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Frank Zappa - Cucamonga (1962 - 1964) CD (album) cover

CUCAMONGA (1962 - 1964)

Frank Zappa



2.11 | 18 ratings

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2 stars This is simply a collection of recordings that Frank Zappa either performed in or produced. On the songs he performed on, he usually played guitar and provided low bass harmony. The songs are from various groups he had some kind of relationship with way before he produced his debut Mothers of Invention album named "Freak Out!". FZ loved these doo wop and novelty songs and this is the type of music he released with these band that included The Penguins, Baby Ray & the Ferns, Mr. Clean, The Hollywood Persuaders and many others.

This compilation album was released twice, once in 1998 and reissued with additional tracks and a different track order in 2004. I believe both issues are hard to find now. There were other compilations out there that featured the doo wop era and it's hard to find any of them. As FZ started recording his Mothers and his solo albums, he would revisit doo wop and r&b several times and you can hear that influence in many of the "Freak Out!" songs as many of them are in the doo wop style and some of them were revised and released on the "Cruisin' with Ruben and the Jets" album which was performed and released while the original Mothers were together. If you are interested in FZ's doo wop style, that would be the album I would recommend, but if you want a taste of the original doo wop songs released before FZ's rise to fame, then this would be the best collection. Approach it with an open mind as you would any FZ release.

So there some hit and misses here. The collection starts off and end with the worst of the bunch: "Dear Jeepers" and "Letters from Jeepers". These tracks are plain awful and stupid. But there are some excellent doo wop songs here too like "Memories of El Monte", "Everytime I See You", the instrumental surf rock tracks "Tiajanna Surf" and "Grunion Run" and several others. I believe there is overall more good than bad tracks, but the music will only appeal to 2 groups of people: doo wop and novelty music lovers and Frank Zappa collectors/completionists, so for that reason this album gets 2 stars. No prog, no guitar solos, a little comedy, and a lot of 50s-60s style music. Also good for music history buffs.

TCat | 2/5 |


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