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Frank Zappa Broadway The Hard Way album cover
3.64 | 158 ratings | 9 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Elvis Has Just Left The... (2:24)
2. Planet Of The Baritone... (2:48)
3. Any Kind Of Pain (5:42)
4. Dickie's Such An Asshole (5:45)
5. When The Lie's So Big (3:38)
6. Rhymin' Man (3:50)
7. Promiscuous (2:02)
8. The Untouchable (2:26)
9. Why Don't You Like Me (2:57)
10. Bacon Fat (1:29)
11. Stolen Moments (2:57)
12. Murder By Numbers (5:37)
13. Jezebel Boy (2:27)
14. Outside Now (7:49)
15. Hot Plate Heaven At The... (6:40)
16. What Kind Of Girl? (3:17)
17. Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk (9:15)

Total Time: 71:03

LP version:

Side One
1.Elvis Has Just Left The Building (2:24)
2.Planet Of The Baritone Women (2:48)
3.Any Kind Of Pain (5:42)
4.Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk (9:15)

Side Two
1.Dickie's Such An Asshole
(The San Clemente Magnetic Deviation) (6:37)
2.When The Lie's So Big (3:38)
3.Rhymin' Man (3:51)
4.Promiscuous (2:03)
5.The Untouchables (3:05)

Total time 38:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / lead guitar, vocals
- Ike Willis / guitar, vocals
- Mike Keneally / guitar, synthesizer, vocals
- Bobby Martin / keyboards, vocals
- Ed Mann / percussion
- Walt Fowler / trumpet
- Bruce Fowler / trombone
- Paul Carman / alto saxophone
- Albert Wing / tenor saxophone
- Kurt McGettrick / baritone saxophone
- Scott Thunes / bass
- Chad Wackerman / drums
- Eric Buxton / vocals
- Sting / vocals (CD only)

Releases information

Itīs and excelent live album of jazz-rock. Political incorrect in songs like jesus think you are a jerk and dickieīs such and asshole (the fbi want to get your number), why donīt you like me a satirical song about Michael Jackson, a funny reflection of international politic in rhyminīn man and the participation of Sting in murder by number.

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FRANK ZAPPA Broadway The Hard Way ratings distribution

(158 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FRANK ZAPPA Broadway The Hard Way reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record represents the 1988 Tour on which Zappa invited the audience to vote for the presidentials during a break (guess which party.. just joking)So a lot of the lyrics are adapted to the political situation.The band is great. It is the "Best band you never heard in your life" which existed only for 4 months, rehearsal and shows. I especially loved that Zappa worked again with a brass section.The overall sound is the same as on TBBYNHIYL plus a lot of jokes and political allusions.
Review by Chris H
1 stars I'm the first person to rate this album under four stars? Wow, wow, wow and wow again. Everybody knows that I worship the ground Zappa walked on, and I treasure virtually everything that has his name on it. Key word: Virtually. I have tried burning this album, breaking this album and I even dropped it in a Salvation Army box but it still keeps coming back! Why not just review it to save you the trouble of wasting money?

This album, "Broadway The Hard Way", was released in 1988 and at this time Frank was with one of his most inconsistent bands ever. They didn't perform well together, the music didn't flow, and everything seemed very strained when compared the gelling that was achieved by The Mothers of Invention and The Petit Wazoo Band. This is an album that is just so bad, it is beyond words. They mix dirty bedroom humor with love songs and hard and heavy riffs with comedic lyrics. I can't bring myself to review the whole album but I do have some highlights for you.

"Elvis Has Just Left The Building" starts off the album, and it is actually my favorite song. Still not a great song, but it is quite tolerable. "Planet of the Baritone Women" is a musical train wreck that is a headache waiting to happen, so just skip it. The headache continues into "Any Kind Of Pain", which is a horribly sappy love song!?!?! Frank, why? This is one of his worst songs ever. Ever! The three tracks that follow create a 10 minute filler period and then "Promiscuous" starts. Let me explain, it is a rap song about anal sex. What was Frank thinking here? Two more fillers bring us to "Bacon Fat", which really isn't a terrible song. It is just a shame that the two listenable songs on this album are less than 5 minutes combined. Skip "Stolen Moments" and put on "Murder By Numbers". Frank comes on and tells a story about how met a man named Mr. Sting in the elevator, and then Sting from the Police comes on and gives a speech about the devil and whatnot then bores everyone to sleep with the intensely repetitive "Murder By Numbers". After this, the tracks are mostly just horns and dialogue so you can end your journey here.

The bottom line? One of, if not the worst Frank Zappa albums of all time. This is a truly horrific piece of music that combines free form jazz with rap and heavy metal riffs, love songs and dirty bedroom humor. There is only about 5 or 6 minutes of actual enjoyable music on the entire album. Make this your last Zappa purchase, if you have the guts.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars Zappa's political tribute album to the '80's sort of. This is Zappa's last studio album before he died. Of course you have to qualify that with studio album of new material performed by Zappa before he died.

What's spooky is how many of the characters and issues he sang about are still relevant to this era. Elvis is still dead. Pat Robertson and Michael Jackson are still around and as annoying as ever. Don't see much of Jesse Jackson these days, but he's still around, too. We have a fresh crop of vacuous bimbos, another corrupt presidency that's out of control, right wing "Christians" trying to force their religion down our throats while engaging in heavy hypocrisy and sexual scandals, the poor are still getting the shaft.

I think it's fair to say this is his best studio album of the '80's next to Tinsel Town Rebellion and You Are What You Is. And it's got Sting! That completes the Police's intersection with the progressive rock web along with Copeland/Curved Air and Summers/Fripp.

It's got some really cool and memorable lyrics:

"They got lies so big They don't make a noise They tell 'em so well Like a secret disease That makes you go numb" - When The Lie's So Big

"It's the work of the Devil, so Girls, don't blow! DON'T BLOW DON'T BLOW Don't blow Jimmy, don't blow Bobby Get yourself another hobby" - Promiscuous

"Republicans is fine, If you're a multi-millionaire Democrats is fair, If all you own is what you wear Neither of 'em's REALLY right, 'Cause neither of 'em CARE 'Bout that Hot-Plate Heaven, 'Cause they ain't been there" - Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel

"With a Ku-Klux muu-muu In the back of the truck, If you ain't Born Again, They wanna mess you up, screamin': "No abortion, no-siree!" "Life's too precious, can't you see!" (What's that hangin' from a neighbor's tree? Why, it looks like 'colored folks' to me - Would THEY do THAT... They've been doin' it for years! Seriously?) The rights of 'certain people' disappear Mysteriously? . Now, wouldn't that sort of qualify As an American Tragedy? (Especially if they cover it up, sayin' "Jesus told it to me!") I hope we never see that day, In The Land of The Free - Or someday will we?" - Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk

Zappa went out with a bang and pulled no punches on this one. Zappa and crew are in top form musically. Broadway, not quite the hard way, as Thing-Fish is. A nice bookend to his discography. Four stars on the round up.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The music of Frank Zappa has always been unique and it has its own sub-genre and it definitely under the corridor of progressive music as most of them are not straight forward in term of structure and has many styles in any song. You can find elements of pop, jazz, and rock .and also in some case rap music in the album. For me personally it's a joy listening to Frank Zappa music as I have no clue on how the music would go to due to many changes of styles even in a short track. That's just on musical point of view. On the other perspective, the lyrics are quite harsh and they express Zappa's socio-political views, especially in this album. You might refer this "Broadway The Hardway" with his work "'Have I Offended Someone' as the two share similar style.

The album opens with 'Elvis has Just Left The Building' which makes me laugh and have fun with the combination of lyrics and dynamic music even though in pop style. I also remember "Does Humor Belong to Music" video while enjoying this track. "Planet Of The Baritone... "(2:48) is another funny song with great brass rock arrangements. It's like an opera music, basically. "Any Kind Of Pain" (5:42) is similar in style with jazzy touch through brass section. 'She dines with actors, 'n wall street characters: Dull talk; Nice clothes -- See her? She blows -- She's so important 'cause he gets to do talk shows -' The interlude part with guitar solo is really stunning, followed by short sax work.

"Dickie's Such An Asshole" (5:45) is my favorite because of its complex arrangements on brass section and its sudden change in to bluesy tune. The piano work is good. The intertwining roles of vocal, piano and brass section are all done smoothly and each segment provides Oh yeah . the guitar solo during interlude is also really great. As usual, the lyrics are expressive in nature. 'Can't have no private conversation. Nowhere In the usa. Can't wait 'til the rest of the people all over the the world. Find out their government. Is just the same ol' way. Every day...'. This issue in its lyrics is still relevant even until today.

There are many styles and tempo changes of each individual song in addition to passages of other others' tunes like Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" as well as movie soundtrack like "Mission Impossible" (Rhymin' Man). But again, listening to this album is full with joy and curiosity. In addition to the music, the sonic quality of this CD is far beyong my expectation: excellent. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is a very different album for Frank Zappa. This was the first album released by his final touring band, an amazing performing group. The LP, which was released before the CD version, features only previously unreleased songs, most of them new compositions (Dickie's Such An A**hole was played much earlier, and has since appeared on "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3", but here has some updated lyrics). The songs focus less on Zappa's music than on social satire and criticism. There are enough eyebrows to make the music interesting, but Frank just doesn't seem to be putting much into the musical composition on the album.

The satire focuses on Hollywood plastic people, right wing hypocrites, Jesse Jackson, and Elvis Presley. It's funny, but now mostly dated. It makes me wonder what he would have written had he lived to see the past decade of political disasters.

The CD fares better. All of the LP tracks are here, although the explanation of "confinement loaf" that preceded Dickie... on the record was cut, making those references more confusing. But there are some great additions. Stolen Moments by Oliver Nelson, is one of my favorite jazz pieces ever, and Zappa's band plays it perfectly. Even a guest appearance by Sting, singing Murder By Numbers over it, doesn't mar the performance. There is a once funny, now tragic rewriting of Tell Me You Love Me, now about Michael Jackson, played at a blistering pace. And the very funny Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk.

I'd give the LP 3 stars, and the CD 4 stars. 3.75 stars total (the CD is much longer)

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars Kinda dated and kinda dumb, but definitely not without its charms. It's the first of multiple recordings documenting Frank's 1988 tour (his last with a full band), but it sounds more like a music-based stand-up comedy routine than a "typical" (even by Frank's standards) concert. Adding to both the dumbness and the datedness is that Zappa actually names names and organizations, as opposed to making criticisms on a more generalized level. These factors contributed to me disliking the album a good deal on first listen, as they made things seem dated in a way that, say, "Billy the Mountain" never could to me. But, I eventually came around to it, for the most part.

The sound is rooted in the same jazzy, noodly aspects of most of Zappa's live performances, but there are a lot of places where generic Broadway-ish elements make their way in (hence the name of the album). The band actually touches on several different styles over the course of the album (even featuring Ike Willis doing a full blown rap, with fake turn-table scratching and everything, in "Promiscuous"), so monotony is probably something this album couldn't be accused of. The focus is clearly on the lyrics, though, and they're actually quite clever even when they're topically generic. One of the "new" tracks, "Dickie's Such an Asshole" (inspired by Richard Nixon, naturally), had been performed regularly in the early 70's (there's a version from 1973 on You Can't Do That on Stage Vol 3), but the majority of the new material was written for the age of 80's Reagan conservatism. The lyrics are generally worth a couple of giggles, and besides, as of this writing, it's not as if critique of that kind of conservatism and its influence on politics and society is totally out of date, so there is definitely still some resonance to be found in all of the various rants. I would prefer it if the music was more memorable more of the time, but good lyrics should be given their due.

Still, the best moments of the album come when the band is focused on the music, not the message. Sting makes a cameo appearance, decrying the claims that "Murder by Numbers" was written by Satan, and proceeds to give a very nice reading of the song (jazzier than the original, I'd note). "Outside Now," the old Joe's Garage stand-by, sounds terrific here, as Frank dishes out some very inspired playing, and "Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel" stands out once again as a pretty good jazz-blues protest rocker. Indeed, there are very nice stretches musically on here; it's just that there aren't many of them.

In the end, I can't give this a very high rating, even though there's enough good stuff to keep this album from even remotely approaching a bad rating. I just feel like Zappa was more effective attacking societal norms, human nature and American culture than he was in attacking specific individuals and organizations. That doesn't mean, though, he couldn't do a pretty decent job of the latter.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is part of a trilogy of albums that were released to document different facets of the live performances of FZ's lineup for the 1988 tour. The other two are "The Best Band You've Never Heard in Your Life" which features Zappa's back catalogue and some unlikely covers (including the amazing rendition of "Bolero" by Ravel), "Make a Jazz Noise Here" which features Frank's instrumental works, and this one which features Frank's newer songs and a few covers and plenty of surprises that were pertinent to the time it was released. All three of these albums are well produced and sound amazing.

Since this one is featuring new compositions, you will be hearing a lot of new and mostly unfamiliar stuff. There is plenty of regular and warped humor here, plenty of political statements and a ton of "eyebrows" which is what FZ fans love to look for in live albums. This album seems to suffer from a lack of great guitar solos, unlike "The Best Band...." but it does have a lot more interplay among the musicians as far as all around silliness. I would say this one is probably the weakest of the three in the trilogy, but it still packs a lot of great musicianship and there are a few great guitar solos, just not enough of them. A lot of the musicianship reflects the style of the day which does tend to weaken things; for example bad sax solos, dated synth, outdated subjects (though some do apply currently) and etc. But, it's Zappa, so it's still good in it's own way.

So, if you like the repartee in FZ's live shows with group and audience interaction, this is one you will appreciate, especially if you were around during that decade to appreciate the timely humor. Not the best, but a good album to have in your prog collection just to say you have it. 4 stars....mostly for production and musicianship. But there are better albums in FZ's live discography.

Latest members reviews

5 stars "Any Kind of Pain" is so good you'll cry. I like Elvis just left the building, but I still need to adapt to Baritone Women. Its just sad Frank was so sick by now. But Hes still kickin' one last time live with this brass/electric Jazz/Rock late 80's style of Frank. Very complicated compositions he ... (read more)

Report this review (#85574) | Posted by BaboonSweat | Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, this is one of the "easier" zappa albums, but still... what's not to love about it? Jazzier than ever, more political than ever and playful in a way that I don't think anyone other than Frank can be. As usual the performances are great and I tend to forget that this is actually a live a ... (read more)

Report this review (#85346) | Posted by GrimReaper | Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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