Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Frank Zappa - Roxy & Elsewhere CD (album) cover

ROXY & ELSEWHERE

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars That's entertainment! This double LP record has been recorded live, and Frank Zappa plays the role of an entertainer on it! There are many parts where just a light background music gives an atmosphere to the conversations and to Zappa's oral presentations. The record has many fast and complex instrumental parts. "Be-Bop Tango" is a 16 minutes tracks where Zappa invites some people in the audience to dance while George Duke scats and plays a solo at the same time; this track also contains an outstanding trombone solo, plus "impossible to play" xylophone-drums-bass-trumpet combination. "Cheepnis" is an absolutely addictive track, very catchy, rhythm changing, complex and fast! The consecutive "Echidna's Arf" and "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" demonstrate a great mastering of the challenging synchronization of instrumentation; those tracks have very complex and fast fusion patterns; Ruth Underwood's percussions are outstanding! Zappa does not miss to play some impossible guitar solos. After the jazzy Grand Wazoo album, Zappa made 5 records between 1973 and 1975, and this one is the most instrumental and jazz/fusion by far!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Report this review (#29925)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This one rocks: dazzling arrangements, brilliant songs, a modicum of molten guitar licks and some clever stage banter. I'm partial to this lineup of THE MOTHERS: Ruth Underwood (previously "Presto"n) has never shined so bright -- "Echidna's Arf (of You)" is nothing less than stunning -- while Napoleon Murphy Brock gives the band a legitimate vocalist. Although the double elpee only presents nine works, collectively it's an overwhelming experience. "The Be-Bop Tango (of The Old Jazzmen's Church)" is enough to drain most listeners, filling every conceivable nook and cranny of side four with notes before devolving into one of Frank's audience participation pieces. Generally, the show (actually shows, which explains the elsewhere) balances between hot instrumental workouts and memorable songs. Not many listeners were left humming "Echidna's Arf (of You)" or "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing", but quite a few I'll bet have recalled bits of "Cheepnis", "Penguin In Bondage" and "Village of the Sun" over the years. Not all of Roxy is top-shelf stuff; "Dummy Up" is a forgettable poke at "higher" education and "Son of Orange County" is cute but could have been more fully developed. Still, "Roxy & Elsewhere" is no mere live placeholder; 90% of the material is new (Freak Out's "More Trouble Every Day" earns a fiery reprise) and the performance is as clean as "studio" albums like One Size Fits All.

Although Over-Nite Sensation is the best way to get acquainted with this version of THE MOTHERS (i.e., the mid-'70s Mothers), I'd rank Roxy right below it. I haven't heard Apostrophe yet, so I can't speak to that, but I'd certainly recommend this over One Size, Bongo and Zoot.

Report this review (#29927)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think this could be the best place to start a Zappa collection. This cd has it all. Sarcastic lyrics, fantastic instrumental parts...just about everything Zappa is famous for. And although this is a live album this is the first time most of the songs here are on record. Definitely among Zappa´s best albums of the 70´s.
Report this review (#29928)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In the early Eighties I bought this 2-LP on the famous Champes Elysees in Paris, in a record store with prices that matched with the luxurous atmoshpere in that era. Until then I only had heard good stories about Frank Zappa his music, at that moment in Paris I decided that it was time to buy something from this unique personality. The decisive factor to buy this 2-LP was the presence of musicians like Georg Duke, known for his amazing Minimoog play. And imagine that drummer Chester Thompson (soon with Jean-Luc Ponty) was years away from his later work with Genesis and Steve Hackett!

The music on this exciting live double album is not progressive rock in the tradition of the symphonic rock dinosaurs but it is genuine progressive rock: a dynamic and captivating mix of jazz, rock and classic. The guitarplay from Frank Zappa is so distinctive: flowing, fiery and biting with the use of several effect-pedals. The integration of the percussion from Ruth Underwood and the brass instruments makes the sound from Frank Zappa very vivid but also very complex and not really accessible. Another typcial ingredient is the humor, for many people a reason for a cult-following and in my opinion this made from Frank Zappa a bit of a hero for the more intellectual part of the nation in especially the USA but also here in Holland. But back to the music, this 2-LP showcases a very good and inspired Frank Zappa and his Mothers, it is a perfect start to discover Franz Zappa!

Report this review (#44129)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars By the time it was released in the seventies, I paid little attention to this album as it did not sound like Genesis or Yes or ELP where I thought were different from other rock music in that era. For me personally, "Roxy & Elsewhere" fit only with the music of seventies standard rock. So I didn't play this live album a lot and I preferred playing The Lamb Lies Down or Selling England or Nursery Cryme by Genesis or Relayer, Close To The Edge by Yes. But I found later that this album had some prog elements especially in the use of violin, brass section and keyboard (by George Duke). I gave it a try and I did enjoy it even though I consider this is 80% classic rock while only 20% prog elements.

It's a classic live album by Zappa which as usual with a unique Zappa communication style with the crowd like he does in the Preamble to explain what the song "Penguin in Bondage" means. It's a rocking track with humorous vocals of Zappa and stunning classic rock guitar sounds. The violin work as well as brass section at this track is also unique. Yes, the nuance is truly a classic rock concert with sometime Zappa does a lot of dialogue with the crowd while the music only plays at the background. It continues seamlessly with "Pygmy Twylyte" (2:13) and "Dummy Up" (6:02). The music is a combination of rock, funk with some jazzy touch. The live album concludes with a relatively long track with some introductory remarks by Fank Zappa, "Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)" (16:41). With the kind of complex opening this final track offers, I can understand that this is a progressive act by Frank Zappa. The intro part reminds me to the kind of traditional music in Jakarta, Indonesia called as "Tanjidor". The variety of styles offered by this track has made it truly rich in composition. The trombone solo is completely accompanied by jazz music as rhythm section. "Jazz is not dead it's just smell funny ." says Zappa during the preparation of the real Be Bop Tango dance on stage followed with George Benson's like singing style. Interesting live show. Zappa invited the crowd to come up on stage "Rick and Jane and Carl, . Lana, Brenda, etc.".

It's an excellent live music that demonstrates humorous live performance by Zappa / Mothers. It confirms that humor does belong to music. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#45400)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Quite simiply one of the most entertaining, well crafted live shows ever recorded. The recording itself is unbelievable. Bebob can be alittle long, but the rest is top notch. When I was in my late teens I bought this and have felt the same about it for over twenty years. It is a live recording that makes you wish you could have been there. It is hard to envision some much going on all at once with no overdubbing. FZ's guitar riffs still make my hair stand on end. One of the best guitar albums I own and I have over 3500. Some of the other live albums don't seem tocapture this type of feeling. The only 5 star FZ live .
Report this review (#77424)
Posted Sunday, May 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I know there's a lot of live releases in the Zappa repertoire but from what I heard, this one is the one that impressed me the most. Frank and the Mothers are showing strenght and humor all through the album. I heard almost zero weaknesses. Zappa's narrating parts on the song will make you laugh most of the time, especially on the improvised blues part of "Dummy Up". A must have for any of you if you don't own any live Frank Zappa already!
Report this review (#81847)
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Such a great live set recorded live at LA's Roxy in 1973, being one of the best examples concerning the versatility of an unforgettable musician!! It's a brilliant guitar job, well supported by one of the best line-up ever, based upon that incredible one you can recognize within "One Size Fits All", featuring George Duke / keyboards and synthesizers, - Napoleon Murphy Brock on flute, tenor sax and vocals, Chester Thompson on drums and Tom Fowler on bass guitar...Except on a couple of relaxed monologues (I don't find exciting features within..) and a few funky arrangements being just a little bit 'forced' by the heat of the moment, you can stand listening to his music for hours and hours, as you can find a lot of Zappa Classics inside!!The monster movies are well dipicted here through ironical songs such as 'Cheepnis', laughing at the low budget horror movies, but you can't forget a very long track (perhaps too long) like "Be-Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen's Church)," with its terrific keyboard work, as well as such a fine Zappa's fusion based number - entitled 'Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? ' Thefore the guitar interplay with George Dukes and his magical trumpet is one of the best live acts ever seen live!!

Amazing!!

Report this review (#83874)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Zappa's 73/74 touring band was one of the best lineups he ever conceived. It had a strong musical sense and there were some wicked funny bits in the middle. On top of all that, this mostly instrumental unit was able to create fascinating jazz-rock music and even stray into other more exciting territories. The ultimate realization of this touring band came full circle in the live album Roxy & Elsewhere (recorded at the Roxy in LA). Zappa is also at this best in the guitar sense, with his ripping and insane solos being on display is many parts of the album, but it's not just Zappa who get a turn in the spotlight. Everyone gets a little spot to shine, from George Duke's scat sections in Be-Bop Tango to Napoleon Murphy Brock's various saxophone solos and incredible vocal sections. In the end, while not as good as One Size Fits All is fares better than the previous album Over-Nite Sensation and better than the next album Apostrophe (').

It all begins with the infamous Penguin in Bondage. The introduction for it has Zappa speaking in dense language, but the song picks up nicely with a fun laid back feel, with little manic fills here and there (the horns are great on this track). Zappa's first of many solos proves to be one of his best, with his watery sound effect complimented perfectly with the electric piano work of George Duke. A great opening if you ask me. Pygmy Twylyte has some nice vibe work from Ruth Underwood and a strong drum performance from Chester Thompson as well as some interesting horn sections. It segues into Dummy Up. It begins with a superb vocal performance from Napoleon Murphy Brock and some funky work from Duke and Tom Fowler. The vocal interplay between Brock and Jeff Simmons is hilarious, and Zappa's narrations between the dialogue is just as funny (he even alludes to his brother, Carl). Village of the Sun begins with an introduction from Zappa, discussing the meaning of the song (about a place full of turkey farms near where he used to live). The percussion from Ruth Underwood is great and the drumming and horn sections are great. Echidna's Arf (Of You) rounds out the first half of the album with some great unison horn/percussion lines (as well as unison keyboard/guitar lines) and a walking bass line as well as some great keyboard work from Duke (on clavinet if I'm not mistaken). This track also has some superb Zappa guitar work, and the feel overall is magnificent. This is the first instrumental of the album and it's one of the best.

Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? begins the second half with some superb start/stop riffs and themes, it's actually quite incredible how tight the group is during the complex sections like these. Walt Fowler gets a nice trumpet solo as well in the beginning until around the third minute. At this time, Zappa comes in with a monologue talking about Ruth Underwood (followed shortly by a George Duke keyboard solo and some more incredible musicianship, including a short but sweet Chester Thompson drum solo). This track is quite amazing with the entire group going through riff after riff of technical and complex music and it keeps my attention throughout the entire 10 minutes that it is (especially during Zappa's solo). Cheepnis follows with an opening introduction talking about cheap monster movies before the entire group kicks in with a strong opening riff and some nice bass work from Tom Fowler as well as some intuitive drumming from Thompson. Not the best track on the album, but a fun one to say the least. Son of Orange County begins with a watery guitar introducing the main theme with a nice underlying drum beat and keyboard motif. Towards the end Zappa yields a fantastic guitar solo that makes good use of different effects and is very fitting with the piece.

More Trouble Everyday is a song that was on the first Mothers of Invention album Freak Out!, it has some nice vocals and some truthful lyrics from Zappa. Zappa's solo is great and George Duke is superb on this track in terms of his keyboard performance. The album ends with the fantastic Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church), a 16 minute piece that includes everything from Jazz-Rock passages to George Duke providing some scat vocals while he performs a keyboard solo (a hilarious combination). Zappa also brings up that there will be dancing during the song and his vocals throughout are nothing short of hilarious. Zappa actually makes many vocal entrances before a big part or a dynamic of the song is changed. Musically, this song is superb, with everybody getting a chance to show their skills. Special mentions go to Ruth Underwood and Chester Thompson (as well as a superb performance from Tom Fowler on the bass), who provide a great foundation on the drums and percussion. The horns on this song are also great, with Bruce and Walt Fowler (on trumpet and trombone) getting plenty of solos and moments where they are just superb. In all, it ends the album with a masterpiece of a song. But is the album a masterpiece?

So, is Roxy & Elsewhere a masterpiece? In my opnion it is very very close to being one. Zappa's output from 1972-1975 was a magical time that saw the light of many many great albums, this being one of them. You can't go wrong with this one, as it has all the flare and fun as well as incredible musicianship and superb arrangements. Highly recommended. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#86024)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars One of Zappa's most delightful albums: a glorious mixture of jazz-rock, operatic prog and something that can only be called 'Zappa-esque cabaret'.

As jazz-rock, this is superb, one of the best efforts in the genre, with sophisticated team playing and many first-rate solos by George Duke (on keyboards), Don Preston (on synthesizer), Zappa himself (on electric guitar), Chester Thompson (on drums) and particularly Ruth Underwood (on vibes). The sudden stops and starts, hilarious tempo changes and manic virtuosity displayed on 'Don't you ever wash that thing?', for example, have to be heard to be believed. And the good news is the playing never grates on the ear.

As operatic prog, ROXY AND ELSEWHERE is just as adventurous. 'Cheepnis', for instance, is a six minute 'mini-opera' which takes earlier examples of the genre (such as the Who's hugely enjoyable 'A Quick One') to a totally new level. 'Cheepnis' also prefigures the massive choruses and madcap humour of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - but at incredible speed, with superior band playing and, of course, without sentimental bombast. At first glance 'Cheepnis' seems to be about third-rate monster movies... Only Zappa could take a line such as: 'I ate a hot dog / it tasted real good / then I watched a movie / from Hollywood' and make it rock like hell.

And for all those who still believe Zappa was merely a clown with a dirty mind, there's 'Village of the Sun', a lovely tribute to the town where our Frank played R&B in the 1950s, brilliantly sung, with great sensitivity, by Napoleon Murphy Brock.

P.S. Although earlier reviewers have pointed out this was originally a double album, it is now available on a single CD, which is very good value indeed.

P.P.S. Many of the same compositions are also available on a later live album, YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON ANYMORE VOL. II, where they get played at even crazier speeds (in Finland!) but in my opinion ROXY itself is still unsurpassed.

Report this review (#100732)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris H
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Roxy & Elsewhere" is the Mothers' third live album release, and was/is far more successful that its predecessors "Live at the Fillmore East" and "Just Another Band From L.A.". This live show was mostly recorded over a set of shows at The Roxy in Hollywood, with some overdubs and tapes from two other settings thrown in. This time period is also where Frank Zappa was at his most comical, and his hilarity is apparent in many settings on this album including the openings to "Penguin In Bondage", "Village Of The Sun" and "Cheepnis". Not only was he hilarious, him and the band were also at a creative high point and they performed with an excellent set of jazz-fusion at the show, especially in the middle of "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" where Frank tells everybody to watch Ruth (Underwood), and the stage erupts in percussion, but quickly emerges into a piano-driven jazz number.

Napoleon Murphy Brock cannot go without mention when talking about this album. He contributes his excellent vocals and stage antics in "Village of The Sun" and "Cheepnis", while "Dummy Up features an excellent comedic interlay between him and guitarist Jeff Simmons. Speaking of guitars, FZ's work is nothing short of spectacular here, especially in the short, bridge song "Pygmy Twylyte", the connects together "Penguin In Bondage" and "Dummy Up".

Finally we've been amazed by 7 incredible songs, things take a turn for the worst. As the album starts to end, the quality of the songs start to drop. The last three songs, "More Trouble Every Day", "Son Of Orange County" and "Be-Bop Tango Of The Old Jazzmen's Church" are long, boring and sound very dated. "More Trouble..." and "Son Of..." are both newer versions of the older Mothers classics "Trouble Every Day" and "The Orange County Lumber Truck". These newer versions are mellowed out, boring renditions that lack enthusiasm. "Be-Bop Tango..." is certainly a musical extravaganza, with every musician participating. But it also lacks good direction, making everything sound sloppy and un-rehearsed.

After everything is all said and done, this is probably one of the better live Frank Zappa albums, although the ending is completely un-enthusiastic mess, and the concert is riddled with sound problems. You can even hear Frank calling for the sound guy during some numbers. "Brian? Turn me up a little bit!"

An excellent album if you want to hear Frank live, but just hearing isn't enough. In order to get the full "live" feel, this was one of those you needed to see with your own eyes. 4 stars.

Report this review (#109155)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Roxy & Elsewhere showcases Frank Zappa in the prime of his career. Apostrophe and One Size Fits All also arose out of this time. But this shows Frank Zappa's band where they're their best: live. This and the second You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore are full of the best Zappa band playing some great songs from a great time.

Peguin In Bondage is a great song to start of the show. It's kind of laid back for an opening song, but as with everything he does, somehow Frank Zappa pulled it off. The guitar solo is very enjoyable, but again as with most of FZs guitar solos, it's not your typical rock guitar solo. But what it lakes in energy and repetitiveness, it makes up for with originality and taste. 9/10

Pygmy Twylyte appears out of a segue from Penguin and Bondage and it takes the band a few measures to really lock into each other, but boy are they together through the rest of the song! The mallet percussion on this song is really impressive, as well as the horns once they start doubling the percussion. It's also very cool when the band brings it down old school funk style, with a Frank Zappa twist. 9/10

Dummy up is more or less Frank Zappa being Frank Zappa on stage. The humor break would probably be a lot more enjoyable if I was at the show, but the effect really doesn't transfer to CD too well. It's still good though. 7/10

Village Of The Sun is more of a catchy pop song than a Frank Zappa song. The cool thing with Frank is that he'll write anything. ANYTHING. 7/10

Echinda's Arf (Of You) is back to the real Zappa that I love. The band is crazy!!! When I saw the Zappa Plays Zappa tour they played this song and it was just as impressive as it is on this recording. It doesn't get too much more impressive than this. But it is still very get-a-ble. You can still rock out to it. 10/10

Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? is also quite impressive, but it isn't as catchy as Echinda's Arf. They should have switched the order of these two to build the show better in my opinion, because after Echinda's arf this song seems kind of boring, and it shouldn't. That being said, it is still a great track with a great drumming performance. 8/10

Cheepnis starts off with the bands first break from playing. They literally played straight through the first five songs. Cheepnis is a great song, with just the right amount of humor, along with some excellent guitar work. 9/10

Son Of Orange County is a good track, but when stood up against the other tracks shown on the CD it doesn't really stand up so well. I actually usually skip this track. 6/10

And I'm usually glad I skipped it because that brings me right to More Trouble Every Day, which is hands down one of the best songs on this CD. It is a great rendition from early, early Zappa. This song is down better than on the original by a mile. 10/10

The Bebop Tango is without question the most demanding song on here. It's Zappa starting to get "out there" (starting?!) but it is quite enjoyable. A little bit too much for me sometimes, but more often than not the slack in my jaw overwhelms the lack of musical taste. 7.5/10

This album is most certainly an excellent addition to anyone's music collection.

Report this review (#109357)
Posted Monday, January 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars What I enjoy above all the many great things about this album is how naturally Frank Zappa's warm, witty, intelligent and very human personality shines right through. He was not only an extraordinary musical talent but also just a guy who liked to have a good time on stage with his band members and his adoring audience. These live recordings make me wish I could have seen this incarnation of The Mothers in the cozy confines of a smoky nightclub with no expectations of witnessing some kind of extravaganza of lights and props, just seizing an opportunity to hear a fantastic ensemble expertly playing music that they loved.

FZ starts things off with an oral briefing of what the song they are getting ready to perform is about (battery-operated "devices," it would seem) and, at the same time, establishing a casual, unpretentious mood for the entire show. "Penguin In Bondage" has a slow funk feel and you get a nice, long dose of FZ's unique guitar stylings that will not remind you of any other guitarist. He was grandly different. Next on the bill is "Pygmy Twylyte," a song about some poor fella who abuses both uppers and downers and is "hurting for sleep in the Quaalude moonlight." It's a very tight rocker that shows off the various vocalists' instinctive coordination. A sort of soul jam ensues titled "Dummy Up" (a playful poke at James Brown) that features saxophonist/flautist Napoleon Murphy Brock's raspy singing voice. He utters some ad-libs about walking down the street in his hat before encountering a sly pusher (rhythm guitarist Jeff Simmons) who wants him to try smoking a white gym sock wrapped inside a high school diploma. Weird? Not at all. In FZ's world there's nothing weird about that. During the intro to "Village of the Sun" FZ wistfully relates that the tune was written for Palmdale, the California town he grew up in. The song is a smooth, urban MOR ditty with close harmonies that could have easily been covered by Earth, Wind and Fire if it weren't for lyrics that refer to the city's notorious turkey farm which emits an odor that can "take the paint off your car and wreck your windshield, too." This leads directly into back-to- back instrumentals that allow the incredible talents of the musicians to stand out. "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" has some incredibly fast unison riffs streaming from the horns and Ruth Underwood's punctuating vibes. It's a highly complex score containing a myriad of moods and changes that rival fusion pieces from groups like Return to Forever. "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" is a continuation of excellent music with Bruce Fowler getting a chance to show off his impressive trombone skills along with George Duke pounding out a nice ride on electric piano. Later the double trouble drum duo of Chester Thompson and Ralph Humphrey fiercely duel back and forth with some rapid-fire solos that top it all off like cherries on a sundae.

FZ next gives lip service about his undying love of low-budget monster movies before launching into one of my all time favorite Mothers' songs, the LOL funny "Cheepnis." This is a prime example of a Zappa epic-scale production that not only entertains but enlightens. In a nutshell FZ narrates this horror story about a giant poodle dog named Frunobulax (who sports a great big slimy, hairy poodle thing) that the National Guard is attempting to lure into a cave so they can destroy it with napalm. Much like he did on classics like "Montana," "Cosmik Debris" and "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" FZ utilizes the imagination of the whole band to embellish the story with inventive musical segments and hilarious vocalizations. It's not to be missed. "Son of Orange County," a cool, sexy jazz number is about former President Richard M. Nixon ("I am not a crook") and it's a hoot. The repeating chorus of "I just can't believe you are such a fool" comes complete with pig snorts and a wild, out-of-control, distorted guitar lead from FZ that will curl your toes. "More Trouble Every Day" is an energetic, driving version of this song that originally appeared on the '66 "Freak Out" album and it's a barnburner. (In 1977 when I heard Chester Thompson and Phil Collins use the signature drum pattern from this rendition at the end of the live version of Genesis' "Afterglow" I nearly fell out of my seat! I'd been air-drumming to it for years.) Along with some creative sound effects from the boys in the band, FZ delivers a rip-your-head-off guitar solo to treasure for all time to come. In the preamble to the long closer, "Be-Bop Tango," FZ tells the group to be extra sharp because he wants to get the notes perfect and the song is, as he admits, "a hard one to play." After a dense, intricate beginning Bruce Fowler steps forward once again to wow everyone with more exemplary trombone work before FZ takes over as the emcee for a maniacal dance exhibition. While some may find the extended interaction with Lana, Brenda and the entire audience as they attempt to physically interpret Duke's insane vocal-with-piano scatting tedious, I beg to differ. I find it to be a true reflection of the Mothers' ability to not take themselves too seriously. Besides, you can tell the crowd is loving every second of it. The album fades out to the strains of a thumpin' blues shuffle and I'll bet everyone in the room was dancing.

There will never be another Frank Zappa. Sadly, we lost the only one we'll ever have way too early. There's been no one like him before or since and that makes this recording even more special because this kind of intimacy between a band and their fans just doesn't occur often in today's world, if ever. If you cherish the mirthful side of this musical and social icon then this album is a must have for you. Rest in peace, Frank, we miss you. The world's a darker place without you in it.

Report this review (#117284)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The album where I found the word Circumlocuting!!!!!

Seriously this is Zappa at his best. The best musicians, the best songs and one of the best live recordings ever. I still marvel that they could fit 11 musicians including two drummers and percussionist on that small stage of the Roxy. Orginally released as double album from live performances in 1973 the recording contains songs that were never released on any other Zappa album except two so I believe this is exactly how Frank wanted to capture this material. I know some of these songs underwent some overdubs in the studio afterwards but to what extent or with parts vocals or music isn't revealed.

Still this a brilliant representation of this particular band with likes of the amazing George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Tomand Bruce Fowler, Don Preston, Ruth Underwood, Jim Simmons, George Duke, Chester Thomson and Ralph Humphrey. Add the great music of Pygmy Twylyte, Echinda's Arf, Don't You Ever Wash That Thing, More Trouble Every Day along with funny skits in Dummy Up and Be Bop Tango to the humorous songs Cheepnis and Penguin in Bondage and the great stage direction of Frank Zappa and you have the complete package.

This album continues to make me smile each and every time I play it and that is the highest praise I can give it. I am listening to part of the song Don't You Ever Wash That Thing and I hear this riff the band does and I swear it is straight out of a cartoon but then I am amazed by its complexity and timing in the song. Frank even announces when Ruth Underwood is going to something spectacular and what happens between her and the drummers is quite exquisite. This performance is riddled with these moments and add all the other elements gives you a completely satisfying listening experience.

The music isn't always the most ambitious or experimental of Zappa's catalog but I really think this is a good place to start to find out about Zappa. 5 Stars.

Report this review (#117771)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Frank´s live double album

Penguin in bondage A typical track from Zappa´s fusion period. However, the melody is not thet great and Zappa doesn´t bother to sing too much. Still, the group plays great, and Frank plays a prime long guitar solo. 2.5 stars

Pygmy Twylyte A great instrumental with emphasis on heavy guitar and horn section. 5 stars

Dummy up A funky track with formulaic vocals. The section which features a conversation between Frankaa nd the actual singer of the song is musically useless and boring. 0 stars

Village of the sun A fine r´n´b like song. Again, Frank is not featured on the lead vocals. But the track has good melody and the vocal performance is solid. 4 stars

Echidna´s arf (of you) More of the horn section on this one. Much more fusion as well. The track is energetic and the band plays tight. Good drumming and marvelous cooperation between keyboards, Frank on the guitar and the trombone and trumpet. Interesting melodies as well. 5 stars

Don´t you ever wash that thing This one virtually continues where the previous left off. This one has an even mor improvisational feel to it. There´s a rather weird and not very melodic trumpet solo, which is waaaay too long. There´s some fabulous drumming following it, though, by Ralph Humphrey and George Duke plays a really fine and relaxed solo on the electric piano. Then even the drummer gets a solo, and it´s pretty good. Then Frank plays a fine inspired lead on his guitar, after which the number concludes. 4 stars

Cheepnis A great track with a nice melody and tight playing from the band. Mixes r´n´b with jazz and avantgarde. 5 stars

Son of orange county A relaxed song with great playing from the band. Zappa plays a fine atmospheric solo as well. 5 stars

More trouble everyday A cross between fusion and blues with a great long guitar solo from Zappa. Very inspired. 5 stars

Be bop tango (Of the old jazmzmen´s church) A boring track with a nice intro, but a horrible long trumpet solo and too much spoken parts by Frank, although the bluesy part as the outro is pretty neat. 1.5 stars

Overall rating: 4 STARS

EXCELLENT ADDITION TO ANY PROG MUSIC COLLECTION.

Report this review (#133394)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is great at a point you can't truly imagine. Before released on CD, it was a double vinyl, but the 68 minutes run on one disc now. All unreleased material here. None of these tracks (including the greatness of Cheepnis and Penguin In Bondage) were released on studio albums before, and none of them will be released on studio albums after. Kind of free-jazz/pre-funk thing. Totally groovy, totally wonderful. The best live albums from Zappa, and one of his best released ever. To be listened to for eternity.
Report this review (#162991)
Posted Saturday, March 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A fantastic live album with some of the Mother's best tunes and a killer line up.

This was my first live Zappa album, and I couldn't have picked a better one. This is probably not a bad place to start for the uninitiated, especially if you are fond of 70's style jazz rock.

For that, the middle instrumental number of Echidna's Arf (Of You) and Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? are not to be missed. Lots of crazy percussion with crazy changes and masterful playing. This band is incredibly tight! Penguin in Bondage is a great vocal number, with a fantastic Zappa guitar solo. Cheepnis is a sort of mini epic about low budget horror films, which is funny and complex at the same time, with another great Zappa solo. Son Of Orange County is a great ode to Nixon, with a great slow groove and another killer solo from Zappa. The typical on stage humor routines are mercifully short on this album as well, with only Dummy Up and the last half of the Bee-bop Tango being dedicated to these comedy routines that made Filmore East and Just Another Band From LA so tedious for me. I do enjoy the silly, humorous side of Zappa, but I find that I can only take it in small doses and / or mixed in with outstanding music. On this album, it works well for me, restricted as it is to those two places and Zappa's short intros to a couple of songs.

In all, a great live album and one of my favorite Zappa albums of all time. Probably one of his more proggy works as well, due to the jazz rock content and the complex pieces in the middle, as well as the first half of Be-bop Tango which is probably the most impressive thing here, musically speaking. A fun album with lots of great music. What more could you want?

Report this review (#169023)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A superb live album from mister Zappa. I like all the numbers except the last one. But the other nine are the best he ever recorded (in my opinion). There is humor and great musicianship. And the band fits so nice together. George Duke is at his best and the percussioniste Ruth Underwood gets her solo very nicely.
Report this review (#175637)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
darkshade
COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars Easily one of Frank's best albums. Most of the material here is previously unreleased material, and the production is so good you'd think it was a studio album, which makes this a very essential album. This lineup is also the best version of this era, with Bruce Fowler on trombone (he is missing on One Size Fits All, but then returned for the Lather sessions)

All songs smoke, as this is the height of Zappa's jazz-fusion era (though he never really stopped). The album is bookended with songs containing great Zappa solos over awesome blues progressions. This album also contains some of his most complex pieces, not to mention some of his funniest. Pygmy Twylyte is fast here, and i know since ive heard other live versions and they're much slower with extended sections. The horns sound reeeeally good on this album, and kind of MAKE the classic Zappa sound.

If you're trying to get into Zappa's large amount of music, you cant go wrong with this one, especially if you're a jazz-fusion fan. This is a perfect one to start out with. Essential!

Report this review (#176887)
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Jazz is Not Dead! It Just Smells Funny

Since no one else has used this quote from the song Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church) as a headline in their reviews of Roxy & Elsewhere I just could´t resist the tempation to use it. It cracks me up every time. Call me primitive and simple but I simply love how Zappa delivers this improvised line. His timing is outstanding. So is everything else on this fantastic album.

Roxy & Elsewhere is a live album released in 1974 by American experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was recorded during the American part of the 1973- 1974 world tour. The recordings mainly took place during three nights ( December 10, 11 and 12, 1973) playing at The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, California but there are material from a few other concerts later on the tour too. All basic tracks are recorded live but there are quite a few studio overdubs on the album which is explained in the liner notes by Frank Zappa himself ( if you´re interested in hearing what the 1974 band truly sounded like live you should take a listen to You Can´t Do That On Stage Anymore vol. 2 (1988) where there´s a full concert with the 1974 band from Finland without overdubs). Zappa´s band at the time are one of his most celebrated and loved lineups with musicians such as Ruth Underwood on percussion, George Duke on keyboards and vocals, Napoleon Murphy Brock on vocals, flute and saxophone, Ralph Humphrey ( on the tracks recorded at The Roxy Theatre) and Chester Thomson ( on the tracks recorded at elsewhere) on drums, Bruce, Tom and Walt Fowler on trombone, bass and trumpet respectively, Jeff Simmons on guitar and vocals and Don Preston on synthesizer.

The music ranges from blues based rock songs, instrumental jazz soloing and some of Zappa´s greatest arranged instrumentals ever. There´s quite a lot of talking between the songs by Zappa which is really great and very humourous at times. The introductions to songs like Penguin in Bondage, Cheepnis and Be- Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church) are legendary and the Dummy Up routine which was partially improvised at the different shows on the tour is also quite funny. The rythm section often plays in jazz/ fusion influenced style but the music is not really jazz even though there are many jazz elements in songs like Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? and Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church). The latter is with its 16:41 minutes the longest track on the album and has a hilarious audience participation part. The audience is invited on stage to dance to some impossible keyboard notes played by George Duke. Zappa´s commentaries throughout this song are again delivered with an outstanding timing and I find myself smiling and laughing every time I listen to it. When Zappa´s manager at the time, Herb Cohen enters the stage around the 11 minute mark to dance to those funny little notes that George Duke plays, it´s noteworthy that George Duke plays a tiny snippet from Stink-Foot ( Apostrophe´(1974)). Probably not a coincidence. It´s a hilarious detail IMO.

The enourmous skills of the 1973-1974 band are showcased to the full on songs like Echidna's Arf (Of You) and Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?. Very challenging instrumental songs with lots of fast runs, impossible to play parts and difficult time signature changes. Zappa always loved to show what his musicians were capable of and we´re witnesses to just that on those two songs in particular. The rest of the songs are of course extremely well played too. Most of the songs on the album appear on Roxy & Elsewhere for the first time but Son of Orange County and More Trouble Every Day are re-arranged Mothers of Invention songs. Lots of great guitar soloing by Zappa in those two songs but his solo in Penguin in Bondage does takes the price IMO.

The sound quality is excellent but as I mentioned above there are quite a few overdubs on the album. People who crave authentical live recordings without overdubs might be put off a bit but personally I haven´t got the slightest problem when Roxy & Elsewhere sounds as great as it does.

Roxy & Elsewhere is one of the most important Frank Zappa albums IMO. It´s great both for the newcommer and for the experienced Frank Zappa fan. A 5 star rating is fully deserved.

Report this review (#220374)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is one of the greatest albums from one of the world's greatest musical treasures. This album was recorded at a time when Frank was at one of his musical peaks. At this point, Zappa was primarily writing and performing his own brand of electric jazz rock fusion. And his band was as good as any other out there, and better than most. His music here is as progressive, and prog, as ever, and since these performances were being videotaped for television, the lyrics are nowhere near as crude as we know Zappa can get. So you prigs and prudes out there should even enjoy it.

Now, I won't go into detail about every track here, although each one has it's merits, I will mention the highlights (for me). "Cheepnis" is a hilarious ode to classic monster movies, and the quirks of the genre. The song is a rocking roller coaster ride through an imaginary movie, featuring an enormous poodle named "Frunobulax".

An absolute work of musical genius is the entire side 2 of the original LP. This suite begins with "Village Of The Sun", a catchy song about Palmdale California, and the aromatic effects of a local turkey farm there. This segues into what I believe is Zappa's most amazing song (and he has made quite a few amazing songs), "Echidna's Arf (Of You)". This is a wild piece of fusion that shows the band's virtuosity. Then the song turn's into "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?", where the incredible Ruth Underwood gets to show us why she may have been the greatest percussionist ever. Side note: Dweezil's band did a fantastic job of recreating this suite during their show last weekend. I bet dad would have been proud.

The remainder of the album is superb. Even the audience participation segments recorded for this album are fun to hear. If you only buy one Zappa album, this is the one I would recommend.

Report this review (#230132)
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Unlike the rest of Zappa's live releases, this one is specifically aimed at being released--Frank says as much during the course of the show. So the crudities are toned down, the language softer, and gracious overdubs abound. Being a beautiful showcase for the critically-acclaimed '74 Mothers of Invention, Roxy & Elsewhere exists as the perfect companion to One Size Fits All.

Truthfully, if Frank had decided to remove the between-song dialog and the audience participation portions of Be-Bop Tango, this would be unrecognizable as a live release, riding the lines like so many of Zappa's 70s releases would do. But what is presented here to the listener is what really matters, and this is it: a flawless series of performances, some humorous, but for the most part very jazzy and incredibly played. Much of the material here also appears in You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2, but on Roxy & Elsewhere, they are much more polished, careful, and composed sounding, rather than the faster and slightly sloppier approach of the later release.

Penguin in Bondage is the opener, not a particularly inspiring song on that many accounts, but it features a fast-paced, clever guitar solo and some heartfelt background vocals by George Duke. It then segues into a very uptempo Pygmy Twylyte. On this track, Ruth Underwood's percussion can first be heard and admired, though you will have plenty of other opportunities on this album to admire the way she plays that marimba or whatever instrument it is exactly. Dummy Up is the weak spot of the album, the only point making it difficult for me to decide whether to rate Roxy & Elsewhere as a masterpiece or just as a really good release. The humor simply falls a little flat throughout this piece, though the music in the background is a good Zappa vamp.

Side Two of the LP then kicks off with the classic Village of the Sun, in a slower and less exotic version than on You Can't Do That... Vol. 2. Either way, it is a sparkling performance by Napoleon Murphy Brock, both vocally and instrumentally. Echidna's Arf (of You) is the highlight of the album, being an ultracomplicated and nearly shredding instrumental piece. All the musicians shine on this track. It turns seamlessly into Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?, a somewhat meandering yet still powerful percussion extravaganza.

Side Three of the original LP (though all sides are together on one CD for the current release) begins with the charming Cheepnis, the rare non-sexual humor piece from Zappa. Instead, if focuses on bad monster movies. The overdubs are very clear here, especially at the conclusion. Nevertheless, it make for a very fun and upbeat track. Son of Orange County is a bit less impressive, perhaps because it is riding the wild coattails of the previous four tracks. The brass really gets a chance to shine during this one, however, in a manner that Zappa improved upon with his '88 bands and releases like Make a Jazz Noise Here. More Trouble Every Day is another modified early Mothers tune, highlighted by a lengthy and technically impressive guitar solo.

The final side and track is Be-Bop Tango (of the Old Jazzmen's Church), kicking off with perhaps the most complex and difficult instrumental passage of the entire CD. The brass pour out several solos (I can't tell who or which instruments, sorry) in rapid succession, all very fluid and impressive. After a bit more jamming, it settles into a vamp, over which Frank and the band coordinate some embarrassing dance contests for fans. After a while of this, the band returns to a short song form, admittedly a bit unfortunately short given the wait through the ridiculous antics of the band. But nevertheless it finishes quite strong.

This release is absolutely essential Zappa, which makes it absolutely essential prog. The performances are gold, the songs snappy and well composed, the jamming tasteful and creative, and the sound quality crystal clear. Completely recommended, and a splendid place to begin with Zappa if you feel absolutely lost looking at his massive discography.

Report this review (#234532)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars You Want Zappa? THIS is Zappa!!!

This review for the live double album ROXY AND ELSEWHERE may seem a little strange. For awhile I am going to rave that this is perhaps the perfect example of Zappa in his full glory, I am going to award the excellent 4 stars rather than the masterpiece rating I gave the studio counterpart ONE SIZE FITS ALL. The reason for this is that many of the things that make Zappa great don't have much to do with prog. The fact that of all the satire and comedy on Frank albums, the spontaneity of the delivery on "Cheepnis" and "Penguins in Bondage" is part of what makes this album so good. Listening to Frank's interplay with the audience and the band makes this seem still fresh 25 years later and long after his death.

I'm sure there are other example, but this is the only I album I know that is composed of completely new material released as a live album. There are few bands in rock history that would actually benefit from this approach, but Frank's band at this time was one of the best ever on stage. Zappa has had some mind-blowing musicians move through his band, including truly phenomenal drummers. But Chester Thompson seems to connect with Zappa's groove better than any, to my ear. Similarly, George Duke's phenomenal talent seems to be fueled by pure joy. And of course, the percussion / mallets of Ruth Underwood add a degree of virtuosity to the group that Frank's son Dweezil draws on heavily for the current band Zappa plays Zappa. Even if this band wasn't the best in terms of raw talent (and they very well may have been) they were so tight and played with such energy, that this period of Zappa's career is some of the best of the 70's.

As a two disc set, each individual side constitutes a separate experience. Side one leans heavily on humor, with an ode to lovemaking paraphernalia and a soulful sarcastic look at higher education "Dummy Up." It is side two, however, that is the gem. Easing the listener in with the deceptively pleasant "Village of the Sun," the song transitions into "Echidna's Arf (of you)" which is one of the most complex pieces Zappa ever wrote. Which is saying something. Seeing this performed live by ZpZ was one of the most mindblowing experiences of the vast number of shows I've seen in my life. Rapid fire, complex time lines are traded from member to member, played in unison, played in counterpoint, in harmony, all with simultaneous perfect execution and still a sense of groove. After using this tour de force as an exposition, the band takes off in more improvisatory direction on those themes in "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" During this section, passages resembling Gentle Giant, brass jamming, and more rapid composed sections alternate with transitions simultaneously surprising and tasty. The three "songs" are really just a continuous piece and in my opinion constitute a high point in prog.

Side three reverts back toward the tone of side one, with Frank pontificating on monster movies and life in LA. "Sons of Orange County," which would be an oddity on virtually artist's work, is a relatively straight, soulful piece that allows the listener to settle just a little bit just before Frank unleashes one of his fiery solos, building to a messy speed picking pentatonic outburst before settling into a smooth as silk jazzy gem. Side four is a single song entitled the "Be-Bop Tango." It incorporates a few of the elements found on side two, some extremely strange timing, but eventually becomes and extended jam, and an audience participation dance contest! It is of course the most ambitious tune, and some of it works and some of it doesn't. (Perhaps if you were there things would be different.)

After listening through again, I am very tempted to go ahead and throw the five star rating on this one. It's not perfect, but contains some simply extraordinary music, some of the best from the genius that was Zappa. And when it occurs to me that there is certainly more than a single album's worth of masterpiece material, I'm going to go ahead and do it.

Report this review (#260391)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was the best live Zappa album up to this point, although many will say it's his best period. Most of the tracks were recorded from his sets at The Roxy in December of 1973 but there are some songs from "elsewhere" recorded the following year. There is a lot of talking from Frank on this album but I like it. His voice is always enjoyable even if the subject matter isn't always so (haha). Everyone seems to be having blast on this album including the audience. The musicianship is outstanding as usual. Duke, Underwood and Zappa especially.

"Penguin In Bondage" opens with a Zappa monologue that is really funny. Check out the vibes 2 1/2 minutes in and the guitar that follows. Great sound as Zappa goes on and on. Horns 6 minutes in. It blends into "Pygmy Twylyte" where the vocals are outstanding. It blends into "Dummy Up" which features some nice bass early on. A dialogue follows. "Village Of The Sun" opens with a monologue before we get that seventies sounding pop-like music. It blends into "Echidna's Art (Of You)" which is better, I like the bass too. Just a killer instrumental track really. It blends into "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing ?" which features lots of horns and vibes. Spoken vocals after 2 1/2 minutes. Keys before 4 1/2 minutes. An impressive instrumental display after 5 1/2 minutes. Nice guitar 7 1/2 minutes in.

"Cheepnis" opens with Frank talking about monster movies. Music after 2 minutes. It blends into "Son Of Orange County". This is laid back and it sounds incredible. Vocals join in. Cool guitar before 3 minutes. "More Trouble Everyday" is a favourite of mine. The guitar 3 1/2 minutes in goes on and on. "Be-Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen's Church)" is the almost 17 minute closer. Lots of audience participation here but still we get a great trombone solo 4 1/2 minutes in. Music returns late.

I can appreciate fans tiring of all the monologue, especially if you've heard it several times, but I think it's an important part of the live experience and it gives us a feeling of what it would have been like to be there. Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#288771)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Dang, now this is a great live album! Well, let me hedge that a bit: most of the album is taken from a 1973 live performance at The Roxy in Hollywood, but this material was so extensively overdubbed for release that it can just as well be considered a studio album. The remaining three tracks, however, are "pure" live performances taken from various road tapes, without any overdubbing, so I guess that when it all adds up, this album should be considered a live one. Basically. What really matters, though, is that it's a great album, and except for a nearly 17 minute mistake at the end (which knocks it out of contention for best Zappa ever), this is arguably the most brilliant synopsis of Zappa's greatness available.

Of the three "pure" live tracks, two of them are among the album's biggest highlights. "Son of Orange County" is a fabulous adaptation and expansion of "Oh No" with elements of "The Orange County Lumber Truck," and it has a neat gimmick in the way Frank and Napoleon so strangely sing *I I I* in "I I I just can't believe that you're such a fool." It has great moody guitar work, too; it's a pity that Weasels couldn't have had a longer "Oh No" performance on it. There's then an immediate segue into "More Trouble Every Day," a slow blues reinterpretation of the great FO! original. It's tough to say which is better, this or the original; the flurry of words in the original still gives me an incredible rush, but man, there's just so much cynical passionate intensity in this slow version that there are a lot of days where I'd have to give this the nod (and oh man, Zappa playing the blues is just way too incredible). The third is mostly a rhythmic comedy skit with a funky background (except for the first minute and a half that actually has Napoleon Murphy Brock singing as opposed to talking), but unlike such things in the Flo and Eddie years, this one's actually funny, mainly because it has nothing to do with sex (it's about one band member trying to entice Napoleon into first smoking a high school diploma and then a college degree in order to get smart and high). It's relative filler on the album, yes, but it's a lot of fun, so I don't really mind.

So that leaves the other seven tracks, the first six of which are AMAZING on the whole. The centerpiece is the four minute "Echidna's Arf (Of You)," immediately followed by the ten minute "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?," which taken together essentially make up a rock/jazz/funk/neo-classical/WHATEVER symphony that features more interesting melody and rhythmic twists and turns than I could have imagined before ever listening to them. To say that this is complicated is to say nothing, but that's hardly the sole reason I adore this pairing; after all, say, The Grand Wazoo had lots of complicated parts too, and much of that album bores me. Nah, what gets me is the combination of the immaculate precision of the guitars and keyboards and brass and percussion in nailing every single one of these shifts and calls-and-responses, on the one hand, and the sense of hot, sweaty energy that goes into their performances, on the other, which completely removes any sense of this music being played by a soulless machine. Of course, knowing that this was overdubbed kinda spoils the fun a whee bit, but whatever; it's still sheer brilliance from a composition point of view, and it entertains me like mad to boot. Heck, even the extended percussion sections work here!

The other four tracks (again, the fifth will be dealt with later) aren't as great as this pair, but they're still a blast. "Penguin in Bondage" is introduced by Frank giving a hilarious monologue about S&M equipment (made hilarious not due to the subject matter, but rather because of how he's able to make his subject matter so obvious despite admittedly "circumlocuting" the topic to avoid getting censored), then goes into a jazzy, bluesy, funky piece that blasts, say, "Dinah Mo Mum" into oblivion. The following "Pygmy Twylyte" is just two minutes or so, but it features an AWESOME guitar sound over some great rhythm work, so it's nowhere close to filler. "Village of the Sun" is relatively close to a "normal" song, at least as normal as anything on this album can be, and features a passionate Brock delivery about a place in Palmdale where people raise turkeys and the air is bad. And finally, "Cheepnis," which has another hilarious monologue introduction about bad monster movies, has lyrics about, well, bad monster movies, which take the form of a little play about a Giant Poodle Monster over a fun tune with a great "chorus" melody. To say entertaining is to say nothing about this.

So why only a ****? It's because, as well as it conveys the absurdity of Zappa concerts, and as funny as it might have been to see in person, 17 minutes of "Be Bop Tango" is just way way too much. There are some funny spoken moments, and the concept of having audience members dance on stage to Duke's scat singing is amusing, but 17 minutes??!! I actually liked this track the first time I heard it, but on listen two, the novelty value was exhausted, and my goodwill was gone. Arrrgh, and to think that if he left this off and (maybe) cut out "Dummy Up," he could have had a rock solid single live album that would be one of the greatest things I'd have ever heard in my whole life.

Still, this album is a MUST for any Zappa fan, and the most vitally necessary album he'd made (to this point) since the glorious pinnacle of Burnt Weeny Sandwich. Take away the lowest point, and you have as solid of a ***** as one could ask for from the man.

Report this review (#297828)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The best Zappa live album. Indeed, one of Uncle Frank's best albums period. When this was first released it contained music that had not been on any of his studio albums. The only exceptions being "Son Of Orange County" which is basically the song "Oh No" but with only a portion of the lyrics that leads into a section of the instrumental "Orange County Lumber Truck"; and "More Trouble Every Day" which is "Trouble Every Day" performed in a style similar to "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow". There are some overdubs on here, most noticeable on "Cheepnis", where the middle section has sound effects and a sped-up voice which was obviously not recorded in concert.

The highlight of Roxy is what was originally side 2 of the double LP. Or in other words, the songs "Village Of The Sun/Echidna's Arf(Of You)/Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" About 18 minutes of some of the most breathtaking music you will ever hear. The last two of the three in particular are amazing showcases of both Zappa's compositional skill and his band's awesome technical abilities. The first three songs here(or side 1 in vinylspeak) are my least favourite, but that actually says more about how completely totally awesome the rest of Roxy is as opposed to how "bad" these songs are. Songs about penguins, bondage, pygmies and smoking high-school diplomas. Frank's speeches before the songs are pretty funny, especially "Cheepnis" about cheap B-movies.

"Be-Bop Tango(of the Old Jazzman's Church)" showcases Frank's famous 'dance routine' where he gets audience members to come onstage and makes them dance to extremely complicated music. As good as this part is, it's one of those "you had to be there" moments where seeing what's going on is just as important as hearing it. I'm not sure if this would be a good place to start one's journey into the music of Zappa, but there are plenty of worse choices one could make(Thing-Fish, Lumpy Gravy). 4.5 but I'll round it down to 4 because while this may be essential to Zappaphiles, it may not be so essential to progheads in general.

Report this review (#304043)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I'm going to stick my neck pretty far out and say that ROXY AND ELSEWHERE hasn't been the album it's proclaimed to be. It has perks going for it such as it being a live album featuring mostly new tracks (at the time). It also has the Mothers tag making me assume that R&E is related to the Mothers of Invention era, my favourite Zappa period. A refurbishing of ''Trouble Every Day'' and the appearance of Don Preston are really the only ties to the Mothers here; most everything else that happens made my jaw drop for every wrong reason.

R&E more symbolises the unison-run technical jazz-pop and cheap 70's humour of the OVER-NITE SENSATION and APOSTROPHE albums that never fully made me happy. The slick jazz that permeates a good portion of the album make tracks like ''Penguin in Bondage'' and ''Son of Orange County'' practically unlistenable to me. Other times, Frank goes for funnies, but either I don't find it funny (''Cheepnis'') or a visual is needed (''Be-Bop Tango'').

At least this band flexes their instrumental muscles occasionally, but they mostly do these unison runs that drive me nuts; ''Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?'' is too long and has too many ideas to make it a great tune. I even get listless during ''More Trouble Every Day'', a jazzed-up, slower, slicker version of the raucous blues tune from FREAK OUT!; this version is too slow (I do see the point, though).

The only track I could enjoy the entire way through is the shortest track, ''Pygmy Twylyte''. It's very upbeat, mid-tempo and has great instrumental interplay (the whole album has the last stat, but this is one of the few times I notice). It's perfect aside from the ridiculously hideously bass vocals. That momentum gets ruined when it segues to ''Dummy Up'', a pointless simple extended jam to provide a platform for comedy, or at least what most people consider comedy. I never once considered smoking a high school diploma to be THAT funny.

It should be noted that this period of Zappa's career bothers me. I never found the jokes to be even snickerworthy, and the music is either too slow and stuporlike or complex and intricate to be complex and intricate, and ROXY AND ELSEWHERE represents those qualities in piles. The uniqueness of this live album and the skills presented are good enough to prevent one star doom, but stick with this only if you really love Zappa.

Report this review (#418957)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hello,

What can I say about Roxy that hasn't been said before in so many reviews before this one.

I hold it dead since it is the first Zappa album I got to hear in it's entirety and I was automatically hooked on his music since. One of the things that really stood out about the album, aside from the music, is that progressive band line-ups are like a revolving door of prodigies. Behold Chester Thompson, a drummer that I have appreciated in Genesis and he he is playing with Ralph Humphrey. Great drum duo. Awesome cast ensemble of musicians overall.

1. Penguin in Bondage. Great blues based song that has a interesting idea in the lyrics. LIke most of Zappa's work, ideas based on a sexual concept. 2. Pygmy Twylyte. Good lyrics and very good music.

3. Dummy Up. A commentary on education and drugs. I love Napoleon's character here. 4. Village of the Sun 5. Echidna's Arf (Of You) 6. Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?. I like to hear these 3 tracks as one. Village of the Sun is a great track and the the 2 instrumentals that follow are the highlight of this album. Ruth's percussions and Zappa guitar playing are out of this world.

7. Cheepnis. 2nd highlight of the album. Do you like monster movies? I simply adore monster movies. And, the cheaper they are the better they are.

8. Son of Orange County 9. More Trouble Every Day. Who could grab their old songs that were already great and make them better? Zappa. 10. Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church). I would love to see a video of this track. I'm always fascinated of audience participation time. What struck me here is that Zappa says: This is a hard one to play. For Zappa to say that it must be a hard one to play. George Duke can really do the Be-Bop Tango.

I think this album is a good starting point if you ever wanted to explore the music of Frank Zappa. It has a little bit of everything that made him great. Awesome guitar solos, complex music arrangements, excellent cast of musicians playing together, the dry sense of humor, audience participation and best of all "It has CHESTER THOMPSON".

Thanks for reading my review on Roxy & Elsewhere.

Report this review (#431454)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Frank Zappa: Roxy & Elsewhere [1974]

Rating: 9/10

Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.

It is with Roxy & Elsewhere that Frank Zappa finally created a live album worthy of his prowess. His previous two both contained a fundamental flaw: a lack of balance. They focused solely on humor and performance pieces, and the music thus fell by the wayside. Roxy is the exact opposite. It strikes a perfect balance between comedy and complexity. The result of this balance is not a two-sided album; there aren't 'funny songs' and 'serious songs.' Rather, comedic zaniness and instrumental zaniness merge to create a brilliant final product that is uniquely Zappa. This is made even better by the sublime lineup featured here; George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock alone would be reason enough to label this band as one of the best Zappa ever played with.

'Penguin In Bondage' is a sublime representation of Zappa's jazzy blues-rock hilarity, with a superb guitar solo to boot. The short and catchy complexity of 'Pygmy Twylyte' is followed by 'Dummy Up', a funky track featuring a brilliant skit about smoking a high-school diploma (among other things). 'Village of the Sun' is a slice of twisted R&B about the turkey-raising fiefdom of Palmdale, California. The complexity begins to ratchet up with 'Echidna's Arf (Of You)' and 'Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?' These two tracks form a fourteen-minute whirlwind of uncannily tight musicianship and seamless jazz-fusion insanity. The sax and drum work are both particularly impressive. 'Cheepnis' is Zappa's tribute to old monster b-movies. Lyrics aside, this track is a fantastic jazzy hard-rock song. 'Son of Orange County' is musically similar, with phenomenal guitar soloing throughout. The fantastic 'More Trouble Every Day' is a slowed-down rendition of one of the greatest early Mothers songs. 'Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)' is a lengthy piece of complex jazz-fusion. George Duke's keys really shine here; he manages to exude stunning musicianship even during the funny and more conversational portions of the track. In addition, one cannot forget Bruce Fowler's incredible trombone solo.

Roxy certainly is a masterpiece; almost any Zappa fan would agree. It is also a good introduction to Zappa's music, because it perfectly represents so many of the things that made him great. His sense of humor, the sophistication of his compositions, the jaw-dropping musicianship of his band, and the general irresistible zaniness of his persona are all seamlessly showcased here. It's quite difficult not to enjoy to this album; needless to say, I highly recommend it. Where else could you obtain vital information about smoking a college degree or learn about the evil great big poodle dogs known as Frunobulax?

Report this review (#489984)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A substantial improvement over Zappa's two prior live album releases (Fillmore East and Just Another Band from L.A., both recorded with the tepid Flo and Eddie lineup), Roxy and Elsewhere captures the legendary mid-1970s version of the Mothers of Invention in fine form. The comedic and theatrical elements to the live show are still present - as witnessed by a skit in which Jeff Simmons tries to convince Napoleon Murphy Brock to smoke his high school diploma - but unlike in earlier live releases the top-notch musicianship isn't scaled back to make room for the comedy.

Compositions such as Don't You Ever Wash That Thing feature exceptional solos from many of the band members, and overall the quality of the music is extremely high. Zappa's wit is in full flow too - the scatological and sexual preoccupations which sometimes derailed his lyrics are kept tied down here (literally - as on Penguin In Bondage), and Cheepnis is probably the best pre-Mystery Science Theater 3000 tribute to the joy of watching a really *bad* monster movie (and goes some way to explaining why so many of the MST3K crew were Zappa fans, and why Zappa was an MST3K fan...).

I can't give it full marks because the album does bog down towards the end; the two "Elsewhere" tracks, slowed-down and inferior renditions of 60s-era material (Son of Orange County and More Trouble Every Day) are just not as interesting as the rest of material, and The Bebop Tango might have been an entertaining skit to watch live, but doesn't really translate well to audio. Still, it must have been a relief back in the 1970s to finally have a Frank Zappa live album of as high a standard as this, and the first two-and-a-bit sides of the album are five-star performances if I've ever heard them.

Report this review (#520249)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Until recently, the only album that I have listened to from FRANK ZAPPA was to "Joe's Garage, Act 1" (1979), an album which maybe I only listened to twice many years ago. That album has some interesting moments and some funny moments too. Then, in late 1993 one TV channel in my city broadcasted one of his concerts (I can't remember now the place or the name of the concert). I found the music to be very complicated for my taste. But also many years ago (maybe in 1980- 1981) I saw this "Roxy and Elsewhere" album in several record shops in my city. I never bought it.

This album was recorded in December 1973 and in May 1974.

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to this album. And this album is in fact very good. The music is sometimes very complicated, but it shows how good were Zappa and the musicians of his band . Some parts of the music really made me think that maybe this band really had to rehearse the songs a lot, because there are a lot of tempo changes which had to be played together by the members of the band without losing a beat or a note because if this happened the songs really could fall in chaos. Maybe some of the most complicated parts are the parts played by the drummers (Chester Thompson and Ralph Humphrey) plus percussionist Ruth Underwood. So, maybe every musician in the band had to write and / or read their parts in scores to learn them and to rehearse them alone and with the other members of the band. Also, humor is very present despite the complicated musical parts, with Zappa chatting a lot with the audience and with the other musicians, telling jokes and funny stories while the band don't play or while the band plays. Zappa also tended to have some funny titles for some of his songs or albums. So, sometimes one really laughs while listening to him telling these stories and jokes or while he chats or even while reading some of the tiles of his albums and songs. Some of the cover designs are also funny.

The best songs in this album are (for me): "Echidna's Arf (Of You)", "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?", "Cheepnis", "Son of Orange County " and "More Trouble Every Day" . All the songs in this album have a mixture of Jazz-Rock, Blues, Rock, Prog Rock and Avant -Garde music. Zappa's music is maybe not very accessible for everybody. But I liked thiis album. Very well played and funny. His discography is very long, like the list of the very good musicians who played with him.

Chester Thompson became the tour drummer for GENESIS in late 1976 after Phil Collins listened to him playing in this album, and asked him to join the band, without even doing an audition! (As he said in some interviews). His talent made him play with the band on their tours from 1977 until 1992, and also in their last tour in 2007. He also has played with Collins on tours, with Steve Hackett on albums and tours, and also with Tony Banks and a lot of musicians. He is a very good session drummer. One of the best drummers I have listened to.

Report this review (#1533901)
Posted Monday, February 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars REVIEW #3 - "Roxy & Elsewhere" by Frank Zappa (1973). 5/20/2018

Continuing on the theme of the music of Frank Zappa, I felt it was necessary to review one of his live albums. Following my reviews of his 1974 album "Apostrophe" and his keyboardist George Duke's "The Aura Will Prevail", I decided to choose an album where both musicians were present. While Zappa has a myriad of live albums, and a never-ending sea of live bootlegs, his 1973 offering at the Roxy in Hollywood is considered to be his best. A compilation of songs played at the club over three concerts, fans consider this album to be an absolute masterpiece, containing the feel of Zappa's concerts at the time. It is important to realize that prior to the internet, live performances could only be heard two ways - by going to a performance or purchasing a live album. It was not as easy to hear a musician playing live material as it is today, so therefore it is always crucial that the atmosphere of a musician's live show can transition and be contained into a live album.

The lineup that plays behind Zappa is quite possibly the best of his career. Several names, including the saxophonist/vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, trombonist Bruce Fowler, the aforementioned Duke on keyboards, and Zappa himself, appear on this double LP. Perhaps one of the best traits that this album has to offer is its intercalary monologues by Zappa, where he interacts with the crowd, introducing and explaining the songs to the crowd. Most of the music on "Roxy" is new material with the exception of one song. We begin with the humorously titled "Penguin in Bondage", which while having a sexually suggestive title, does not contain the crude sexual humor which Zappa is best-known for; we are not yet to the period where it is going to be right in our faces. While the opener is a rather average piece, we get our first taste of the jazz-fusion/prog tendencies of this lineup. As I mentioned, this is considered to be one of the best lineups backing Zappa in his discography, and you can see how tight this band is as a unit. We get everything from a guitar solo, to some cheeky humor all contained in a rather mellow and sometimes slow song. Things begin to get groovy as we segue into "Pygmy Twylyte", which is a shorter yet much more active piece where Jeff Simmons takes over on lead vocals. At just above two minutes long, I consider it almost as an interlude, but I am totally digging the rhythm on this one; it makes great use of harmonics and captures a very electric musical atmosphere. I tend to prefer the more conventional songs on this album as opposed to the longer improvised and more proggy instrumentals, but there is still value in those, especially for the hardcore prog listener. Side one is wrapped up quite poorly with the skit "Dummy Up", which is a humorous improv piece where Zappa can take jabs at higher education. It is well-known that Zappa had a strong dislike for college; he attended a two-year school in Rancho Cucamonga but left after only one semester, and refused to pay for his kids' college education. In this song, a seedy "dope pushing" Simmons tries to convince Murphy Brock to smoke his high school diploma with a dirty gym sock on the inside. Afterwards, Simmons has him smoke a college diploma "with nothing at all", referring to the perceived uselessness of a college degree. While this sentiment may be more true today thanks to degree inflation, Zappa obviously had very strong feelings about higher education. Unfortunately for the song, it really does not offer much beyond a humorous skit, and in many ways it breaks the barreling flow that "Pygmy" had built up.

On the flip side, we pick up with another introductory monologue by Zappa. This time, Zappa sets up the song "Village of the Sun", an infectiously good tune about the small town of Sun Village in Northern Los Angeles County, near Lancaster, where Zappa went to high school. This is much more of a tongue-in-cheek tune, poking fun at the desert climate's tendency to peel paint off cars and "wreck their windshields too." I absolutely love this tune; it is conventional and catchy, boosted by the strong vocals by Murphy Brock. I still prefer Ike Willis over him, but he is a very good vocalist in his own regard. While there is not much of a strong prog influence on this piece, we get an instrumental showcase in "Echidna's Arf (Of You)", which directly segues out of "Sun Village." While it is a rather short piece, the listener will almost certainly be blown away by the musical abilities of this band as they play at a breakneck and heavily choreographed pace that only the most talented groups can accomplish It is not catchy, but it makes up for that by being a very musically challenging piece. I came across a cover of this tune on Duke's "The Aura Will Prevail" but it omitted much of what made this version great - opting rather to be a synth showcase. Fortunately this rendition is much better, and culminates in an absolutely insane climax which leaves the listener's head spinning. Next up is the near ten-minute instrumental "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" which brings us towards a strictly jazz fusion perspective. It cruising along very succinctly, and covers a lot of bases in terms of musical themes and the use of a strong brass section which this lineup expresses. There are a little bit of vocals by Zappa somewhere in the middle of the song, but this piece still qualifies as an instrumental altogether. Every member of the lineup gets their opportunity to shine, from the brass to a dual drum solo near the tail end of the piece - a very strong statement by the band regarding musical virtuosity. Overall I am pretty exhausted by the time all is said and done with this one, and we are only halfway through the album! There is still one LP to go, and so far this is a very solid showing by Zappa.

As per the album, the second LP opens up with another humorous monologue by Zappa. This time the theme is monster movies, preferably cheap and poorly written ones. He makes a reference to the corny 50's horror film "It Conquered the World" and its theme as inspiration to the upcoming piece "Cheepnis." This is another one of the more catchy tunes off the album, with frequent references to B-movies which precedes the main story, which concerns a giant poodle named Frunobulax that is wreaking havoc across the countryside. The military shows up to bring up the recurring "Here Fido!" theme which is found on numerous Zappa tunes, including the song "Stink-Foot" which I reviewed on the Apostrophe album. I would not say that this tune is particularly impressive, but I do enjoy the humor and the unique theme of the music. Next up is the slow and bluesy "Son of Orange County" which returns to a mellow tempo. There really is not much more to be said about this one except that there is a strong brass section and a nice chorus. At this point in the album it is a bit of a push-over, but fortunately we get a reprieve with a fiery reprisal of Zappa's "More Trouble Every Day", which was featured on the Mothers of Invention debut album "Freak Out" in 1966. This is one of more serious songs in Zappa's canon, dealing with the Watts Riots and segregation - however the political references have been castrated in this version, leaving a much more ambiguous theme. We know that Zappa looked back upon the sexual revolution which he supported at the time with disdain, but could his emotions regarding the civil rights struggles of the late-60's have tapered down over half a decade? Likely not, considering the subject matter of 1974's "Uncle Remus" on the Apostrophe album, but maybe there was some sort of retrospective decision which caused Zappa to alter the lyrics on this rendition. Nevertheless, this is one of the highlights of the album; it is an extremely brutal variant of this piece, and it comes off very good to wrap up the third side. Interestingly enough this is the ONLY song on the album that is old material, with the rest of the songs being newly released at the time, which is something you do not normally see with live concerts. Zappa never refrained from being a prolific songwriter, with it being the guitarist's personal hobby while on tour.

At this point I am more than exhausted, and we still have the fourth side, which is made up of just one sixteen- minute extended improv piece titled "Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)". Going back to the concept of capturing a live atmosphere in an album, this tune captures just that, as Zappa personally invites some of the audience on stage to dance to the scat vocals of George Duke. The entire concept of this piece revolves around dance, and Zappa is not hesitant to allow some ladies and gentlemen to enhance the live experience as the concert comes to a close. Musically there is a lot going here, and there is not necessarily a structure which the band goes along except when Zappa wants to have the guests dance their hearts out to some real abstract passages. Bruce Fowler improvises a trombone solo which mimics the rhythm of a tempo. While the music will not blow your socks off, this song definitely shines a light into the atmosphere and electricity of a Zappa live show, something which a live album should most certainly do.

I have not listened to enough of Zappa's live albums to truly and definitively name "Roxy" as his best, but I was impressed by the musicianship on this album. The Mothers tow a fine line between conventional catchy music and expanded improvisational and jazzy journeys, giving the listener the best of both worlds. I am extremely hesitant to hand out a 5-star rating, and unfortunately this album just has a little bit too many uninspiring tunes such as "Dummy Up" or "Son of Orange County" which will cause it to barely miss that rating. Nevertheless, it made it very close - my biggest takeaways from the album are "More Trouble", "Village", and "Pygmy", all of which are great tunes that have received multiple listens from myself. I recommend that you at least give this album a try - maybe you'll like it more than I do! I give it 4-stars (88% - B+), which makes it my highest rated album to date! Great for Zappa and jazz fans!

"Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny..." -Frank Zappa

Report this review (#1932895)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2018 | Review Permalink

FRANK ZAPPA Roxy & Elsewhere ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of FRANK ZAPPA Roxy & Elsewhere


You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives