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Frank Zappa - Joe's Camouflage CD (album) cover

JOE'S CAMOUFLAGE

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.99 | 34 ratings

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Alucard
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Crux of the biscuit # 3

The tracks for 'Joe's Camouflage' were recorded during rehearsals in the summer of 1975 on a 4 track recorder by Denny Walley.

In the summer of 1975 Zappa was looking for musicians for a forthcoming world tour. For these rehearsals he kept Napoleon Murphy Brook, Terry Bozzio, Denny Walley and added Andre Lewis on keyboards and vocals, Novi Novag on viola, keyboards and vocals, Robert Camarena on guitar and vocals and former Mothers member Roy Estrada on bass and vocals. This would be in majority also the band going on the 75/76 world tour.

Knowing that it would be impossible for new musicians to learn the highly complex music of the former Mothers, Zappa moved on and for one simplified his music and put himself more on the forefront as a soloist.

The new compositions, he rehearsed in the summer of 75 were to a large extent short modal pieces that could serve as a foil for extended solos, 'Black Napkins' becoming the most well known, which makes here its first appearance.

So what's on the menu :

Two older tracks 'T'mershi Duween', one of the staples of the former Mothers shows which would not remain on the concert list and 'Take your clothes off' in a reggae version. Maybe a coincidence, but 1975 was also the year that Bob Marley was becoming popular and Zappa would use quite often reggae versions of his songs from now on.

Two new social commentary songs that would remain for quite a long time in the live repertory: 'Honey, Honey' and 'The Illinois Enema Bandit'. The versions here are basic, but the lyrics are already definitive.

As already mentioned the main dish on this record is 'Black Napkins' in a nearly finished version with a great solo and good viola work by Novag.

'Phyniox' is an interesting overture in form of a march that Zappa would never use again.

'Reeny Ra' sounds a bit like an older Pachuco influenced track maybe with the idea to feature Roy Estrada on vocals. This version without lyrics and only Zappa style vocalizing gives way to a great Zappa solo including a citation of 'T'mershi Duween'. From some studio chatter one could guess that Zappa wanted to combine both pieces. 'Sleep Dirt', the track that would appear as a acoustic guitar duet on 'Sleep Dirt' appears here with Zappa double tracking on acoustic guitar plus viola and some bass.

'Any Downers' is build around a riff and serves as background track for a dialogue improvisation between Zappa and Napoleon (like 'Room Service') about drug users and some Pachuco vocals by Estrada including also a great Zappa solo. This track would also not appear elsewhere.

All in all an interesting document, seen that half of the tracks have never appeared elsewhere and that the musicians have never played again in that combination. The sound is good even so the balance between the instruments is not perfect.

The two records that would make a good complementary listen are 'Zoot Allures' (studio) and FZ: OZ (from the early 76 Australia tour)

4,0 Stars for Zappa fans

Alucard | 3/5 |

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