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Frank Zappa - Lumpy Gravy CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.19 | 382 ratings

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5 stars The major part of 'Lumpy Gravy' (everything besides the dialogues) was recorded in autumn 1966 in the Capitol Studios, but due to a querrel between MGM and Capitol, the material was only released in 1968.The record combines modern contemporary orchestral music, surf music, sound effects and electronic textures, interwoven with dialogue fragments.

This record is not easy to access ( and it is and was Zappa's least succesfull record).The record is a part of what Zappa called his 'Conceptual continuity', a part of a bigger ensemble. Besides the pure musical content Zappa makes a statement with this record. 1.:There is no distinction between 'higher' and 'lower' music forms, only between good and bad music, hence the side by side of surf music, pop tunes and highly sophisticated orchestral compositions. Like the french composer Eric Satie, Zappa always took an ironic distance to his work and life in general 2.: His music influences his life and his life influences his music, hence the introduction of spoken 'everyday' material and social comments.

A big part of the record consists of spoken material, Frank:"One day I decided to stuff a pair of U-87's [microphones] in the piano, cover it with a heavy drape, put a sand bag on the sustain pedal and invite anybody in the vicinity to stick their head inside and ramble incoherently about the various topics I would suggest to them via the studio talk-back system. Some of the people who took the challenge included Spider Barbour (musician), All Night John (the studio manager), Gilly Townley (sister of the guy who owned the studio [Apostolics NYC]), Monica (the receptionist), Roy Estrada and Motorhead Sherwood, Louis the turkey and a few others." The resulting dialogue snippets are some strange philosophic observations that will appear throughout Zappa's ouevre, mainly the BIG NOTE.

'Lumpy Gravy' is the result of heavy editing and splicing. In general you have all of Zappa's Music to come already in a nutshell: the record starts with an orchestrated 'Cowboy' theme reminding Zappa's first experience as a film composer and his music for 'Run Home Slow'. Throughout the record you have orchestrated recordings of short contemporary pieces.(If you just want to listen to his orchestral music, edit it up like this: Side One: 12:00-15:48 & Side two: 4:00- 5:30/6:30-7:30/9:30-13:40. All these pieces are brillant.Apart from that you have the theme of 'Oh No' apearing two times, the intro of RDNZL, the theme of 'King Kong' and the record ends with the theme of 'Take your clothes off'. All these tracks will appear later on Zappa's records.

It is difficult to write a conclusion for this record, 'Lumpy Gravy' is a milestone in recording & editing technique (Zappa passed 9 months on 2 track razor blade editing), it contains brillant orchestral compostions, some nice 'popular' music, strange dialogues about the universe, a big note and pigs & poneys and everything combined with Zappa's trademark 'Putting the Eyebrows on it spirit'. It is one of Zappa's masterpices and If you are willing to enter the Zappuniverse you will be highly rewarded.

Alucard | 5/5 |


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