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Frank Zappa - FZ:OZ CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.93 | 58 ratings

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3 stars This is a live recording of most of the show performed at Sydney, Australia in January of 1976. The line up is one that is a rare one when it comes to live documentation, but it consists of one of the smallest live line-ups in FZ's discography. The band was pared down to the bare minimum here and the timing was right between the Bongo Fury album and the Zoot Allures album (which utilized this line up for the most part). The album was released posthumously by the Zappa family trust and was quite an anticipated release because of the rareness of releases of this time in Zappa history, unless you didn't mind having a bootleg.

The line up isn't bad, but it was just before the best line up would be formed. The concert itself has some songs on it that were rarely heard live plus one song that was not recorded anywhere else. This fact heightened the anticipation for the release. The recording isn't too bad as far as quality most of the time, but it isn't as good as some. The tape used had to be changed throughout the concert and this left some spots in the show that were not recorded, so, in order to release this show, the gaps had to be filled in with whatever bootlegs were available, thus resulting in a few spots in the recording that are obviously not as well recorded as others. But, the fact that most of the release was from mostly one show was an exciting prospect and in fact, is the most attractive thing about this recording. Other than that, there are much better recordings of the staple songs on other albums, but there are also a lot of rare performances on this that might make it worth while for Zappa-philes.

This album starts out with an introduction of the small band and a little goofing around before slipping immediately into a decent rendition of "Stinkfoot", moving on to "The Poodle Lecture" and on to "Dirty Love". These first songs fit together because of a common theme and are usually performed together on plenty of other live albums. Next comes a less often heard instrumental called "Filthy Habits" which comes from the "Sleep Dirt" album which wouldn't be released until 1979. This shows that many songs existed before being officially recorded, that FZ would often try out songs in concert to perfect them before officially releasing them. Thus you get an early version of this great instrumental. This is the first reason to find this album. Next comes some very early r&b style music from the debut Mothers album "Freak Out!". Brock at this point takes over the lead vocals from Frank and it brings a new feeling to these songs that were originally sung by members of the original Mothers line-up, so these songs can really sound different from the originals, namely "How Can I Be Such a Fool", "I Ain't Got No Heart" and "I'm Not Satisfied". After this trio of songs, the band plays some tracks from the then future "Zoot Allures" and it is interesting to hear these tracks in their early development. An almost 12 minute version of the classic guitar barn burner "Black Napkins" kicks in and the instrumental is awesome here. The theme is pretty much the same as the official studio version, but the improvised keyboard and later guitar solos are amazing. Then comes an 11 minute version of "Advance Romance" (from Bongo Fury) but without Captain Beefheart singing, this falls once again to Brock. He does a good job and the soloing in the middle is in fine form once again. The famous "Illinois Enema Bandit" comes next, but there are better recordings of this out there. Going back again to the future past, the band picks from unreleased material and plays a mediocre "Wind Up Workin at a Gas Station" and a shortened and quicker version of "The Torture Never Stops" which you can tell is underdeveloped, but enhanced with a harmonica solo instead of what would later be a hallmark for the killer guitar solos in future shows. The harmonica is played by a local Aussie talent who throws in an attempt at humor.

Disc 2 continues where we left off with the rare short instrumental piece "Canard Dujour" followed by an otherwise unavailable live version of the ultra rare song "Kaiser Rolls". Is it worth the search of this album for this track.....not really, but Zappa-philes will have to have it you know. Another track from the future "Zoot Allures" follow in "Find Her Finer" which is just annoying as usual, then the ever popular concert staple "Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy" which is an okay version but has a great guitar solo in it. The rare live version of "Lonely Little Girl", "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" (with vocals!) and "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body" all from "We're Only IN it for the Money" follow, but the versions here are again a bit lackluster, so not really worth the trouble. After this, a great version of the rare "Chunga's Revenge comes next with a very long sax solo and finally a drum solo, this after 15 minutes flows into another long instrumental off of Zoot Allures (the title track) and this is also great, but it turns into what will be known as "Ship Ahoy" with the echoing effects of the guitar giving a great ambient sound. The show was supposed to end after the usual "Keep it Greasy" but after a demand for encores, the band comes back and ends with the excellent 1 - 2 -3 punch of the showstoppers "Dinah Moe-Humm" which had been requested numerous times through the show by some demented fan and in this case has a nice doo-wop section, then "Camarillo Brillo" followed by "Muffin Man". This was a favorite encore set for the fans and the band in that it ended the show on an upbeat and exciting way. On this album, we are treated to another version of "Kaiser Rolls (du jour)" which is the rehearsal of the song recorded a few weeks before the actual show, again this song is not available elsewhere.

So is it worth it? To the casual listener, it might be okay, but there are better choices out there with better sound. For the Zappa-phile, there is quite a bit to get excited about though. For me, I have to average it out to 3 stars. It is entertaining enough and there some great bits here, but for the most part, there are better recordings out there.

TCat | 3/5 |


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