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Frank Zappa - Broadway The Hard Way CD (album) cover

BROADWAY THE HARD WAY

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.62 | 126 ratings

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Evolver
Special Collaborator
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is a very different album for Frank Zappa. This was the first album released by his final touring band, an amazing performing group. The LP, which was released before the CD version, features only previously unreleased songs, most of them new compositions (Dickie's Such An A**hole was played much earlier, and has since appeared on "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3", but here has some updated lyrics). The songs focus less on Zappa's music than on social satire and criticism. There are enough eyebrows to make the music interesting, but Frank just doesn't seem to be putting much into the musical composition on the album.

The satire focuses on Hollywood plastic people, right wing hypocrites, Jesse Jackson, and Elvis Presley. It's funny, but now mostly dated. It makes me wonder what he would have written had he lived to see the past decade of political disasters.

The CD fares better. All of the LP tracks are here, although the explanation of "confinement loaf" that preceded Dickie... on the record was cut, making those references more confusing. But there are some great additions. Stolen Moments by Oliver Nelson, is one of my favorite jazz pieces ever, and Zappa's band plays it perfectly. Even a guest appearance by Sting, singing Murder By Numbers over it, doesn't mar the performance. There is a once funny, now tragic rewriting of Tell Me You Love Me, now about Michael Jackson, played at a blistering pace. And the very funny Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk.

I'd give the LP 3 stars, and the CD 4 stars. 3.75 stars total (the CD is much longer)

Evolver | 4/5 |

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