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Frank Zappa - Trance-Fusion CD (album) cover

TRANCE-FUSION

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.51 | 68 ratings

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TCat
3 stars 'Trance-Fusion' is another album of guitar solos that Frank Zappa worked on prior to his death. It was released posthumously in 2006, but had been announced several times before that without it happening (except in bootlegs). Just like his other guitar solo albums like the 'Shut Up n Play Yer Guitar' series, this album only contains several guitar solo sections from mostly live performances of standard FZ songs.

Instead of describing each track, which would be rather monotonous since they are all guitar solos played against a sparse or repetitive background, I will note where each solo was taken from as far as the venue and the original song and the date it was performed. Yeah, I know it sounds boring, but FZ fans will appreciate it and, who knows, I'll throw in some interesting Zappa trivia about the tracks and you might learn something you didn't know.

The album starts off with 'Chunga's Revenge' at the Wembley Arena in London on April 19, 1988. On this solo, Frank is joined by his son Dweezil. After the concert ended, Mike Keneally was backstage talking to Dweezil when Frank came into the room and gave his son a big hug and proudly said that he was a real musician now. Apparently, it was a difficult backing to play a solo over and they both pulled it off quite well. For FZ solo lovers, this is definitely one that should not be missed as it is quite impressive.

After this, the solos are named differently from the tracks they are taken from. 'Bowling on Cheren' is the solo taken from 'Wild Love' played at The Palladium in NYC at the early show on Oct 28, 1977. FYI, Cheron is one of Pluto's moons named after the boatman that takes souls over the river Styx. 'Good Lobna' is taken from 'Let's Move to Cleveland' performed at Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennesee on Dec 4, 1984. The title is taken from a Simpson's episode of the same name.

'A Cold Dark Matter' is the solo from 'Inca Roads' performed at Memorial Hall in Allentown, PA on March 19, 1988. The track is named after the Cold Dark Matter Theory. 'Butter or Canons' is from the performance of 'Let's Move to Cleveland' this time at The Pier in NYC on August 25, 1984. The solos after Chunga's Revenge have been more 'mellow-ish' and this one is more of a blistering solo.

'Ask Dr. Stupid' comes from 'Easy Meat' performed at Rhein-Neckarhalle in Eppelheim, Germany on March 21, 1979. This solo relies more on the beat driving it (you can easily detect the Easy Meat bass line) keeping the solo quite solid. This was also a title of a Ren and Stimpy episode and the title was taken from that. FZ actually provided voice overs for the cartoon on a separate episode called 'The Powdered Toast Man' 'Scratch n Sniff' comes from the performance of 'City of Tiny Lights' from Brighton Centre in Brighton, UK on April 16, 1988. There are some really cool tone-bending effects on this solo.

'Trance-Fusion' is from the performance of 'Marque-son's Chicken' from Liederhalle, Germany on May 24, 1988. The background is a funky almost reggae-style riff which FZ loved to go wildly off-the-rails on. 'Gorgo' is pulled from the solo for 'The Torture Never Stops' as performed in Stockholm on May 1, 1988. Gorgo was the name of a movie monster on an American rip-off of Godzilla. It was also the name of FZ's cat. After the wildness of the previous track, this one is a nice slowed down and mellow solo.

'Diplodocus' comes from the 'King Kong' performance at the Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island on October 26, 1984. This one revisits the reggae vibe again. 'Soul Polka' is from the performance of 'Oh No' at the Memorial Hall in Allentown, PA on March 19, 1988. As the title suggests, the background is a quick polka with FZ doing a non-polka sounding solo (but that doesn't mean you can't drink beer to it). It is quite a rapid-fire solo though. 'For Giuseppe Franco' is from the 'Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel' performance at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, WA at the late show on December 17, 1984. Giuseppe Franco was FZ's hairdresser. This one has a nice jazz background where FZ shreds quite crazily along especially towards the end.

'After Dinner Smoker' came from the performance of 'The Torture Never Stops' at the Palasport in Genoa, Italy on June 9, 1988. This was a slow performance of the track, so the background and the resulting solo is very blues-y. 'Light is All that Matters' is the solo from 'Let's Move to Cleveland' performed at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, WA during the late show on Dec. 17, 1984.

'Finding Higgs' Boson' is the solo from 'Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Motel' performed in Stadthale, Vienna, Austria on May 8, 1988. 'Bavarian Sunset' is a jam based off of 'I Am the Walrus' which was performed in Munich, Germany on May 9, 1988. This one also features Dweezil.

All of the solos flow into each other almost like a very long track or solo. The solos are all great, no doubt about it, but it can be rather difficult to sit through an album like this that almost seems like one 60 minute guitar solo. But there are fans that demand recordings like this since FZ was one of the best guitarists of all time. As for myself, I find it very difficult to sit through, and by the end, everything starts to melt together making it hard to distinguish one track from another. Yes there are great solos here, but I find the solos much more entertaining when they are kept in the context of the full song. Since the production and sound is great on this, it is still deserving of 3 stars. Every Progressive fan and guitar-God lover should have at least one of the guitar solo albums, but it really doesn't matter which one because they all have some excellent examples of FZ guitar work.

TCat | 3/5 |

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