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Frank Zappa - Roxy & Elsewhere CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.39 | 326 ratings

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4 stars A substantial improvement over Zappa's two prior live album releases (Fillmore East and Just Another Band from L.A., both recorded with the tepid Flo and Eddie lineup), Roxy and Elsewhere captures the legendary mid-1970s version of the Mothers of Invention in fine form. The comedic and theatrical elements to the live show are still present - as witnessed by a skit in which Jeff Simmons tries to convince Napoleon Murphy Brock to smoke his high school diploma - but unlike in earlier live releases the top-notch musicianship isn't scaled back to make room for the comedy.

Compositions such as Don't You Ever Wash That Thing feature exceptional solos from many of the band members, and overall the quality of the music is extremely high. Zappa's wit is in full flow too - the scatological and sexual preoccupations which sometimes derailed his lyrics are kept tied down here (literally - as on Penguin In Bondage), and Cheepnis is probably the best pre-Mystery Science Theater 3000 tribute to the joy of watching a really *bad* monster movie (and goes some way to explaining why so many of the MST3K crew were Zappa fans, and why Zappa was an MST3K fan...).

I can't give it full marks because the album does bog down towards the end; the two "Elsewhere" tracks, slowed-down and inferior renditions of 60s-era material (Son of Orange County and More Trouble Every Day) are just not as interesting as the rest of material, and The Bebop Tango might have been an entertaining skit to watch live, but doesn't really translate well to audio. Still, it must have been a relief back in the 1970s to finally have a Frank Zappa live album of as high a standard as this, and the first two-and-a-bit sides of the album are five-star performances if I've ever heard them.

Warthur | 4/5 |


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