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Frank Zappa - Tinsel Town Rebellion CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.09 | 157 ratings

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3 stars 'Tinsel Town Rebellion' is technically a live album from Frank Zappa, but also contains some studio recorded material. It is actually a culmination of some unreleased albums and ideas that FZ had. The names of the unreleased projects were 'Crush all Boxes' which was supposed to be a 3 disc live album, and 'Warts and All' which became too unwieldy to release as it contained music that was later released on 'You Are What You Is', 'Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar' series and 'You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore' series. TTR was released in 1981 after 'Joe's Garage' and before the first 'Shut Up . . .' album.

The line up on this album includes such greats as Peter Wolf, Ed Mann, Tommy Mars, Patrick O'Hearn, Steve Vai, Ray White and Ike Willis among others. The album cover is a conglomeration of several images all mashed together in a collage.

The album starts with the original studio recording of 'Fine Girl' which the record company promoted by running a contest. People sent in pictures of girls that they thought would be considered a fine girl by FZ. The winning entry was an electric guitar in the shape of a naked lady. The winner of the prize was to meet FZ in between shows on Halloween 1981 in New York. FZ posed with the winner. The song itself is a reggae style track with comedic tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

'Easy Meat' is a track that is edited from various sources as was a typical recording method for Frank. The 'Crush All Boxes' version recorded in concert with overdubs at Upper Darby, PA on April 29, 1980. It goes to UCLA for some improvisations done on Sept 8, 1975, moves to a snippet from the 'Lather' album and then goes to the early show in Santa Monica on December 11, 1980 from the 3:20 mark to the ending after 9 minutes. The last edit consists mostly of one of Frank's amazing guitar solos with the out chorus at the end.

'For the Young Sophisticate' is recorded entirely in London at the late show on Feb. 18, 1979. It's a simple boogie rhythm with the usual FZ lyrical hijinx. 'Love of My Life is a short doo-wop song from 'Cruising with Ruben and the Jets' this time recorded at Berkeley on Dec 5, 1980. 'I Ain't Got No Heart' from 'Freak Out!' follows also recorded at the same venue.

Some silly FZ humor follows with interaction with the audience in 'Panty Rap', which most of you already know what that is about. 'Tell Me You Love Me' is a harder rocker from 'Chunga's Revenge' originally and continues the string of tracks from Berkeley. Finally, we move out of Berkeley for 'Now You See It, Now You Don't'. This guitar solo with a reggae vibe was recorded live at Southern Illinois University on Nov 15, 1980. Then we go to the Palladium in NYC on Oct 27, 1978 for another audience interaction track called 'Dance Contest' where FZ invites people on stage to dance to a non-danceable complex tune.

'The Blue Light' is a track that showed up in studio later on 'Thing-Fish', and is edited and jumps back and forth between 3 shows, both the early and late shows at Berkeley on Dec 5, 1980 and the Santa Monica show on Dec 11, 1980. This track has snippets of 'My Sharona' from The Knack and the 'Jaws' theme. It is also not as annoying as the studio version from that awful 'Thing Fish' album. But it has a long lounge style of singing in the middle that FZ loved to use during that era. 'Tinsel Tow Rebellion' was original to this album even though it is done live at Berkeley again. It is one of the funnier tracks that FZ used to lampoon Hollywood. 'Pick Me I'm Clean' is also original to this album and was recorded live in Berkeley, but switches to Dallas on Oct 17, 1980 just before the guitar solo.

Next up is 'Bamboozled By Love' which many have said is a satirical take on 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' by Yes, but that isn't correct as this was recorded in London on Feb 19, 1979 and '90125' wasn't released until 1982. However, FZ did use the 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' riff on this song after the Yes song was released. This song does have a heavy riff and a great guitar solo on this version too. After this, we stay in London for 'Brown Shoes Don't Make It' from the 'Absolutely Free' album. Even though it was all recorded in London, this track is actually edited between 4 shows during a multiple day stint for the band. The song, of course, is about old male politicians and the way they cover up their perverted habits. The last track is 'Peaches III' which is just the 3rd version of 'Peaches en Regalia', the excellent Zappa instrumental, though this one uses too much of the 80's synthesizer, so it's not exactly the best version, but it's okay.

So, this is a pretty good live album, especially seeing that it was recorded just as a string of not so great studio albums were starting to come out. There is a good amount of humor, both obvious and not so obvious, there are a few good guitar solos, but not much in the way of the band itself, only with Zappa himself. It wouldn't be the first live FZ album I would recommend, but it wouldn't be a complete loss either.

TCat | 3/5 |


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