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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 Varčse, 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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Buy FRANK ZAPPA Music


The Roxy Performances [7 CD][Box Set]The Roxy Performances [7 CD][Box Set]
Box set
Zappa Records 2018
$43.59
Apostrophe (')Apostrophe (')
Zappa Records 2012
$5.93
$8.17 (used)
Hot RatsHot Rats
Zappa Records 2012
$5.34
$5.49 (used)
Joe's Garage, Acts I, II, & III [2 CD]Joe's Garage, Acts I, II, & III [2 CD]
Zappa Records 2012
$10.06
$9.06 (used)
The Grand WazooThe Grand Wazoo
Zappa Records 2012
$5.94
$12.14 (used)
Halloween 77 [3 CD]Halloween 77 [3 CD]
UMe 2017
$22.39
$24.13 (used)
Waka/JawakaWaka/Jawaka
Zappa Records 2012
$5.58
$4.14 (used)
Chunga's Revenge [LP]Chunga's Revenge [LP]
Zappa Records 2018
$19.74
$23.19 (used)
Over-nite SensationOver-nite Sensation
Zappa Records 2012
$6.79
$6.95 (used)
Freak Out!Freak Out!
Zappa Records 2012
$5.26
$3.47 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Frank Zappa - Lumpy Money Project/Object (An FZ Audio Documentary, 2016) USD $12.66 Buy It Now
The Man From Utopia Frank Zappa CD Barking Pumpkin Release USD $19.99 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart -From Straight To Bizarre [DVD] [2012] USD $33.23 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa - Playground Psychotics [CD] USD $13.43 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison LP sealed colored orange vinyl RSD USD $19.99 Buy It Now
FRANK ZAPPA LP APOSTROPHE ORIGINAL US PRESS PSYCH ROCK VG+ VG USD $19.00 Buy It Now
FRANK ZAPPA JOE'S GARAGE ACT 1 LP VINYL NM ONE SIDE VG OTHER VG+ COVER 1ST US USD $18.00 Buy It Now
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FRANK ZAPPA vancouver workout UK 2x 2-LP Vol 1+2 new sealed LIVE 1975 gatefold USD $59.00 Buy It Now
FRANK ZAPPA - Sheik Yerbouti 1979 DUTCH PRESS CBS 2 LPs + INNERS USD $37.99 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa - Lumpy Gravy 824302383629 (CD Used Like New) USD $13.58 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is (CD Used Like New) USD $11.66 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa - Them Or Us (CD Used Like New) USD $13.58 Buy It Now
Frank Zappa- Waka/Jawaka on Reprise/Bizarre MS 2094, LP VG+, cover VG USD $15.00 [0 bids]
Lumpy Gravy by Frank Zappa (CD, Jul-2012, UMe) USD $16.42 Buy It Now
You Are What You Is by Frank Zappa (CD, Sep-2012, Universal Distribution) USD $16.42 Buy It Now
Apostrophe Frank Zappa CD Ryko Jack Bruce ! USD $22.99 Buy It Now
UNCLE MEAT [2 LP] [VINYL] FRANK ZAPPA NEW VINYL RECORD USD $33.11 Buy It Now 2m 13s
Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti CD - Ryko 1990 USD $25.00 Buy It Now 3m 29s
FRANK ZAPPA SHUT UP AND PLAY YOUR GUITAR 3LP VINYL BOXSET BARKING PUMPKIN RARE USD $99.99 Buy It Now 7m 37s
The Mothers Of Invention/Frank Zappa - Absolutely Free LP USD $7.00 [1 bids]
10m 59s
FRANK ZAPPA - CHUNGA'S REVENGE (LP) VINYL LP NEW+ USD $33.65 Buy It Now 12m 29s
FRANK ZAPPA ~ CHUNGA'S REVENGE ~ ORIGINAL FIRST PRESS LP FACTORY SEALED ~ 1970 USD $475.00 Buy It Now 15m 25s
Freak Out The Mothers of Invention Frank Zappa Vinyl Record VG Condition USD $6.70 [1 bids]
26m 37s
Ruben and The Jets- For Real--SRM 1-659-1973 Gate Fold Produced by Frank Zappa USD $13.99 Buy It Now 30m 31s
Frank Zappa-Mystery Disc (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $8.48 Buy It Now 52m 58s
Joe's Xmasage - Frank Zappa 824302005125 (CD Used Very Good) USD $8.75 Buy It Now 1h 15m
APOSTROPHE by Frank Zappa Original US Pressing Discreet USD $15.00 Buy It Now 1h 32m
Frank Zappa The Old Masters Box One Vinyl Box Set USA BPR-7777 "NICE" USD $174.50 [0 bids]
1h 48m
RARE Frank Zappa "Mothermania" The Best of the Mothers Reel to Reel Tape "RARE" USD $87.50 [0 bids]
1h 49m
Frank Zappa 200 Motels dbl LP NM UAS-9956 1971 USD $29.99 Buy It Now 1h 50m
FRANK ZAPPA SHUT UP AND PLAY YER GUITAR GOBLIN GIRL SEALED PICTURE DISC LTD.ED USD $34.99 Buy It Now 1h 51m
Frank Zappa Joe's Garage Acts II & III Japan Mini LP USD $49.99 Buy It Now 1h 54m
Frank Zappa 4 X 1970s Vintage Original Badges Pins Buttons USD $12.66 Buy It Now 1h 54m
Frank Zappa The Mothers Of Invention - Absolutely Free NEW CD USD $6.94 Buy It Now 1h 59m
Frank Zappa Studio Tan Discreet DSK 2291 Vinyl LP CUTOUT USD $27.99 Buy It Now 2h 18m
LORD BUCKLEY A most immaculately hip aristocrat Straight LP MINT LP Frank Zappa USD $49.99 Buy It Now 2h 19m
12 Frank Zappa & The Mothers CDs USD $100.00 [0 bids]
2h 31m
70'S ROCK 45RPM - FRANK ZAPPA ON ZAPPA RECORDS - RARE PROMO! USD $19.99 Buy It Now 2h 33m
FRANK ZAPPA-MOTHERS OF INVENTION-FREAK OUT-1st press MONO-VINYL 7.0 COVER 3.0 USD $85.00 Buy It Now 2h 37m
VG- Them or Us by Frank Zappa (CD, May-1995, Rykodisc) USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2h 54m
Frank Zappa Hot Rats RCD10066 (S1-3-A) USD $9.99 Buy It Now 3h 7m
FRANK ZAPPA/THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION - WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH NEW CD USD $10.00 Buy It Now 3h 11m
Frank Zappa Baby Snakes Cassette Tape Mothers Barking Pumpkin Records 1988 USD $5.00 Buy It Now 3h 28m
FRANK ZAPPA LUMPY GRAVY CD NEW SEALED rykodisc 10504 USD $10.00 Buy It Now 3h 31m
FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS One Size Fits All DS 2216 Kendun LP Vinyl VG+ GF USD $19.99 Buy It Now 3h 45m
Frank Zappa / The Mothers - Grand Wazoo (Rykodisc RCD 10517 ) CD ALBUM MB5 USD $13.92 Buy It Now 3h 46m
Frank Zappa 'Poughkeepsie' (New 2 CD) USD $21.52 Buy It Now 3h 46m
FRANK ZAPPA Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison ZAPPA RECORDS Colored Numbered LP USD $18.00 Buy It Now 3h 51m
Burnt Weeny Sandwich by Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention (CD) Brand New USD $27.50 Buy It Now 3h 55m
FRANK ZAPPA - Orchestral Favorites - CD - CDZAP 45 (1991) USD $6.32 Buy It Now 4h 11m
FRANK ZAPPA THE MOTHERS OVER-NITE SENSATION MS 2149 VG+ USD $15.99 Buy It Now 4h 18m
Apocrypha Frank Zappa Four (4) CD Import Box Set NEW Captain Beefheart USD $499.99 Buy It Now 4h 24m
FRANK ZAPPA 2 LP SHIP ARRIVING TOO LATE VALLEY GIRL SPECIAL 12" SINGLE W/BONUS USD $14.95 Buy It Now 4h 36m
FRANK ZAPPA BONGO FURY LP NM ORIGINAL ON DISCREET NO BAR CODE USD $19.95 Buy It Now 4h 40m
FRANK ZAPPA APOSTROPHE W/ DON'T EAT YELLOW SNOW LP DS 2175 USD $19.48 Buy It Now 4h 41m
Frank ZAPPA Ship Arriving Too Late 12" France Record Orig 1991 Sealed ZAPPA42 USD $49.99 Buy It Now 4h 46m
BOBBY JAMESON-GOTTA FIND MY ROOGALATOR FRANK ZAPPA GARAGE PSYCH VG 45 USD $11.05 [3 bids]
4h 58m
FRANK ZAPPA: The Old Masters: Box One LP (7 LPs box set 6 albums, albums includ USD $300.00 Buy It Now 4h 58m
Frank Zappa, Don't Eat The Yellow Snow, DiscReet DSS 1312, 1974, Rock, Promo USD $14.00 Buy It Now 5h 9m
Frank Zappa's- 200 Motels Sneak Preview Promo USED Audio 2 CD set USD $23.98 Buy It Now 5h 15m
Frank Zappa Joe's Garage Act 1 vinyl record SRZ-1-1603 USD $30.00 Buy It Now 5h 29m
PONTY,JEAN-LUC-KING KONG: PONTY PLAYS THE MUSIC OF FRANK ZAPPA VINYL LP NEW USD $33.25 Buy It Now 6h 2m
Frank Zappa's 200 Motels - Original Pressing 2LP w/ Poster and Booklet, Rock USD $36.00 [0 bids]
USD $50.00 Buy It Now
6h 7m
Frank Zappa Mothers of Invention POSTCARD Set USD $7.28 Buy It Now 6h 13m
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*SEALED OOP** FRANK ZAPPA Hot Rats Original 200 Gram Classic Records Quiex SV-P USD $153.99 Buy It Now 6h 25m
FRANK ZAPPA Shiek Yerbouti Vinyl 2 LP Gatefold SRZ 2-1501 Zappa Records G+ USD $5.99 [0 bids]
6h 35m
Frank Zappa - Masked Turnip Cyclophony (rare And Wonderful Gems From T NEW CD USD $14.94 Buy It Now 6h 36m
Frank Zappa - You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore 3 [New CD] UK - Import USD $14.09 Buy It Now 7h 3m
FRANK ZAPPA - HAVE I OFFENDED SOMEONE? USED - VERY GOOD CD USD $6.10 Buy It Now 7h 6m
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Orchestral Favorites by Frank Zappa {CD,1991,Barking Pumpkin Records) Brand New USD $54.50 Buy It Now 7h 16m
Sleep Dirt by Frank Zappa (CD,1991,Barking Pumkin Records) Brand New USD $27.50 Buy It Now 7h 17m
Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention USD $5.00 [0 bids]
7h 19m
Frank Zappa: Clean American Version PROMO w/ Artwork MUSIC AUDIO CD Rykodisc 95 USD $7.19 Buy It Now 7h 31m
FRANK ZAPPA YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE Complete Box 12 CD USD $250.00 Buy It Now 7h 36m
Frank Zappa - Hot Rats GER LP 1979 FOC /3* USD $75.34 Buy It Now 7h 43m
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention 10x8 Photo USD $3.79 Buy It Now 7h 47m
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FRANK ZAPPA RARE EARLY PORTRAIT 10x8 Photo USD $3.79 Buy It Now 7h 47m
1979 SONNY & THE LOW BOYS JIMMY CARL BLACK IN HEAT TEXAS LP -SEALED- FRANK ZAPPA USD $40.00 Buy It Now 7h 59m
Frank Zappa & The Mothers CD ~ Fillmore East, June 1971 ~ 1990 Ryco RCD 10167 ** USD $12.00 Buy It Now 8h 11m
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention record album One Size Fits All USD $24.50 Buy It Now 8h 17m
ORG 1973 FRANK ZAPPA THE MOTHERS OVER-NITE SENSATION GATEFOLD LP DISCREET RECORD USD $12.00 Buy It Now 8h 30m
FRANK ZAPPA Lumpy Gravy LP VINYL Europe Zappa 2016 2 Track Vinyl LP (238361) USD $29.51 Buy It Now 8h 33m
FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION Cruising With Ruben And The Jets LP USD $31.03 Buy It Now 8h 33m
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FRANK ZAPPA Chunga's Revenge LP VINYL Europe Zappa 2018 10 Track LP Reissue In USD $29.51 Buy It Now 8h 33m
FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION We're Only In It For The Money CD USD $8.60 Buy It Now 8h 41m
Frank Zappa - Hot Rats - Excellent - NEW CASE!!! USD $8.66 Buy It Now 8h 45m
Frank Zappa Hot Rats USD $11.50 [3 bids]
8h 48m
Frank Zappa 200 Motels USD $10.00 [1 bids]
8h 52m
Frank Zappa Apostrophe (') USD $3.00 [1 bids]
8h 55m
Frank Zappa In New York USD $4.30 [3 bids]
8h 59m
FRANK ZAPPA True Glove 12" VINYL Germany Emi 1984 4 Track Featuring In USD $13.92 Buy It Now 9h 3m
Frank Zappa Sheik Yerbouti USD $5.55 [4 bids]
9h 4m
Frank Zappa - Zappa In New York UK 2LP 1978 FOC Translucent Red Vinyl! /4* USD $56.51 Buy It Now 9h 6m
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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)

3.91 | 598 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out!
1966
4.05 | 495 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Absolutely Free
1967
3.22 | 364 ratings
Lumpy Gravy
1968
4.11 | 624 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money
1968
2.78 | 263 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets
1968
4.07 | 485 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Uncle Meat
1969
4.34 | 1480 ratings
Hot Rats
1969
3.91 | 398 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Burnt Weeny Sandwich
1970
3.77 | 393 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh
1970
3.40 | 326 ratings
Chunga's Revenge
1970
3.06 | 212 ratings
200 Motels
1971
3.91 | 463 ratings
Waka / Jawaka
1972
4.32 | 872 ratings
The Grand Wazoo
1972
4.02 | 570 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: Over-Nite Sensation
1973
4.03 | 630 ratings
Apostrophe (')
1974
4.32 | 860 ratings
The Mothers Of Invention: One Size Fits All
1975
3.74 | 390 ratings
Zoot Allures
1976
3.70 | 262 ratings
Studio Tan
1978
3.62 | 266 ratings
Sleep Dirt
1979
3.86 | 463 ratings
Sheik Yerbouti
1979
4.13 | 481 ratings
Joe's Garage, Act I
1979
3.96 | 387 ratings
Joe's Garage, Acts II & III
1979
3.66 | 262 ratings
You Are What You Is
1981
3.53 | 234 ratings
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
1982
3.14 | 221 ratings
The Man From Utopia
1983
3.07 | 111 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I
1983
3.22 | 178 ratings
Them Or Us
1984
2.39 | 145 ratings
Thing-Fish
1984
2.58 | 129 ratings
Francesco Zappa
1984
3.49 | 118 ratings
Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
1984
3.24 | 137 ratings
Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
1985
3.43 | 214 ratings
Jazz From Hell
1986
2.90 | 85 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II
1987
3.78 | 126 ratings
Civilization Phaze III
1994
3.32 | 87 ratings
The Lost Episodes
1996
3.97 | 187 ratings
Läther
1996
3.16 | 51 ratings
Everything Is Healing Nicely [aka: EIHN]
1999
2.94 | 49 ratings
Joe's Corsage
2004
1.77 | 51 ratings
Joe's Domage
2004
2.26 | 39 ratings
Joe's XMasage
2005
3.33 | 44 ratings
Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison
2011
2.93 | 32 ratings
Joe's Camouflage
2014
4.02 | 59 ratings
Dance Me This
2015

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

3.22 | 153 ratings
Fillmore East, June 1971
1971
3.12 | 142 ratings
Just Another Band From L.A.
1972
4.39 | 311 ratings
Roxy & Elsewhere
1974
3.55 | 211 ratings
Bongo Fury
1975
4.24 | 243 ratings
Zappa In New York
1978
3.33 | 152 ratings
Orchestral Favorites
1979
3.08 | 152 ratings
Tinsel Town Rebellion
1981
3.41 | 93 ratings
Baby Snakes
1983
3.58 | 83 ratings
Does Humor Belong In Music?
1986
3.62 | 126 ratings
Broadway The Hard Way
1988
3.42 | 119 ratings
Guitar
1988
4.02 | 123 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1
1988
4.53 | 201 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2
1988
3.62 | 102 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
1989
3.54 | 95 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4
1991
4.33 | 186 ratings
The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life
1991
4.42 | 143 ratings
Make A Jazz Noise Here
1991
3.78 | 37 ratings
Piquantique - Stockholm 1973
1991
2.38 | 25 ratings
As An Am
1991
3.40 | 26 ratings
The Ark
1991
2.68 | 22 ratings
Freaks & Motherfuckers!
1991
2.44 | 25 ratings
Unmitigated Audacity
1991
2.14 | 26 ratings
Anyway The Wind Blows
1991
2.81 | 24 ratings
'Tis The Season To Be Jelly
1991
2.39 | 23 ratings
Saarbrucken 1978
1991
1.82 | 14 ratings
At The Circus
1992
1.98 | 16 ratings
Conceptual Continuity
1992
2.84 | 47 ratings
Playground Psychotics
1992
3.66 | 82 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
1992
3.84 | 80 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 6
1992
2.29 | 17 ratings
Disconnected Synapses
1992
3.04 | 19 ratings
Electric Aunt Jemima
1992
3.15 | 14 ratings
Our Man In Nirvana
1992
4.00 | 14 ratings
Swiss Cheese / Fire!
1992
2.31 | 13 ratings
Tengo Na Minchia Tanta
1992
3.88 | 121 ratings
The Yellow Shark
1993
3.24 | 77 ratings
Ahead Of Their Time
1993
3.95 | 56 ratings
FZ:OZ
2002
3.87 | 36 ratings
Halloween (DVD-Audio)
2003
3.99 | 72 ratings
Imaginary Diseases
2006
3.57 | 66 ratings
Trance-Fusion
2006
4.13 | 61 ratings
Buffalo
2007
4.17 | 73 ratings
Wazoo
2007
3.65 | 46 ratings
The Dub Room Special!
2007
3.63 | 44 ratings
One Shot Deal
2008
3.17 | 30 ratings
Joe's Menage
2008
4.21 | 53 ratings
Philly '76
2009
4.31 | 64 ratings
Hammersmith Odeon
2010
3.79 | 34 ratings
Carnegie Hall
2011
3.16 | 40 ratings
Finer Moments
2012
3.34 | 34 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #1
2012
4.71 | 48 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #2
2013
4.53 | 29 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2013
4.58 | 39 ratings
Roxy By Proxy
2014
3.43 | 7 ratings
200 Motels The Suites
2015
4.17 | 6 ratings
Roxy: The Sountrack
2015
3.13 | 5 ratings
Little Dots
2016
3.50 | 8 ratings
Chicago '78
2016
2.25 | 13 ratings
Road Tapes - Venue #3
2016
4.04 | 7 ratings
Halloween 77
2017

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

2.86 | 55 ratings
200 Motels (The Movie)
1971
3.40 | 25 ratings
Uncle Meat (Video)
1988
2.74 | 57 ratings
Does Humor Belong In Music?
2003
4.10 | 74 ratings
Baby Snakes
2003
4.20 | 32 ratings
QuAUDIOPHILIAc (DVD-Audio)
2004
4.00 | 43 ratings
The Dub Room Special!
2005
3.95 | 19 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2005
4.15 | 41 ratings
Apostrophe (') Over-Nite Sensation
2007
4.55 | 41 ratings
Zappa In Barcelona
2007
3.33 | 9 ratings
Tratto dal filmato 'A Token Of His Extreme'
2007
4.13 | 19 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
4.05 | 17 ratings
A Token Of His Extreme
2013
4.03 | 16 ratings
Roxy: The Movie
2015

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

3.69 | 37 ratings
Mothermania: The Best Of The Mothers
1969
1.95 | 2 ratings
Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
1975
3.68 | 58 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 | 100 ratings
Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar (The Box Set)
1982
3.88 | 8 ratings
The Old Masters, Box One
1985
2.84 | 18 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
3.61 | 114 ratings
Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III
1987
4.10 | 20 ratings
You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Sampler
1988
4.09 | 11 ratings
Beat The Boots 1
1991
4.00 | 9 ratings
Beat The Boots 2
1992
3.25 | 39 ratings
London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II
1995
3.27 | 55 ratings
Strictly Commercial
1995
3.74 | 31 ratings
Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute
1996
4.15 | 25 ratings
Strictly Genteel
1997
3.26 | 30 ratings
Have I Offended Someone?
1997
2.90 | 43 ratings
Cheap Thrills
1998
2.02 | 53 ratings
The Mystery Disc
1998
2.06 | 17 ratings
Cucamonga (1962 - 1964)
1998
2.95 | 28 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
2.38 | 8 ratings
For Collectors Only
2003
2.83 | 20 ratings
The Best of Frank Zappa
2004
3.40 | 36 ratings
The Making Of Freak Out! Project/Object
2006
3.59 | 22 ratings
The Lumpy Money Project/Object
2009
3.14 | 20 ratings
Greasy Love Songs
2010
3.85 | 13 ratings
Understanding America
2012
3.83 | 10 ratings
The Crux Of The Biscuit
2016
3.75 | 9 ratings
Frank Zappa For President
2016

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

3.88 | 8 ratings
How Could I Be Such a Fool?
1966
4.30 | 10 ratings
Trouble Comin' Every Day
1966
3.89 | 9 ratings
It Can't Happen Here
1966
3.68 | 10 ratings
Big Leg Emma
1967
3.83 | 6 ratings
My Guitar
1969
3.52 | 22 ratings
Peaches en Regalia
1970
3.43 | 7 ratings
Tell Me You Love Me
1970
3.75 | 4 ratings
WPLJ
1970
0.00 | 0 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
4.14 | 7 ratings
Cletus Awreetus - Awrightus
1972
3.15 | 10 ratings
Montana
1973
2.73 | 11 ratings
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cosmik Debris
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Du Bist Mein Sofa
1975
3.20 | 5 ratings
Find Her Finer
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Disco Boy
1976
3.92 | 13 ratings
Bobby Brown
1979
4.00 | 10 ratings
Joe's Garage
1979
3.33 | 11 ratings
Dancin Fool
1979
3.97 | 12 ratings
I Don't Wanna Get Drafted 12''
1980
3.40 | 5 ratings
Stick It Out
1980
3.75 | 4 ratings
Goblin Girl (picture)
1981
2.87 | 11 ratings
Valley Girl
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Of My Life
1981
3.67 | 3 ratings
Harder Than Your Husband
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cocaine Decisions
1983
0.00 | 0 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
3.06 | 8 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
 The Grand Wazoo by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.32 | 872 ratings

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The Grand Wazoo
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by WFV

5 stars As with Hot Rats, Caravanserai, and Blow by Blow, this classic is fitting of the title "best jazz album by a musician not best known for playing Jazz" The pacing is terrific, the instumentation sublime, the overall groovy feel really resonates with the listener. All of the instruments combine to sound like the tightest outfit that ever toured and recorded during the dawn of FM radio. I'd rate each of these songs as highlight, and every person remotely interested in Frank Zappa needs to listen to this one several times. The riff for Eat the Question is probably my favorite riff from what I would call the "riffrock" period

Frank had such a unique ability to spill his thoughts into sounds

 Chunga's Revenge by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.40 | 326 ratings

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Chunga's Revenge
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by WFV

3 stars I find the material on here to be very weak compared to Zappa's other albums of the period. Rudy Wants to Buy Yez a Drink and Road Ladies and Would You Go All the Way sound like novelty filler. Transylvania Boogie is Good, Chunga's Revenge is great, and The Nancy and Mary Muzik and Sharleena are two of my favorite Frank tunes of all time. My opinion is that George Duke solidified his status as the greatest Zappa sideman with his contribution to the Nancy and Mary Muzik.

It's a good record, but not up to the lofty creative standards set by previous recordings. An uneven listen for me, almost a novelty with the addition of Flo and Eddie.

 Big Leg Emma by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1967
3.68 | 10 ratings

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Big Leg Emma
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by WFV

5 stars Two of my favourite back to back early Zappa tunes, these songs showcase the pop songwriting panache Frank could so effortlessly oooze. Big Leg Emma is a catchy sophomoric pop tune and Why Doncha Do Me Right is a heavy rock cruncher, one of the best in his catalogue. These songs are essential building blocks in the Zappa works that every fan needs to hear to understand his developing visoin. I like to think Why Doncha Do Me Right is about his first wife, Kay Sherman, but I've never found evidence to support this theory. This is Zappa your kids can instantly like.
 Waka / Jawaka by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.91 | 463 ratings

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Waka / Jawaka
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

3 stars REVIEW #13 - "Waka/Jawaka" by Frank Zappa (1972). 08/03/2018

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the next random album I would be reviewing would be a Zappa album. As of writing, I have already reviewed two of his albums, "Roxy and Elsewhere" and "Apostrophe", both of which were released in the year 1974. Today I will review an earlier album of his, 1972's "Waka/Jawaka", which is considered to be the natural successor to Zappa's 1969 jazz fusion masterpiece "Hot Rats".

On December 10, 1971 at London's Rainbow Theatre, Zappa was attacked by a crazed fan. The venue, which featured an orchestra pit, was left uncovered for the concert, and during an encore cover of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", a man named Trevor Charles Howell jumped on stage and pushed Zappa into the pit. This came shortly after the band's concert in Montreux was cut short when another fan set the venue on fire with a flare gun, which inspired the Deep Purple hit "Smoke on the Water." Zappa was seriously injured, as his fall into the pit crushed his larynx and resulted in his head being lodged behind his shoulders. The band thought Zappa had died, and while he survived, he had not only fractured his leg, he also broke a rib and had a puncture in the back of his head. For the next year, he was relegated to a wheelchair, unable to tour. 1972's "Waka/Jawaka" marks the first studio album Zappa would release following this hiatus, and it seems that in the meantime that he wanted to move away from his trademark avant-prog style in favor of jazz fusion. The sound of this album is very similar to that of jazz fusion staples like the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Bitches Brew, with a healthy dose of improvisational jazz.

The album starts off with arguably the jazziest tune on the album, that being the seventeen-minute sidelong epic "Big Swifty". This is a really abstract piece of music, rife with improvisation which allows for the members of Zappa's bands to show off their musical talents. Opening up fast, we hear blaring horns playing in a very irregular and rapidly changing cacophony of noise that varies in terms of outright power and depth. This immediately strikes me as some sort of abstract cool house jazz, as if Zappa was channeling the works of Miles Davis while keeping the structure strictly progressive and avant-garde. Sal Marquez plays the trumpet on this album, and he is given the ability to go wild at the forefront of the band, keeping us on edge with a brassy sound that is strictly jazz. Zappa is credited with percussion on this piece, and his guitar work is not immediately evident like we're usually accustomed to. On "Hot Rats", Zappa's presence was strongly felt, especially on the seminal "Willie the Pimp" where he provided one of the greatest guitar solos to ever grace the genre. However, he takes more of a director's role on this album; on "Swifty" we hear some intermittent guitars but the soundscape is largely dominated by Marquez's brass. The first thirteen minutes of this leviathan is this brand of improvisational jazz, and it isn't very accessible. It took me a few listens to actually be able to focus on what is really going on; the great thing about "Hot Rats" or this album's successor "the Grand Wazoo" is that the music is so accessible that you can immediately hook onto it; "Waka/Jawaka" rather immediately presents itself as a tough code to crack, where the band decides to take on virtuosity rather than accessibility. The end result is a piece which only the most ardent of Zappa fans and jazz fusion addicts will appreciate; I have seen numerous reviews painting this tune as the best the album has to offer - I respectfully disagree, for while it may show off impeccable musical talent, we already KNOW that Zappa & Co. is a talented band. What I am looking for at this point is a piece of music which resonates, and frankly "Swifty" fails to deliver in that regard. There is a general lack of structure and direction that comes with improv which turns me off for the most part.

On the flip side, we begin with a pretty generic Zappa avant-prog tune in "Your Mouth", where vocals are split between Marquez and Kris Peterson. Set to the backdrop of a pretty bass-heavy jazz background, we get intermittent motifs from the last song amidst the humorous tongue-in-cheek Zappa lyricism. Overall, it comes off as the weakest tune from the album, and it is rather easy to forget. Fortunately it only comes in at something like three minutes, so we pass over it pretty quick. It is followed up by the similarly short "It Might Just Be A One-Shot Deal", which I like a lot more. While it is admittedly abstract and sub-par compared to other Zappa works of the same style, there are some interesting quirks to this tune. First of all, we get a little uncredited hint of Zappa's "new" voice during an impromptu odd interlude. Following Zappa's accident, after his larynx was repaired his voice had gotten artificially lower compared to what it was early in his career. While this is the only vocal appearance for Zappa on the album, we would eventually grow accustomed to the deep voice which would become best associated with the legendary guitarist. Another interesting quirk about this song is the extended hawaiian guitar solo by Jeff Simmons, which provides a very comfortable feeling. Zappa makes a rare appearance on steel acoustic guitar in the very distant background; similar to Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, Zappa has very little recorded instances where he plays unplugged, and even then, he is not an upfront virtuoso with it like a Steve Howe. Otherwise, there really isn't much else to this song except the fact it's probably my favorite tune off the album with its summer nostalgic qualities and such.

Finally, we reach the closing title track which is an eleven-minute instrumental which is generally more organized and focused than "Swifty". In fact, the band seems to move between solo performances on this piece, which really helped me keep track of what the band was doing. As a result, I look more favorably upon this track than its slightly bigger brother. We start off with the brass section doing their work; Marquez, saxophonist Mike Altschul, and the trombonists Billy Byers and Ken Shroyer get us started, before the baton is passed to keyboardist Don Preston, who performs a very solid and comfy moog synth solo which really sets the mood of the track. This continues on for a couple very satisfying minutes where he is allowed to run wild over the soundscape of some wild drums and steel guitar. This is them seamlessly transferred to Zappa, who does another low-key guitar solo to keep the flow going on what is turning out to be a rather infectious instrumental tune. For the first time on the album we sort of see Zappa unleash the dogs of war on his guitar, but even then, it really comes nowhere near many of his other works. I would consider the biggest issue with this album is that it simply doesn't have enough Zappa. We get a brief blast of the horns before we enter the album's lone drum solo - it is at this moment that I must commend drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who does an impeccable job on this album. He is kind of tucked off in the back right corner of my earphones, but his heavy style of drumming perfectly complements the style of music Zappa is putting forth on this album. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (Journey lol) absolutely kills the drum solo, with the sound of drums boosted to shake the listener as the rest of the band enters the much-awaited coda. The horns reprise the motif of Preston's moog solo, before giving way to Marquez and the brass as the tempo increases to indicate the impending conclusion of the album in a rather solid fashion. As a man who is not as keen on instrumentals as other prog fans, I will admit this is a solid work of music where Zappa allows every single dimension of his band to shine, and in a reasonable way to end the album.

"Waka/Jawaka" despite having its moments, is always going to be relegated to the vast back-catalog of Frank Zappa, which is similar in size to that of Alaska compared to other prog contemporaries. While this was a satisfying return album by the guitarist, and an appreciated return to the jazz fusion style of "Hot Rats", I really can't define this album as more than average. Seriously, there are no downfalls to this album, yet there are no added bonuses that would make me want to listen to it without having to do a review. I would much rather listen to "Hot Rats" or "The Grand Wazoo" to get my dose of Zappa jazz fusion, and in the end that really hampers this album given it's positioned right in between two masterpieces. I would definitely recommend this album to any fan of jazz fusion, and those who particularly like Zappa's works in the subgenre. That being said, I give it a strongly average three-star (75% - C) rating, which is as average as you can get by my rating standards. Still not a bad listen.

 Hot Rats by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.34 | 1480 ratings

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Hot Rats
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by WFV

5 stars The original jazzrock album and arguably the best. Frank warped the sensibilities in others like no musical artist before or since. The recommendation for listeners is sit down in a room alone and either blast this album through your best speakers or listen with headphones on. Frank sets the stage with his most resplendent peaches en regalia then the Beef warms the cockles singing about street merchant Willie. Sugar Cane Harris and Jean Luc Ponty add unbelievable color to the already colorful and the result is one of the most important and individualized statements released in modern times. Frank didn't break molds, he made them.
 Ahead Of Their Time by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 1993
3.24 | 77 ratings

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Ahead Of Their Time
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Frank Zappa said that this was to be the last "Mothers" album. It was released in 1993 before his death, but the recording is from a much earlier concert, performed in 1968 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Frank said that the band was their own opening act and that all the band members put on a play written by Frank with music performed mostly by 14 members of the BBC symphony. This recording of the play was previously available on the "Mystery Disc", but the rock portion of the concert was not previously available. Frank thought it was an important concert to have on record, so he put the entire show back together for consumer purchase, but he himself said it was only a "fair - not outstanding - Mothers of Invention rock concert performance".

So, this is the album that resulted from that decision. The first part of the album is the play which was entitled "Progress?" and, from what I can gather, it was pretty much a comedy, or satire, of life in a rock n roll band called the "Mothers". Knowing Frank, this was all based on events in the band, made into a funny skit, with a lot of dialogue (spoken parts) and music thrown in as needed. As mentioned earlier, Frank said the music was done by part of the BBC symphony, but I believe that a lot of it was also done by the band. What ever the case, the music itself is quite Avant-Garde, as you would expect from Frank's classical music. A lot of the music coincides with what is going on in the play itself, dramatizing things further. The "Prologue" to the play has many classical themes and sections from Mozart among others. This is track 1. Tracks 2 - 10 are the different parts of the play, some are only spoken parts, others are a mix of spoken parts and music. The recording is quite excellent, so there are no worries there. The problem is that we only have the audio portion of the play, and, judging from the audience's reactions, we miss quite a bit of the point of the play not being able to see it. You do catch part of the humor, and if you have the lyrics in front of you, it makes a little more sense, but it would have been better to actually see what was going on. Because of this, the first part of the album seems confusing and disjointed, and, if you didn't know that it was a play they were doing, you would start wondering what kind of ridiculousness is this anyway.

The good news about the album, is that the rest of the album is the "rock portion" of the concert. Things do get better at this point. Tracks 11 - 20 contain some decent examples of classic Mothers and Zappa recordings in this live setting. The "Epilogue" of the play flows right into the first track of this section, which is a rendition of the Zappa improvisational classic "King Kong". it is a decent version, but there are better ones out there, as on the "Uncle Meat" album. Next is a very short and very different version of "Help! I'm a Rock" mostly consisting of percussion with an even shorter vocal compared to the original version on the "Freak Out!" album. This is the last of the vocals on the album, as the rest of the album is instrumental. You will recognize a lot of the classic Mothers tunes, some of them will be improvised on and others are short and straight forward. Seasoned Zappa listeners will recognize pieces of this part of the performance from various other recordings and that is because Frank spliced them into other albums, like, for instance "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and so on. Each track flows right into the other. The best tracks are the longer ones where the band does more improvisation as in "Pound for a Brown" and "Orange County Lumber Truck", but being interspersed with shorter snippets of Zappa melodies, it does break up the density of the improvisational sections.

Overall, it's an okay representation of the Mothers in concert, but there are better examples out there. The best part of the album is the musical performances, but the first half of the album definitely takes away from the rock/jazz fusion of the 2nd half. There are also many recordings that are a lot worse than this, so we can throw this one in the middle with 3 stars.

 The Mothers Of Invention: Absolutely Free by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.05 | 495 ratings

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The Mothers Of Invention: Absolutely Free
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Absolutely Free is the 2nd official Frank Zappa and the Mothers album after their debut "Freak Out!" This one pretty much takes off where the previous album left off. "Freak Out" was a double disc and started out quite structured, leaning heavily on doo wop and R&B structures of the time and Frank loved these kinds of songs. However, they are a little wacked out compared to the standard fare that was out there because FZ put his own stamp on them. The 2nd disc however, was more experimental featuring improv and collage style music with even more wackiness. "Absolutely Free" continues with more the weird and wacky, but this time, FZ adds many snippets of classical music in among the songs. The music has many surprises in it, especially to the listener who is really paying attention, and this is the main reason this album demands to be listened to more than once. The problem here however, is with the line up that FZ had with the Mothers, who appreciated the humor and the satire, but didn't really appreciate the culture that Frank was adding to the mix.

Absolutely Free originally was divided up into 2 "parts" (or in Frank's vision; "underground oratorios") The first side of the record (tracks 1 - 7)was called Absolutely Free. The 2nd side was called "The M.O.I. American Pageant". The overall feel of the album is Frank's use of the Oratorio style from many Opera works, which he composes into the music very successfully. When this album was issued on CD, 2 tracks were inserted between these 2 parts. These tracks consisted of the 2 songs from the single that was released about the same time, but was not part of this album; "Big Leg Emma" and "Why Don'cha Do Me Right?". The feeling of both of these added tracks does not fit in with the other tracks since they do not follow the oratorio style. Instead, they are more of a blues-rock sound, but they are still a welcome addition anyway.

The first Oratorio mixes political, musical and just plain outrageous vegetable satirical themes. Franks compositional skills start to really make themselves apparent here as he mixes up doo wop, classical and rock music. However, the weakness of most of the performers in the performance of such a mash up also shows through. They got the comedy part down great though. "Plastic People" acts as a Intro of what's to come up and features a motif similar to the rock classic "Louie Louie". The next 3 tracks are linked together with a theme and variation style of composition with the middle track being mostly a short instrumental break and a return to theme on the last part. This is the Duke of Prunes theme. The next 3 tracks also follow this same pattern but with a different theme; the Vegetable theme. This time, the middle section is a long 7 minute jazz instrumental with guitar and woodwinds featured at the front of the mix. The last section closes both the theme and the 1st oratorio.

On the CD version, we are now treated to 2 tracks that were not on the original release. As stated before, these 2 songs were released together as a single around the same time period. They seem to be mixed a lot better than the rest of the album and are more typical blues-rock songs with FZ vocals sung in lower registers, but still with different timbres. Pleasant enough and they are a welcome change to the oratorio style of the rest of the album.

The second Oratorio again mixes political satire with musical surprises, but no prunes or vegetables are involved this time. The main subject here is the importance of status in American society and how silly it all is when you consider it. Each section of this Oratorio stands pretty much on it's own and each represents different areas of life where status affects people in mostly negative ways. The entire oratorio is bookended by status of bar bands and represent a typical night in a bar or lounge. There is a lot of background voices signifying a busy bunch of patrons drinking. "Status Back Baby" is probably the most straight forward doo-wop song in the original line up of the album, and it hilariously deals with status at the typical high school of the 60s and 70s. "Uncle Bernie's Farm" deals with the latest fads and toys and you really notice the improv that goes on in Frank's music when Ray says something that cracks Frank up in the middle of the song. More status satire continues with "Son of Suzy Creamcheese" where Frank shifts time signatures faster than a speeding eggplant (oops where did that vegetable reference come from) in a very short song. "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is a political story sung in drama form and is the longest track on this side, in fact it is the only long track on this side, at over 7 minutes. It is a story of status clash between Lyndon Johnson who was president at the time, and a young teen girl, and, if you know Frank's sense of humor, you know what that story will consist of. Nowadays, because of a certain orange president, this behavior seems to be more acceptable, especially among the religious zealots, so it loses it's humor and impact. This track features the best performances of the Mothers on this album. The last track closes out the oratorio and the album and features some vocalizations from Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and etc.) and his girlfriend.

That's it in a nutshell. This album is more interesting as a historical and musical item then it is as an album that you would want to listen to over and over again. I find it somewhat annoying because I don't like the line up of the Mothers so much especially because they were not as advanced musically as Frank was. However, it does pull off the satire quite well. Trouble is, Frank wanted to also get listeners interested in serious music, not just from past composers, but also his own. That is where this albums fails. There are just too many people that only listen for the humor but don't want to take the time to really listen to everything going on here. Don't worry though, because Frank will do better as time goes on with the serious part. Historically, this is an important progressive album, but there are so many more albums in Zappa's repertoire that are better than this, especially when he gets better musicians to back him up. I have to give this one 3 stars, but it was a good attempt and gives a good idea of what was to come later.

 Roxy & Elsewhere by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 1974
4.39 | 311 ratings

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Roxy & Elsewhere
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

4 stars REVIEW #3 - "Roxy & Elsewhere" by Frank Zappa (1973). 5/20/2018

Continuing on the theme of the music of Frank Zappa, I felt it was necessary to review one of his live albums. Following my reviews of his 1974 album "Apostrophe" and his keyboardist George Duke's "The Aura Will Prevail", I decided to choose an album where both musicians were present. While Zappa has a myriad of live albums, and a never-ending sea of live bootlegs, his 1973 offering at the Roxy in Hollywood is considered to be his best. A compilation of songs played at the club over three concerts, fans consider this album to be an absolute masterpiece, containing the feel of Zappa's concerts at the time. It is important to realize that prior to the internet, live performances could only be heard two ways - by going to a performance or purchasing a live album. It was not as easy to hear a musician playing live material as it is today, so therefore it is always crucial that the atmosphere of a musician's live show can transition and be contained into a live album.

The lineup that plays behind Zappa is quite possibly the best of his career. Several names, including the saxophonist/vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, trombonist Bruce Fowler, the aforementioned Duke on keyboards, and Zappa himself, appear on this double LP. Perhaps one of the best traits that this album has to offer is its intercalary monologues by Zappa, where he interacts with the crowd, introducing and explaining the songs to the crowd. Most of the music on "Roxy" is new material with the exception of one song. We begin with the humorously titled "Penguin in Bondage", which while having a sexually suggestive title, does not contain the crude sexual humor which Zappa is best-known for; we are not yet to the period where it is going to be right in our faces. While the opener is a rather average piece, we get our first taste of the jazz-fusion/prog tendencies of this lineup. As I mentioned, this is considered to be one of the best lineups backing Zappa in his discography, and you can see how tight this band is as a unit. We get everything from a guitar solo, to some cheeky humor all contained in a rather mellow and sometimes slow song. Things begin to get groovy as we segue into "Pygmy Twylyte", which is a shorter yet much more active piece where Jeff Simmons takes over on lead vocals. At just above two minutes long, I consider it almost as an interlude, but I am totally digging the rhythm on this one; it makes great use of harmonics and captures a very electric musical atmosphere. I tend to prefer the more conventional songs on this album as opposed to the longer improvised and more proggy instrumentals, but there is still value in those, especially for the hardcore prog listener. Side one is wrapped up quite poorly with the skit "Dummy Up", which is a humorous improv piece where Zappa can take jabs at higher education. It is well-known that Zappa had a strong dislike for college; he attended a two-year school in Rancho Cucamonga but left after only one semester, and refused to pay for his kids' college education. In this song, a seedy "dope pushing" Simmons tries to convince Murphy Brock to smoke his high school diploma with a dirty gym sock on the inside. Afterwards, Simmons has him smoke a college diploma "with nothing at all", referring to the perceived uselessness of a college degree. While this sentiment may be more true today thanks to degree inflation, Zappa obviously had very strong feelings about higher education. Unfortunately for the song, it really does not offer much beyond a humorous skit, and in many ways it breaks the barreling flow that "Pygmy" had built up.

On the flip side, we pick up with another introductory monologue by Zappa. This time, Zappa sets up the song "Village of the Sun", an infectiously good tune about the small town of Sun Village in Northern Los Angeles County, near Lancaster, where Zappa went to high school. This is much more of a tongue-in-cheek tune, poking fun at the desert climate's tendency to peel paint off cars and "wreck their windshields too." I absolutely love this tune; it is conventional and catchy, boosted by the strong vocals by Murphy Brock. I still prefer Ike Willis over him, but he is a very good vocalist in his own regard. While there is not much of a strong prog influence on this piece, we get an instrumental showcase in "Echidna's Arf (Of You)", which directly segues out of "Sun Village." While it is a rather short piece, the listener will almost certainly be blown away by the musical abilities of this band as they play at a breakneck and heavily choreographed pace that only the most talented groups can accomplish It is not catchy, but it makes up for that by being a very musically challenging piece. I came across a cover of this tune on Duke's "The Aura Will Prevail" but it omitted much of what made this version great - opting rather to be a synth showcase. Fortunately this rendition is much better, and culminates in an absolutely insane climax which leaves the listener's head spinning. Next up is the near ten-minute instrumental "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" which brings us towards a strictly jazz fusion perspective. It cruising along very succinctly, and covers a lot of bases in terms of musical themes and the use of a strong brass section which this lineup expresses. There are a little bit of vocals by Zappa somewhere in the middle of the song, but this piece still qualifies as an instrumental altogether. Every member of the lineup gets their opportunity to shine, from the brass to a dual drum solo near the tail end of the piece - a very strong statement by the band regarding musical virtuosity. Overall I am pretty exhausted by the time all is said and done with this one, and we are only halfway through the album! There is still one LP to go, and so far this is a very solid showing by Zappa.

As per the album, the second LP opens up with another humorous monologue by Zappa. This time the theme is monster movies, preferably cheap and poorly written ones. He makes a reference to the corny 50's horror film "It Conquered the World" and its theme as inspiration to the upcoming piece "Cheepnis." This is another one of the more catchy tunes off the album, with frequent references to B-movies which precedes the main story, which concerns a giant poodle named Frunobulax that is wreaking havoc across the countryside. The military shows up to bring up the recurring "Here Fido!" theme which is found on numerous Zappa tunes, including the song "Stink-Foot" which I reviewed on the Apostrophe album. I would not say that this tune is particularly impressive, but I do enjoy the humor and the unique theme of the music. Next up is the slow and bluesy "Son of Orange County" which returns to a mellow tempo. There really is not much more to be said about this one except that there is a strong brass section and a nice chorus. At this point in the album it is a bit of a push-over, but fortunately we get a reprieve with a fiery reprisal of Zappa's "More Trouble Every Day", which was featured on the Mothers of Invention debut album "Freak Out" in 1966. This is one of more serious songs in Zappa's canon, dealing with the Watts Riots and segregation - however the political references have been castrated in this version, leaving a much more ambiguous theme. We know that Zappa looked back upon the sexual revolution which he supported at the time with disdain, but could his emotions regarding the civil rights struggles of the late-60's have tapered down over half a decade? Likely not, considering the subject matter of 1974's "Uncle Remus" on the Apostrophe album, but maybe there was some sort of retrospective decision which caused Zappa to alter the lyrics on this rendition. Nevertheless, this is one of the highlights of the album; it is an extremely brutal variant of this piece, and it comes off very good to wrap up the third side. Interestingly enough this is the ONLY song on the album that is old material, with the rest of the songs being newly released at the time, which is something you do not normally see with live concerts. Zappa never refrained from being a prolific songwriter, with it being the guitarist's personal hobby while on tour.

At this point I am more than exhausted, and we still have the fourth side, which is made up of just one sixteen- minute extended improv piece titled "Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)". Going back to the concept of capturing a live atmosphere in an album, this tune captures just that, as Zappa personally invites some of the audience on stage to dance to the scat vocals of George Duke. The entire concept of this piece revolves around dance, and Zappa is not hesitant to allow some ladies and gentlemen to enhance the live experience as the concert comes to a close. Musically there is a lot going here, and there is not necessarily a structure which the band goes along except when Zappa wants to have the guests dance their hearts out to some real abstract passages. Bruce Fowler improvises a trombone solo which mimics the rhythm of a tempo. While the music will not blow your socks off, this song definitely shines a light into the atmosphere and electricity of a Zappa live show, something which a live album should most certainly do.

I have not listened to enough of Zappa's live albums to truly and definitively name "Roxy" as his best, but I was impressed by the musicianship on this album. The Mothers tow a fine line between conventional catchy music and expanded improvisational and jazzy journeys, giving the listener the best of both worlds. I am extremely hesitant to hand out a 5-star rating, and unfortunately this album just has a little bit too many uninspiring tunes such as "Dummy Up" or "Son of Orange County" which will cause it to barely miss that rating. Nevertheless, it made it very close - my biggest takeaways from the album are "More Trouble", "Village", and "Pygmy", all of which are great tunes that have received multiple listens from myself. I recommend that you at least give this album a try - maybe you'll like it more than I do! I give it 4-stars (88% - B+), which makes it my highest rated album to date! Great for Zappa and jazz fans!

"Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny..." -Frank Zappa

 Apostrophe (') by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.03 | 630 ratings

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Apostrophe (')
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

4 stars REVIEW #1 - "Apostrophe" by Frank Zappa (1974). 5/4/2018

To preface my first review, I thought that covering a Zappa album would be a good way to begin. Given that this work is arguably his most commercially successful and accessible work, it seemed like a good starting point. Frank Zappa was one of the first artists that introduced me to progressive rock, even if at the time I was not aware of the genre's existence. A friend of mine suggested Zappa's work one night in 2015 as we were driving down Washington Boulevard in Petaluma, California - about 400 miles from where Zappa grew up in Lancaster. It would not be until 2016 that I got my hands on a copy of his 1979 album "Joe's Garage" that I got hooked onto his music. For those who have hardly listened to Zappa or not at all, his music is extremely abstract even by today's standards. An eccentric character, Zappa is surprisingly one of the few resonant prog acts to ever emerge from the United States, with a prolific catalog that includes his 1974 album "Apostrophe".

That brings me to "Apostrophe" the album, which is arguably Zappa's most accessible work from his leviathan of a discography. Running for only just over half an hour, this is a great album to test the waters for Zappa's extremely abstract and humorous style. The first side of the album is dominated by the "Yellow Snow Suite", which is a collection of four tracks that are loosely based on the same concept. The premier piece, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" was a commercial success, cracking the US Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at #86. While the single version of the song, which contains excerpts from all four songs of the suite, is radically different than the album version, a DJ in Pittsburgh edited his own version, which was popular unto itself and inspired Zappa to release the official single. While "Yellow Snow" is hardly a feat in Zappa's own musicianship, its relaxed tempo and abstract lyricism make for a good introduction to the album. In this piece we are introduced to the protagonist, an Eskimo named Nanook, which is likely a reference to the 1922 film "Nanook of the North." As Nanook's mama lets him off into the tundra, it breaks into the next song "Nanook Rubs It". The longest piece of the Suite, coming in at 4:38, we are now introduced to what I suppose is the story's primary conflict, where a "strictly commercial" fur trapper begins to whack one of Nanook's favorite baby seals with a lead-filled snow shoe. Offended by the egregious act of animal cruelty, Nanook begins throwing the "Yellow Snow" at the man, blinding him. Ultimately, the story shifts over to that of the fur trapper, who in order to heal his eyes, must travel to the parish of St. Alphonzo. This brings us into the next song of the suite, the aptly titled "St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast." A very short piece, it is a intercalary between the fourth and final piece, "Father O'Blivion" - both these songs feature sexually ambiguous lyricism, a staple of Zappa's lyricism. By the end of the Suite, any semblance of the concept has been lost oddly enough, and there is a fade out to conclude it; altogether the "Yellow Snow Suite" comes in at 10:53.

"Cosmik Debris" concludes the first side of the original LP. A popular Zappa work that was played prolifically in his live shows, it completely abandons the themes of the first four songs, now concerning the story of a particular snake-oil salesman. This one was also quite popular on the Dr. Demento radio show in the 1970's, which only further spurred Zappa's success in the States. This is the first song on the album where we get some real high energy, largely in part to both a Zappa guitar solo and a fast-paced bridge.

The second side lacks a concept, but it does start off with another short piece that serves as an introduction. "Excentrifugal Forz" comes off as the primary throwaway track of the album, and is forgettable even though it isn't necessarily bad. It is tight, fast-paced, and contains all of Zappa's musical quirks of the time period. However, it is followed by the instrumental title track, which is an absolute masterpiece. Featuring Cream bassist Jack Bruce on bass guitar, this track is pure musical nastiness. A farty bass-line drives the music at a cool pace, reminiscent of a jam session. While this collaboration proves to have spawned a wonderful piece of music, it also seems to have spawned tension between both Zappa and Bruce. Zappa, who later in 1977 was asked about the collab in an interview with Guitar Player Magazine, remarked that he met Bruce through drummer Jim Gordon, and found him "difficult" to play with. Bruce had even harsher words for Zappa in 1992 in an interview for Tylko Rock, claiming that Zappa had invited him to appear on his album, and after listening to his "awful" music, had "made a sound" for Zappa's "most popular record". Bruce even denied that he played bass on the album, with him saying that he recorded cello parts for the album. However, given the audible similarities between the bass-line on "Apostrophe" and his work with Cream, it is obvious that Bruce was lying. Whatever tensions the two artists had, at least they were able to put together a very strong work - a take-away from this album.

Next up, we get a much more light-hearted collaboration between Zappa and jazz pianist George Duke for the brief but powerful "Uncle Remus". A song which has a pretty clear-cut theme about race relations in the 1970's, the title is inspired by the controversial African-American cartoon character of the same name. This is another one of my personal favorites off the album, opening up in a balladic fashion with Duke's piano and Zappa's happy-go-lucky vocals backed by the uncredited Tina Turner and the Ikettes, who elevate this song to another level. Midway through the song, Zappa brings in the guitar, and we're in a jamming mood as the song hits a bridge and careens towards the coda, which is a wonderful Zappa solo - unequivocally the best on this album. Duke would record his own version of the song for his own 1975 solo album "The Aura Will Prevail" which is much more mellow and is also deserving of a listen. Closing out the album is the six-minute "Stink-Foot" which was inspired by a foot-spray commercial. The longest piece on the album if you don't consider the Yellow Snow Suite a full song, it is a continuation of the avant-garde jazz style featured on the album, and contains many allusions to previous Zappa lyrical themes, including the talking poodle Fido, "conceptual continuity", and even the boots from "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" earlier in the album. This style cannot be considered musique concrete, but is more a rather unique concept that is exclusive to Zappa's music. Overall, while "Stink-Foot" is geared to close the album out with an extended guitar solo, it is a step down from the previous two pieces which arguably dominate the album.

"Apostrophe" is Zappa's most easily accessible albums. It features a roster of musicians, including not just Bruce, Duke, and Gordon, but also violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, Ian Underwood, and Napoleon Murphy Brock. The album gets its fair share of exposure in the prog rock community - while it is by no means one of Zappa's greatest works on a musical level, it has a role given its affinity to introduce a listener to his music. The greatest takeaways from "Apostrophe" are the title track and "Uncle Remus" - the former being an excellent bass showcase and the latter being one of Zappa's more emotional and serious works. There are no terrible pieces on the album, although I was not particularly struck by half of the Yellow Snow Suite, and I felt "Stink-Foot" fell flat following up the album highlights. I give this album four stars (83% B-); it is a succinct album with some takeaways that are worth being in your personal collection.

 The Mothers Of Invention: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.78 | 263 ratings

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

Review by MATT1980

5 stars Very few love for this album, which is a little bit sad. I rate this one a 10/10. Frank Zappa has worked in all areas of music and so it only comes natural that he also would record his "Pop"-album. And in this case "Pop" means "Doo Woop", a musical genre established in the 50s and nearly forgotten today. One thing you must note is that there are at least two different mixes of the album. The original one and the one where bass and drums were re-recorded (along with "We're only in it for the Money"). I think both mixes work incredibly fine, but the latter is considered inferior by some part of the fan base. In fact, I think the 80's mix sounds more fun. Starting with the real catchy "Cheap Thrills" this album moves straight forward and at the end we also have a nice guitar solo with "Stuff Up the Cracks". If you are looking for a real fun album, dig this. It's full of beautiful melodies.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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