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Frank Zappa Studio Tan album cover
3.75 | 335 ratings | 19 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. (The Adventures of) Greggery Peccary (20:34)
2. Let Me Take You to the Beach (2:44)
3. Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra [instrumental] (7:37)
4. REDUNZL (8:16)

Total Time: 39:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitar, vocals (1,2) , percussion (3), arranger & producer

- Davey Moire / vocals (2)
- George Duke / keyboards, vocals (1)
- Eddie Jobson / keyboards & yodeling (2)
- Ruth Underwood / synthesizer & percussion (4)
- Tom Fowler / bass (1,3)
- Max Bennett / bass (2)
- James "Bird Legs" Youman / bass (4)
- Chester Thompson / drums (1,3,4)
- Paul Humphrey / drums (2)
- Don Brewer / bongos (2)
- Bruce Fowler / trombone (1,3)
- John Rotella / woodwind (3)
- Alan Estes / percussion (3)
- Emil Richards / percussion (3)

- Michael Zearott / conductor (3)
- John Berkman / piano (3)
- Mike Altschul / flute (3)
- Ray Reed / flute (3)
- Earle Dumler / oboe (3)
- Victor Morosco / saxophone (3)
- JoAnn Caldwell McNab / bassoon (3)
- Graham Young / trumpet (3)
- Jay Daversa / trumpet (3)
- Malcolm McNab / trumpet (3)
- Don Waldrop / trombone (3)
- Jock Ellis / trombone (3)
- Dana Hughes / bass trombone (3)
- Murray Adler / violin (3)
- Sheldon Sanov / violin (3)
- Pamela Goldsmith / viola (3)
- Jerry Kessler / cello (3)
- Edward Meares / upright bass (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Gary Panter

LP Discreet ‎- DSK 2291 (1978, US)

CD Barking Pumpkin Records ‎- D2 74237 (1991, US) Remastered by Bob Stone with tracks titles slightly changed and 2 & 3 in switched positions
CD Zappa Records ‎- ZR 3857 (2012, US) Original 1977 Analog Master and in original track running order

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy FRANK ZAPPA Studio Tan Music

FRANK ZAPPA Studio Tan ratings distribution

(335 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FRANK ZAPPA Studio Tan reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars ZAPPA's masterpiece!!!!! A perfect mix of classical, rock and jazz music in the TV cartoon style!! Funny, but extremely complex music!! "Studio Tan" is one of the most complex music of Frank ZAPPA!

The contribution of Eddie Jobson was absolutely necessary to make possible such an album! This guy is extremely talented!! Lemme take you to the beach is the most accessible song, which young kids should like! It's more than ordinary, if you listen carefully. It is a rather funny song, with addictive high frequency voice. The yodeling voice behind is EDDIE JOBSON's!!!!!! ZAPPA's guitar is quite appropriate!

The revised music for low orchestra song cannot be better: lots of latino influences with the trumpet or trombone? and spanish guitar parts, all played with orchestral arrangements: WOW!

"Greggary Peccary" is another chef d'oeuvre: comics music, but how complex and great! Around 20 minutes of dynamic, rythm changing music full of funny moments which only ZAPPA knows how to manage! So many instruments involved, especially percussions!! Again, classical orchestra really takes part in the music, not only as a back ground!

But in my opinion, "REDUNZL" is the main reason to like Studio Tan: because it absolutely and deeply reaches the quintessence! A complex Waltz bit? Maybe, but one thing is sure: it will never be played live as well as in the studio!! There are some names behind this: Eddie Jobson, Ruth underwood and Chester Thompson! Drums, percussions and keyboards at their best! Cannot find better!! One of the best songs ever!!! Really!


Review by daveconn
3 stars Lather's soap opera about a nocturnal, gregarious wild swine is just half the fun of "Studio Tan". "Greggary Peccary" is one of the few examples where ZAPPA's storytelling overshadows the music, certain to please anyone who still prays at the foot of "Billy the Mountain" (Billy and Ethel even make a brief cameo here). The gist of the story is a marketing executive who invents the calendar (and, thus, time), incurring the wrath of hunchmen (and hunchwomen). I suspect this was intended to be part of Hunchentoot, but that's just a hunch. The remaining songs offer a little something for everyone: the silly send-ups associated with Flo & Eddie ("Let Me Take You To The Beach") and the mutated classical/jazz/rock monsters of his early '70s masterpieces ("Burnt Weeny Sandwich" et al). It's an eclectic venture, which is to be expected when a nine-album opus is peeled off in single albums, but among the Lather litter this is some pig. Given what ZAPPA was releasing at the time, you're less likely to get burned with "Studio Tan" than a "Zoot Allures". It's not essential music, if only because fitting these pieces into the original puzzle calls for some historical revision, and yet it is eminently enjoyable. In fact, pound for pound, "Studio Tan" might be one of Frank's funniest records. And fans of ZAPPA's ambitious classical/jazz rock won't mind hearing "Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra", which I'm assuming is a re-treatment of the original "Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra" that appeared on Jean-Luc Ponty's King Kong. Showing such different facets of the same diamond may be initially distracting, but "Studio Tan" remains dazzling for forty minutes.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 2 of the 4 songs on this album are instrumental, and the rest are easily some of the most bizarre songs conceptually (especially the Adventures of Greggery Peccary). Frank Zappa had a bunch of material to release because his label would not allow him to release his Lather set in the mid-1970's. So what did he do? He put the material on a series of albums. This is the first in that series. Muscially, this album is right on the money with jazzy interludes, frenetic guitar solos, playful percussion, and some twisted vocal performances.

The Adventures of Greggery Peccary is easily one of the strangest 20 minute epics ever composed. Rather than sung, it is unfolded like a story to the listener. With subtle instrumentation and playful interludes, and allusions to past Zappa songs, this is a captivating and awe-inspiring piece of work. This song is a masterpiece, and it really sets the mood for the album. Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget... is a jazzy instrumental that has musical nods to the Grand Wazoo/Waka-Jawaka albums in my opinion. It features a superb solo from Zappa and some great drum work from Chester Thompson. Lemme Take You to the Beach is a bizarre song with some very "demanding" vocals and some very 1960's pop lyrics, but it is nonetheless amazing what Zappa does with the music on this track. RNDZL is an instrumental that closes this captivating album, it has some cohesive bass/drum interplay and some great keyboard work form Eddie Jobson and George Duke.

Overall, this album is a creative and conceptual masterpiece. My only complaint is that Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget... gets a tad tedious and uninspired in the middle sections, the same with RDNZL. Despite that, I think that a fan of progressive music will find much to love about this album. 4.5/5.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Perhaps his most weird album after his experimental phase with the Mothers of Invention in the late 60's. I'll give Zappa extra credit here for this wonderfully weird but constructed album, though it barely got released, Im glad it did cause this one is one of his very best albums. As with most of his releases, this is at top both musically and technically, though many Zappa fans probably will not enjoy this release concidering the blistering inacessibility on the domenating album opener, "Greggary Peccary", a 20-minute fusion of comic-book stylish avant-garde, not unlike "Billy The Mountain" from the "Just Another Band from LA" live album.

Very humoristic and avant-gardistic with a good dose of Jazz-Fusion too (tracks 2,4). I think this one is his best late 70's studio release, with Joe's Garage being the only one to probably top it. It's not perfect though, "Lemme Take You to The Beach" is generally weaker than the rest of the album, but still a funny surf-pop parody. This is a must for fans of Zappa's more odd stuff, especially "Uncle Meat", "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" and "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". Great underrated stuff. 4.5/5

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This album was released in 1978 but recorded circa 1974-1976. Even more unusual is the fact that the over 20 minute "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" was written in 1972. Actually that might not be so unusual as it seems like Zappa wrote and recorded tons of music during his career.

"The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" has to be the best title ever ! This is Zappa doing what he does so well, telling a story. My biggest problem with this one is the length of it, I just found myself getting tired of it part way through. The music of course is incredible, but it sort of comes and goes taking a supportive role (so it seems) to the story telling. I just love the way it starts though, with Frank telling us what a Greggery Peccary is, and where it is usually found. Kind of like a National Geographic film. Priceless stuff. Zappa is genius at combining serious complex music with the silliest of stories isn't he ? "Revised Music For Guitar And Low-Budget Orchestra" has the same lineup as the first song. And really the same style of music without the vocals of course.

"Lemme Take You To The Beach" is an uptempo vocal track, with a totally different lineup. Cool to hear Eddie Jobson on keys and also yodeling ? Haha. This is a short but fun song. "RDNZL" is the best song by far. George Duke and Chester Thompson are back from the lineup of the first two songs. Also Ruth Underwood graces us with some percussion and synth work. Duke and Underwood take the lead to open as piano and percussion fill the air. Some scorching guitar from Zappa that just goes on and on for 2 1/2 minutes as Thompson pounds away on the drums. The song picks up the pace 6 minutes in with drums and piano leading the charge.

3.5 stars. If I was more fond of the first track this would be 4 stars for sure. Still a really good album from Zappa, which is of no surprise.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars For an artist as adept at and as focused on the absolutely strange, Frank Zappa certainly outdoes himself with oddity on Studio Tan.

One of the parts of the long mythological box set Läther, this album features Frank's longest studio track and three other odd bits of psychosis. Musically, his compositions are beginning to lean towards the massive orchestration/television sitcom theme style that will become much more dominant on later releases, like Orchestral Favorites or his mid-80s output. Lyrically, we have a lot of really goofy words tumbling from a highly sarcastic Zappa himself, but not the usual hyper-sexual innuendos (or really, not innuendos at all) that this period of his music tended to obsess with. In truth, the style here is much more similar to The Grand Wazoo or the first side of Apostrophe than to Sheik Yerbouti or Joe's Garage.

The Adventures of Greggery Peccary kicks off (or rather, spends half of) the album. Meandering and marked with a lot of complicated to quirky musical bits, the main focus of this song is the mostly spoken word sections. We have Frank narrating, a sped-up voice playing Greggery (who does most of the tune's singing), and a few other voices here and there. At points the music is terrifyingly huge and orchestral, usually when the spoken parts and the vocals are turned off, but at other times it really seems to go nowhere. There are no solo sections here or anything, which is not what you'd expect from a long Zappa composition, but nevertheless, even though it's kind of weak at a lot of points, it makes a refreshing addition to the man's particularly eclectic and unpredictable catalog. This is not a perfect track, but an interesting one.

The other side beings with Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra, the name of which completely describes this track from beginning to end. It's a neat track with neat parts, but on the whole, its lack of cohesion and direction make it the least interesting and weakest track on Studio Tan. The next song, the only truly sung track, Let Me Take You to the Beach, is a peppy little adventure in electronic surfer pop on some form of drugs. The vocals are obnoxious but fit quite nicely, providing another goofy lyrical bit that is not as disturbing as Frank tends to get. The instruments are on fire for this song, especially the bass. RDNZL is a highly complicated instrumental that is probably more famous for its live rendition on You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2. Even still, it really moves here, with flying xylophones and the only real guitar soloing on the whole album. In the end, the last two tracks are the strongest on the album, while the other two are interesting.

Fans of Zappa's big band music, like Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo, will probably find plenty to love here. It's a fairly flawed album, but with some essential material. Not a great place to start, still.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Another one of the Mother's delirium, Studio Tan is part of the four-album Läther extravaganza that Zappa wanted to release, but was countered by his record label, not with solid viability reasons. A rather ugly comics artwork and a good back up section including Chester Thompson, Eddie Jobson, Underwood and George Duke (just to name those) are the main characteristics you should be aware of.

If the Greggery piece takes up the whole first side, it's hardly what I'd call an epic, as it goes back to the first Mothers era, with the dumb humorous storyline that ruins the music (not that great either, btw), and doesn't augur well for the rest of the album. Actually the flipside is rather enjoyable, with some excellent RDNZL and Take You To The Beach, while the instrumental Revised Music For Guitar And Low-Budget is quite interesting. If you own the Läther piece that was released in the mid-90's, you won't need this one. Too bad for the Greggery Peckary piece, but at least one full side of the album is worthy enough.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars NOTE: These are thoughts I originally jotted down about this album before I heard them in proper context, in the full Läther album. My opinion is quite improved after hearing Läther itself.

I know this is going to offend some hardcore Zappaphiles, but unless there's some major interaction/diversification effect that I'm missing from hearing all these tracks in "fallout" albums (the releases containing the Läther material were put together without any input from Frank himself), I can't possibly see how Läther could be anything but a maddeningly mediocre album. All four tracks on here come from those sessions, and the three on side two have simply failed to grab me in listening to this album. "Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra," as cleverly titled as it may be, bores the living crap out of me; it has a couple mildly pretty moments, but it mostly meanders in the kind of jazzy classical(ish) manner that I've already gotten sick of from Frank. "RDNZL" is a good deal more interesting, if only for some nice guitar work and some sparkling upbeat piano in the last couple of minutes, but it's still kinda dull and rambling to me overall. And the weirdly out-of-place "pop" number, "Lemme Take You to the Beach," goofy as it may be, just doesn't have a good enough melody to make me like it as a "stand-alone" song, and the fact that it's apparently supposed to be a parody of a genre that, to my knowledge, doesn't actually exist outside this song, makes it seem like a bit of a waste to me. Maybe I'm just a real hardass, but except for maybe eventually giving future listens to "RDNZL" in the future, I don't forsee giving the second half of this album a spin ever again.

The first half, though, is a delightful bit of, um, entertainment, and one that has seriously grown upon me with each successive listen. "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" is the sequel (not literally, but certainly in spirit) to "Billy the Mountain" (who makes a significant cameo appearance in this story), and it's just as much of a hoot as its predecessor. It has almost no crudeness, as well as none of the time-and-place namechecking that helped make "Billy" so endearing, but it manages to work thanks to a surprisingly engaging (though completely senseless and meaningless) story and a fantastic set of goofy processed vocals (mostly spoken, but with a whee bit of singing) from George Duke. Frank's narration is hilarious as well; at first I thought that Frank's delivery oozed a little too much smug satisfaction in delivering what essentially feels like one giant in-joke, but you know what, it's an awesome in-joke, so I don't mind it anymore. I'm not going to type out the plot summary (just find the lyrics somewhere), but I'll just say that more stories should involve little pigs inventing the calendar (resulting from an effort to find a new great trend for the world to follow), being pursued by creatures that angrily don't want to know how old they are (maybe there is some social critique in here after all ...) and randomly resulting in lectures by world famous philostophers.

Still, as fun as the first half may be, I can't get over how dull I find the second half. "Greggery Peccary" should be hunted down in whatever form you can get it, and if that means this album, so be it, but please get this used.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This was the first of the three unmarked albums Frank Zappa released from the material originally meant for the "Lather" boxed set. I wasn't until the CDs came out in 1991 that any of the musicians were listed in the credits.

Pieced together or not, this is a fine display of Zappa's eccentricities. The focal point of the album is the twenty minute The Adventures Of Greggary Peccary. This bizarre, and sometimes very funny epic tells a story of a peccary (a type of swine) who invents the calendar, gets chased by people who don't want to know how old they are, and ends up on Billy The Mountain. Confused? It doesn't matter. The entire piece is spoken and sung over music written and played back in the "Grand Wazoo" days (listen to "Joe's Domage" for pieces of this music). The whole thing is quite spectacular.

Side two of the album begins with Revised Music For Guitar and Low Budget orchestra. This piece was originally released on Jean-Luc Ponty's "King Kong" album. While this version is good, and more polished. I like Ponty's rendition better. Let Me Take You To The Beach follows. This song as far as I know was Zappa's only techno-fusion pop song. It almost seems like he was serious about it. The song is driven by some cool Eddie Jobson synths. RDNZL closes the album. This difficult piece is one of my favorites.

The songs might flow better on "Lather", but I still love this album.

Review by Warthur
2 stars I've never quite managed to get along with the material which made up Zappa's epic Lather album. Taken as a whole set, there's simply too much there for me to digest, and the mix of styles is incredibly jarring. Taken as individual albums they come across a bit better in some cases, but in the case of Studio Tan it doesn't help much.

Studio Tan is dominated by The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, the saga of a porcine advertising executive which represents Zappa's second attempt at an epic narrative song after Billy the Mountain. It doesn't work any better than that song did, the major problem being that the narration is so overwhelming it drowns out the musical backing - and the musical backing, when it can be heard, isn't Zappa's finest. Of the remaining tracks, all three seem rather disposable aside from RDNZL, and the version on You Can't Do That On Stage Any More Vol. 2 sounds better to me (and that particular album is an absolutely essential Zappa live set).

In short, this is one of those Zappa albums I am happy to leave to the fanatics. Two stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The link between "Studio Tan" and "Läther"

The story behind Frank Zappa's album "Studio Tan" can be a bit confusing. In actuality, it is one of Zappa's best albums, but many have noted that the album has quite a strange mix of song styles, which is a little odd for Zappa albums. The reason for this is that this album was one of four albums put out by Warner Brothers without Zappa's permission. Most Zappa-philes know the story behind this, but what happened, basically, was Zappa and Warner Brothers were planning on going their separate ways, but there was this issue of a contract where Zappa owed more albums. Well, Zappa made enough music for a 3 album set that was going to be called "Läther", and this is the music he gave to Warner Brothers for their final contractual release. However, WB didn't want a 3 disc album because they didn't think it would sell, so they went ahead and split up the music and released 4 albums without Zappa's permission. The albums they released are "Studio Tan", "Sleep Dirt", "Orchestral Favorites" and "Zappa in New York". WB even hired an artist to do the covers. For many years, this was the only way to get the music Zappa made for this period of time, which was around 1977. "Läther" wasn't released until 1996 and it wasn't until then that the public was able to hear all of this music the way Zappa wanted it heard.

So, Studio Tan is one of these albums WB put out. It contains four unrelated tracks as it was more of a catch all album for the left over tracks from Läther. Much of the music on these four WB albums was altered somewhat, and Zappa didn't like the mix of the albums saying that there is no top end sound on them, so he thought they sounded bad, though he did like the music that was on them. On Studio Tan, the only track that is significantly different is the 20 minute track "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary", but the difference is only on the CD version of the album, which contains a remix/reedited version of the original. The other tracks have no huge differences, except for the fact that everything is out of sequence.

The Adventures of Greggery Peccary

Beside the fact that this isn't the way that Zappa wanted this material to be presented, it is still a great album, and the variation in the styles of music gives one a taste of the different styles and wide talent that Zappa had. The album starts out with "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" which takes up the entire first side of the record. This track is a story type track with narration, characterization and orchestration. The song was originally written in 1972. and was an idea similar to the concert favorite "Billy the Mountain" (which, by the way, is referenced in this story). The music is a complex style with a cartoonish, soundtrack style of music that accentuates what is going on in the story. The silly story is about a corporate pig person, who, as a result of pressure from the higher ups in the corporation, invents the next "new big thing", which is a calendar. Of course, people love it at first, but then many also hate this new device all to Greggery's peril. The vocal parts are both narrated and characterized with processed vocals so you can easily tell who is saying what. Not all of the parts are simply spoken, however, many are sung also. The story and music is quite entertaining and is a testament to Zappa's genius.

The track was performed by Zappa on guitar and vocals, George Duke on keys and vocals, Burce Fowler on trombone, Tom Fowler on bass and Chester Thompson on drums. The overall recording took about a month to complete. The rhythm section was recorded first which included bass, drums, percussion and four keyboard instruments. Then the guitars were added. The regular instrumental parts that were hard to get "perfect" were done by a synthesizer so that speed and accuracy could be adjusted. After that, the rest of the score was transcribed for orchestra with strings, brass and woodwinds all recorded on two tracks each over separated days. Then the narration was added in last. An interesting side note is that one of the violinist's manuscripts was run over by a tire of some sort and had the tread marks on it. She denied that it was intentional.

Most people think this track is named after the actor Gregory Peck, but in reality, it was named after Pope Gregory XIII, who is responsible for correcting the calendar in 1582, thus creating leap year and determining a table of moon phases in order to help when to celebrate Easter, a holiday actually based on the pagan holiday for Spring Equinox. The music on this track is quite complex, and it almost sounds like much of it is improvised, but in reality, each and every note is written down as a score. The full orchestra was known as "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra" and actually consists of a very large collection of performers, some of the best that were available. Even with the cartoon-soundtrack style of the music, there are returning themes throughout that pop up from time to time, and there are several styles of music throughout the track that support the story that is going on. The entire thing is a masterpiece, albeit a very humorous one, even the section that represents "a six-foot pile of transistor radio (each one tuned to a different station)". It is so easy to let the craziness of the music overshadow the genius behind it all. But, Zappa's humor is as multi-layered as his music, so just enjoy it for what it is, that is what it's all about.

Revised Music for Guitar and Low-budget Orchestra

This track is an example of Zappa's ability to transcribe impossible music. In its original form, this track was composed to show off the talent of one of Frank's violinists Jean-Luc Ponty. Frank took the underlying part of the track and improvised a guitar solo in the place of Ponty's violin and then had it transcribed (by trombonist Bruce Fowler) for various instruments for his band to play. If you have heard Frank's guitar solos, then you know how complicated they could be. Also, in Frank's instrumental music, you can often hear several instruments playing the same musical line, usually a very complicated one, that sounds like it was improvised. Well, many times, it originally was improvised. But to blow everyone's mind, he has many instrumentalists play the same line in tandem so that it doesn't sound like it is made up. Zappa said that he liked the idea of several instruments all trying desperately to play the same line.

The basic band line up is the same as in the previous track, but there are several other musicians also involved as there are several other instruments involved here too. Listening to this track as a guitar solo transcribed for several orchestral instruments makes the entire thing make better sense. Otherwise, it seems to be a track without any real aim to the novice listener, when in reality, it is a work of orchestral genius, which is also a testament to the instrumentalists, because it is one of Zappa's nearly impossible to play compositions. The sound is much less of a soundtrack style and more like a classical piece. From heavy guitar to orchestra, it all just shows how music of any genre is connected, yet interpretation through instrumentation makes all of the difference in the world as to how it is perceived.

Lemme Take You to the Beach

This short track is really the oddest duck out of all of the tracks here, but at the same time, is the most traditional as far as rock and roll is concerned. This was the track that Zappa thought would be his hit single. Apparently, Frank got Mark Farmer from "Grand Funk Railroad", Eddie Jobson (one of Frank's keyboardists who also worked with "roxy Music" and "UK" among others), Davey Moire (one of Frank's recording engineers) and himself together, went into a studio and recorded the vocal parts for this fun little beach song. The credited performers here are Davey Moire on vocals, Frank Zappa on guitar and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboards and yodeling, Max Bennett on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums and Don Brewer on bongos. The end result is a fun, but silly song satirizing beach music with bongos and everything.


The name of the last track was always a mystery for quite some time. Eventually, Dweezil Zappa explained that it was a combination of the word "redundant" and the fairy-tale character "Rapunzel", pronounced Redunzel. This was Frank's nickname for his wife Gail because she liked to repeat things that Frank found funny. Gail's liscence plate apparently was "RDNZL", which also backs up this theory, but the fact that Dweezil said it was about Gail pretty much solidifies this theory.

The band line-up for this track is FZ on guitar, George Duke on keyboards, James "Bird Legs" Youman on bass, the amazing Ruth Underwood on percussion and synth, and Chester Thompson on drums. This track is a definite showcase for Ruth's talent with the use of percussion, specifically the xylophone. It also showcases George's piano. The track is more avant jazz oriented with some complex rhythmic passages, but is also quite melodic. Frank comes in with a guitar solo after two minutes, but the background is a lot more complex than many of the supporting patterns that back up Frank's solos, so the track remains interesting for everyone involved. The guitar solo stops before the 5 minute mark, and the spotlight returns to the tonal percussion, piano and synths again for the remainder of the 8 minute duration. The music changes style, meter and rhythm quite often, and then settles into a fast and jazzy piano solo that rivals some of Keith Emerson's best. The last minute takes it back to complicated rhythms and passages for the last minute of the track.


So, even though this is one of the unauthorized WB albums, it is a great showcase of several of FZ's styles in one album. Of course the centerpiece is the epic first track, but all of the tracks easily stand on their own, even the short Rock n Roll song. But, the variety is a big plus for this album, and it goes by rather quickly because it is so entertaining. Digging into the album also helps one appreciate it more, seeing the work that Frank would put into his music and that each and every one of his compositions had rationale behind it and not just a random set of noises as many naïve Zappa listeners might want you to believe. Frank Zappa was an amazing composer who knew music as well as any classical composer, but simply liked to put humor in his music. He used humor to help bring attention to his music and it really worked in his case. Many Zappa fans only like certain styles and tend to shun his more classical or complex style compositions, but at least they get exposure to them. Those that are curious about music, however, want to explore the reasoning behind some of the more complex compositions, and, to me, when you understand more, you appreciate more. Still, some of his music may not be for everyone, but that doesn't mean the music is not the work of a genius. Anyway, this is a great album, and, even though it is not the way Zappa intended for people to hear these songs, it is still a great representation of his styles, 4 excellent masterpieces on one album. Sweet!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Studio Tan" is an album release by US artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through DiscReet Records in September 1978. It´s the successor to "Zappa in New York" from March 1978. All material from "Studio Tan", was originally meant to be featured on the shelved "Läther" box-set. As Warner Bros. Records still insisted that Zappa owed them four albums, and Zappa refused to comply with their demands, the label decided to pick material from "Läther" (the master tapes were in the label´s possession) and release the material on individual album releases. Most of the tracks on "Zappa in New York (1978)" were also culled from the "Läther" master tapes, and "Studio Tan" was the second release where the same method was used. So "Studio Tan" was released without the consent of the artist, and was even given a cover artwork completely different from anything else in Zappa´s discography, except for the next couple of releases, which were released under similar circumstances.

Most of the material on "Studio Tan" were recorded at various sessions between 1974 and 1976, but some of the recordings were done as far back as 1969. "Studio Tan" features four tracks. The 20 minutes long classical rock piece with cartoonish lyrics and vocals "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" (originally only titled "Greggery Peccary", the "feel good" fast paced rock song "Lemme Take You to the Beach" (originally titled "Let Me Take You to the Beach"), which features a strong Beach Boys influence (although it´s delivered in a pretty over-the-top cartoonish fashion), and the two relatively long (around 8 minutes long) instrumentals "Revised Music for Guitar & Low-Budget Orchestra" and "RDNZL" (Originally titled "REDUNZL").

"The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" is a bit of a gem in Zappa´s discography, although the lyrics (which feature many conceptual continuety references) and the cartoonish "mouse" voice vocals are pretty silly (but silly in a good way). The music on the long track is a combination of avant garde classical music and assorted rock styles, and it must have been a major task stitching together the multi-part composition. "Lemme Take You to the Beach" is another highlight on "Studio Tan". It´s a unique track in Zappa´s discography, although the late 50s/early 60s pop/rock music influence isn´t new in Zappa´s music, it´s however done different here than what is usually heard from Zappa. "Revised Music for Guitar & Low-Budget Orchestra" is a decent quality instrumental, but not a track which makes my blood boil, and I must say that earlier live versions of "RDNZL" are more interesting than this studio version (the song was played a lot by the 1973/1974 band).

Upon conclusion "Studio Tan" features two rather unusual tracks and two tracks which are a little more in sync with other contemporary releases by Zappa. Ultimately it´s the two former which are the most interesting tracks on the album, but all material are of a high quality. So while "Studio Tan" wasn´t originally released the way Zappa had intended it´s still an intriguing, unique, and adventurous album. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Review #152 This is probably the weirdest album Frank ZAPPA ever made and that's saying a lot. Launched in 1978 but, as far as I know, recorded between 1972 and 1974, "Studio tan" includes 4 tracks, starting with ZAPPA's longest (but not greatest) composition "The adventures of Greggery Pecca ... (read more)

Report this review (#2636811) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Thursday, November 25, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I find the first track on this album to be a real masterpiece of music that I'm not sure if even Zappa himself ever managed to top. It is clearly the most insane Frank Zappa song I have personally heard...and I feel like I've heard a pretty good deal of Frank Zappa. There was a time when I thoug ... (read more)

Report this review (#364310) | Posted by SongJohn | Sunday, December 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What makes "Studio Tan" better than "Lather"? Precisely jack. It is necessary for completists, but those of us who aren't Earth-shatteringly Zappaphilic would prefer this to "Lather"'s behomoth size because it's cheaper, and a quicker fix. "Greggary Peccary" is funny as hell and, while a little ... (read more)

Report this review (#119795) | Posted by Indiciplinary | Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Adventures of Greggery Peccary is nice musical story with some bombastc moments and some humour, but the whole song can be considered as a bad joke. The reasons to give five stars for the album are 'RDNZL' and 'Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra', both being very compact yet prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#117629) | Posted by progressive | Sunday, April 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is by far, Frank Zappa's best and funniest album. "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" takes up the entire first side, and there are three versions going around, the original LP version, which has a fade-out, the CD version, which is a stereo remix and comes to an end, but is missing some ... (read more)

Report this review (#88492) | Posted by bryantm3 | Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Greggery Peccary features influences ranging from Varese (the harshly persussive and syncopated passages where G. looks for a parking place), Bartok (the part where the hunchmen chase G, as in Bartok´s music for strings , percussion and celesta), "post wagnerian chromatism", Jazz. Some passage ... (read more)

Report this review (#60773) | Posted by Paco DelCaos | Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "..Greggery Peccary" (like "Billy The Mountain" on "Just Another Band..") is an extended "folk tale" set to music, taking up the first half of the album; it is very funny but becomes tiresome after the 18th or 19th listening :-) "RDNZL" and "Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra" are 2 ... (read more)

Report this review (#29977) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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