons. The instrumental break has a country-fied sound, something that was totally out of character for a Zappa record, but it is quite an amazing sound which is bookended by some really off-kilter, extreme avant- progression on each end of the solo. Excellent track that shows Zappa's genius. This flows almost seamlessly into the live version of another doo-wop style song 'Love of My Life' from 'Tinsel Town Rebellion' recorded in 1980, and features some crazy falsetto vocals from Ike Willis.

Next is the sarcastic track 'Disco Boy', again in the live version from the 'Baby Snakes' concert soundtrack, so this version is faster than the original studio album version, and that's okay because it makes the usually annoying track go by faster and makes it a bit more appealing. This version was recorded in 1977. This is followed by 'Night School', the first track from the mostly synclavier album 'Jazz From Hell', released in 1986. This is one of the better tracks from one of the better synclavier albums, so it works out quite well as a track on this compilation. It is a great example of his more computer-generated style, which Zappa created because he wanted his instrumental compositions like this to be heard as perfectly as possible, and it was always difficult for bands and orchestras to play it completely to his liking. This then moves to 'Sinister Footwear' 2nd Mvt.' In a live version taken from the 1991 album 'Make a Jazz Noise Here'. This one features the full band playing one of his more orchestral pieces. It's a bit avant-garde, but still quite melodic, and has a more jazz-feel to it than the original version since jazz instruments are used in place of an orchestra. The studio version of this track was made more as a backing for a guitar solo (on the Them or Us album), while this one is played more by the brass instruments. Again, this is another great example of Zappa's instrumental music, and is a welcome addition to the collection.

This flows almost naturally into 'The Idiot Bastard Son' also in a live version taken from 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2' from a concert in Helsinki in 1974. The original version comes from the album 'We're Only In It For the Money'. The track probably makes very little sense to the casual listener. The last track is 'What's New in Baltimore', the version from 'Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention' in a version that is pasted together from several different shows recorded in the last few months of 1981. The track is the perfect closer for a compilation from Zappa as it ends the collection on a great guitar solo backed up by Steve Vai and Ray White.

The collection seems to be thought out a lot better than the first one, but there are a couple of odd choices here nonetheless, like 'Ya Honza' and 'The Idiot Bastard Son'. There are other tracks that would have worked much better on a collection, but, since it is a budget recording, I guess it was felt that they could have a few 'lesser' tracks, and also, the addition of some lesser-known tracks might have influenced some more rabid fans to purchase the collection. Whatever the reasoning, it does have quite a variety of styles here, and it gives you a little taste of Zappa's unpredictable and varied styles. Of course, for a Zappa fan, nothing beats the tracks in their originally intended settings, but the collection is still well representative of his music.

  I Don't Wanna Get Drafted 12'' by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.60 | 15 ratings

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

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'I Don't Wanna Get Drafted' / 'Ancient Armaments' was a 1980 non-album single released by Frank Zappa on his Zappa Records label as a 7-inch single in the US (catalog no's. ZR 1001 and WS7-73000) and as a 12-inch 45 RPM in Canada. It was a minor hit in North America, 'bubbling under' the Billboard Hot 100. Zappa re-recorded the a-side (as 'Drafted Again') for his 1981 album You are What You Is.

Although the subject matter was serious, 'I Don't Wanna Get Drafted' was a novelty song insofar is it humorously dealt with a current issue - - the reinstatement of military-draft registration in the US. Although it might not have been a challenge for Zappa, he manages to squeeze quite a bit of commentary into relatively few words. With the first verse, he suggests that the resistance of young men in the 1980s to a draft would be self-centered, rather than political, as it might have been a decade. He then raises the issue of drafting women (which was more controversial than the draft registration itself), but rather than weighing in on the issue - - which would involve breaking the so-called 'fourth wall,' he trusts his listeners to recognize the inconsistency of US President Jimmy Carter's support of the Equal Rights Amendment with his males-only draft-registration proclamation. Finally, through the inanity of his characters, Zappa reminds us of the possible perils of a conscripted military force which would, he suggests, be made up of cowards.

I'm not sure Zappa had a realistic view of human nature,* but he certainly did have a knack for approaching issues from odd and humorous angles.

The b-side is an edit of 'Ancient Armaments,' which the single label identifies as having been recorded at a 1978 concert. It's a muscular instrumental workout led by a healthy dose of guitar soloing by Zappa. Despite the military reference in its title, 'Ancient Armaments' has nothing to do with the a-side.

Funny, fun, and superior to its 1981 remake, the 1980 single version of 'I Don't Wanna Get Drafted' apparently didn't become available on CD until the 1996 compilation The Lost Episodes (which is where I got my copy). 'Ancient Armaments' was eventually re-released on the AAAFNRAAA Birthday Bundle 2008 CD.

====

*In this case we've never gotten to find out; no one has been drafted into the US military since Carter's 1980 declaration.

 Dance Me This by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.99 | 66 ratings

BUY
Dance Me This
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars One of the most diverse discographies out there is the one that was produced by Frank Zappa. I don't think any other artist out there could write r&b music one day, lead a jazz ensemble another day, write a comedic satire the next, play a rousing guitar solo later that night, produce a rock record, and write ballets and contemporary classical music a few minutes later. Is it any wonder that with an artist can have so many fans with differing opinions and preferences can bring them all together, at least the true fans? Zappa amazes me the way he could change from one extreme to another without even batting an eye, and he could do it all so well. That is the thing that amazes me most about him.

The last album that Zappa completed before his untimely death in 1993 was 'Dance Me This'. However, it was several years later, in 2015, that it was finally officially released by The Zappa Family Trust. Many fans knew about this album and that it was his last long before it was releases, and I think most of them knew that it was a synclavier album, as that was his instrument of choice in his latter years, because he felt he could manipulate the sounds the way he wanted to and in ways that were proven to be difficult for most human musicians to play organically. That is why several of the tracks on 'Dance Me This' were actually older tracks that he had composed years before, but never felt comfortable enough about their performances to release them on an album. Or they were just unfinished and the synclavier made it possible for him to finish them the was he wanted. Anyway, his last completed album was this one.

Those that are familiar with Zappa's music know that a lot of his music is very complex and challenging. Tricky meters, contrasting lines, odd performance demands and so on made them hard to play and perform. Those interested in Dance Me This should know this up front because these tracks are quite tricky. There is no locker room humor here, all of the humor is musically based, and will slide right by most listeners, myself included. But, I think most people can appreciate how genius the work is, whether they find it hard to listen to or not.

Zappa is the main performer on this album, playing the synclavier. The only other performers are 3 Tuvan throat singers. Zappa was very intrigued with their vocal style. The Tuvans are a group of nomadic Asians that live in southern Siberia who are known for being able to sing two notes at once. Zappa invited them to his house and included them in some of the tracks on this album. Their names were Anatoli Kuular, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, and Kongar-of Ondar. Todd Yvenga is also credited on the album for algorithm and synclavier asistancy. Mats Oberg also play keyboards on the album but is uncredited.

The album starts with 'Dance Me This' which features the throat singers and a nice jazzy instrumental performance, all done on the synclavier. By now, this instrument sounds like a full band, not a cheap sound like previously. This is the only track with a guitar solo in the middle, and it is reportedly the last time Zappa would pick up a guitar, or at least the last time it was recorded. Dweezil just happened to have recording equipement set up when Frank picked up the guitar and recorded it, and then overlayed it onto the track. The track is short and quite accessible compared to most of the other tracks on here. 'Panchuco Gavotte' is the next track, and is quite evident now that the music is all from the synclavier. The beat is a tricky, yet almost reggae style beat, but it sounds as if several different meters are at play here among the instruments.

The next five tracks are actually parts of a cohesive work called 'Wolf Harbor'. This track was part of a vision of Franks for a staged presentation made for modern dance. It is inspired by an actual place called Wolf Harbor located in the Mississippi. The section of Wolf River that flows here became a slackwater harbor which separates Mud Island from the Memphis mainland. Because of a man made diversion, the riverbed was lowered and the wetland was basically ruined. By 1970, pollution and sewage was so bad in the river, causing a group of scientists to call the river around Memphis 'dead'. In the performance of 'Wolf Harbor', Frank envisioned groups of dancers standing side by side holding long rolled out lengths of black trash bags and wave them to signify the dark and muddy waters of the sludgy harbor.

The music in the 'Wolf Harbor' suite is dark and ominous, just as you would imagine the river. The instrumental and percussion that is so complex in these tracks are all done with the synclavier, though it sounds quite realistic. The music is what you expect when you think of the complex classical music of Zappa, very avant-garde and strange to most ears. It's definitely not accessible by any means, but I find it very intriguing, and the sound on this album is some of the best of any of Zappa's synclavier albums. What may seem to most as random percussive noises and occasional musical tones are actually carefully composed sounds put together to produce a fascinating work of art. Zappa's Varese influences are quite obvious in this work. While the first movement is more 'musical' as far as tones go, the 2nd part is much more percussive using what seems like an unlimited amount of percussive effects. Part 3 goes back to tonal sounds and also increases the use of sound effects, mostly watery effects and occasional twangy sting plucking and bowing. There's more percussion and bass in Part 4 with a more minimal feel, but in Part 5, the percussion comes in small, rapid fire doses with a drone that ebbs and flows around it all.

In 'Goat Polo', Zappa uses the vocals of the Tuvan singers by taking their tones and manipulating them into a tune of sorts. It is named after an actual sport where goat carcasses are used to score goals while the players ride horses. The music is a bit more coherent and melodic, but it is by no means more accessible. 'Rykoniki' uses fast moving notes to create a melody with strange intervals. 'Piano' is a longer track using the synclavier to mimic a piano. Again the music is avant-garde, so there is no traditional melody, but the twinkling piano notes give a nice break to the otherwise heavy avant tracks. Utilizing 20th Century modal systems like 12 tone scales, FZ constructed an impressive and pensive piece. 'Calculus' is the closer for the album. It features Todd Yvega doing a demo of tempo mapping by using the Tuvan throat singers in an a cappella performance, then creating a new piece. Todd used a simple rhythm track with bass and algorithmically assisted violin pizzicato for Frank to use as a demo, hoping that he would used one of his own more complex synclavier pieces. However, the next day when Frank played the demo, he liked it so much that he used the demo. It's really quite a cool sounding track, taking the vocals that don't use rhythm and adjusting it all according to the implied rhythm of the original source material and making it actually somewhat accessible.

Frank's last album is a testament to his genius vision, and shows his real musicianship. The album is his best synclavier album as it was seeming that he was getting to be quite adept at using it. Of course, it would always be wonderful to hear how it would all sound if played by organic instruments, but I think this is one case, since it is Zappa's last complete album, where maybe it's best to leave it the way it is. That is how he wanted the public to hear it.

 Cucamonga Years - The Early Works of Frank Zappa (1962-1964) by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
2.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
Cucamonga Years - The Early Works of Frank Zappa (1962-1964)
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars Way back before Frank Zappa was a famous name, and even back further than the Mothers of Invention, Zappa wrote doo- wop music. These years were known as his Cucamonga Years. This collection, released in 1991, was made to bring these early doo-wop songs back out into the light, and to give credit where credit was due. The collection is known as 'The Cucamonga Years ' The Early Works of Frank Zappa (1962-1964)'. This probably won't sound anything like what you might be expecting if you think you are going to get anything similar to Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention albums, except that they sound like the era they come from. Some of it is decent and some of it is bad. But, none of it is really progressive, it just pays homage to Zappa's development as an artist.

The first track is 'Memories of El Monte' and was sung by The Penguins. Zappa co-wrote this (when he was merely a teen- ager) along with Ray Collins. The Penguins are famous for their top 40 hit 'Earth Anger (Will You Be Mine)', and this recording sounds much like that, the slow r&b sound of the time. Zappa shows up on the track playing the vibes. The next two tracks are done by Baby Ray and the Ferns which is made up of Ray Collins and 'The Ferns' being a circle of friends doing Zappa's work. 'How's Your Bird?' will remind you more of Zappa's silliness starting with the snarking sound he is famous for (except the sounds in this case are done by Paul Buff) with the early rock n roll sound of the time. The lyrics are silly ('How's your bunion?/ And how's your grunion?') and are taken from a Steve Allen saying/act, who Collins was a big fan of. Zappa plays guitars, drums and percussion on this track. This continues with 'The World's Greatest Sinner' but the song is a little better, with more 50s style rock and roll, and you can hear Zappa doing the backing vocals on this one along with guitars.

The two songs that follow are done by LA based producer/actor best known as the host of 'Jeepers Creepers Theater' of which Zappa was a fan of. This was a local TV show that presented horror films every Saturday night at 10 PM. Jeepers was the name of the host who would rise up out of a coffin and read fan letters. This connection between Bob Guy, Paul Buff and Zappa led to a brief collaboration between the two and is mostly spoken word silliness with the character actor, kind of in the same realm as 'Monster Mash', but without singing, just Halloween puns and humor, and you get two tracks of that in 'Dear Jeepers' and 'Letter from Jeepers'. It's corny. Bob Guy does his Jeepers act while prehistoric rock riffs play in the background. Zappa plays guitars, does the sped-up vocals and plays drums. The next two tracks are by The Hollywood Persuaders, which was made up of only one key figure, Paul Buff, who had a studio in Cucamonga that later became Zappa's 'Studio Z'. Buff engineered surf bands for a flat rate fee to get up-and-comers a kickstart. 'Grunion Run' was written by Zappa and 'Tijuana Surf' was written by Buff and both are nice surf rock style instrumentals. Zappa played all of the instruments except for the sax which was played by Buff. 'Tijuana Surf' ended up being a number one hit in Mexico.

Mr. Clean is credited as the author of the next two tracks, which is really an alias and title for work by Zappa, recorded and engineered again by Paul Buff. 'Mr. Clean' and 'Jessie Lee' are vocal r&b doo wop songs. Robert Davis (AKA Mr. Clean) does the vocals and harmonica for both tracks, and Zappa does the background vocals, guitars and drums. Following this are two tracks from The Rotations, which is another Paul Buff and Frank Zappa surf rock collective. 'Heavies' and 'The Cruncher' are both surf rock instrumentals complete with wave effects and brass. The last two tracks are done by The Heartbreakers (nothing to do with Tom Petty). They were brothers Benny and Joe Rodriguez from Roosevelt High School in East LA. They are best known for their 1963 hit single 'Cradle Rock'. Zappa and Ray Collins wrote the song 'Every Time I See You' which is another doo-wop song with vocals by the brothers (with Zappa playing lead guitar) and so is the last track 'Cradle Rock', which I believe has nothing to do with Zappa. Ray Collins had nothing to do with the recording session for the b-side to Cradle Rock even though he co-wrote it, however, Zappa did tell him that it was covered by the group and released as the b-side to that hit record.

So, there you have it. The story behind these unusual songs in Zappa's early discography, the ones that not many fans knew about prior to the release of this collection. This is not really a progressive record at all, but it is an important document to Zappa's beginnings in the recording industry, and these years were important to his development as a major artist. This collection can be rather hard to find, but these songs have been included in other collections, including the collection that is similar to this one that came out a few years later, simply entitled 'Cucamonga', and probably a little easier to find. This collection, in the meantime, is rather obsolete and only of interest to fans and collectors. But everyone that considers themselves a true Zappa fan should hear these songs in one manner or another.

 Just Another Band From L.A. by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 1972
3.19 | 152 ratings

BUY
Just Another Band From L.A.
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars While the first lineup of THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION focused mostly on studio albums which took them from the amazingly brilliant debut 'Freak Out' to the 1970 albums 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich' and 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh.' In the same year band leader FRANK ZAPPA decided to completely dissolve the band and start anew therefore the classic band members of the first phase such as Jimmy Carl Black (drums), Roy Estrada (bass), Bunk Gardner (tenor sax), Lowell George (guitar), Don Harris (violin), Don Preston (piano), Buzz Gardner (trumpet), Motorhead Sherwood (baritone sax), Art Tripp (drums) and Ian Underwood (alto sax) were out of the band and in was a whole new wily cast of characters with the primary lineup of Ian Underwood (organ, guitar, sax, piano), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), George Duke (keyboards), Jeff Simmons (bass, guitar) and three members of the sunshine pop band The Turtles. All of a sudden bassist Jim Pons and the singers Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan better known as Flo & Eddie were a part of the new reality of THE MOTHERS.

The new formation would perform on ZAPPA's solo album 'Chunga's Revenge' and then commence to release a couple live albums before ZAPPA's infamous accident at Montreaux, Switzerland and the subject matter of the classic rock song 'Smoke On The Water' by Deep Purple. The first of the live albums 'Fillmore East - June 1971' was released followed by this second offering JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A. which came out the following year in 72. This album was recorded live on August 7th, 1971 in the Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, CA and was the last performance before the ZAPPA's serious injuries resulting from the incident at the Casino de Montreaux. The album was originally intended to be a double LP that included solos from 'Studebaker Hoch' and 'The Subcutaneous Peril' which were to take up the majority of the second LP as well as additional parts to 'Bill The Mountain' but nothing seemed to flow smoothly in the world of FRANK ZAPPA and he was forced to land on his feet like an improvisational jazz cat.

JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A. found the short-lived second coming of THE MOTHERS at its peak and in the end contained only five tracks. The massive sprawling parody of rock operas, 'Billy The Mountain' which swallowed up an entire side of the original vinyl release as well as four additional tracks on side B. This included reworkings of "Call Any Vegetable' from 'Absolutely Free' and "Dog Breath' from the many variations on 'Uncle Meat.' Two more tracks "Eddie, Are You Kidding?' and 'Magdalena' were new renditions of earlier ZAPPA ideas channeled into the current lineup's focus on the humorous antics of Flo & Eddie. In a way JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A. returned the band focus to humor, parody and social critique of earlier albums like 'Freak Out' only with time specific references to the greater Los Angeles area as well as show biz personalities, politicians and various commercial enterprises. Gone were the sizzling jazz-fusion and focus on instrumental passages (for the most part) and in were hilariously constructed improvised storylines that offered variations from show to show therefore this album is just one mere glimpse of the myriad possibilities that the band performed.

'Billy The Mountain' is the focal point of the entire album experience and one of my personal favorite tracks of the entire ZAPPA universe. While the song was originally designed to be an entire hour and a half musical experience that was reinventing the notion of what a rock opera should be in response to its popularity of the era, the track was whittled down to a mere 25 minutes in order to fit on the record. For years this was only album to host this wacky and often silly parody that played out like 'Peter and the Wolf' but alternate versions would finally emerge on 1992's 'Playground Psychotics' and 2011's 'Carnegie Hall.' The track is ingenious in how it juxtaposes disparate musical passages that included the theme for Johnny Carson's 'Tonight Show' and Stephen Stills' 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,' 'The Star Spangled Banner,' 'Over The Rainbow' and more! The story of a talking mountain named Billy and his wife Ethel who is a tree growing on his shoulder was the ultimate satire which showcased the shallowness of American culture and material society in general. Flo & Eddie in particular add a whole new level of silliness and although many hate this period of THE MOTHERS, i have always had an affinity for their clownish behavior as well as being a Turtles fan.

While side A was the clear attention getter on JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A., the rest of the album is excellent as well. The remade versions of 'Call Any Vegetable' and the new chapters of the ongoing 'Dog Breath' series are performed more in a rock band fashion focusing more on singing rather than the mostly narrated storylines of 'Billy The Mountain.' Same goes for the new tracks 'Eddie, Are You Kidding?' and 'Magdalena' which take the band into progressive rock territory with challenging musical time signature changes and intricate compositional fortitude. Like many ZAPPA offerings, all of these offer a plethora of musical styles that range from vaudeville styled outlandishness to heavy rock, country, doowop and pop with extra segments that offer humors conversations between Flo & Eddie while ZAPPA provides background vocals. The entire album takes potshots at the local L.A. scene with a whopping middle finger to the material consumer culture. 'Where can i get MYYYYY poodle clipped in Downey?' LOL

When it comes to the wealth of live albums that ZAPPA released with THE MOTHERS, this one has always been one of my first go to experiences when i'm less interested in lengthy jam based instrumental workouts and just want a heavy injection of the most ridiculously biting humor that has been released on record. The album was notorious as being badly recorded and produced but newer remastered versions have corrected all that. JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A. displays ZAPPA and his band at the height of the silliest version of his entire career and although his 80s solo albums would revisit the humor and comedic parodies, nothing ever matched the magnificence and brilliance of tracks like 'Billy The Mountain' which has to be experienced to be believed. No words can do it justice! For some reason this live release doesn't get as much respect as some of the others. While many claim Flo & Eddie didn't integrate into the band very well, i'd have to disagree. I think they were a perfect match for Zappa's most whimsical and laughable moments. Not only did they nail the most absurd lyrical contents without losing composure but their vocal styles added an even more hilarious element to the process. Personally i love this album!

 Strictly Commercial by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.24 | 57 ratings

BUY
Strictly Commercial
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars "Strictly Commercial. The Best of Frank Zappa" is a collection of some of Frank Zappa's popular music. The other album in this series is "Strictly Genteel" which gives an excellent collection of Frank's classical (and jazz) tracks from previously released albums. "Strictly Commercial" also takes songs from previous albums, most of which are the commercial, or popular side of Frank. All of the songs on this collection are quite radio friendly in that they are single versions that don't need to be censored, radio-friendly.

Unlike the "Strictly Genteel" collection though, this collection is not as cohesive. Since these tracks are more rock oriented, it is very apparent when you are listening to the "newer" tracks and "older" tracks. There is a very noticeable difference in the music styles, and this makes this collection sound choppy.

It's not a complete wash out, however. Most of the tracks have vocals and are humor oriented. Again, the humor is quite safe as the crude humor is left off of this collection. There are the great like "Peaches en Regalia", "Dancin' Fool", the guitar solo "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace", "Muffin Man" and so on. However, there are also the songs that aren't so great, and they are mostly the repetitive ones like "Disco Boy", "Fine Girl", "Joe's Garage" and "Valley Girl". A lot of the songs seem to lose their significance when taken out of their album settings.

The collection is decent enough I suppose, but there are better collections out there that have better selections on them, but, as is the problem with many collections based on popular music, you are going to get some good and some bad. The collection is not the best representation of Zappa's rock and roll and mixing all of these songs in something other than chronological order tends to make it suffer too. Anyway, unlike the sister album Strictly Genteel, this is only an OK collection.

 Strictly Genteel by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
4.09 | 26 ratings

BUY
Strictly Genteel
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Frank Zappa's compilation album "Strictly Genteel: A 'Classical' Introduction to Frank Zappa" is the perfect album for those who are interested in some of Zappa's more classically inclined music. It is not a completionists album because all of the tracks on this collection are already available on other albums, but more of one for the general masses interested in getting their feet wet in his vast array of his more classically composed music, and it has quite an excellent bunch of tracks that illustrate his various styles and means of recording his compositions.

Starting out with a track from "Uncle Meat" the album begins with the Main Title Theme from that album. It is short track (1:55) that doesn't quite reach the 2 minute mark, but still gives good proof that Zappa was inspired by Stravinsky and wanted to give exposure to that music by using it in his own. The last 20 seconds of Stravinsky's "Trios Poesies de la Lyrique Japonaise" is the opening melody for the main title theme and also uses a rhythmic variation that also shows up later in another section of that classical composition. The music is produced by various keyboards mostly and tonal percussion. The last 20 or so seconds is a lot of processed sound and noise. "Regyptian Strut" (4:37) comes from the album "Sleep Dirt". This track utilizes George Duke on keyboards, Bruce Fowler playing all of the brass instruments, James Youmans on bass, Ruth Underwood on percussion (xylophone and such), and Chad Wackerman on drums. This one is probably somewhere between true classical and jazz.

"Pedro's Dowry" (7:41) is the version from "Orchestral Favorites" where the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra performs. The composition actually had a sub-title, "Yes, That's Right" but that was seldom used. This composition was the musical score for a ballet that Zappa had written, but because of expenses of hiring a ballet company to perform, Frank usually just read the story when it was performed. The score is quite complex with several different themes and melodies and in the performance of the track, the orchestra not only plays the instruments, but follows stage directions. Several strange and unusual instruments are also used, including party noisemakers at the end. "Outrage at Valdez" (3:09) comes from "The Yellow Shark", this version using the Ensemble Modern. The track was written for a documentary about the Exxon Valdez disaster. Since Frank loved to slip in musical references in almost all of his music, he does so here when he sneaks in a snippet of "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?". Again the music is complex.

"Little Umbrellas" (3:03) comes from the album "Hot Rats" and, like the first track, is more of a jazz ensemble piece. This track features Frank playing guitar, octave bass and percussion, Ian Underwood on keys, Lowell George on rhythm guitar, John Guerin on drums and Max Bennett on bass. This version comes from the CD version because of the recorder that comes in after the 2 minute mark. The recorder is not on the vinyl version. "The Run Home Slow Theme" comes from the Lost Episodes collection. It is a short (1:25) track which again uses more of a jazz ensemble, but sounds more like soundtrack music. This track is one of Frank's earlier works for an actual soundtrack. "Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula" (2:12) comes from the album "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and features the rock band line-up which probably consisted of Frank on guitar, Ian Underwood on keys and woodwinds, Bunk Gardner on woodwinds and Art Tripp on drums. This track actually started as a piano exercise which Zappa recorded backwards and then added several different sounds that were put through a noise generator over the top of that. During the March section, the woodwinds do establish a melody, but all of this gets swallowed up by the goofy noises.

"Dupree's Paradise" (7:53) comes from the version on "The Perfect Stranger", and is more of a traditional, 20th century classical piece performed by the Ensemle InterContemporain conducted by Pierre Boulez. The music is inspired by a bar at 6 AM on a Sunday in 1964. It represents the customers of the bar and what they do to separate themselves from the rest of society. The music is complex again and very cinematic with several thematic elements and also features a section led by the piano. "Opus 1, No. 3, 2nd Movement, Presto" (1:48) comes from Zappa's tribute to Francesco Zappa (an actual baroque composer) where he plays the pieces on a synclavier. "Duke of Prunes" (4:19) is another track from "Orchestral Favorites" and features the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra which was recorded here with no overdubs, except for the guitar because Frank couldn't record guitar feedback while recording the orchestra, and he liked the sound of guitar feedback supported by an orchestra. The guitar and orchestra play the main theme together. As the guitar improvisation starts, the orchestra plays supporting backup with flourishes, and it does make for a nice combination.

"Aybe Sea" (2:46) is from "Burnt Weenie Sandwich" and is a short, surprisingly gentle piece featuring FZ on acoustic guitars and Ian Underwood playing harpsichord and the piano solo. "Naval Aviation in Art?" (2:45) is from "The Perfect Stranger" again featuring the Ensemble InterContemporain conducted by Pierre Boulez. The short, orchestral track has a 20th Century, Impressionistic style, tense and dissonant. "G-spot Tornado" was originally written for an ensemble, but is so difficult to play that FZ used the synclavier to get the desired results he wanted for this impossible piece. The version comes from "Jazz From Hell". It is based an a very fast moving melody that goes through variations and includes a synth solo in the middle. One listen and you will understand why it is so complex.

"Bob in Dacron, First Movement" is from the album "London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II" and it features said orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano and is joined by David Ocker on solo clarinet, Chad Wackerman on drums and Ed Mann on percussion. The entire piece was about an urban scoundrel named BOB in his quest for erotic gratification in a singles bar. This movement represents the clashing colors of the outfit he picks out as he dresses for the night on the town. It utilizes "laugh boxes" which are the imaginary girls that BOB tries to impress. The style is again the impressionistic classical style, which is one that Frank loved to work with because of the freedom it gave him in composition. Another track from "Francesco Zappa" follows with "Opus 1, No. 4, 2nd Movement, Allegro" (3:01) and again features Frank and the synclavier (or what he fondly referred to as The Barking Pumpkin Digital Gratification Consort). Again, the music has that baroque style as the music comes from that period.

The next two tracks come from "The Yellow Shark", both of them are familiar themes that Zappa used from early and throughout his career, usually performed by his band, but this time performed by the Ensemble Modern giving them a new orchestral sound. First we have "Dog Breath Variations" (2:06) followed by "Uncle Meat". Both songs are easily identified as they retain their original melodies and this treatment give these jazz fusion tracks a nice symphonic treatment. The last track is "Strictly Genteel" (6:56) from "London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II" again conducted by Kent Nagano. This piece was originally written as the finale for the "200 Motels" project and the tune was originally sung by The Mothers. The version in this case was recorded quickly with very few re-takes because the recording session was in it's last hour. FZ said that the last brass section features a bunch of drunk, British trumpeters, and try as he might, he couldn't get the final product to his liking. Even though it sounds pretty good, Frank thought the version was far from perfect and was upset that he had to pay a lot of money for a sub-par performance.

This album works as a great sampler for Frank's "classical" style music in that most of the tracks are fairly short, there is a wide variety of styles not just among classical styles, but with the addition of some jazz pieces too, but it shows a wide array of some of Frank's best serious work. It also demonstrates why he is a respected musician, and that he also incorporated humor in his instrumental music. The one main drawback is that it doesn't feature just classical music, but other types of instrumental music, but for the average listener wanting to hear what the classical Frank sounded like, it will give you a great idea with a ton of variety. It is a strong compilation and easily merits 4 stars because even though the music is culled from various albums, it all sounds very cohesive and not chopped up at all. Highly recommended as a sampler for Frank's instrumental and classical styled music.

 Studio Tan by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 278 ratings

BUY
Studio Tan
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars The link between "Studio Tan" and "Läther"

The story behind Frank Zappa's album "Studio Tan" can be a bit confusing. In actuality, it is one of Zappa's best albums, but many have noted that the album has quite a strange mix of song styles, which is a little odd for Zappa albums. The reason for this is that this album was one of four albums put out by Warner Brothers without Zappa's permission. Most Zappa-philes know the story behind this, but what happened, basically, was Zappa and Warner Brothers were planning on going their separate ways, but there was this issue of a contract where Zappa owed more albums. Well, Zappa made enough music for a 3 album set that was going to be called "Läther", and this is the music he gave to Warner Brothers for their final contractual release. However, WB didn't want a 3 disc album because they didn't think it would sell, so they went ahead and split up the music and released 4 albums without Zappa's permission. The albums they released are "Studio Tan", "Sleep Dirt", "Orchestral Favorites" and "Zappa in New York". WB even hired an artist to do the covers. For many years, this was the only way to get the music Zappa made for this period of time, which was around 1977. "Läther" wasn't released until 1996 and it wasn't until then that the public was able to hear all of this music the way Zappa wanted it heard.

So, Studio Tan is one of these albums WB put out. It contains four unrelated tracks as it was more of a catch all album for the left over tracks from Läther. Much of the music on these four WB albums was altered somewhat, and Zappa didn't like the mix of the albums saying that there is no top end sound on them, so he thought they sounded bad, though he did like the music that was on them. On Studio Tan, the only track that is significantly different is the 20 minute track "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary", but the difference is only on the CD version of the album, which contains a remix/reedited version of the original. The other tracks have no huge differences, except for the fact that everything is out of sequence.

The Adventures of Greggery Peccary

Beside the fact that this isn't the way that Zappa wanted this material to be presented, it is still a great album, and the variation in the styles of music gives one a taste of the different styles and wide talent that Zappa had. The album starts out with "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" which takes up the entire first side of the record. This track is a story type track with narration, characterization and orchestration. The song was originally written in 1972. and was an idea similar to the concert favorite "Billy the Mountain" (which, by the way, is referenced in this story). The music is a complex style with a cartoonish, soundtrack style of music that accentuates what is going on in the story. The silly story is about a corporate pig person, who, as a result of pressure from the higher ups in the corporation, invents the next "new big thing", which is a calendar. Of course, people love it at first, but then many also hate this new device all to Greggery's peril. The vocal parts are both narrated and characterized with processed vocals so you can easily tell who is saying what. Not all of the parts are simply spoken, however, many are sung also. The story and music is quite entertaining and is a testament to Zappa's genius.

The track was performed by Zappa on guitar and vocals, George Duke on keys and vocals, Burce Fowler on trombone, Tom Fowler on bass and Chester Thompson on drums. The overall recording took about a month to complete. The rhythm section was recorded first which included bass, drums, percussion and four keyboard instruments. Then the guitars were added. The regular instrumental parts that were hard to get "perfect" were done by a synthesizer so that speed and accuracy could be adjusted. After that, the rest of the score was transcribed for orchestra with strings, brass and woodwinds all recorded on two tracks each over separated days. Then the narration was added in last. An interesting side note is that one of the violinist's manuscripts was run over by a tire of some sort and had the tread marks on it. She denied that it was intentional.

Most people think this track is named after the actor Gregory Peck, but in reality, it was named after Pope Gregory XIII, who is responsible for correcting the calendar in 1582, thus creating leap year and determining a table of moon phases in order to help when to celebrate Easter, a holiday actually based on the pagan holiday for Spring Equinox. The music on this track is quite complex, and it almost sounds like much of it is improvised, but in reality, each and every note is written down as a score. The full orchestra was known as "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra" and actually consists of a very large collection of performers, some of the best that were available. Even with the cartoon-soundtrack style of the music, there are returning themes throughout that pop up from time to time, and there are several styles of music throughout the track that support the story that is going on. The entire thing is a masterpiece, albeit a very humorous one, even the section that represents "a six-foot pile of transistor radio (each one tuned to a different station)". It is so easy to let the craziness of the music overshadow the genius behind it all. But, Zappa's humor is as multi-layered as his music, so just enjoy it for what it is, that is what it's all about.

Revised Music for Guitar and Low-budget Orchestra

This track is an example of Zappa's ability to transcribe impossible music. In its original form, this track was composed to show off the talent of one of Frank's violinists Jean-Luc Ponty. Frank took the underlying part of the track and improvised a guitar solo in the place of Ponty's violin and then had it transcribed (by trombonist Bruce Fowler) for various instruments for his band to play. If you have heard Frank's guitar solos, then you know how complicated they could be. Also, in Frank's instrumental music, you can often hear several instruments playing the same musical line, usually a very complicated one, that sounds like it was improvised. Well, many times, it originally was improvised. But to blow everyone's mind, he has many instrumentalists play the same line in tandem so that it doesn't sound like it is made up. Zappa said that he liked the idea of several instruments all trying desperately to play the same line.

The basic band line up is the same as in the previous track, but there are several other musicians also involved as there are several other instruments involved here too. Listening to this track as a guitar solo transcribed for several orchestral instruments makes the entire thing make better sense. Otherwise, it seems to be a track without any real aim to the novice listener, when in reality, it is a work of orchestral genius, which is also a testament to the instrumentalists, because it is one of Zappa's nearly impossible to play compositions. The sound is much less of a soundtrack style and more like a classical piece. From heavy guitar to orchestra, it all just shows how music of any genre is connected, yet interpretation through instrumentation makes all of the difference in the world as to how it is perceived.

Lemme Take You to the Beach

This short track is really the oddest duck out of all of the tracks here, but at the same time, is the most traditional as far as rock and roll is concerned. This was the track that Zappa thought would be his hit single. Apparently, Frank got Mark Farmer from "Grand Funk Railroad", Eddie Jobson (one of Frank's keyboardists who also worked with "roxy Music" and "UK" among others), Davey Moire (one of Frank's recording engineers) and himself together, went into a studio and recorded the vocal parts for this fun little beach song. The credited performers here are Davey Moire on vocals, Frank Zappa on guitar and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboards and yodeling, Max Bennett on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums and Don Brewer on bongos. The end result is a fun, but silly song satirizing beach music with bongos and everything.

RDNZL

The name of the last track was always a mystery for quite some time. Eventually, Dweezil Zappa explained that it was a combination of the word "redundant" and the fairy-tale character "Rapunzel", pronounced Redunzel. This was Frank's nickname for his wife Gail because she liked to repeat things that Frank found funny. Gail's liscence plate apparently was "RDNZL", which also backs up this theory, but the fact that Dweezil said it was about Gail pretty much solidifies this theory.

The band line-up for this track is FZ on guitar, George Duke on keyboards, James "Bird Legs" Youman on bass, the amazing Ruth Underwood on percussion and synth, and Chester Thompson on drums. This track is a definite showcase for Ruth's talent with the use of percussion, specifically the xylophone. It also showcases George's piano. The track is more avant jazz oriented with some complex rhythmic passages, but is also quite melodic. Frank comes in with a guitar solo after two minutes, but the background is a lot more complex than many of the supporting patterns that back up Frank's solos, so the track remains interesting for everyone involved. The guitar solo stops before the 5 minute mark, and the spotlight returns to the tonal percussion, piano and synths again for the remainder of the 8 minute duration. The music changes style, meter and rhythm quite often, and then settles into a fast and jazzy piano solo that rivals some of Keith Emerson's best. The last minute takes it back to complicated rhythms and passages for the last minute of the track.

Summary

So, even though this is one of the unauthorized WB albums, it is a great showcase of several of FZ's styles in one album. Of course the centerpiece is the epic first track, but all of the tracks easily stand on their own, even the short Rock n Roll song. But, the variety is a big plus for this album, and it goes by rather quickly because it is so entertaining. Digging into the album also helps one appreciate it more, seeing the work that Frank would put into his music and that each and every one of his compositions had rationale behind it and not just a random set of noises as many naïve Zappa listeners might want you to believe. Frank Zappa was an amazing composer who knew music as well as any classical composer, but simply liked to put humor in his music. He used humor to help bring attention to his music and it really worked in his case. Many Zappa fans only like certain styles and tend to shun his more classical or complex style compositions, but at least they get exposure to them. Those that are curious about music, however, want to explore the reasoning behind some of the more complex compositions, and, to me, when you understand more, you appreciate more. Still, some of his music may not be for everyone, but that doesn't mean the music is not the work of a genius. Anyway, this is a great album, and, even though it is not the way Zappa intended for people to hear these songs, it is still a great representation of his styles, 4 excellent masterpieces on one album. Sweet!

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

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives