Frank Zappa

Mr. Lazy
*special introductory paragraph
*Freak Out!
*Absolutely Free
*We're Only In It For The Money
*Lumpy Gravy
*Cruising With Ruben & The Jets
*Uncle Meat
*Hot Rats
*Burnt Weeny Sandwich
*Weasels Ripped My Flesh
*Chunga's Revenge
*Fillmore East June 1971
*200 Motels
*Just Another Band From L.A.
*The Grand Wazoo
*Overnite Sensation
*Apostrophe (`)
*Roxy & Elsewhere
*One Size Fits All
*Wasp Man Has Metal Wings
*Bongo Fury
*Zoot Allures
*Sheik Yerbouti
*Orchestral Favorites
*Joe's Garage Acts I, II and III
*Tinsel Town Rebellion
*Shut Up `N Play Yer Guitar
*You Are What You Is
*Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch
*The Man From Utopia
*Baby Snakes
*London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1
*Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
*Francesco Zappa
*Them Or Us
*Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
*Does Humor Belong In Music?
*Jazz From Hell
*The London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II
*You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1
*Broadway The Hard Way
*You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2
*You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
*The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life
*You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4
*Make A Jazz Noise Here
*Anyway The Wind Blows
*The Ark
*As An Am
*Freaks & Motherfuckers
*Picantique - Stockholm 1973
*Saarbrucken 1978
*'Tis The Season To Be Jelly
*Unmitigated Audacity
*You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
*You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 6
*At The Circus
*Conceptual Continuity
*Disconnected Synapses
*Electric Aunt Jemima
*Our Man In Nirvana
*Swiss Cheese/Fire!
*Tengo Na Minchia Tanta
*Playground Psychotics
*Ahead Of Their Time
*The Yellow Shark
*Civilization Phaze III
*The Lost Episodes
*Mystery Disc
*Everything Is Healing Nicely
*Imaginary Diseases
*Joe's Corsage
*Joe's Xmasage
*Joe's Domage
*Joe's Menage
*One Shot Deal
*The Dub Room Special!

Frank Zappa has been intellectualized to death, so I'm just gonna try to explain why I like the albums I like and don't like the albums I don't like, while hopefully giving you a good feel for how each of them sound. Frank was a big fancy California musician who loved `50s doowop, r'n'b, garage rock, avant garde classical composition, free jazz, gross humor, lengthy guitar solos, experimentation and releasing every bippity-boppity (euphemism for "fucking") noise he ever put down on tape. On the subject of made-up words, I've been seeing the word "grok" a lot lately, and people need to realize that you can't use that "word" without being a loser and made-fun-of social outcast. And I would know, because I'm the one that would be making fun of you and casting you out of my social circle. Or would, if I had a social circle, or even a social straight line. Quite frankly, I'm lucky to have a dot. Maybe I should START using the word "grok"! You loser people seem to have something going there, with your groups of big loser friends who all go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show together. Oh but who am I trying to kid. I'm not a very social person, nor do I want to be. I don't actively HATE everybody; I just prefer to spend my time with the few people (and dog) that I like a lot.

Which brings me to my next point. Last night, I was speaking with one of my thousands of friends and I asked him his thoughts on Frank Zappa, an artist whose work I quite enjoy. He responded, "I HATE him! I hate everything he's ever done! He's terrible! So much of his stuff is that awful fusion jazz stuff, and he tries to be so funny when he's NOT, and people accept stuff from him that they would NEVER accept if it were on, say, a Dixie Dregs album. And the worst thing about him is that he's so SMUG!"

These are all valid points to consider. Granted, my initial response was "Ooooh! I've never heard the Dixie Dregs! Do you think I'd like them?" But that's because my goal is to own every good album ever made (and some NOT so good ones too - I'm looking at YOU, The Pros And Cons of Hitchhiking!). But there is something to be said about Frank Zappa being smug. He certainly came across that way in print, voice and on record. Yet those who knew him claim he wasn't actually arrogant. A control freak, yes. A workaholic, indeed. A standoffish fellow with no interest in socializing, indeed. But not necessarily self-satisfied. I'm sure he took a lot of pride in some of his work, but he also declared a lot of it to be shit, if memory serves. See, I was REALLY into him about four years ago, bought all his albums and read four or five books by and about him. So - if I could REMEMBER what I once knew about him - I'd be an expert!

Bottom line: You really have to enter Zappa's world with the understanding that you're entering HIS world. As far as he was concerned, he was NOT a part of the music world that already existed. He created a new place for himself - where disgusting sexual innuendo could rest comfortably alongside mindbogglingly difficult melodic changes; where triple-albums full of nothing but guitar solos are as prevalent as impossible-to-follow electronic compositions; where lousy bootleg recordings are reclaimed and issued as official product; and most importantly, where he could do and say whatever he wanted, no matter how stupid, sexist, tedious, noisy, corny or, on occasion, genius. Sometimes his vision failed him, but much more often it helped bring incredible new music into the world. You just have to be willing to open your mind to a new kind of musical outlook and approach - one that envelopes rigid song construction, completely loose improvisation, assdumb jokes and stone-faced instrumental composition, sometimes all at the same exact moment. If you are unable or unwilling to reconcile your traditional ideas about what constitutes "good music" and an "easily-navigable catalog," you probably won't much be able to get into his vibe, man!

Freak Out! - Verve 1966
Rating = 9

Although mixed in a disappointingly flat manner, my Soleil Moon Frye's Chest Milkshake nevertheless captured the

Although mixed in a disappointingly flat manner, the first Mothers of Invention album has one of the largest collections of captivating melodies that Mr. Robert Zappa ever wedged onto a single double-album. Thematically, (Hey Bird, Get Your) Beak Out! (Of My Terminal Ileum) is a juvenile discourse making fun of Mr. Strait-Laced Corporate America while presenting Frank's smelly, hair-filled "freak" lifestyle as the way of the prospect and the human being. The band makes light of everything in sight, demonstrating particular antipathy towards the standard love song genre in parodies like the Cream- sounding "I Ain't Got No Heart," 50s doowop "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder," r'n'b ballad "How Could I Be Such A Fool" and ugly odd-chorded "You Didn't Try To Call Me."

Which brings us to another aspect of the LP: UGLINESS. The Mothers of Invention were an Extremely TacoT unattractive bunch of misshapen, shaggy men, and their music was often just as unsightly. Even when Zappa came up with cosmological pop melodies, he purposely sabotaged them with flat harmonies, gauche amateurish lead vocals that follow the one-dimensional major key chord changes to the note, dumb studio chit-chat, over-reverbed sckrackly guitar tones and deliberately difficult-to-follow musical breaks. That's certainly what he did, I'll have you know. (End paragraph) You know, the last time I ate the governor's mustache, I notic HEY! I SAID "(END PARAGRAPH!!!!!!)!!!!!

Musically, Frank seems determined to show the world how all-embracing his tastes are, just in case he never gets the chance to record another album. And unfortunately, he doesn't and his career ends right here.

Luckily, ANOTHER man named Frank Zappa came along and recorded 74 more albums for me to buy! And they're all filled with SHIT!!!!

Over the course of two LPs, this early version of the Mothers of Invitation conquer (and totally buck around with) 50's doo-wop, r'n'b balladry, electric blues rock, jazz, bubblegum pop (if it had been given that name yet), psych rock, straight pop rock and avant-garde classical composition. And at no point do they lose the unreasonable sense of the funny side and air travel of the mind's judgment that ended up serving six terms as a permanent aspect of Frank's music for the next 30 years.

To be fair, the Mothers Finest of Invention DO try to present the songs in a positive light, playing them correctly all the way through and honestly TRYING to get the vocal melodies across when possible (as in "Any Way The Wind Blows," a fantastic pop song with a vocal hook that will stick in your head like a rapid, misguided staple!). But that doesn't stop them from making uproarious low-pitched "YEAH!" shouts during the chorus of "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here" or adding moronic "teenage" banter to the end of the "teenagier" numbers or playing kazoo solos over the horn section. Oh, there's a horn section. And Frank isn't the lead singer - Ray Collins is. Roy Estrada, Jimmy Carl Black and Elliot Ingber were also in the band. This was long before Roy Estrada took the world by storm in his stirring portrayal of "Ponch" on TV's C.H.I..P.P.S.

Many stupid assholes are turned off by the last third of this hour- long exposition, built as it is upon a "Freak Out!" of overactive percussion, female orgasm noises, parrot imitations, Theremins, out-of-tune barbershop quartets, spoken word nutsiness and a warped waltz with smelly hippies yelling "Help I'm A Rock!" on top of it. And I suppose, taken as "rock" music (no pun intended) (except the word "rock"), it can get tedious. But if you've ever heard the "music" of Zappa's boring avant- garde composer hero Edgard Varese, you'll recognize "It Can't Happen Here" and especially "The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet" as particularly INTERESTING takes on the idea of "musique concrete." The drums play an uptempo rock beat while unpredictable noises, voices and weirdness - some syncopated, some not - creep in and out of the mix like a bunch of bees that can talk to you and play instruments. I try not to love it, but I fail every time. Because I was born loving and will love til the day I die (September 23, 2058).

Plus, weird noisy stuff is fun when you know it's coming from a smart and talented bunch of guys! And they've already proven their worth 12 times over by the time "Help I'm A Rock" shows up. So how can you discredit "Help I'm A Rock"? You can't. It's impossible. President Reagan tried and he was shot dead as a result. Oh, that reminds me: Could an important, influential performer out there please record a hit single intended, "Hey Schizophrenic People! This is God and I Want You to Kill George W. Bush!"? Thanks in advance.

Of note: "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" is a popular track from this record. "Who Are The Brain Police?" influenced a little-known `60s band to call themselves the Brain Police. "Wowie Zowie" most likely influenced Pavement's choice of album title, if only indirectly. "Motherly Love" is a shitty, worthless macho rock song. "I'm Not Satisfied" was covered decades later by THE FALL!!!!! And "Trouble Every Day' is a fantastic blues-rock tune written in response to the Watts Riots, which occurred after Secretary of the Interior James Watts refused to let the Beach Boys play at the White House in 1980, resulting in the shooting death of President Reagan.

The album is 60 minutes long and REALLY REALLY FUCKING GREAT!!! If you have a dopey sense of humor and a great love for outstanding melody in all its shapes and forms, Freak Out is a "must oof! You punched me in the stomach!

Reader Comments (Jamie Robinson)
At first, I didn't quite "get" this album, but it definitely grew on me, over time. When I heard it for the first time I didn't really like it because it sounded like a bunch of stupid hippy music. But the songs seemed to get better with each listen, and then I finally realised that this was hippy music *before* everyone else was playing hippy music.
One of the best Zappa albums! Lots of great pop songs like "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here", "Wowie Zowie", "Anyway The Wind Blows", and "I'm Not Satisfied" (am i a loser for identifying with this song?). They mostly have hilarious lyrics, or just plain absurd. Some lyrics are really good though, like "How Could I Be Such A Fool" and the aforementioned "I'm Not Satisfied" which are more "serious" approaches. But it's mostly a goofy record and you can imagine a bunch of dopes like these guys having fun playing them. Like the ending of "You Didn't Try To Call Me". Downright hilarious, and not just in a stupid dated 60's-humor matter either!

The experimental songs are also really original for it's time, in 1966. My favorite being "Who Are The Brain Police", which is just creepy as hell. Am i the only one who is reminded by Alice In Chains with their creepy awkward harmonys on that intro wordless vocal part? "It Can't Happen Here" is also so goofy it makes me wonder how they got away with such a thing at that time! It's really an interesting record and showcases Zappa's whole career pretty well (except he didn't go overboard with the juvenile jokes as of yet). I give it a 9.
Frank Zappa has taught me a lot in life. He helped me understand that there's an ugly underground underbelly to American music. He turned me on to a guy named Captain Beefheart. He informed me that the Republican Party isn't a party, but a species. And this is the album that acts as a syllabus for everything Zappa. Start here and see where it takes you.

I didn't start here. The record came to me during one of those "I need to have more Frank Zappa in my collection" phases and I figured it would be better to begin at square one. For years one could hear me state my amazement of how The Beatles were so far ahead of their time with "Revolver," and then I checked the copyright date of this debut. I understand that The Beatles could have released anything in '66, but the fact that this Varese loving weirdo got MGM to put "Freak Out" on the shelves of Woolworth's is amazing. Understand that America really had no reference point during this year other than a casual observation of what was hip and square. Zappa brilliantly sidesteps this potential marketing campaign by filling the album (both musically and the artwork) with inside jokes, self-deprecating humor, warped arrangements and occassionally, spot-on parody lacking any trace of irony. In 1966, Frank Zappa was probably the only person on planet Earth that was in on the joke.

That notion may have contributed to Zappa's eventual drift towards believing that he really did know more than everyone else. And being on the receiving end after a good mind-fuck is quite different than evesdropping on the sex noise coming through the speakers. By the time "Man From Utopia" came out, it was possible for some of us to ponder the idea that Frank might be fuckin' with us instead of just our culture. But it's too early for that opinion to take hold here, as "Freak Out" is untainted crazy motherfuckers making crazy noises about crazy shit. You haven't live a full life until you've heard this album's closing four: "Trouble Every Day," "Help, I'm A Rock," "It Can't Happen Here," and "The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet." If you get it, gabba gabba hey. If you don't, what a damn shame.
All right, all right then, it is time for someone to add comments to all of the Zappa reviews, someone who was there from the start, so let's start with Freak Out. I think I was 13 when I bought this album and I had to save allowance/lunch money for weeks or possibly even months to get this since it was a double album. That's a lot of starvation. Why, you ask? Cuz rumor was Zappa said "fuck" on this album, or maybe talked about Suzy Creamcheese's private parts, which is enough to get any 13 year old's attention c. 1967.

No, this wasn't no Monkees or Paul Revere or even Beatles album, which was the other stuff we were listening to at the time. This was serious shit that we had to sneak into the house lest the parents get a whiff of it.

There's a lot wrong with it, looking back. All the 'love' song are drenched w/ reverb, echo, etc. Still, "Anyway the Wind Blows" and "How Could I Be Such a Fool" remain some of Zappa's finest songs, albeit done better on Ruben and the Jets. Ray Collins is one of my all time favorite singers, and it all started here. "Monster Magnet" embodies everything we would eventually love and hate about Zappa.

I was still listening to this by the time I was in college, drunk, stoned, chanting "It can't happen here" and "Kansas Kansas Kansas" etc. etc. As good a debut album as has ever been released, and most likely corrupted me for life, which is as good a recommendation as I can give...
Ah! The birth of alternative rock in all it's glory! Some would cite the Velvet Underground as the iniators of alternative rock and punk, but I take a different stance on the issue.

There are really two sides to alternative music: the muscular and the wimpy. Freak Out! is beyond doubt in my mind the birth of muscular alternative rock - an album which is raw, upfront, sneering, visceral, wickedly humourous, and truly un-pretentious. Hungry Freaks, Daddy is the closest the 60s came to a punk anthem. Who Are the Brain Police is the first true heavy (metal) song in all it's batshit insane sludgy goodness. I'd wager The Melvins based they're entire career on this song. Trouble Every Day is the first rap song and boyy does fucking kick ass! (especially lyrically) The second LP is the birth of psychedelia, the doowop songs are the birth of parody rock, but in the end, underlining the whole album is consistent uglyness strenthened by a strong (proto) punk ethos. The Velvet Underground isn't the birth of punk, this is.

Which brings me to the other side of the alternative revolution: The Velvets. The originators of that ever present indie rock thing. Frank HATED them. What evolved out of the VU formed the prettier and honestly, wussier side of alternative rock - Sonic Youth, R.E.M, Coldplay, and the entirety of New Wave and 2000s indie rock.

This album on the other hand proved to be the genesis of strong alternative rock. The concept espoused on this album of challenging the norm both musically and philosophically, politically, and especially in terms of attitude has stayed true to great punk and alternative/progressive music throughout the decades. Just look at The Melvins, Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys, Mike Patton and Mr. Bungle, the Butthole Surfers, Nirvana, and even King Crimson.

*cough* indie needs to die *cough*.
One of the boldest debuts in rock history. Period.

Add your thoughts?

Absolutely Free - Verve 1967
Rating = 8

Imagine the disappointment and sodomy experienced by thousands if not plenty of long-haired Zappa fans upon finding themselves jailed for theft after misconstruing the album title. Didn't Frank understand that people with long hair are STUPID??? Look at Jesus for just one of many examples.

On this, their sophomore slump, Frank and the Mothers of Incontinence (minus Elliot Ingber, plus Billy Mundi, Don Preston , Bunk Gardner and presumably Jim Sherwood, although his name is in much smaller print than the others) continue spreading their message of non- conformity through another bunch of snide attacks on middle class America. Its occupants are deemed "vegetables," "plastic people" and possibly "prunes" before Frank bluntly and disgustingly accuses clean-living businessmen of secretly wanting to have sex with their 13-year-old daughters. And as young as Zap was when he announced, "If she were my daughter, I'd.," he STILL comes across as a dirty old man, not a talented satirist. This trend would continue!

Musically, the production and orchestration are much more colorful than on the first album (with lots of woodwinds, brass, harmoniums, oboes, glockenspiels and things), but the album presents a great deal fewer palpable melodies. No, I'm totally telling the wack truth! Listen -- two of the songs are musical parodies of/homages to "Louie Louie," (TWO of them!) and six different "tracks" are really just (1,2,3) three songs and (4,5,6) their differently titled reprises, separated by lots of free jazz/rock expression (noise). This FLOWERy process of WEEDing out LEAVES us with a GARDEN of basically only six original new Frank Zappa pleasanTREES.

So thank your lucky SARS that all six of them are really great! "The Duke Of Prunes" is an exceedingly appealing orchestral song, very regal-sounding like The Left Banke (GREAT band - buy their cd!); "Call Any Vegetable" is a swinging herky-jerky dancer built upon a swishy-thumpy-thump bass/drum/horn combination; "America Drinks" is a silly Vegas-style lounge goodtime drinking tune presented in both a cocktail arrangement and an uproariously warped, slowed, deconstructed, completely wrongly timed rendition; "Status Back Baby" is a perfect `50s-style singalong doowop rocker; "Uncle Bernie's Farm" is an ugly duckling that grows into a catchy, toe-tapping swan thanks to the art of repetition and black magick; and finally "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" is still one of the most intricate, pleasurable concoctions in Frank's liquor cabinet of possibilities: is it a groovy, jazzy riff? A Broadway musical? Eerie nightmare hellnight? Old timey torch music? A rock opera? Novelty Spike Jones hilarity? Crude XXX blue humor intended for adults only? N.O.T.A.!!!!


The melody and even GENRE of the song change every 15 seconds or so for seven and a half minutes. Sure, this is less impressive in today's post-world of They Might Be Giants' "Fingertips," but back in 1967 when scientists thought the moon was made out of basalt and Harry Potter was just a fancy name for a vagina, this was a big deal!

As for vocals - the Druthers talk and joke all the way through this one even more so than on Frig You. Some listeners may find it whimsical, but others will likely want these "freaks" to just shut their 3.14159holes and play the damn song.

Bottom Line: Located at 15 W. 14th St., on the corner of West 4th and Mercer, this cabaret club hosts a wide variety of acts, including jazz, rock and more. Coming soon: Jorma Kaukonen, Tito Jackson and An Evening with Wishbone Ash. I'll save you a seat by the vomitorium!

Reader Comments (Jamie Robinson)
"Son Of Susie Creamcheese" may very well be a "[parody] of/[homage] to 'Louie Louie,'" but I'll be fucked up the ass if it isn't a great example of the Mothers as a really tight band. (Dan Watkins)
So here I am sitting around trying to finish this damn research paper that's due tomorrow morning, and I'm running out of ideas. So what's a fella to do? Comment on a few of Prindle's Zappa reviews to get the brain flowing of course! I basically agree here. It's disappointing after hearing Freak Out. After the initial disappointment wears off though, you find out there's lots of really good stuff on here though. These days, I'm a little tired of the suite on side one (although it's still pretty good), but side two is full of really fun stuff. I'd probably give this one a low 8.
Well by this point, after Freak Out, I'm addicted. Gotta get the next Zappa record and sneak it into the house.

My friends and I listened to this one enough that we sang Side 2 word-for-word every day on the school bus on the way home, relishing "only 13 and she knows how to nasty" and other choice phrases.

The only thing not to like here, looking back, is Invocation and Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin. which is psychedelic guitar noodling we could all do without cuz we own a bunch of Quicksilver albums. And not enough Ray Collins.

Side 2 is solid start to finish, not a bad song in the bunch: America Drinks, Status Back Baby, Uncle Bernie's Farm, etc., not to mention Brown Shoes Don't Make It. Again, a very corrupting influence on my life and still enjoyable in the present day.
Absolutely Free arrived two days ago. I've given it about five full listens, and....I like it a lot, but it's pretty weird and sounds really self-indulgent to my ears (not that that's always a bad thing). Lots of different sounds going on at once, and a lot of time signature/tempo/comlete song changes within songs. Very orchestrated! My favourite moment is on "The Duke Regains His Chops" where the guy (Zappa? I can't tell) says 'This is the exciting part; this is like the Supremes, see the way it builds up' and then it turns into a funny 50s/60s rnb parody. Other favourites: "Invocation..." which is mostly guitar solo but doesn't dick about too much; "Why Dontcha Do Me Right?" which is really catchy; "Status Back Baby" with its great parody of American school life (not too disimiliar to UK school life, it sounds). And of course, "Brown Shoes Don't Make It." What the hell is it meant to be? Very strange music, but the lyrics are even moreso: the "If she were my daughter I'd..." "What would you do, daddy"-part is especially disgusting-sounding, to me at least. I give it an 8 out of ten.

(*a couple months later*)

Scratch my previous comment. Seriously, I want to see you (somehow, I don't care) put an actual "rip" through it. Why? Because it's fucking stupid.

"Invocation" is just some rather pointless guitar noodling, and is easily among the worst things here - how I ever considered it a "standout" is beyond me now. The whole album is really disjointed and sprawling, which works as both a benefit and a hindrance: on the one hand it presents a load of great ideas, "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" especially, but it also makes it sound somewhat rough around the edges. Just looking at the track listing, there aren't a huge number of standouts, which is because the album is a sort of warped "rock opera."

I like it loads, and would give it a HIGH eight, but it's disappointing after the excellence of Freak Out!, and We're Only In it For the Money is a lot better, too. Still can't make my mind up over Zappa's best. Fuck.

Add your thoughts?

We're Only In It For The Money - Verve 1968
Rating = 9

Bashing hippies and cops with equal fervor, Frank and his Mothers - with Ray Collins gone, Don Preston possibly gone (he's listed as "retired"), pianist Ian Underwood added and saxophonist Jim Sherwood now going by the name "Motorhead" - have here created one of the most engaging, melodious, peculiar, impulsive and mirthful records of Zappa's career. It all sounds like old-timey novelty music! The voices are sped up, all the instruments are speed-manipulated into outlandish tones, the spoken word portions are gut-bitingly laugherful molestations of Mr. Hippie ("Oh! My hair is getting good in the back!") and the lyrics are so mocking, you'll swear that Frank Zappa is a fucking asshole! To shit:

(on hippies) "I'll stay a week & get the crabs & take a bus back home/I'm really just a phony but forgive me `cause I'm stoned."

(on policemen): "Cop kill a creep! Pow! Pow! Pow!"

(on Mom): "Ever take a minute just to show a real emotion/In between the moisture cream & velvet facial lotion?"

(on Dad): "Don't try to do no thinkin'/Just go on with your drinkin'/Just have your fun, you old son of a gun/Then drive home in your Lincoln."

(on Mark Prindle): "Mark Prindle RULES!/Have you read his Miles Davis page?/I hear he gets a boner/And has sex for 72 hours!"

(on women): "You paint your head/Your mind is dead/You don't even know what I just said/That's you, American Womanhood!"

Then he abruptly flouts all probability by singing about ideas and people that he actually LIKES! His vulgar childhood friends, lonely little girls whose parents don't care, the freedom to have fun and sing and dance and love without fear of being judged, and most of all - "the Other People!" The individuals who think for themselves! Who knows how often Frank actually FOUND any individuals, but from all indications, he certainly was one. With that copyrighted facial hair, refusal to take drugs like every other member of his generation, openly articulated love for both avant-garde composition and `50s doowop (his audience's PARENTS' music!), long hippy freak clothes that masked his true disdain for the lemming-headed followers of the peace movement, and unceasing sense of UNromanticism, he may have been a bigheaded, chauvinist control freak, but only because people let him get away with it.

And why did he get away with it? Because he was a "rock star"? Because he was a "whiz kid"? Possibly, but more likely than either is the fact that he just didn't give a shit about ANYTHING except the right to do whatever the heck he wanted at all times. Unsociable, music-obsessed and workaholic, he was mostly a stranger to his children and a cheater on his wife, but many people still view him as a musical Divinity, so who am I to question his debatably shitty personality traits? As one of those real-life talking M&M's once said about Santa Claus in a television documentary, "How should I know? I never met the guy!"

I love this album to Helen Bach, but be counseled that my brother bought it at my recommendation and didn't like it at all. "It just sounds like a bunch of jokes!," he complained. And he's right - aside from a couple of extraordinarily gloomy songs about cops killing teenagers, there is an incontestably carnival-like atmosphere to the piece. But a brainy carnival!!! And filled to the gills with extravagant pop melody, coarse noises, eccentric breaks in the middle of songs and all sorts of smart studio experimentation. Irrepeatable, uncopyable and never-to-be-redone, you'll undoubtedly view We're Only In It For The Money as a Yen, Omeht! Rof it, Niyl! No! `er.. EW!

That kicked ass! From now on, I'm ONLY going to write in palindromes!!!! Check it out!

E!! Niruy M.G. Nik? Nird! Speek, drof. D, L.A. - Reg!

Ah crap. I've written a brilliant, Pulitzer- finalist observation about Niruy M.G. Nik, but it's just a bunch of JIBBERISH backwards!

Reader Comments (Steven Knowlton)
What do you have against Niruy M.G. Nik? Sure, he lost the Vietnam War, but he also couldn't revive the economy!
Probably my favorite Zappa album of all times. Such a bizaare record of wackiness, hilariousness, catchyness, beautifulness and thoughtfulness (like "Mom And Dad"). The whole thing really works as one full record, as it segues wonderfully in and out of each song. My only complaint is that most of the songs are so short! They are so damn great too, that you wish they were longer. But it's a step forward from Freak Out and definately Absolutely Free. My favorites are "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance", the ironic psychadelic balladry of "Absolutely Free", the short but sweet "Bow Tie Daddy" and "Harry You're A Beast", "Lets Make The Water Turn Black" and "Mother People". Be sure to get the new Ryko remaster though, as there's a 80's version out there that is remixed and remastered and with added 80's sounding bass and drums. I give this a 10!
A HA! Finally, we get ot some GOOD joke music.

Ot. A cleverly-named prostitititititoooOOOOOOOO

Remember what I said about the joke serving the music instead of the other way around? Well, eureka! FINALLY! Here we have GOLD! Like your brother, I didn't expect to like it at all, but I LOVE it! MORE than Starostin! Yeah, that guy!

First time I heard the album I pretty much laughed my ass off, but I later realized the MAIN reason I liked it wasn't the jokes or the "prescsssssient lyrics" (my preciousssss), it was the MUSIC. It's SO WELL-WRITTEN! Nearly every song on here (and I place the emphasis on SONG) sounds like a mega-hit in late-'60's radio if late-'60's radio were completely run by clowns (from the circus), didn't take itself so damn seriously, and the songs were a bit more stretched out (with choruses and verses, etc.), but they ain't stretched out. Every song is incomplete and fragmented! That gives Frank more room to cram more and more fragments in there! And they ALL SEGUE TOGETHER! IT'S LIKE THE ABBEY ROAD SUITE, JUST WITH LOTS MORE INSTRUMENTS AND REALLY FUCKED-UP!!

Basically, five reasons why this album lives up to the hype:
1.) Catchy, memorable music (when there is actual music)
2.) All segued together into one big heap, so the album flows well as a whole
3.) Incredibly dense, elaborate, diverse gimmicks n' stereo effects that put any Beatles album to shame,
4.) Manic energy alternating with unpredicatibility, and
5.) Like I said, absolutely NO BREAKS in the sound from beginning to end of the album. It's basically ONE HUGE SONG with NINETEEN SEPARATE MOVEMENTS.

Also, there's the resonance. Frank may be snotty and sarcastic, but it's a righteous sarcasm--he's got an agenda here, and a mission to prove all the idiots wrong. Plus some of the weird-ass unpredictable non-musical moments are actually EMOTIONAL in a totally unexplainable way, closing collage "Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny" included.

See, if the Pixies sounded more like this, maybe I'd like them. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are un-catchy postmodern wackadoodle pits of fragmented distorted joke nothing for insane art students--We're Only in it for the Money is a CONCEPT ALBUM, and an incredible one at that. Experimental, yes, but the experimentalism isn't the point, and neither is the humor--the great music is. I give it ten smoochies.
At this point Zappa is on a roll and he knows it. Freak Out. Check. Absolutely Free. Check. He's so confident that he parodies the Beatles, who by now really were more popular than Jesus, though still unable to walk on water.

Aside: I see spiders walking on water all the time in my pond.

Like the songs on Absolutely Free, most of these are easy sing-a-longs and further contributed to my corruption. One of my all time favorites, this one has got it all: great music, munchkin voices, hilario-serious lyrics. Only down side is, as usual, Zappa has to throw in too much noise, my biggest complaint here being Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny; although he obviously labored over this for many hours/days/months, it's just a bunch of noise. I don't know, maybe it's supposed to be Musique Concrete or some such, but it's just slightly less annoying than listening to my wife vacuum the living room rug. In spite of that, this is a real improvement over Absolutely Free -- which was none too shabby -- and back then it appeared the sky's the limit for Frank.
Here's another Zappa reviews:

When I was ten years old, my uncle gave me a warn-out copy of this record for Christmas, perhaps as a goof or maybe just to expand my musical/political horizons a little. Needless to say, I LOVED this more than anything that fat prick Santa ever shat down the chimney. And I'm sure my parents were happy to hear me singing stuff like "I'll stay a week and get the crabs and take a bus back home" or "the father's a Nazi in Congress today."

Twenty years later, I can still sing along with every word on this album, but now when I put this one on I can really appreciate what a cool subversive experiment this was. Frank often used the Mothers and their music to completely take the piss out of all the bullshit trends of pop culture that always seem to "pop up on every street" and this album in particular is probably their most successful in that vein. It really sounds like a kid's album - it's catchy as hell, full of psychedelic-pop songs bursting with hooks, and the playing is much more accessible than the (often purposely) sloppy garage rock of the first two albums. The "hippies" take a beating on this album ("Who Needs The Peace Corps?", the guy at the end of "Flower Punk" talking about all the money and girls he's gonna get even though he can barely play his guitar) but so does the "establishment" (the darker sides of suburbia in "Mom & Dad" and "Let's Make The Water Turn Black.") And the packaging is genius - the Pepper rip-offs with the fake cut-out police badge and the cross-dressing cover and the Kafka-derived liner notes that include exact directions on how to listen to the final song. Basically, this is the best all-studio Mothers album and it's one of the most creative and consistently rewarding albums I've ever heard. Buy it for your children and better their lives.

Add your thoughts?

Lumpy Gravy - Verve 1968
Rating = 9

Hay Bill! It's Lumpy Gravy! Play it for the military and you'll have a Grumpy Navy! Play it for the Monkees while sawing their legs off and you'll have a Stumpy Davy! Play it for that guy who played the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and you'll have to pose for nude photos for him, especially if you're 12 years old!

This was Francis Ford Zoppola's first solo album and man is it ever filled with sound! He pulled together a fifty-piece orchestra of woodwinds, French horns, strings and a celeste, and seems to have asked them to play a bunch of Haunted House horror movie music on their salty instruments of indentured serviture. He then threw a bunch of people in his piano and made them talk about things - things! GLORIOUS things! Things of big - things of small! Things of THREE FEET TALL! Of the dialog, I recommend that "Ponies and Smoke" are used as a metaphor for "People and Religion," I'd guess. Also, somebody argues that the universe is made up of one note, with atoms serving as vibrations. Some fellow has a yucky cartoon character laugh. Somebody makes a Pick-Up Sticks one-liner and the rejoinder, "I remember when. No, I DON'T remember. Those were the days!" Some people tell a story about a guy fighting off four or five boogeymen, a guy talks about building cars - it's all much more interesting, chopped up and abstruse than I'm making it out to be. It's good, funny dialogue!

Then Frank pieced together a crazy collage comprised of his smelly hippy friends' piano conversations, the scrapy death-knell orchestra off-classical music and some trim other snippets of surf/spy music, sped-up fresh ruckus, drum solos, r'n'b, guitar feedback, leisurely groovy funk soul rock, an instrumental version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance," an early take of the later "Dog Breath Variations" and man just all kinds of free avant ear happenings for the mentality.

The only problem is that it's really short and there aren't any songs on it. If you're into music for its art and entertainment value, and aren't too concerned with whether or not it has any notes that actually go together in a logical order, this is one of the best Frank "Viva" Zapata albums you can Git.

Say! That reminds me of a funny joke! What do you get when I take a crap in the ocean?

A Dumpy Wavey! HAHAHAHHAH!!!! AHAHAH!!!!!

Does my written laugh track make you want to write your own laughter on a piece of paper?

Reader Comments
Very strange experimental album. Some people wouldn't call this "music", but there is music on here. It's just that there's no specific "songs" on here except the alternate takes of "Take Off Your Clothes When You Dance" and "Oh No". But this is an intreguing batch of tracks, and i especially like the talking parts of it. It sounds so creepy that it creeps me out if i listen to it in a dark room alone at night. Same with some of the musical sections. I don't really like to listen to this often, only when in the mood, but i surely enjoy this. I'd give it either a high 7 or 8, as there is some boring parts here and there. (Dan Watkins)
It makes me really happy to see you give this album a 9. I think it's fantastic too. It has what is probably some of my favorite orchestral Zappa work ever. The two "Oh No" segments are really pretty, and the other orchestral stuff is really cool Stravinsky-ish stuff. Plus, there's an early version of "KING KONG," not "Dog Breath Variations." The surf version of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" rules ass too. I second the 9. People who don't like this album are stupid.
As every astute visitor to this site is aware, any album which features Myron Floren on accordian is pretty much sure to be a rock-solid 10. Unfortunately, Lumpy Gravy does not feature Myron Floren, nor is he anywhere in sight. Therefore, the less said about Lumpy Gravy the better. Save yer bucks and get Burnt Weenie Sandwich.
The first of Zappa's solo masterpieces! Sure, it's an attempt at bringing musique concrete to the masses, but it's FUN musique concrete! After a while it makes (a bit of) sense, and you'll never hear music the same way again. Well, maybe not, but this is still a must-hear avant-garde treasure.

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Cruising With Ruben And The Jets - Verve 1968
Rating = 7

Alright, let me susplain something at you. When you call me a "Fiddle Faddle Bird," you're not just calling ME a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." You're calling everyone I've ever SLEPT with a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." And don't you even think for ONE SECOND that Condoleezza Rice is going to let you get away with calling her a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." She didn't earn her bachelor's degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974, her master's from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981 to be called a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." She wasn't awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, the University of Notre Dame in 1995 and the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003 to be called a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." And she sure as hell didn't arrange for Arab terrorists to destroy the World Trade Center to be called a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." So if you're going to call the person I love a "Fiddle Faddle Bird," make sure it's a person I don't love very much and just slept with for the sex, like Gray Davis. You can call him a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." Quite frankly, he IS a "Fiddle Faddle Bird." Even I would agree with that sentiment. He's literally a warm- blooded, egg-laying, feathered vertebrate made out of sugar-coated popcorn with tiny pieces of toffee for eyes. No wonder he's being recalled! Who the hell voted for a "Fiddle Faddle Bird"? I'll tell you who - Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles.

Now that we've cleared up the "Fiddle Faddle Bird" controversy that has been coating the nation's newspapers in streams of warm piss for the last six months, let's return to the most popular Frank "Black" Zappa album ever, Cruising With Benny And The Jets. When Elton "Frank" John "Zappa" decided to release this album in dusty old 1968, he was taking his avant garde-loving fans for quite a ride to Squaresville - and they didn't all enjoy their aisle seats! In other words, this is the Mothers of Invention's doowop album - a celebration of the music they loved in their childhoods. Straight `50s rock and roll, doowop and beach music - with piano triplets (1-2-3, 1-2-3, not three babies popping out of a woman's "Fiddle Faddle Bird" at the same time), cute "finger-snapping greasers standing on the corner" harmony back-up vocals, excellent acoustic and electric bass lines (in the Rykodisc reissue anyway - Frank had most of the bass and drums re-recorded by young musicians!) and just lots of great happy catchy melodies for fans of that old-time rock and roll. That kind of music just soothes the SOUL. Today's music ain't got the same SOUL. My favorite actor is David SOUL. Still like that old time David SOUL. That kind of actor just soothes the POLE.

Hey, I totally made up a kickass new heavy metal song while walking around Central Park looking for Simon and Garfunkel at 11:30 PM the other night. It's along the same lines as "Cherry Pie" and "Big Gun," and filled with the same kind of great double entendres and clever innuendo. Let me know if you like it - it's called "Skin Dildo."

I'm gonna pull out my SKIN DILDO!
And stick my FLESH VIBRATOR inside of you!!!
You'll wrap your ANIMATED SOCK FILLED WITH VASELINE around my, and that's as far as I've gotten.

Back on the subject of Fraenkwr ZARpa ewr's CREUir Withea Reaiudanb ANdsre THE JBrewstg, they use falsetto vocals, sound as juveniley delinquent as (international drug smugglers) Sha Na Na, do funny things like playing a song all in one single key with "Bop Dowyoo!" back-up vocals repeating over and over and over again for more than two minutes, and remake four Freak Out tunes as interesting (though, at the end of the day. INFERIOR) doowop ballads, ultimately proving to the world that they can be just as normal as the normalest band from 1961.

Personally, I get a little bored during the less immediately catchy tracks, and actively dislike two of the record's most popular numbers because they're TOO generically normal in the melody department ("Fountain Of Love" and "Stuff Up The Cracks"), but certain folk love `em for their crazyass lyrics (the latter is about suicide!), so don't take my word for it. My enjoyment comes more from the unbelievable singalongability of "Cheap Thrills," "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" and the slightly weirder "Later That Night." This is seriously good music, honestly - it's just not at all avant-garde. Even the most MODERN songs on here sound like The Turtles! (That's a POSITIVE comment, btw - I like the Turtles!)

Another thing I should mention is that several of these songs were written in the early `60s for Zappa and Collins' old band s (Ray Collins is back! And an "Arthur Tripp" has joined the band on "Lewd Pulsating Rhythm"!), so don't be too surprised by the moronic drivel coming out of the singers' mouths (ex: "For you, I could do anything/For your love, my heart cries/Take my heart, my love, my everything/For so long, I've needed your love"). Back then, songwriters wrote traditional lyrics, not like Kelly Clarkson and the other experimental poets of today.

Speaking of Kelly Clarkson, her photographer Tony Duran and some other jerks actually recorded an album under the band name Ruben and the Jets in 1973 (the year of my birth!), but fuck them. They're Fakirs. Poseurs! Ruben And The Jets are a fake band, just like the New Monkees and REM. Ignore them and don't take them seriously.

Alright! That's FIVE Zappa reviews! Only 70 to go!!! I'm almost done!!!!

Oh yeah, the band: Ray Collins, Estrada, Black, Tripp, Underwood, Preston, Motorhead, Bunk Gardner, Zappa.

Reader Comments
Imagine my surprise when i fell in love with this record! On the surface it's a parody/tribute to doo-wop, but all the songs are just so catchy, beautiful and well written! Even the songs you''ve slagged like "Stuck Up The Cracks" i think has a wonderful melody. Also has a great guitar solo at the end. "Jelly Roll Gum Drop", "Cheap Thrills" and "No No No" are also silly pop songs that you can't help but have them stuck in your head for a long time.

I'm so glad that Ray Collins is back in the band singing lead vocals. His voice is so gorgeous on this record, he does soulful black dude vocals so well and beautifully. Especially on "Anything", "Desiree", "Anyway The Wind Blows", "You Didn't Try To Call Me" and "I'm Not Satisfied". A lot of people will tell you that it was pointless for Frank to rerecord songs from Freak Out, but i love the versions on here. They are different in their own way and sound like totally different songs. Frank's bass vocal on some of these songs are also hilariously effective. It just sounds like a doo-wop band playing songs from the early 60's, although some parts and some lyrics are a bit weird for doo-wop. Which is why it's great! "Fountain Of Love" is the only song i'd say is just okay, although that repeating harmony at the end is really great. It's one of my favorite Frank Zappa albums (though i'd get slapped if i told a die hard Zappa fan that, most likely!). I give it a high 9. (Dan Watkins)
I wasn't blown away by this one at first. In fact, I mostly bought the CD as an "Eh, I'll have to buy this one at SOME point" kind of impulse. I listened to it once, and just put it on my shelf. Several months later, I asked someone to mail me a tape of the original vinyl (without the 80's bass and drum overdubs), and the album totally clicked with me. Once you get used to the fact that this is the Mothers playing what is more or less normal doo-wop, you'll find that these are really catchy songs. While the Freak Out numbers might not be as good as the originals, I think they're really well done. If you ask me, this is the most underrated early Mothers album (well, next to Burnt Weeny Sandwich--why isn't that album considered one of Zappa's best albums ever?). I give this one an 8.
This sucker was weird from the get-go. What the fuh? This is the follow-up to WOIIFTM? A bunch of doo-wop stuff? A bunch of re-recordings of the 'love' songs on Freak Out? Funny thing, it grows on you.

So whatever, I've just spent 2 hours listening to Ruben and the Jets, divided equally between the LP and CD versions.

Sadly, the LP version is no longer available. Sadly, the CD version is.

The CD is garbage compared to the LP. You should probably run from the CD in terror, unless you are a completist or a Ray Collins fan, in which case this is all you've got. Zappa's intentionally defaced what was a fine piece of art. The re-recorded bass and drums on the CD suck. On the LP, the snare drum has some weird echo-ey snap to it that I'm at a loss to describe. You'd have to hear it: EXCEPT YOU CAN'T. The bass is solid: we're talking Roy Estrada here . On the CD, the drums and bass sound like normal drums and bass from some 80's Zappa band, which they are. Frank, what were you thinking when you wrecked this one? Dweezil, please hear my pleas: give us the original on CD.
These "post a comment" bits are actually links to e-mails, I see, and presumably you patch them on to your site. Cool! That definitely shows dedication.

Anyway, enjoying your many reviews very much, and reading about Reuben & The Jets reminds me why this is one of the few Z albums I don't own anymore - Ironically (or perhaps fittingly, for the Mothers) after having already released several albums that integrated Doo-Wop to levels of beautiful absurdity, here on their "proper doo-wop album" they actually play 'em relatively straight! What's the point??? Gimme Freak Out! any day...or any of the other numerous doo-wop references and tunes indelibly present in his work (SATIRICALLY) till he finally gave out... Thank you.

Bruce Eaton
its bizarre how under rated this album is. compare it with any other doo wap (as it is known in certain parts of the world) album and its an unmitigated masterpiece

thats all i have to say

Add Your Thoughts?

Uncle Meat - Bizarre 1969
Rating = 8

Having arrived home from a weekend vacation to find my apartment turned all topsy-turvy by the contractor guys who were refinishing our floors while we were away, I honestly have no clue where my copy of Uncle Meat is. It's not in the pile of albums that are lying next to our bed - that's stuff I'm planning to sell on ebay that used to be under the spiral staircase. It's also not in the kitchen trashcan, which spent two months in the middle of the living room before being placed right here next to me in the master bedroom. It also doesn't appear to be on the living room couch, which is resting upside-down on the kitchen counter. So your guess is as good as mine really.

In the meantime, I DID at least take some notes about this double-album soundtrack to . well, I've always heard it was an UNFINISHED movie, but I've had a copy of it waiting downstairs to be watched for about three months now. Just haven't gotten around to it, what with the job search and the freelance work and the not being the least bit interested in watching it and all. So it might just be an UNWATCHED movie at this point.

This double-album is mostly instrumental and heavy on the jazz. Not the largest amount of humor on here, what with only 7 of the 28 tracks having lyrics, and the music not being all full of hilarious Spike Jones-style duck quacking noises. The liner notes brag about all the overdubs, which I guess would explain why it always sounds like there are nine hundred instruments in the mix when only about 40 people are in the band - including Ruth Underwood (before that was her last name) on vibraphone! Get used to that tinkling toodle-doo children's instrument noise, because she played a MAJOR role in Zappa's sound over the next six years and 38 albums. There are also lots of horns, brass, saxophones, horns and brass. JAZZ! Drums and piano. Avant-garde sax and actual sax. Keyboards! Great percussion. Bass! A lot of it is "free jazz" soloing stuff, but even some of that is great - especially the side-long "King Kong," which starts with one of Zappa's most memorable musical melodies ever before his band of jerks do the old solo and switcheroo between electric piano, improvisational jazz, guitar, distorted electrified saxes, hilarious deranged keyboard stuff and back around to what I feel I have already established as being a really good riff.

It's incredibly hard to type with my body resting sideways on the tiny surface area that my sleeping dog has left me between himself and the side of the bed. My arms are turned awkwardly and painfully to the left, putting all the pressure on my upper back and shoulders. Makes it hard to think, hard to type. There's a little doowop on here. And "God Bless America." And Frank's band bitching about how little money they've made. It's sort of an "all over the place" double- album, but mostly centered in instrumental noodly (and modal and free and other types) jazz-rock. The production is pretty messy - it's really hard to hear what the non-lead instruments are playing a lot of the time. Maybe Frank fixed that with his Rykodisc CD remaster. I wouldn't know, because I only buy vinyl. Vinyl and cotton.

Say - what's up with this Suzy Creamcheese crap? Is she supposed to sound like a teenage girl gone bad? Her voice is just gross. She sounds like somebody's bored cigarette-smoking mom. But if you want to hear a band play lots of challenging, amelodic classical jazz w/ solos, let Uncle molest your Meat!

Oh god it's all coming back now.. (*has nervous breakdown upon confronting "recovered" memory of old Different Strokes episode*)

Reader Comments (Dan Watkins)
Another good one. This one shows the beginnings of Zappa the composer and is full of all sorts of complex songs with really interesting instrumention. I could do without a few of the more pointless live tracks ("God Bless America," "Louie Louie," and the ugly "Ian Underwood Whips It Out"), but the rest of it is terrific. You know, I was listening to this in the car the other day for the first time in probably two years, and I realized what a great song "Dog Breath In The Year Of The Plague" is. It's just so strange, catchy, and interesting all at the same time. Oh, and as for the movie, it blows. The only thing worth seeing on it is the really great Royal Albert Hall performance (the play that appears on the Ahead Of Their Time CD). The rest of it is just a bunch of incredibly boring goofing around, equally boring "making of the movie you're watching" stuff, and a naked Don Preston bathing in raw hamburger meat.&n! bsp; Oh, and if you buy the CD version, just pretend that the two movie dialog tracks and "Tengo Na Minchia Tanta" aren't there. They boring beyond belief and weren't on the original album anyway.
Back in its day, this was another fine Mothers/Zappa album. The Uncle Meat theme is excellent and then they stretch it out to the Uncle Meat Variations, which is as good as anything Frank ever recorded. Plus you get Dog Breath and its Variations, Electric Aunt Jemima, Mr. Green Genes, The Air, and a whole side of King Kong.

But looking back, there are some troubling tendencies starting to pop up here. Frank/Mothers had released three great albums: Freak Out, Absolutely Free, WOIIFTM. Then came Lumpy Gravy, his first attempt to be a "serious" musician, and the retro Ruben & the Jets. The problem being that Lumpy Gravy ain't all that good to my ears, and that Retro albums seem to be a sign that a band is temporarily out of ideas and buying time (e.g., off the top of my head: Spaghetti Incident, Garage, Inc., Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll, etc. etc.).

So here the question is: what did Ruben buy him? Yep, there's the previously mentioned flat-out classic songs here. But I don't see much forward movement in this album with the exception of King Kong. There's a shite-load of noise tracks and we get to hear from Suzy and the disgruntled band members just a wee bit too much. The CD includes a moderate helping of additional tracks not originally on the LP -- which doesn't help -- including Tengo Na Minchia Tanta, which, loosely translated, means "I've got a big bunch of dick" or so I've read. Or maybe it's "I've got a big bunch of meat, uncle!"

All that being said, this should be included in any Zappa/Mothers collection, if for no other reason than to hear Ray Collins' incomparable voice on Mr. Green Genes.

Add your thoughts?

Hot Rats -Bizarre 1969
Rating = 7

Another solo Frank album. Almost completely instrumental and even more seriously "jazz"-oriented than Karbuncle's Feet, Hot Rats takes its name from the old science experiment where if you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water, he thrashes around in pain and tries to escape, but if you put him in a pot of cold water and slowly turn the heat up, he turns into a rat. My head is killing me. Hurts so much, I can't even play this record in my head. Henry the dog is drunk off his ass on painkillers over in the corner, thanks to a dewpaw (sp?) injury sustained at the Paw House Inn in Vermont (more like the RIP OFF YOUR DEWPaw House, if you ask me and my wife, Brenda Aske Prindle). Wife is reading mail from three days ago. Friends Brandan and Emily are in town. Penis has to urinate. Gotta buy the wife some presents for her birthday coming up. Maybe could kill two birds with one stone and give her a glass of urine. Don't know. Have some freelance work to do. And now you're here bitching and moaning about Hot Rats.

Jazz jazz jazz (with a few toe dippings into classical composition and those lowdown dirty boogie woogie blues), solos solos solos. It begins with the classical/jazz hybrid "Peaches En Regalia," whose video used to play on MTV back before the station got really good and stopped letting people who aren't morons on the air. It's a legendary song - surely you've heard it! Piano flourishes, horn breaks, smooth bachelor pad awesomeness. Vibes maybe. Ian Underwood. Then Captain Beefheart (see separate entry for Captain Beefheart, under "Captain Beefheart") lends his raspy blues vocals to the New Orleans drunken blues Memphis exchange program "Willie The Pimp" which rools the schule until the lyrics end and it turns into a long fucking guitar solo. Strangely, it's a guitar solo that even I am able to get into. I'm not "Mr. Guitar Solo" myself, but if you listen to a Zappa solo for long enough, you start to feel like it's telling you a pleasant little story. I believe this idea was first put into my head by the liner notes of Shut Up And Shove Your Guitar Up Your Ass, but now that the propaganda has been imprinted physically into my brainstem, I can't fail to admit the falsity of my previous lack of disbelief. Track three is an instrumental version of the best song on Uncle Meat that unfortunately meanders off into the corner to snort some "Rush" after a while.

Then side two has three more sogns! Reviews that describe individual sogns are lazy, so I'll just say that in general, side two continues to mine the jazz rock genre that was so prevalent before the Jazz Rock Mining Disaster of 1841, presenting several nice saxophone melodies, electric violin happenings and sad piano riffs but nevertheless ruining the entire album with a really bland, 15-thousand-year-long goodtime blues jam called "The Shit Variations Of Shit With Shit All Over It."

That wasn't the title at all. Who am I trying to kid? Frank Zappa was a serious artist who would never use such an immature title. Now please enjoy my review of his album Burnt Weeny Sandwich.

Reader Comments
So this is the album, this is the album with Peaches En Regalia! I can't stop listening to the song, it's great, it's infectious, it's the work of a man who had an I.Q. that was higher than Einstein's! I think I should get a Frank Zappa album soon............. Freak Out!, or something, I'll read a few more reviews first. Oh wait! I should get the latest John Mayer cd! Or I should go out and buy the latest Chris Cagle cd! I mean, from what I have been told by some very well versed people in my school, John Mayer is deep, he speaks to the soul......... The Beatles are gay...... and Bob Dylan was stupid and they've even heard one of his songs 'Like A Rolling Stone' and it's senseless. Oh yeah, and ALL country sucks, the only old band that is good is Aerosmith and Queen....... yeah, the Rolling Stones sucked and Led Zeppelin was OK sometimes...... but overrated........ Aerosmith were creative and they were really accomplishing things in the 80's when they kicked the drugs and still made GREAT music. Led Zeppelin is Ok in that category......... just a lot more boring. HA HA, Steive Wonder, I bet he's got just some gay music..... Prince is stupid, I've heard some of his songs and they all suck, hell anyone could do that. What!? I've never heard of Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and the Kinks....... they must suck. Oh yeah, and Limp Bizkit's My Generation is a lot better than the gay Who could ever do. But, above all, the Beatles actually suck, my parents listen to them......... dude, they're gay............... if you like some old rock, john mayer and ludacris............. you're tastes are incredibly eclectic................... oh yeah, and all old music sucks, they didn't even need talent back then........ wait, I'm confused, back when? You know, I don't fuckin' know, back then or something. Oh yeah........... I forgot about Slipknot, they rule and Korn rules.......... they're better than Jimi Hendrix anyday! I get this all the time, it's starting to bug me. I'm probably just the inverse of them or something......... but still, c'mon have an open mind....... or at least try. Someone also tried to convince me that Bob Dylan sucked becuse of his voice, the Wallflowers do things Bob Dylan could never do................ lyrically (well, yeah, I agree vocally...... but, does that matter?). I mean, c'mon............................. this just bothers me. Eh, oh well.
Well, I finally have listened to much of this album! Only a few times though, I haven't had much time to listen to it. Jeez, Frank Zappa, who in the hell has even heard of the guy? He's gotta be one of the most talented guys to grace the music scene in the last 50 years, bloody right. Upon first listen...... well, it's probably normal to have a slightly negative reaction. I mean, not as violent as the reaction one has after first listening to the first few seconds of "Singapore" on Rain Dogs, I mean, once you are introduced, for the first time, to the insane circus that is a Tom Waits album......... it is perfectly natural to have a violent reaction of SOME sort. What you don't know (upon first listen, at least) is that Rain Dogs contains many clever pop structures that lay behind the madness......... there is also a question with Rain Dogs...... let's say Tom Waits went about the album with sane-person instumentation...... would it be so widely acclaimed as it is now? I don't know. What does this have to do with Hot Rats? Very little. Hot Rats, in fact, is suprisingly easy to like. Peaches En Regalia is a melodic wonder and...... well, the whole album is VERY consistent. "Willie The Pimp" is my first introduction(and it may be yours) to Captain Beefheart. His vocals sound a lot like... well, Tom Waits. The song is wildly absurd (the vocals/lyrics at least) and is probably the most repetitive thing on here(as far as the instrumentation). Frank Zappa shows us that he is VERY talented on the eletric guitar........ I, like Mark, am not very fond of lots of guitar soloing..... but Zappa, hes good, he can keep your attention. He can keep it very well(even on "Willie The Pimp"). I think "The Gumbo Variations" is one of the absolute highlights of the album........ a violin solo? Yeah! In short, this is no Thriller, you probably won't like it after listening to it once........ but, as far as Zappa goes (as far as I know) this is probably one of his most acessible. Well, to end this pretty lame commentary, I'd say that Hot Rats is filled with exhilerating guitar and other instrumental work. From beginning to end it is melodic. It is definetly the work of a guy who is incredibly talented. It kind of makes some of my favorite albums seem kind of lame. That may be my point, hell, this guy makes Tom Waits seem normal. That's what Zappa does, he makes everything you thought you liked seem stupid........ damn him.
Hot Rats gets the 10 from me. 6 tracks, all of which rule harder than Ivan the Terrible learning how to tango. All of 'em are dang classics. "The Gumbo Variations" is one of the hardest-funking jazzy rock jamz in this universe. (I refuse to rule out the possibility that there are other and far cooler universes to discover.) It quite literally cooks. Listen to Sugarcane Harris's violin rip you a new one and show you that the thing is capable of far more than fucking orchestral flourishes. "Willie the Pimp" has one of the best guitar solos on magnetic tape and gets the honor of being sung by Captain Beefheart, which therefore means that it automatically kicks ass. "Peaches En Regalia," "Son of Mr. Green Genes," "Little Umbrellas," and "It Must Be a Camel" also make melodies and ring emotional bells (?!!?!???), a first and last for Zappa to be sure. The best Zappa album ever. The best Mothers of Invention album is harder to discern (I haven't listened to Absolutely Free yet, so I can't make the decision yet), but this is the best Zappa album I hath listened to by far. Fantabulous.

On another note I downloaded "Daddy Has A Tail!" on Tuesday and can't stop listening to it or "Hot Rats." Hm. Interesting. Another kickass album I will comment upon soon.
Zappa's first 'solo' album, and a good one it is. Kicking off w/ Peaches En Regalia, FZ's finest composition of all time, this thing pretty much rocks or jazzes or whatever you call it, and never lets up.

Peaches reminds me of an Escher drawing, continually self-referent, with more twists and turns than yer small intestine. It's the finest thing here, primarily because it contains more ideas packed into its 3:37 running time than the rest of the album combined.

Next up is Willie the Pimp, with Beefheart sounding pissed off, though it runs a little too long, guitar jam-wise, for my taste, but hey, this is the first time FZ's really let loose on record. Same deal w/ Son of Mr. Green Genes: runs a little too long and is not up to the original, but features a nice FZ guitar lesson. Same deal w/ the Ian Underwood blow-fest, The Gumbo Variations.

FZ's stretching out here, mining some new lodes. It seems a bit self-indulgent, though compared with the fodder of the time, e.g., Canned Heat's Refried Boogie, the songs are downright succinct.

N.B. Juicy Lucy does a great cover of Willie the Pimp on Lie Back and Enjoy It, if you're into second-/third-tier British blues bands of the early 70's.

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Burnt Weeny Sandwich - Bizarre 1970
Rating = 9

HUGE news on Yahoo! Headlines today: "Comic's New CD Mocks Telemarketers." Nothing else as important happened today. My poor Doggy is depressed. I love him so. I gave him a pig ear, but he just ate it and immediately got depressed again. I don't know if it's because we don't spend enough time with him or if his foot injury hurts or because our apartment is all topsy-turvy because of the contractors or what. But I love him. Can't you tell him? Won't you tell him I do love him so? He's my special guy! YOU'RE not my special guy! You're just some ASSHOLE! But he's my special little furry man!

EXTRA! Frank Zappa has decided to break up the original Mothers of Invention! More on this breaking story later!

EXTRA! Bandleader Frank Zappa has announced plans to release a series of ten CDs documenting unreleased material by the original Mothers of Convention! We'll be back after this word from Kellogg's Wooden Condoms With A Big Splinter In Them!

EXTRA! Frank only got around to making two of them before forming a shitty blues-rock band with two fatasses! More later - now here's Joltin' Bob In The Weather Balloon Filled With Maggots!

"Today should be partly cloudy with GET THEM OFF OF ME!!!! AUAUGGHGHGH!!!!"

But enough of my historical journalistic re-enactment. The reason I've called you all here to this review is because Burnt Weeny Sandwich is one vulva good album! You see?? It's true what they say! Mark Prindle DOES use "vulva" as an adverb! Constantly!!! With my BALLS dangling out in separate sacs!!!

The CD features a little DOOWOP! A little CLASSICAL! A little JAZZ! A little GERMAN! A little RUSSIAN! A little INTERNATIONAL FOLK MUSIC! And it's got a nice bit of this cool-as-shit thing where Frank composes (on paper, in the old style) really complicated, unnatural melodies and gives the sheetwork to two or three different musicians at the same time. So you hear a few different noises (perhaps a vibe, a guitar and an organ - or a saxophone and a piano - you know, combinations) playing the exact same really fast and weird set of notes all at the same time. Notes as loose and odd as a solo, but clearly pre-written. I was once told that Frank would actually take his live concert tapes, have the solos transcribed note for note, and then have his musicians play them together on the studio records. Perhaps that's what he did here, I'm not sure. But that kind of thing would turn up a LOT in Frank's career and was one of the most unique and coolest things about his music. Idiosyncratic, you might say if you're a six- syllable man (stuck-up French intellectual). Parlez vous Freedom?

I suppose it's mostly instrumental, bookended with a couple of doowop covers, and including battling flutes, German organ music, out of tune violins, wah-wah guitar, flickety acoustics, clickity-click percussion, JAM music like Dave Matthews who I'm sure you don't remember but he had a minor hit a long, long time ago called "Mom, It's My Birthday!," saxophones, bike horns, brass yelling at each other, oddball percussion noises, old-timey plunkety synths, 40's-style jazz soul saxophones, waltz time, boogies woogie, medieval haughty entertainment for the King and a really really really long but amazing classical/jazz/soloplenty tune with about a jillion changes called "House I Used To Live In." I'm okay with solos as long as the song moves along and has a lot to offer and this one surely does. It honestly changes probably 25 times during the course of the song, and that's more times than I change my athletic cup in five years!

I get excited by exciting albums with a lot of shit and cool different ideas and styles going down. Hot Rats was a little too. I don't know - serious or. too soloey, maybe just a little less interesting overall. It's a GOOD album, you understand. But Burned Weiner Manwich is more up my alley - who the hell plays medieval and Russian and German and doowop and jazz and all sorts of other shit on the SAME ALBUM?! Besides Medieval Bruce Springsteen the Russian and his German E Doowop Street Jazz Band, hardly 50% of bands!

Do I have Hodgkins Disease or something? Why is this review so developmentally disabled?

Reader Comments (Dan Watkins)
Amazing. Each time I listen to this album, I just sit back and think, "Wow, why does nobody ever talk about this album?" Now, I have no idea which Zappa album I would name my favorite, but this one would definitely be a strong candidate. This is some of the most mindblowing and actually MOVING music the guy ever wrote. "Aybe Sea" and "Little House I Used To Live In" are serious compositions that are just as compelling as they are twisty and complex. I mean, where else in Zappa's catalog can you hear moments as chilling and stark as Ian Underwood's piano solos on those two tracks? People like to bitch about the two doo-wop songs that bookend the album, but even those are good! Hmmm, I'm getting carried away here. Basically, what I'm trying to say here is... this here album is good. Real good. Buy it. It MIGHT be Zappa's best album.
Flat out the best of the post-WOIIFTM FZ/Mothers albums.

Sideways doo-wop? Check. On WPLJ, Estrada's falsetto initially sounds like he's being castrated, then he recovers his balls and spews a bunch of Pachuco Spanish at the end of the tune.

Sideways Broadway tunes? Check. Clockwork rhythms, drunken/woozy saxophones, freakin' harpsichords, and Ruth: all abound in Holiday in Berlin.

FZ wah-wah guitar lessons replete w/ little creatures cavorting in the background? Check.

Anything else you can think of? How 'bout some strip-club drumming, big guy? Check. Check.

These Mothers could play. It's all here. I'd say a 9 rating sounds just about right.

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* Weasels Ripped My Flesh - Bizarre 1970 *
Rating = 10

It's true that on a scale of one to three, this would only get a three, which is a disappointingly low grade, but on a scale of one to ten, it gets a MUCH higher grade! Don't you like noise? Noise and pounding thwap-thwap-thwap drums? Anarchy, tension and release? People shouting "MUH!"? Then Dweezil's Ripped The Flesh Off My Corpse is your favorite Frank Zappa CD just as it is mine and everybody else's! Zany time signatures, NOISY free jazz, pounding bass grooviness, hammer-slamming rhythm anger, bleating pig sax, band members yelling confusingly and laughing in silly voices thanks to Frank's patented in-concert "hand signals" (seriously!), bachelor pad sleaze, throbbing pounding Sun City Girls freakout ecstasy - it's impossible to tell where this album is going at any given point! Hell, sometimes it's spinning around in your CD player, other times it's resting quietly in its CD case, then when you least expect it, it's down at the goddamned FDA approving a stair-climbing wheelchair! What, now bubblebutts can't wait on the bottom floor like the rest of us??? Just because they're crippled pricks, they get to go upstairs and hang out with the important people while I and my loathsome mite-ridden cousins stay down here polishing the floors and giving birth to half-breeds??? I've said it before and I'll say it again - if the handicapped were meant to climb stairs, God wouldn't have laughed maniacally as he cursed them with defective rubbery legs!!!!

You also never know where the MUSIC is going: Vibes and horns flail against each other before fading into a left-right horn section call and response, a light fluffy oboe melody careens headlong into a noisy, speed-addled disturb-a-thon blast of echoey backwards weirdoness - and every once in a while out of the blue, a traditional SONG(!) will appear.

That's right - a SONG(!) will appear. The beautifully sung soulful r'n'b cover (with electric violin and vocal by Don "Sugar Cane" Harris, which there is no cufking WAY was in the original version) "Directly From My Heart To You" is the first. The second and third show up later in the wrong order, representing first the immediate future and second the long-lost past of this man's ever-changing vision. #2 is the earliest version of what would soon become his chosen sound for the early `70s: dopey blues-rock with silly lyrics. "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama." Like quite a bit of his dopey blues-rock, it would be easy to really loathe if it weren't so annoyingly catchy. The third full-fledged vocal SONG(!) on here is the smart, effete, madrigal-reminiscent (?) "Oh No," recorded during the In It For The Money period and filled high with crystalline acid experimentation skies.

Aside from those three, "Unexpect the Expected!" Jazz rock? Maybe a little. Stax- style horn section? Sure! The future founder of Little Feat? Christ yes! On ONE song! An annoying, aggressive noise attack with absolutely no melody at all? Why, now you're talking about the title track!

All in all, Rip And The Flesh Weasel is one moving gay porno.

Reader Comments
My, my... quite a bold choice for the "10". But you know, if you gotta choose just one, why not this one? If you ask most Zappa fans to name their favorite album, they usually supply you with a small list of favorites ("...well, I really like this one, but I probably listen to this other one the most.... and when I feel like listening to his instrumental stuff I like this one...."), but rarely commit to a single release. So I'm going to make a commitment, dammit, and decree that my favorite Zappa album is UNCLE MEAT. Period. I feel better now.

But y'know, "Weezer's Ripped My Stash" is a very fine, challenging specimen of what the early Mothers were all about. It goes to special lengths to try and convey some of the madness that occurred spontaneously on-stage, such as that tune with Lowell George on it, and especially "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" (a song title which requires no witty word-altering on my part).

Guess what! I met Roy Estrada (bass player and lead shrieker on "Gas Mask") last weekend. He was playing in a Zappa tribute band called the Grande Mothers with Don Preston, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and a couple of other guys. Roy's still funny as hell!

I'll give the album a 9.
This is an odd one, but a nice companion piece to Burnt Weenie Sandwich.

Starts off strong w/ Didja Get Any Onya, which eventually devolves into the Nazi Opera thing Lowell George was doing w/ the Mothers at the time.

Up next, we get what in FZ's world passes for blues; seems perfunctory to me. Then some noise/opera, albeit well-executed and reprising the rhythms of Didja, which continues through most of side 1.

But in the end, I'm telling you Oh No and Orange County Lumber Truck are the two tracks that count here. As FZ would say, "Mother Mary and Joseph!" I could (and do) listen to these two songs incessantly, to this day: these are the last two great songs w/ the original Mothers you will ever hear.

As for the title cut, that's the sound of original Mothers going supernova. The end of an era, though FZ would prove to still have a couple tricks up his sleeve.

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Chunga's Revenge - Bizarre 1970
Rating = 7

Frank's final recording as a man in his `20s (before turning 30 and being in his `40s), Chunga's Revenge is a macho hairy wankathon of a record, full of ugly wah-wah distorted guitar solos and slimy white-fellow soul songs about "Road Ladies" and "Would You Go All The Way?," which isn't actually a subject and thus doesn't fit all that well into this sentence construction, but I have two job interviews today so I have to save my smartness for questions like "What do you like BEST about PR?" (Answer: "Some day I'll be dead?")

The new, non-Mothers of Invention band (which suspiciously appears to include Ian Underwood from the Mothers of Invention, as well as new members Jeff Simmons, Aynsley Dunbar and George Duke) sounds a lot less tight than the old one, but that might be because of (a) Frank apparently building the entire album around his drawn out guitar solos, and r former Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan ("Flo and Eddie") spraying spitty Three Dog Night-style vocal dramatics all over it like a strawberry sundae where the red stuff is stomach bile instead of strawberries. It's true that those guys ("Flo, Vera and Mel") used to have striking voices back in Turtle Times, but with Frank it seems like all they wanted to do was shriek loud "harmony" vocals that are much less harmonious than just rackety.

This isn't one of Dave Zappa's more reliable releases and you keep expecting Joe Cocker to show up with some of his bluesy soulful hollering ridiculousness, but it's definitely got some first-rate material on it. Like there's totally this great heartbreaking soul number called "Sharleena," and then there's thoroughly this darkass cocktail piano thing called "Twenty Small Cigars" that jumbles majestic melodicism with grubby blues guitar in a captivating and stomach-turning way. Plus the long title track is a terrific tentative number with a foreboding, tentative bass line shored up by hesitant, tentative piano, uncertain, tentative keyboards and wavery, tentative horns that are being all tentative and uncertain (perhaps in the unsurity and tentativeness of the endless wah-wah guitar solo), and a couple of the novelty numbers ("Tell Me You Love Me," "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink") are so hilariously overstated, they'll remind today's young people of The Ween Band! But the blues-rock guitar solos and generic heavy soul shit like "Road Ladies" and "Would You Go All The Way?" get really wearisome, and the ten-minute free jazz "The Nancy & Mary Music" makes me wonder if Nancy & Mary were trollops because the song sucks pecker.

Reader Comments
Dunno why am I reviewing this one first, really, but seeing how easy it is to review this album, what the heck.

First of all, it is really a Flo and Eddie Mothers' album--contractual problems kept them from revealing their true selves or what have you--with the rest being Zappa's sped up drum solo, which is one of those little interludes that you'd expect from an earlier Mothers Of Invention record, and coming in the heels of the title track, which despite what Mark says, isn't any tentative at all as it kicks ass completely; the guys are just holding back a bit. This was (which also is the band that performs on Transylvania Boogie, which is indeed a wankathon from Frank, and seeing how the original Mothers version was, you realise that he pretty much screwed up with a good song for the sake of a guitar solo--which is not all that bad, but not really great anyways; it should've at least been shorter) the Hot Rats band that Frank did a few shows with earlier in the year, and you would regret about your opinion on Chunga's Revenge if you've listened to them playing it live back then--and I hope you were talking about the second wah wah solo after Zappa begins with a clean solo, Mark--the first was Ian Underwood on an alto sax with a wah wah--great solo, by the way.

The first rate stuff, as Mark says, is a Hot Rats outtake--Twenty Small Cigars, which is really good, and amongst them, the "novelty" (if you can call a standard Flo & Eddie Mothers song "novelty") songs--also great, and as I like Volman and Kaylan's vocals, contrary to Mark's opinions about them although he liked (and he surely should) their vocals on Sharleena, but even so, the macho rock tunes weren't their forte (so much that they were dropped early in the 1970 new Mothers tour; too macho for even Flo and Eddie).

Luckily, they're all short enough not to bother, and sitting there with rest of the album's songs, you actually see how easy is to listen to that one.

Lastly, copulate you, Mark. The Nancy And Mary Music kicks ass-- it's a live improv from these new Mothers, very probably from a King Kong, which wasn't a sloppy one on the 1970 tour at all. George Duke's scat is great, and so is the rest of the band--you're if you can't recognize the not-sloppy-and-funky greatness of this band. Aynsley Dunbar is indeed the most underrated drummer that worked with Zappa.

To what I couldn't give a hot rats' ass to, by the way, so to sum it all up, great album, (but mostly probably because it is) easy to listen to, but not too interesting as it's in fact too centered on Zappa solos and standard rock. It gets an eight for the good stuff, though.
Starts off with a fairly lame jam-fest. Even I played in bands that jammed as mindlessly as this.

But wait, it's just an intro to Leech & Eddie. Now how much would you pay?! One of the great mysteries of all time, along with the Toltec Heads, the Stones on Easter Island, Stonehedge, and other assorted arcana, would have to be why FZ decided to hook up with a couple of ex-Turtles singers who were basically a Holiday Inn lounge act.

Tell Me You Love Me is competent generic rock. Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink is fun, more or less. The title cut starts off with a nice metal riff. But most of this just never goes anywhere. I find myself constantly >> to the next cut, just so I can get to...

Sharleena, probably "the best song FZ ever recorded". Um, I may have used that phrase before, but with FZ there are a seemingly infinite number of "best song FZ ever recorded" tracks scattered across dozens of CD's. Unfortunately for the FZ fan, or fortunately for the FZ family trust, that means this is yet another essential FZ album. So give Sharleena a 10, but for the whole thing I'd only rate it a 5.

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Fillmore East June 1971- Bizarre 1970
Rating = 5

Really bad stand-up comedy routines from Flo, Eddie and Frank, all related to sex and groupies - and no laughs ANYWHERE. One thing about Frank Zappa - he gets a lot of credit for being "weird," but his sense of humor was pretty fratboyish. "I AM BWANA DIK!" Hilarious. Ha ha ho. Hey Frank - did you write that one while listening to some of your Dave Matthews bootlegs? The "Mud Shark Dance" - ooo, that's some clever stuff. Hey Frank - were you wearing a backwards baseball cap and khaki pants when that one occurred to you? 13 minutes worth of Mark Volman pretending to be a kinky groupie as Howard Kaylan talks about his/her "slithering slit" and "moist ever-expanding hole" to a background of throwaway electric blues. Great stuff, Frank! Did you write that one during a "kegger"?

And it's NOT Flo and Eddie's fault. Frank Zappa wrote all this shit. And it IS shit. The least funny "comedy rock" you will ever hear. "They won't let just anybody spew on their body parts/They want a guy from a group with a big hit single in the charts!" You laughing yet? I'm not. And I'm on nitrous!

Luckily, half of the material is actual music by Frank, Ian, Ansley, Jim, Don and some Bob Harris character out to make a fancy name for himself. That terrific "Little House I Used To Live In" song starts it off, later they rock the downtown town down with "Willie The Pimp," soul some jazz flavar with "Peaches En Regalia," close things off with a girl-group original called "Tears Began To Fall" and most excitingly - as both a metaphorical and aural orgasm completing the Groupie Routine - they perform The Turtles' "Happy Together!" With even more great harmonies than the original! The fact that Frank allowed O and Fleddie to perform their old pop hit makes one (me - I'm one! Happy birthday to me! I'm one today!) wonder if Frank realized his inability to write a song anywhere near as emotionally exciting. He wrote a ton of great songs in many different genres, but "emotionally resonant pop rock" certainly was never his forte.


Reader Comments (Dave B. Wagner)
"They won't let just anybody spew on their body parts/They want a guy from a group with a big hit single in the charts"

If this theory is true, it's safe to say that Frank had little or no contact with groupies whatsoever. I kind of doubt "Valley Girl" is the sort of song to make the groupies swoon. But what would I know? I haven't been a groupie in years.
I thought this album was pretty funny when I was 17, but then I'm the kinda guy who thought the Johnny Fuckerfaster and Ballsitch jokes were pretty funny when I was 8.


Forget Leech & Eddie and their lounge schtick. This thing sucks, and it pains me to say that cuz Don Preston plays Minimoog on this CD. The only reason I have not put disc this through my CD shredder is that I don't have one! I don't know what FZ's going for here. Did he think this had shock value? Did he think Flo & Eddie were psychotic cretins (ala Wildman Fisher), and he's laughing at them instead of with them?

Oh, thar be subatomic traces of decent stuff here -- the Mud Shark riff, which creeps in and out of Side 1 before it eventually segues into Willie the Pimp, is damn good, and to this day I like Bwana Dik.

Jeez, who farted?

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200 Motels - United Artists 1971
Rating = 6

Because he was a dirty old man masturbating at the thought of his bandmates having sex with girls, Frank Zappa decided it would be a just hilarious idea to make a movie about the trials and good times of a touring rock and roll band. He based the dialogue on the actual speech and thought patterns of his bandmates (featuring the legendary Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan, Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, Jimmy Carl Black out of nowhere - and Motorhead appears to be in the film as well!?, Jim Pons and Martin Lickert (Ringo Starr's limo driver)), brought in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to play some orchestral music he'd written and set to work on a bizarre piece of cinematic strangeness called 200 Motels that I've never seen and am thus unqualified to discuss for any length of time, including 4:30.

But I am no movie critic. I'm no more a movie critic than Gene Shalit is not a child molester. And don't even get me happening on Roger Ebert. I suppose you could call him a movie critic if you consider fat people human, but are you entirely sure he didn't just eat that bald guy? My popinnnnnt, obviously, is that 200 Motels to me is just a soundtrack. I fear light and the images it brings, so the movie's not going to be a part of my experience in the foreseeable future. The soundtrack, however, jis.

What is jis? It's a double- CD filled with too much incidental background music - avant-garde classical composition with no repetition or catchibleness. There's lots of western-style musical references in the strings, brass and really loud reverbed drum attacks, but no real "melody" to grab ahold of and ride into the Tequila sundae. When the vocals DO show their ugly faces, they're generally in the form of sped-up helium-faced film dialogue or Flo & Eddie shrieking falsettoed cock jokes. The chorus to "What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?" is nearly Turtlesque in its sweet bubblegum trashbag, and a couple of sleazy funky rock tunes ("Mystery Roach," "Magic Fingers") sound like they could have been the direct inspiration for "Earache My Eye," but the highlight of the piece is probably Jimmy Carl Black's lead vocal in "Lonesome Cowboy Burt." The Indian of the Group plays a COWBOY! Do you understand the sarcasm irony!? "My name is Bertram/I am a redneck/All my friends, well/They call me Burt!" He even manages to make the couplet "Come sit on my face/Where's my waitress?" seem innocent and moronic instead of just gross! Whey to go, Jimmy Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Black Guy!

You'll find musical highlights ("Strictly Genteel" - definitely one of the finest symphonic pieces Zappa ever drafted) and lowlifes ("Penis Dimension" - YCUK!!!! "Anything over a mouthful is wasted!" "Eight inches or less?" Was this written by third graders?), but more than either, you'll find interesting but very hard to follow background music and lots of vulgar titles like "Shove It Right In," "This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich" and "Half A Dozen Provocative Squats." No wonder the Royal Albert Hall wouldn't let him in to perform it! Would you let someone sing sickening songs like that inside YOU!?

Really? Alright! I'll be right over with my microphone and big fuckin cock!!!!

Reader Comments (Al Brooks)
Now here is a bone of contention (BTW, who thought up the expression 'bone of contention'? It brings to mind dogs fighting over a bone):

Adrian Denning rates 200 Motels at '10', which is what Bo Derek got in the film of the same name. But, get this, Capnmarvel rates 200 Motels at D- (which is just about an E+).

This is not merely a difference of opinion, it is a discrepancy.

I want to know more about the disc because I'm thinking of re-buying it (owned it on vinyl decades ago, but have forgotten exactly how it sounded-- and the CD format 200 Motels may be a different kettle of fish.

(BTW, who thought up 'different kettle of fish'?)

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Just Another Band From L.A. - Bizarre 1972
Rating = 5

Same "hilarious" line-up as the live Fillmore one, but with that shifty "Bob Harris" character nowhere to be enjoyed. Frank later claimed that he only put lyrics to his music because the public demanded it - that he would have preferred to create only instrumental music. I'm not sure exactly which fans demanded that his music be drowned in asinine fucking jokes (with "fucking" as an action verb, not an adjective), but then the `70s were an era of free love, heroin and mustaches, so perhaps it's true that Zappa's career would have succumbed to disinterest and file sharing had he not wasted our time with humorless comedy. That still doesn't explain why so many of his novelty songs are so musically empty though. Take the 25-minute "Billy The Mountain" on this album as an example. It starts off promising enough, with an oddly meandering romantic jazz intro leading into a hep bass line topped by syncopated voice/keys/drum attacks. But before long, the music becomes just a backdrop - an almost non-existent collection of drumbeats, vague note runs and quick musical jokes that are completely secondary to a story about an animated mountain that becomes a draft dodger. Since the music is only about a quarter developed, it's a good darn thing that the story is actually interesting. But how many times is any listener going to want to listen to a 25-minute Frank Zappa story? Especially with that new Harry Potter book, and sex?

Side B is more musical, but just as ugly sounding thanks to Flo and Eddie's ugly soul vocals. It's the strangest thing - they are clearly singing in harmony with each other, yet the result sounds absolutely underarm stinky! Why is this? Are they both shouting more than singing? Is there too much Frankie Valli girly falsetto? Are they a tiny bit out of key with each other? I always thought of vocal harmony as a gentle reminder that God is in his Heaven and everyone will fall in love, but when Flo & Eddie do it, it just sounds like two portly hippies stabbing my brain with knives soaked in marijuana. And I'm sorry to keep making references to the experimental psychological treatment I underwent in my teens, but sometimes scars stay with one forever. Not usually though, because scars usually fade away in minutes - that's what makes it a "scar"!

Classics "Call Any Vegetable" and "Dog Breath" are Flo and Eddied here, as are a couple of other jokey songs with semi-memorable melodies. References to "tits" and lots of F words show Frank once again hiding his juvenile dirty sense of humor behind his Turtle frontmen. Seriously, I consider myself a connoisseur of sex jokes, but Frank's aren't really JOKES - they're just yucky scenarios involving phrases like "slithering slits" and "quivering quims," sounding more like the horny fantasies of a masturbating teenager than the supposedly satirical sociological observations of a 30-something "serious artist." Luckily, some guy threw Frank into an orchestra pit shortly after this recording!

Reader Comments (Steven Knowlton)
Actually, fucking is a gerund in that sentence. But definitely not an adjective.
Okay, I'll admit that Frank's "jokes" aren't that funny, AND that "Billy the Mountain" gets a bit annoying after the 3rd or 4th time most people listen to it ( I myself took about 20 times); but I don't know where you can get off insulting Flo and Eddies harmonizing. I admit that "Dog Breath" sounds better as a studio recording, but both versions of songs have their own pros and cons. I love Frank's music; he's wonderful. I think the Mothers super group is Frank's best sounding band, well, maybe. "Roxy and Elsewhere" is probable one of my favorite albums of all time and THAT is Frank's best band. Listen to "Playground Psychotics" and you'll know why ( their treatment of "We're Only In It For The Money" is some of my favorite music ever). This was the first Frank album ever and I'll dfend it to the grave.
Here we go again w/ Flo & Eddie. FZ is in such a slump during this period that it's a wonder it didn't permanently derail his career.

As for the redos of Call Any Vegetable and Dog Breath, it sounds like a barely competent Mothers cover band is playing these.

Around this time, some guy tossed FZ off the stage during a concert, supposedly because FZ was making moves on the guy's woman. One can only imagine what FZ was doing, but I'd say it is more plausible that during the incident in question, the band was about 15 minutes into Billy the Mountain and the guy decided he'd had enough of this crap.
Okay..._maybe_ it's just because this was my first proper FZ album...but I've always loved it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for conceptual continuity, but if Frank makes the littlest reference to any other part of his work in the context of the whole, it tickles me, it's like so much else implied comes crashing down upon me...I like these little tricks, and the story is enjoyably absurd as anything, and what I find especially compelling about the Flo/Eddie era is the diverse personalities present, giving the group personality a more dynamic and humorous effect...I guess when the music might seem secondary to the words, it's just a time when the overall "theatre" aspect of the work is stronger on the spoken side, so the usual judgements of lyrics-to-music Importance Ratio is on a different type of scale than it would be for the average rock'n'roll tune...As for the "songs" side of the album, granted these were the first versions I'd heard of said tunes...and they still sound like rollicking good-fun energized rock-tastic versions! Common - compare "Vegetable" and its added groovy vamps and rants to the AF original...they both have their merits, and I think half the charm of Z was his ability to respond to the moment...more really - to be in the present, and shirk sentimental reverence for "past glories"! Sure, if you start picking up all boots, you start to hear a lot of the tunes performed pretty much the same on each tour, but from line-up to line-up, it's always a new interpretation, and in many cases Z and Cohorts pull off something entertaining...ok, am I just giving stuff such high kudos because it is so above and beyond the rigidity of the standard mainstream rock group? Or it is just Stand-Alone Greatness? Say "the latter", please. Thank you.

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Waka/Jawaka - Bizarre 1972
Rating = 5

So I'm at Kim's Underground Music Store Of Albums looking for used copies of the new Jethro Tull, Ween, Neil Young, Wire and Misfits CDs (HINT) and all of a sudden I hear a woman behind me saying something interesting. At first I thought she was African-American, but then I realized she was from England and was thus African-British. Not that I'm the best at picking out distinct European accents, so she may have been African-Irish, African-Scottish or even African-Australian, if I may depart from my earlier Europe-centric theory. The bottom line is that her skin was dark so I know that her nationality had the word "African" in it, unless she was Jamaican, in which case I guess she was African-Jamaican because there's no such thing as a black person and even if there were, they'd be African-Black people. Because it's important to remember your heritage, even if nobody in the last five generations of your family has ever been there. My point though, and it's a pretty blatant point, quite frank(zappa)ly. This young person whose skin was darker than mine CLEARLY and DISTINCTLY said to her similarly non-white-skinned female companion, "If you're looking for something weird, look for Frank Zappa. That's about as weird as it gets!"

My initial reaction was of course disbelief that a person of obvious African ancestry would have any knowledge at all of Frank Zappa since he doesn't perform rap music or godawful modern r'n'b. And I'm not so stupid that I don't realize that this was complete ignorance and racist thinking on my part, but I can only go by my own experience, and in my own experience, I just don't often see African-Americans pumping Captain Beefheart and Lou Reed on their "ghetto blasters." I don't know why this is - my GUESS would be two- fold: (a) African-Americans are raised around the music of their culture and find it easier to relate to (just as I find it easier to relate to the White Man's rock music), and (b) I don't have very many African-American friends (not surprising when you consider how few friends I have altogether!).

Whichever way you look at it, I was extremely pleasantly surprised to hear the A-A (or A-B, based upon the accent) say to her fellow A- A, "If you're looking for something different than what you usually listen to, you should check out Frank Zappa." It darned near made my evening! And I'm well conscious that Zappa had several black singers and musicians (in the 70s and 80s, people with dark skin were black, I'm pretty sure) in his band throughout the years, but this was still the very first time in my life that I'd ever heard one of "them" (gay people) mention his name (assuming all black people are gay, which I'm pretty sure they are, based on Rupaul and Michael Jackson, two popular African-American entertainers).

So I fucked that piece of Brown Sugar - did you hear me whip the woman just around midnight?

In short: I'm clearly racist, and that's unfortunate. But at least I can honestly say that I do not in any way think that my race (cracker) is any BETTER or SMARTER than any other race. My racism lies in (a) making assumptions about the entertainment interests of entire races based only on what I know from limited experience (and being surprised to find individuals that don't "fit the mold"), and (b) making light of the very real issue of race- motivated hatred. Like it's easy for me to sit here and make fun of the ridiculously unwieldy term "African-American," but then I've never had to deal with bullies calling me "Nigger," "Spade" and "Colored." So I'm joking from a privileged position. And I AM aware of that. And maybe I shouldn't have done it. But I DO think it's a long, unwieldy term, dammit! Come up with a new one! And that's my story.

As for Waka/Jawaka -- in addition to serving as major inspiration for the Pac- Man video game --- Don't Have A Contusion! It's JAZZ FUSION! When Frank busted his leg and somehow lowered his voice when a gentleman tossed him in an orchestra pit in England, most of his band abandoned him (THANK FUCKING GOD - THEY SUCKED!!!!), and he decided to line up Tony Duran, George Duke, Sal Marquez, Erroneous (?), Aynsley Dunbar and some other folks you'll never hear from again (Ken Shroyer!? There's nobody by that name in the world!) for some class-action lawsuit grooves Bitches Brew-style!

The percolating (WHAM! CRITIC'S WORD!) 17-minute "Big Swifty" starts off with one killerass wicked dark tone-lilting compelling bass line that colors all of the swirling electric pianos, guitars and trumpets around it with a suggestion of the sinister indefinite. But then it goes away halfway through the song and the jamming wears really goddamned thin if you're not a huge Miles Davis fan.

Flip the bitch over and there are three songs on her back to fuck up the ass: a shitty electric BLOOZE shenanigan, a fuckin great loping elephant walk that turns into a fantastajiggy country steel guitar hoedown halfway through ("It Might Just Be A One- Shot Deal," by far the most interesting track on the album), before the title track closes the album with eleven more minutes of minor-key fusion. Near the end, the horns and guitar play concurrent (pre-written) solos together which are pretty exciting, and there are also some other really wonderful horn bits near the end - but again. it's just too much soloing for a non-jazz fan to take. If you ARE a fan of fusion jazz, I think you might get a lot out of this record. The trumpets and electric pianos are right up there with the booming electric bass and Frank's always-adequate guitar solos, with the drums carrying the whole mess along on a great beat. Sometimes it all comes together like heaven, other times it bores like hell.

Reader Comments
Not true Mark. Aynsley Dunbar was soon after in the original Journey (which was basically all the white guys from Santana who had split off) and then probably did other stuff, but ultimately turned up on the "breakthrough", self-titled album by Whitesnake that had all those horrid songs that made the chicks hair grow so big and made me turn to Slayer and animal mutilation before settling down and exploring the Zappa catalog.
A huge step up from any of the Flo & Eddie era albums, but somehow unsatisfying. Several of the songs (Big Swifty, Waka/Jawaka) stretch out way too long -- the kind of stuff that eventually gave fusion a bad name. On the other hand, there's a nice pedal steel solo on It Just Might Be A One Shot Deal. This is pleasant background music, but there was nothing innovative here at the time (in the way Hot Rats was innovative), and the same holds true now. Nonetheless a decent ride for anyone who likes FZ.

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The Grand Wazoo - Bizarre 1972
Rating = 6

Don't look for a solution - it's more JAZZ FUSION!!! For this one, Zappa hired a big band of horny and woodwindy players including Sal Marquez, Mike Altshul, Earl Dumler, Tony Ortega, Joanne McNabb, Johnny Rotella, Fred Jackson, Malcolm McNabb, Bill Byers, Ken Shroyer, Ernie Tack and Joel Peskin, as well as keyboardist George Duke, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, bassist Erroneous, mooger Don Preston and percussionists Bob Zimmitti and Alan Estes for a big giant bandass experience complete with female vocalists "Chunky" and Janet Neville-Ferguson. Can you believe it somehow? When someone says, "This album BLOWS!," they might just be talking about the instrumentation!

Or they might be talking about the songs.

It (the Evil Dwarf) begins with a wonderfully disturbing true story about two hitch-hikers who disappeared from album cover artiste Cal Schenkel's car at some point previous. Heaps of instruments present you with spooky themes that will leave you bleeding for more. Then the really long title track drags fusion around in a gutter of funkiness, wah- wah guitars, gigantic horn and woodwind sections, anthemic bombast breaks and one off- the-wall trumpet solo in which the player appears to have an epileptic seizure with his little mute thingy. If you're a pot smoker, your brain will move slowly enough to totally dig this three minutes of wild freeform groove-out music. If not, this fifteen minutes of soloing on top of minimal melodicism may make Mom's main man mighty mopey.

Hey check this out! Say "Sunshine City" 50 times really fast!!!!

See??? You always end up saying "ASSHOLEshine City"!!!! I LOVE that!!!!

Side two is three songs, all filled to the blimp with horns horns horns! A mile of horns! This week at "Crazy" Ebbie's Used Horn Showcase! They call me "Crazy" because I murder people! This weekend only at "Crazy" Ebbie's Used asfdddj

"Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" is yet another example of why I'm not hep to the jazz ethic. It begins with a great bluesy guitar/bass line, but strays so far away from it for endless dicking around that I end up forgetting how it goes by the end. Why ruin a good riff with made-up-on-the-spot note- jamming? People who like their music free don't understand the economics of the record business. You see, when a group goes into a studio to reco - one sec?

Ah yes. People who like their music free are excited by the unexpected - the idea that there are no limits and anything can happen. I suspect that this is a big reason for the appeal of jazz to so many people. But fuck that. It's just a bunch of boring cocksuckery that anybody could do if they spent a little time learning scales. What I'M into is brilliant composition. It takes time and creativity to pen a brilliant composition, and more time to practice it as a band and get it down perfectly. And there's no down time for the listener to sit there chewing on the inside of his mouth waiting for something interesting to happen. This is why I prefer Frank's "rock" and "pop" songs to his jazz stuff. Most solos just don't speak to me at all, unless they're ridiculously melodic like the ones in "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)." But that's I.

The biggest surprise on the record, though, is "Blessed Relief," a dorky lump of smooth jazz so romantic, corny, muzaKKKy and un-Frank-like, you'll conswear it's by Kenny G.(ay). All in all, this is a fusion jazz album, and that's no lie! The horn section pushes it slightly above Waka/Jawaka, but I'm not the intended audience for it, so your rating might be higher. What with you being the intended audience.

Don't you see right there on the back where it says "For little girls and 89-year-old men born with three penises"?

Oh no hang on, that says "Reprise Records." Dammit! I gotta stop keeping my homemade porn collection in my eyeglasses case.

Reader Comments
Grand Wazoo is more of da same. Title track sounds like an outtake from Waka/Jawaka and (surprise) takes an awful long time to get nowhere. Calvin is a pathetic attempt to recapture the Kenny & Ronny magic.

But the rest is pretty good, there being some of that old FZ magic hanging about. The band is capable, but this is, in the end, generic fusion.

So during the past few years here, FZ seemed to be yet another 60's icon in senescence, ready to at best just fade away, or at worst to play state fairs and casinos across the nation, recycling his greatest hits, of which there were basically none that would appeal to your average state fair/casino crowd.

The obvious question is, why did FZ sympathizers such as me suffer through Chunga's Revenge, Fillmore East, 200 Motels, JABFLA, Waka/Jawaka, and then this? Why didn't we just give up on the guy? The first answer is obvious: ya keep hoping for something better from one of the premier musicians of the 60's. I mean, this was a bad run, but nothing compared to, say, Elvis's during his movie period. The second answer is equally obvious: at his worst (and this period was pretty much his worst) FZ was still better than 90% of the competition, and bad as most of this is, there are always a few -- sometimes very few -- great moments that recalled the glory that once was FZ.

Myself, I was willing to give him one more shot...

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Overnite Sensation - DiscReet 1973
Rating = 8

Supposedly I was a child once and it has been recorded that at this supposed "time," I heard a song on 96-Rock, Atlanta's Home of Classic Rock and Roll, about a man moving to Montana to raise a crop of dental floss. The song was the perfect kind of quirky for my silly young mind, riding along on ridiculously low spoken vocals, horridly strange female back-up vocals singing melodies that just were NOT melodies, and some of the most wonderfully vomit-inducing trombone slides in Town. This was my introduction to Frank Zappa. A few years later, I was dumbfounded and bored to hear my SEcoND Frank Zappa number on a national television station entitled Music-TeleVision that no longer exists - it was "Peaches En Regatta" and it had no humorous elements at all! Thus, I avoided RANK Zappa for some years afterward.

But, in the words of Micky Dolenz at the peak of his creative career, "That was then, this is now." I of course grew to love Frank Zappa right around age 26 or so, and I still love "Montana" like a little girl loves the two parts of a boy's body that she'll never have. And it's this very love for the Adam's Apple and Mustache that made Zank Frappacino such a hit with the ladies over the years.

Overnite Sensation contains what were probably Frank's most "radio-friendly" songs yet, at least music- and production- wise. "Camarillo Brillo" sounds just like Warren Zevon, for God rest his soul's sake! Countryish guitar licks, friendly guy vocal singing, slightly strange but perfectly comprehensible piano and bass licks - and lyrics as silly as "I saw Lon Chaney JUNIOR (!) walking with the Queen!" God rest Warren Zevon's soul. What did he ever do to deserve to die? Fuck you, modern medicine.

Luckily, the rest of the record is much less immediately anybody-ish. The mood is pretty funky overall, but herky-jerky and sideways, like basic `70s blues-rock run through a cartoon factory for some additional color and actual personality. Musically, Ruth Underwood's marimba and vibes mix and match nicely with the trumpet, trombone and flute, clarinet, sax of Ian, Bruce and Sal, while Tom Fowler, Ralph Humphrey and George Duke do the rock thing with their rock instruments. Frank's voice has dropped a bit due to his accident, and he's clearly having a blast with it. And lyrically, he addresses (aside from dental floss) the worthlessness of television, the stupidity of loud heavy metal guys with nothing to say and (sigh) sexity sexity sex sex sex.

Now okay, I think I understand Zappa's way of thinking - i.e. everyone else on the radio is singing about fucking but sugar coating it in romantic euphemism, so in staying true to myself, I'd might as well parody it by singing about fucking in a straightforward manner. But that doesn't make "Dinah-Moe Humm" any more funny (which it's not) or less repulsive (which it is). And believe me - I'm no fan of, say, Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)" either, especially at the end when the girl has an orgasm and I have to imagine Rod Stewart's penis giving it to her. But "Dinah Moe-Humm" is about smelly hairy Frank trying to find the clitoris of some gross hippy slut who bets him forty dollars he can't make her cum (his words, not mine!). YUCk! "Bovine perspiration," "I got a spot that gets me hot," "I poked'n stroked till my wrist got numb," etc. The music is boring, the words ah forget it. Bottom line - I hate the goddamned song and it's the only reason this album doesn't get a 9. The other six are fun, catchy, strange and yet still basically ready for radio enjoymentability (except "Zomby Woof," which is probably a little too hard to follow, musically - a pretty difficult set of note and chord changes - and thus GREAT!).

Did I mention that Frank Zappa likes his singers (especially back-up singers) to often sing the exact same notes that the instruments are playing? I usually really hate that sort of thing, but Frank's melodies are always so out of the ordinary that it comes across as just another confusing ingredient in the brew of What The Hell Is Going On? Soup he likes to prepare for his diners (listeners - I was totally making a metaphor). Like, "Ohhhhh so the marimba isn't just playing those thirteen notes that don't go together for the hell of it - the backup singer is singing the same "melody." Well that's.umm.. Certainly not uhh. hmm. Now they're doing it again, with a different batch of notes that don't go together. I see then."

One thing about Frank Zappa - he didn't exactly make it EASY on his musicians! This shit is hard to play.

Especially if you try to play it like tennis. Do you realize how many years I wasted throwing a trumpet at Bjorn Borg? And not more than ONCE did it come out sounding exactly like "I'm The Slime"!!!!

Reader Comments
It is 1973. I am 16. Musically, the highlights of the year were Overnite Sensation (at one time, I could recite all the lyrics from memory... yes, even "Dynah-Moe Humm") and Dark Side of the Moon (we discovered lying, unopened, on my friends' big brother's bed, while in a highly altered state of consciousness.... opening/playing it was worth the ass beating his brother later dished out, especially since it went to my friend and not me!).

It was a very good year.
Mother Mary and Joseph! Finally we have an album to rank up there with his best of the 60's. This was a real sudden right cross to the jaw, outta nowhere, that laid me down for the count. FZ was back!

We start off with Camarillo Brillo, which is a great little tune and, what do you know!, thar be woozy horns and some very nice guitar work throughout. And it doesn't flag from there. I'm The Slime and Dirty Love rule, big time. (But I always hated Fifty-Fifty. Still do. However Zomby Woof works pretty well. Just listen to Ruth!)

Now, as to Dyna-mo-Hum. For whatever reason, FZ in terms of lyrics often had the maturity of a 13-14 year old. I have theories, but I'll leave it to the guys writing PhD theses as to why this was the case. Given that, if you're gonna enjoy FZ you're gonna have to get into that mindset. He loves to discuss bodily functions, female physiognamy, sex, and stuff of that ilk, and usually fairly graphically and in great detail. It's often sexist, disgusting, offensive, and puerile, not to mention humorous and occasionally right on the money, e.g., "I stroked and I stroked 'til my wrist got numb." Never been there before? Then you didn't know some of my ex-girlfriends! To this day I don't know his agenda with this stuff. But if one gets the politically correct part of his/her mind on the right's just FZ being FZ. If it's a potential problem for sensitive listeners, then I highly recommend they find another musician to invest their listening time in -- maybe Barry Manilow, for example -- because it doesn't improve from here on out. In fact it gets worse. Way worse.

But enough of this unpleasantness, let's take a look at Montana, the final song. This is FZ's best in who knows how many years. It's all here again, at last. I'd been waiting for this through the slump of the Flo & Eddie years and the mock-fusion years. Back from the dead -- Ruth's marimbas, decent horn charts, great chuggin' rhythm, appropriately mindless lyrics. Not to mention the best freakin' guitar solo FZ had recorded since the Hot Rats days. Just listen to that sucker. Great googily moogily! And then after the solo the song veers off into some totally strange FZ universe for a while, before veering back into Montana reality, just like back when. Welcome back Frank...this is an 8.

(Breaking News: Flo & Eddie & the Turtles are on tour and at a casino near you, if you care.)

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Apostrophe (`) - DiscReet 1974
Rating = 9

I seem to be under a lot of stress lately. I feel very anxious all the time, about not having a job, and about having to get freelance work done, and about my wife not liking her job, and my wife getting mad at Henry the Dog, and about Henry the Dog's hurt dewpaw that won't heal, and about our apartment still not quite being finished yet, and about interviews and meetings and appointments and all kinds of things that I should be able to overcome fairly easily, they not being a terminal illness or physical pain. But they just seem to be piling up on top of my head and resting there, causing headaches and leaving me in a dazed, unpleasant state. Thus, this review.

The "apostrophe" of the title is presented like this -> (`) so I'm pretty sure it's a female groin reference, simply because that's the kind of "hilarious" human being Frank Zappa was. You need to listen a bit closely to this album or it will seem just like a bunch of dumb jokes about Eskimos rubbing yellow snow and dogdoo snowcones in each others' faces. Listen past the way too loud Zappa vocals though, and you'll run across some incredibly complex instrumentation courtesy of four different drummers, four bassists, George Duke, two violinists, Ruth Underwood, two saxophonists, trumpet Sal Marquez, trombone Bruce Fowler, nine back-up vocalists and all guitars and lead vocals by Frank (except Tony Duran, who plays rhtthtm guitar on the title track, which also features a totally kickarm distorted bass solo by Cream's Jack Bruce).

There is lots of empty space in the mix so you can hear everything very well, including lots of great stereo work - stuff shooting from speaker to speaker and what-have-you. The bass is the dominant instrument on most of the tracks, with everything else hopping in and out of the mix for short inspired blasts of really fast notes all being played by multiple instruments at the same time. Lyrically, he lashes out at mystics and cultists in the fantastic snide soul tune "Cosmik Debris," racists in the EXTREMELY Randy Newmany piano-driven "Uncle Remus" and advertisers who create fake diseases to sell their cosmetics products in the slow-motion "Stink-Foot."

Say, while we're discussing "Stink-Foot," this would probably be a good time to tell you about Frank's whole "conceptual continuity" thing. His whole big whoop-de-doo was that he wanted his entire musical catalog to be treated as one "object-project." To support this notion, he would do things like reissue old albums on CD with entirely new rhythm tracks recorded - or remove guitar solos from old concert performances and reinsert them into entirely new studio songs - or constantly issue compilations of unreleased material from all the hell over the place in his discography/band make-up. And one other thing he would do, which is best explained in a great, overblown book called The Dialectic Of Poodle Play (buy it! It's hilarious!), is make references over and over and over to the same things throughout his career. Like poodles. He mentions poodles in a ton of different songs. And the phrase "Is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?" appears in at least two or three tracks. And the piano talk from Lumpy Gravy pops up everywhere. Cripes, etc. Buy all his albums and you'll see what I mean. Anyway, he references "conceptual continuity" during a lengthy wordplay bit in "Stink-Foot," so that's what that's all about. Zappa freakers apparently look for clues in various songs and album artwork. The whole thing is pretty silly though. Fun (like looking for clues that Paul McCartney is dead), but meaningless in the end. It certainly doesn't provide you with any additional insight into Zappa's work anyway.

Musically, again, this is bass driven and sometimes empty, but then those complicated multi-instrument runs come in and it's CRAZZZZY NOVELTY MUSIC TIME!!!! "Nanook Rubs It" isn't a terribly remarkable song, but the other eight are. This is a fucking GREAT record!!!!! Catchy, intriguing and complex - all at the same time together in the morning of life.

That's enough positivity. Now it's time to go worry about whether Henry the Dog is going to re-open his wound or die of heat exhaustion while he's locked in the bathroom away from the contractor.

Reader Comments (Mike Harras)
Nice to see this one with a 9. It's the only Zappa album I can sit through without getting irritated or grossed out (Al Brooks)
People either like or dislike this album, like no other Zappa product.
Fun Fact!

The drummer on Apostrophe's title track was Jim Gordon, who not only co-wrote Layla with Eric Clapton, but later went on to MURDER HIS MOTHER WITH A HAMMER!

No joke:

PS - Live At the Roxy and Elsewhere deserves a 10.
An achingly superb album that has acres more character than Over-nite Sensation, its illegitimate parent. Sure, so the Yellow Snow suite may make as much sense as a lecture on scientology, but it's all about the music. Wonderfully catchy, and full of enough whimsy to sink a boat of oompa loompas, highlights include Nanook Rubs It (I usually agree with everything you say on a Saturday, but you're wrong about it not being one oone of the definite highlights of Apostrophe for me).
Yep, FZ's obsession with female private parts now officially makes its way into an album title and onto an album cover but at least, for once, he's subtle about it.

This one's a solid follow-up to Overnite Sensation, which by my reckoning means that he's now put out two good albums in a row. The jewel here is the Yellow Snow/Nanook/St. Alfonzo/Father O'Blivion suite of songs that takes up most of what was Side 1 of the LP. Ya know, before I post a comment here on the site I actually listen to the CD in question at least a couple of times just to get my bearings, even when I've heard the thing interminably over the past 30 years, and man did I enjoy hearing the first four songs on Apostrophe(') again. Everything there is to like about FZ is here in spades. Ya got Ray Collins' dulcet backing vocals, patented FZ woozy horns, machine-gun bursts of guitar, impossibly complex melodies played out at lightning speed by Ruth on marimba/vibes and George Duke on Minimoog (jeez, were these recorded real-time?), inane lyrics, and just flat-out stunning musicianship from all involved. Definitely worth the price of admission.

As for the rest: Uncle Remus is to this day in a class by itself (with a gospel church and SIMULTANEOUS honky-tonk gin joint feel to it and one of FZ's most terse, killer solos, not to mention some socially relevant lyrics that hearken back to Trouble Every Day). Beyond that it's standard FZ, which is to say some of the jams run too long, though it's good to hear Jack Bruce kicking ass again. Looks like FZ's might be on another roll...

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Roxy & Elsewhere - DiscReet 1974
Rating = 8

Recorded with a lot of the folks from the last record, this double-album presents one of the pleasing yet infuriating dichotomies of Mr. Zappa: his ability and predilection to hop back and forth between the most intricately composed and hard-to-master "rock" pieces - requiring absolute concentration and inhuman speed on the part of the players - and long loose jams with improvised solo noodling all over them. Mmmm. I could go for some noodles with jam all over them right now. Hang on one second.

(*eats 7000 metric tons of Kraft's Macaroni and Boysenberry Jam*)

(* goes on to discuss the Roxy and Elsewhere album in great detail, drawing a hilarious correlation between "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" and Orson Welles' original vision for Citizen Kane before attempting a 30-page deconstruction of that woman on the cover who looks like she's giving Frank a handy, culminating in a guest spot by Burton Cummings singing "Don't Give Me No Handy - Me Down, Girl!"*)

Whew! Wow, I'm exhausted from all this insight! So let's close with a summary of the good points and bad points of this LP. GOOD: The band is uncredibly. They play fast herky-jerky bash-snap-crash with a billion stops and re-starts and rhythm and tempo changes, all together with horns and vibes just like Franklin Delano Zappavelt likes. The type of tightness, chops and complexity displayed in such compositions as "Be-Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen's Church)" and "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing" can't help but make me laugh at all the FUCKHEADS who think King Crimson had more than five or six good albums (out of 7 billion). Here's my impression of a King Crimson fan: "Look at me! I'm wearing glasses!"



That little bit of free association comedy was for you, Robin Williams!

As I was saying before The Animals were so rudely interrupted, Frank does crap on this album that might have been entertaining live but just sounds like a waste of space when packaged as audio-only vinyl content, like a 5-minute skit about Jeff Simmons (what the hell is HE doing back?) trying to get Napoleon Murphy Brock to smoke a high school diploma filled with a chopped-up sweat sock, and eight minutes worth of Frank inviting people to the stage to dance along to George Duke's skat singing. Throw that dung into a dung-safe envelope and this double-LP gets a 9 though, because the music is uniformly terrific, whether it be the classically-influenced high-speed avant garde brain rock of most of the album or the slow blues simplistitone updates as "Son Of Orange County" and "More Trouble Every Day." It's a great album and don't let the Meat Puppets' Derrick Bostrom tell you any different.

Reader Comments (Michael J. West)
You're WRONG, MARK PRINDLE! WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! Except for the part where's you're right. Which is mostly.

I give this live album credit, because it is--in my humble estimation--the only Frank Zappa live album that doesn't suck ass. I mean, seriously. He seemed to have this weird idea that people would enjoy hearing concerts, not seeing them, even if your concerts were more focused on playacting on stage than they were on music. If his mother had been listening to them, she would have said, "Frankie, one wants to pay $20 to listen to you invite audience members up on stage." Because she was a wise woman.

And even though there's some silly skit material that doesn't do much for the Roxy and Elsewhere, it's the only one of his live discs that I have heard, where it seems like he's really concentrating on the actual music. And sometimes the banter part really in explaining "Village of the Sun." Which is a great one! Who knew Frank could sound sentimental about anything???????

The part where you're wrong is when you offhandedly dismiss "Son of Orange County" even though it's the best part of the whole worldwide album. How DARE you? You miscreant! Knave! Thief! Rogue! GOP official!

Hey, today I heard an 20-year-old tape on NPR with someone calling President Reagan "really just a liberal Democrat." What kind of a fucking NUT JOB rightwinger do you have to be to think of Ronald Reagan as a liberal Democrat? (Deni)
"Does anyone in here like monster movies...?"

When i was a kid, these two older Zappa freaks I worked with held a "Zappa day" and invited me. I was really starting to listen to a lot of stuff and thought, in my teen mind, I was a somewhat diverse music player and listener. The first record they played was "Apostrophe" and then this, "Roxy." It took me years to recover my musical equilibrium!

I think it a "flawed classic" (due to the aforementioned skits), which always should rank 9 "little red bulleyes." Combine genuine 70's Dolemite funk (TWO sick drummers!), Ruth, the bad-ass horn blowers, and great Zappa solos and material, and you have one of Zappa's greatest recordings. And techincally, is this not one of the "fullest" and "warmest" (or insert your own hackneyed musical term here) live rock recordings ever? I think it rivaled only by Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus" on those terms.

The guitar solo in "Son of Orange Co." still gives me chills.
Well, y'all have pretty much beaten me to it on the comments for this one, i.e., not a lot to disagree with.

As noted, Village of the Sun is somewhat sentimental for FZ, if recalling a place where the wind (presumably blowing desert sand) takes the paint off of your car and wrecks your windshield can be considered sentimental. Not exactly Paul Simon's My Little Town.

(Wait, what the fuh!, I believe in at least one other comment on this site I've begged that we not mention Paul Simon and competent musicians in the same paragraph! This must be an example of conceptual continuity!)

I'm not usually a big fan of live albums (though you better get used to them if you like FZ), due to the "ya had to have been there" effect. But unlike Fillmore East and JABFLA, the musicianship is fully competent throughout on this one, and there is a greater tendency of FZ and the band is to actually play songs.

This one has FZ's classic quote, "Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny." He should know: Waka/Jawaka and Grand Wazoo were still clearly visible in his rear view mirror.

(Special Bonus Hint: go to track 5, and about 3:08 into said track listen to these suckers play!)

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One Size Fits All - DiscReet 1975
Rating = 9

This one comes across as a more experimental but still fairly commercial follow-up to Overnite Sensation. The band is pretty much the same as on that one, the production sound is comparable and a few straightforward tracks could have and should have ruled FM radio in `75 - specifically, the Captain Hooky goodtime rocker "Can't Afford No Shoes," BTO-reminiscent country stomp rocker (aside from the five million rhythm changes) "San Ber'dino" and the frigging AMAZING Styx-ish or Yes-ish "Andy," which balances prog-rock bombast, Zappa complication, skuzzy blues rock, parodic disco, Guaraldi-esque piano breaks and Spanish marimba juggling into one of the most wickedass yet catchy tracks in Zappa's catalog.

I suppose a lot of the other tracks are entirely too long, ugly, jammy and/or draggy to be considered for radio play even during that coke-fueled era of FM freedom. But they're seriously really good songs! And difficult! All full of the endless breaks, shifts and changes parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic in his on-the-money "Genius In France" Zappa sendup. Also, completely unexpectedly, none of the songs are about making sex. Instead, he discusses UFO sightings, religious freaks, poverty, the wealthy (?), trailer trash and actor Andy Devine.

The most striking thing about the record is yet again just how amazingly TIGHT Zappa's band managed to be when performing such difficult material. It's been said that Zappa was a very strict taskmaster prone to throwing people out of the band when they couldn't keep up. But listening to albums like this, it's completely obvious why this had to be the case. Every single player - from the horns to the vibes to the piano and keyboards to the drums and bass to Zappa himself or any other guitarist he employed - has to hit every note RIGHT on the money and in perfect time. At ALL times. And he's constantly stopping songs in mid-line to toss in a triple-speed bit for half a beat, then going back, or throwing in seventeen-part harmonies and a musical reference before expecting six different musicians to play the exact same solo before returning to an entirely different genre of music than they were playing when the song began. And it's NOT studio trickery - he made them perform the same way LIVE! And sure, not all of the songs are as difficult as all that, but the majority of them are. The simpler ones almost seem thrown in just in an attempt to woo radio programmers or give his musicians a chance to catch a breather.

In other words, this is an awfully good album. Musically, you'll encounter everything from Grand Funkish dumb rock to hateful cocktail jazz to country-western to bar blues to poppity pop pop rock, but always with about a bajillion breaks to remind you that you're listening to an obsessive avant-garde composer's take on all these forms of music. To be honest, I'd easily give this one the 10 if it wasn't for the butt-ugly "Po-Jama People" stinking up the middle of the album.

Reader Comments
You forgot to mention the album's best cut, "Inca Roads", possibly the greatest Zappa tune of all time. (Al Brooks)
'Andy' is a fine, fine, supafahn track. The end of 'Inca Roads' is good, too. The way it speeds up and the synth stabs in.
Inca road ( the song part, not the free jazz at the end of it ), Doreen, Peaches in regalia and Dancing fool's lyrics are somewhat enough for me. Definitely not a great composer in my opinion.Funny and interesting guy ? Yes .
Mother Mary and Josef! this thing is fine, FZ's most consistent since Weasels Ripped My Flesh, and probably the only one of this era that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as his earlier MOI stuff.

Inca Roads is the second best song FZ ever recorded, losing out only to Peaches En Regalia. I'll pass on trying to describe how excellent this song is, but let's just say FZ's band was so good by now that they could play literally anything he threw at them -- and he knew it -- so he threw them stuff that was impossible to play, which they (especally George and Ruth and Chester) proceeded to play anyway.

FZ & co. just tear things up on Can't Afford New Shoes, Florentine Pogen, San Berdino, and Andy. Maybe it's because I listened to it day-in and day-out one summer, on an 8-track player in my VW no less, while doing 90 mile commutes, way back when in 1975, but I do not lie when I say this mother rocks and rolls and amazes. I have never tired of its incessantly challenging idiosyncrasies, though I too can do without Pojama People and Evelyn the Modified Dog.

As noted, there's nothing blatantly offensive here, which makes it an excellent intro to FZ for the politically correct crew.

Now on to the two Sofa iterations: these are so Majestic that I do believe they atone for the majority of the sins incurred during the Flo and Eddie years. Quick, name one other musician who would write a lyric like "Ich bin der chrome dinette".

Basically, if you don't "get" One Size Fits All, you ain't never gonna "get" FZ. Chester's Thing on Ruth!, this is a 10 in spite of its flaws, simply because it's the last great FZ album.
I'd mostly agree with your positive assessment of this record, Mark, but the throwaways "Can't Afford No Shoes" and "Evelyn..." really should have been left off and replaced with some of the more challenging stuff the Mothers were doing at the time (did you know that 90% of Studio Tan is taken from these same sessions? Imagine how well "RDNZL" would have fit in alongside tracks like "Inca Roads"!). Overall, it's a solid release, featuring some of Zappa's best compositions despite being slightly watered down by the two aforementioned pieces of filler.

P.S.: The basic tracks for "Inca Roads" and "Florentine Pogen" were recorded live during Zappa's mid-70's TV special "A Token of His Extreme". Search "Zappa Inca Roads" on YouTube and you'll be able to see them laying down the foundation for the very recording you hear on this disc, plus some pretty neato Bruce Bickford claymation sequences during the guitar solo.

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Wasp Man Has Metal Wings - Bootleg 1975
Rating = 5

Because I'm into breaking taboos and challenging the status quo, I decided to try a radical experiment with this review: I'm going to pen it while really really having to use the bathroom. Okay, so this is an illegal bootleg that I illegally purchased from an evil do-badder in an illegal exchange that we conducted under the radar of America's top FBI agents, covering up our bootlegging actions through a strategic mixture of arson and kidnapping. Man, I really have to pee. I'm not even just saying that. I know you saw the first sentence of this review and thought, "Oh I can't wait to see how many times Mark refers to having to pee in this review! And just think of the hilarious ways he could keep throwing in words related to toilets and water, as if he subliminally can't keep his mind off of them! This is going to be the best record review of all time!" But that's not what this is about. This is a serious experiment, intended to study the effects of biological necessity on the creativity of the artiste. There is no room in this particular review for comedy antics. If that's what you're looking for, I suggest you buy Joan Rivers' hilarious What Becomes A Semi-Legend Most? LP.

Therefore, this bootleg album. First of all, I don't know if it's just my copy, but the sound of this bootleg is all muffled, as if the producer had to urinate really badly and didn't spend as much time on it as he should have. Secondly, this is mostly very early Mothers of Invention material, recorded either before they had their sound down or at a period when one or more of the members had warm aromatic streams of homemade Yellow Juice coursing down the legs of their pantaloons. Frank Zappa himself narrates the bootleg, strangely enough, making me wonder if it was originally a radio special or a record that was intended for official release but forgotten by Frank because his mind was flooded with thoughts of having to relieve his aching kidneys of a massive buildup of luxurious dick water. But then there are these Captain Beefheart tracks thrown in out of nowhere, and that guy has bashful bladder so need I say more.

So you see, having to urinate really CAN affect the creativity of men like Frank Zappa, the Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart. It's obvious in this bootleg and it's obvious in life, which killed Frank Zappa when he decided to withhold his precious gift to the reservoir in hopes of turning his PENIS into a "Yellow Shark." Highlights include an early version of "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama," about thirty seconds of the MOI trying to figure out the words to "Rock Around The Clock" before just giving up, a fun and energetic early jam called "Mundo Hollywood," and an atrocious, boring, endless rendition of "King Kong" that drags and drags and drags like that fat transvestite Divine, whom I bought a crappy album by for one dollar the other day. Dollar Albums = 99% garbage, but 100% VALUE!

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Bongo Fury - DiscReet 1975
Rating = 6

Zappa was not known for retaining friends, but for some reason he gave his old pal Captain Beefheart a temporary boost in the mid-70s (following the good Captain's two worst albums of his career) by inviting him to come "jam" with him, George, Napoleon (NOT NAPOLEON XIV OF "THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA-HAAAA!" FAME, THOUGH I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND WHY THAT WOULD BE YOUR NATURAL ASSUMPTION), Bruce, Tom, Denny, Terry and (on two songs) Chester. The result is that I realize I don't really like Captain Beefheart's annoying chalky bluesman pirate voice at all. I like most of his ALBUMS, yes, but that's mostly because of the music. On this release, he just doesn't add much at all (except for one interesting werdplay poem called "Man With The Woman Head").

Captain DOES, however, appear to have quite an effect on the songwriting, which is almost all made up of bluesy blooze rock blews to go with Beefheart's boozy bloos vocals. Overall, though, it's a somewhat disappointing release, mainly because it's so UNexperimental. "Debra Kadabra" starts the album off with a hilarious bunch of quirky zany strangeness and changes galore, but after that, it's just slow blues piano and guitar, really fucking long guitar solos, a couple of meaningless Beefheart recitations and only ONE other really great song: "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy," which has one of the greatest and most serious pop melodies you're ever gonna hear from Snotty Frank McDowell. And yes, it's about "it" being "done," but man what a singalongable ditty. Wah? Ditty! HAHAHAHAHA!!!! IF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART WERE HERE, HE'D GET MY LITTLE JOKE!!! Supposedly he's almost dead though, so let's not poke fun at him. Or sticks. Let's not poke sticks at him either.

A few final words about this album's many let-downs, so you can understand why it had such POTENTIAL to rule, but then ended up being fairly not all that terrific. First of all, "Muffin Man" should be a great song for its eerie intro mood, Frank's great laughing fuck-up at the beginning and the great slimeball strip tease chorus, but the song doesn't go anywhere at all. Secondly, "Advance Romance" starts off with a fan-fuckin-TASTIC electric blues white boy rock riff, but then eight minutes of the song is just a bunch of fucking solo dicking around shit! Also, most of the CD was recorded live in Austin, so it's a shame he didn't invite the Butthole Surfers and Ministry to join him onstage for "Jesus Built My Hot Rod." Worst of all, a couple of the songs accurately predict the (at the time) upcoming Bicentennial, but unconscionably fail to predict the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. As a result, Bongo Fury was directly responsible for the deaths of three thousand people, including NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his gay lover.

Reader Comments
Yep, disappointing then, disappointing now. FZ and Beefheart do not exactly bring out the best in each other this time around.

Debra Cadabra has a pretty good riff and a fun Beefheart rant near the end ("Rub the hot front part of my head with rigid unguents", etc.), whence the song segues into the Mr. Tambourine Man lyric, but it's all downhill from there. Advance Romance ("No more credit from the liquor store...") is marginal, and is available on several other better FZ CD's, albeit with different personnel. Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy is good, Muffin Man is okay. The rest barely rates a mention.

Perhaps necessary for the FZ/Beefheart completist, but I'd say the rest of us are better off getting our fix of these guys elsewhere.

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Zoot Allures - DiscReet 1976
Rating = 8

John Ritter died today. No more Jack Tripper. Johnny Cash died too, and got higher billing than John Ritter on Yahoo! News. Then I checked again later, and Johnny was gone but John remained. That means that John Ritter is considered to be a more important American icon than Johnny Cash.

This morning, I enjoyed a conversation with a (presumably) schizophrenic homeless black man who was telling me about how the white people want to change his buttocks and make his buttocks bigger. I asked why he thinks this might be the case and he replied that he constantly feels a sensation down there, and he's always being told to move his buttocks (he used the word "buttocks") whenever he placed it anywhere. He went on to tell me about how the white people follow him around wherever he goes and try to change him and make him just like them, but he doesn't want to relinquish the power he has now. Apparently he was born with knowledge and abilities that most people have to go to school for, so as a result "they" started following him and stealing all his ideas about space exploration. They have a man in space right now because of his ideas. But he can't take his case to court because they replace the judges with people sympathetic to "them" who will make sure that he can't win. All he wants is for "them" to pay him so he can buy a house in the colored neighborhood. He tried moving away from New York City so people would stop following him, but everywhere he went, they followed him. In California, a guy stole his blankets and drove off. Then a white man told him to go to the Salvation Army to get a blanket. He went but then the Spanish woman wouldn't give him one. Then he used to go to the church every morning because it was cold, and he heard the Spanish woman talking about putting penises in her mouth. Then he went the next morning and it smelled like semen. A man was mopping up and told him to leave because he was disgusting, doing that in there. But he didn't do it; he would never do anything like that. But he couldn't take his case to court, for the reason outlined above. He's not sure why women hate him so much, but he doesn't think they should be cherished like they are. He wonders if women are mean to him because they feel guilty about having beaten him when he was a child. When I asked if EVERY woman was in on it, he said of course, because otherwise the ones that weren't would help protect him from the ones that were. He tries to call his family, but they say hello, hear his voice and immediately hang up on him. He's been living on the streets a long time, and one of his irises is milky, which I guess is a cataract of some sort. He didn't smell bad, which pleasantly surprised me. Everybody walking by me saw this dissheveled bearded homeless black man talking to the 30-year-old white fellow in the suit and tie, and I'm sure they thought I was just humoring him, but I wasn't. I was extremely interested to see for myself how the mind of a schizophrenic operates. That's why I asked questions like, "Are you sure you're dialing the right number?" and "Why are people following you?" And I would then watch his poor misfiring brain put 2 and 2 together and get 73. His every thought of persecution led to a memory - from any given era - of further persecution. Further proof of the conspiracy to change him into one of THEM. He wasn't looking for a handout - he never once asked for charity or money or anything, and I made no offer. He just, as he said, "had to talk to somebody" because the police and the government wouldn't listen to him. And I would have been happy to stick around a little longer to hear more of his fractured biography, but I had to go inside the building for what I'm positive was yet another fruitless job interview. It's okay though - I know George W. Bush will take care of me in the end!

(with a bullet to the back of the head)

The uproariously hilariously titled Zoot Allures (you see - oh god, this is great, I'm actually laughing about it so hard right now that I can't even stop my fingers from shaking with hilarity long enough to type - luckily I forecast this problem last night and invented a Ballputer, which allows me to type by dangling my balls up and down at various distances from a small digital receptor - but you see "zut alors" is French for "dammit!" or "oh shit!" AREN'T YOU LAUGHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW AT FRANK'S HILARIOUS PLAY-ON-WORDS???? YOU CAN TUNE A PIANO BUT YOU CAN'T TUNE A GUITAR!!!!) is essentially a stripped-down Frank Zappa solo rock album. He plays nearly every non-drum instrument on almost every song, and strangely enough kinda puts himself at the forefront of the "new wave." The production was VERY slick and modern for the time, with streamlined guitar tones and light synthesizer embellishments. No long-haired hippy experimentation, classical intellectualism or huge rows of horns and violins making things happen in Coffee U.S.A.: just straight-up Frank Zappa, a drummer and some backup vocalists, hold the Lemon.

Whew! I'm all tired out from that "coffee" metaphor. You know, people think it's easy to be a literary genius, but every once in a


What the fuck is this shit?!? I went through all the effort of dramatically slamming my head down on my keyboard in mock despair and all I got out of it was a lousy "nb"? I could have gotten a "nb" by tossing a fucking salad crouton at the screen! So I'm sitting here like an asshole STILL feeling the indentation of like eight or nine different fucking keys on my forefuckhead for nothingfuck but a fucking "nb"??!?!?!

Hmm.. You know, you're right. It COULD be construed as a secret message from investment advisory company Neuberger Berman. Do you think they snuck in my apartment, drugged me, sodomized me up the ass and then left their initials to taunt me??? Because I'll tell you something - I've been shitting blood all afternoon!

Oh hell, I'm sorry - I meant "I've been shitting, blood, all afternoon!" I should really use commas when speaking directly to my 1970s African-American readers.

Wow! This sure is a long review! I must have had a lot to say about this album! I'll just conclude by saying that this is a very good record of diverse tight pop/rock songs with a crisp drum sound. On your journey through its caverns of sound, you'll encounter, in alphabetical order by track number, fast basic punkish rock with falsetto vocals, a terrible live boring shitty guitar solo, a GREAT evil blues song that goes on for ten minutes without even approaching boringness, a catchy as hell little march synth thing about a sex doll, a groovy smooth pile of piss about playing dumb to get chicks that's so gross I actually might have to agree with those apologists who say Frank was simply using IRONY is his sex-obsessed lyrics, a GREAT dark eastern sitar-style guitar solo to balance out the pile of CRAP guitar solo on side one, a clean, unsleazy re-recording of 200 Motels' "Wonderful Wino," a beautiful romantic instrumental that finds Frank sounding like Robbie Blunt of Robert Plant fame and finally a terrific glam rock song about a boy who likes disco. So that's three instrumentals - one sucks, one is eastern, one is romantic. And six vocals - one is fast basic chord rock, one is a scary blues song, one is a bouncy synth thing marching along like a robot soldier, one is a slow-walking gross scumbag anthem of yuckiness, one is glam rock and one is an updated version of an old song that misses the power of sleaze that made the original version so great. If you were born completely deaf and can't even begin to picture what the sense of "hearing" might even resemble, you now have the power to enjoy Zoot Allures as much as any normal, non-retard person can. All thanks to the power of Mark Prindle's Record Reviews For The Hearing Impaired.

Reader Comments (Jamie Robinson)
I remember hitting my head on my keyboard once, and all I got was an "h".
A weird, claustrophobic album, somewhat inscrutable upon first hearing, still inscrutable on the hundredth hearing. The old lineup is gone -- no George, Chester, and only minimal Ruth -- so it's a real letdown following One Size Fits All. In retrospect, it's a typical FZ solo album: some great stuff, and then there's the rest.

Starts off promisingly enough with Wind Up Working in a Gas Station. The message: your American education is such that you're going to end up working in a gas station (as in where you buy the gas for your car) or, more likely, in a gas station (as in a Nazi concentration camp).

There are a couple of FZ guitar lessons here (Black Napkins, Zoot Allures), which as usual go on too long for my likes and don't bring a lot to the table.

Ms. Pinky ("KY, my oh my") and Disco Boy are classic FZ songs, but otherwise I'm not a huge fan of this one, except for The Torture Never Stops. Extremely compressed, it sounds like we're listening to this in the dungeon that is its subject. "That's what's the deal we're dealing in." So what's the deal we're dealing in? Shit, 30 years later I still have no idea.

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Sheik Yerbouti - Zappa 1979
Rating = 6

This one takes the "simple, stripped down" approach of Zut Alors too far. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. First, you want to know why it's been three years since the last Zappa album I reviewed. This is because Frank in 1977 brilliantly tried to get his record company to release a quadruple-album called Lather for him. Somehow noticing that Frank Zappa wasn't selling as many records as, say, Fleetwood Mac, they told him to blow it out his ass and instead split up the quadruple-album into four single-albums entitled In New York, Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan and Orchestral Favorites. As Rykodisc finally released Lather as a triple-CD in 1996, I never bothered purchasing most of these. I do have Orchestral Favorites, but that's a problem I'll have to deal with on my own time and my own terms (baseball cap filled with cyanide). As for the others, judging from their song listings, I imagine I would give In New York a 7 (but what the heck is "Manx Needs Women"? That's not on Lather!), Sleep Dirt a 9 (although I've never heard the CD version - which has VOCALS on three of the songs - nor do I have any clue what the song "Sleep Dirt" sounds like) and Studio Tan a 9 as well. Can't say for sure though - Lather is an awfully good triple-CD, but split into separate albums, who knows whether the songs still sound as great.

So let's move on to the follow-up to the unreleased Lather -- a stupid bunch of novelty tunes called Sheik Yerbouti in hilarious reference to KC and the Sunshine Band's "Shake Your Booty," which had come out a full three goddamned years earlier (this would be akin to a band releasing an album today called Raqa Fell, Err. Skank!). First of all, what's with all this minimal reggae-ish shit? And why are the songs so SIMPLE!? And what's up with the godawful mix featuring bright-toned distorted guitars yelling in your ear alongside a bass that's less audible than the silent fish of the same spelling?

And first of all a second time, where exactly is the "humor" in lyrics like "I want a steamy little Jewish Princess/With over-worked gums, who squeaks when she cums" and "Mama stroked his dinger/Daddy got a stinky finger" and "Aw' little girl, there ain't no time/To wash yer stinky hand/Go `head `n' roll over/I'm going in you again" and "Don't fool yerself, girl/It's goin' right up yer poop chute" and "She's tryin' to grind up my jones/She don't never wanna leave it alone/She can push; she can shove/Till it's just a nub" and "I can take about an hour on the tower of power/'Long as I gets a little golden shower"? That's SIX different songs built around disgusting sexual imagery. Why? What was Zappa trying to prove? Was his sense of humor HONESTLY so bad that he thought this shit was funny? Or was he just so pissed off at his lack of groupie success that he used hateful sexist lyrics as a revenge tactic? I mean, he was like 39 years old when he wrote this crap! As I said earlier, he made claims here and there that he was using ironic lyrics to make his complicated music more palatable, but that's just bullshit because his most disgusting songs are the ones where NOTHING is going on musically, and it seems like the simple two or three chord novelty back-up is there just to have something to spew his filth over. If anything, his unfunny X-rated comedy made his music LESS palatable to most sensible listeners! And believe me - I know I'm coming across as either a prude or a hypocrite here, but what I'm trying to stress is that there is a BIG, BIG difference between clever adult comedy and mean-spirited putdowns sprinkled in filthy language.

Mainly though, it's the album's - especially disc one's - weak music that buries it. I'd be more than willing to chuckle at his parody of Peter Frampton's "I'm In You" if its melody wasn't even LESS interesting a faux-reggae pile of cold air than what it's parodying. For example, as horribly rancid as "Bobby Brown Goes Down" can get in the lyrical department, the singity-songity children's music melody is honestly really hard to get out of my head! And this just isn't the case with most of the record. Most of disc one anyway.

Disc two, on the better hand, rescues the experience quite nicely with diverse music that actually sounds pre-written instead of churned out of a Dr. Demento Wacky Machine in real-time as the lyrics are recited. There's "Tryin' To Grow A Chin"'s hilarious punk-metal with Terry Bozzio's uproarious nutter vocals, "Baby Snakes"'s infectious pop rock, "City Of Tiny Lites"'s L.A. cocaine night music, "Wild Love"'s unceasing musical cacophony of confusion, "Yo' Mama"'s stirring important minor-key melodicism (soon destroyed by an 8-minute guitar solo imported from an entirely different song) and most importantly, there's "Dancin' Fool"!!!!! This hilarious, entirely undanceable speedy blast of goofiness is actually so great - both lyrically and melodically - that the wife and I had it played at our wedding reception! And - no joke - EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE DANCE FLOOR RETURNED TO THEIR TABLE DURING THE SONG. And this was precisely what Frank was aiming for, I'm sure.

There's a great 30-minute EP hidden within this double-album, but boy do you have to swog and swishle your way through reams and reams of smelly smelly chicken bellies to get to it.

Reader Comments (Jamie Robinson)
I'm not going to disagree with you about this album being full of songs that are very much simplistic for Zappa, but come on? 6? Well, I guess if you're a pussy who's afraid of toilet humor to this degree... But seriously, I guess I can kind of see where you're comming from. As for me, well, this was my first Zappa, and I've got to say, as a man who's bot afrain of toilet humor, it's a pretty damn good start. The simplistic rockers keep it accessible to the un-Zappafied; songs like "Baby Snakes," "Wild Love" and "Flakes" allude to what the man is capable of (how the bloody hell could you have left out "Flakes" in your review of this album); "Rat Tomago," "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" and "Yo' Mama" show that Frank is shameless enough to openly indulge in guitar wankery (I personally like the wanks on this album); and, of course, "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes" is a fucking killer song (how could you leave this one out, too?). (Kim Okkerstrom)
What's wrong with the gross sex lyrics? Their hilarious and fun to annoy normal boring people who think it's immature saying piss and poop with. And besides, you say it all the time on your site Prindle, so why cant Zappa say it? The sex lyrics rock, becuz all whe hear today are boring adult lyrics, death or love. And Sheik Yerbouti is one kickass album. yeah! I'm sick of dumb idiotic people calling everyone else immature. Tell you what, if thats how maturity is then I would never wanna mature!
Shit, I didn't see this one coming. Seriously. For the first time ever, I read the review and felt that someone other than Mark wrote it. This album probably gets the nod for the most requested album for me to recorded on a Maxell XL-II C-90 cassette. This album alone taught me, and several dozen other white Iowa boys, what a "golden shower" was. And I think Frank would have been very pleased to hear that fact. With that in mind, I'm sure that many of those aforementioned crackers started and stopped their Zappa discovery with this album. For those brave enough, they went past the novelty (and there's plenty of it here) and discovered a man with limitless chops who surrounded himself with hot shit musicians. You're hard on this album, my man, but I understand why. It's my problem that I still get a chuckle whenever I hear Frank sing "Got a job doin' radio promo/and none of the jocks can even tell I'm a homo."
This album was my introduction to pornography. As a middle schooler, I had a classmate who made a tape of the more potential offensive songs on this album, and while I thought "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes" and "Bobby Brown" were hilarious, it wasn't until I got my own copy and realized how much deeper this Zappa stuff ran. For a long time "Rat Tomago" was my favorite guitar solo, and I felt "Yo Mama" was just mind blowing from every angle. It did send me back to dig up the (then hard to find) Mothers back catalog, most of which I like a lot better than anything Zappa issued in the seventies. But when you're 11 and someone has the gall to write a lyric like "She left my balls in a vice but she left my dick/I guess it's still hooked on but now it shoots too quick," you just gotten be impressed, man. "Baby Snakes" is also a masterpiece, I should point out.
"With a Prindle up my butt 'till it makes me scream!"
The less said about the Lather era the better. Not that the music was not up to FZ standards. However, except for Zappa in New York, the WB releases (Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, Orchestral Favorites) had garbage cover art, no listing of the players, nor any of the other usual stuff you'd expect from an FZ release. So we eventually come to understand the story, but are still left with a mess. I'd recommend trying to find a used copy of Lather. If you are a completist, you'll need to get the four WB releases (now on Ryko) as well, with the caveat that not all tracks on Lather are on the other four discs, and vice versa.

As for Sheik Yerbouti, if you took any offense at Dinah-Mo-Hum, steer clear. In fact, Mister, you'd best check out of the FZ Motel right now, cuz this is where the line in the sand was drawn, and you're going to more or less get this kinda thing from here on out.

For those who choose to continue, there're some great songs here, and from the opening notes of I Have Been In You, the listener knows FZ is going to have some fun at others' expense. Flakes is typical FZ, Jones Crusher rocks. Bobby Brown and Jewish Princess are infamous FZ classics, which to this day I find amusing, not being one to give a fuck about political correctness. (Listen to the mix of Bobby Brown on the "Have I Offended Someone" compilation if you want to understand what a great producer/engineer FZ was and just how much sound is lurking within these tracks.)

Baby Snakes/Tryin' To Grow A Chin/City Of Tiny Lights are the best string of quality FZ songs since One Size Fits All. And Yo Mama is right up there as well.

So why has FZ decided to be as offensive as possible? I'm thinking that he wanted the publcity, and man did this one generate some press, pretty much all negative, which, to use 21st century marketing terms, helped to maximize album revenue upside.

As for the rest of Sheik, it's competent and I occasionally drop a jaw or two, but ultimately it just ain't that interesting to listen to FZ guitar solos played over a pedestrian beat. Given the Lather mess, this is a strong album from FZ, say a 7. (Ryan Kelly)
Hi Mark,

Just going to weigh in quickly on this one (I may return with more someday, who knows. I have just got over 8000 words written on my dissertation, there is more skipping work to be done). I agree that the weakest music is the sillier stuff, but this album has Flakes (resplendent melodies), Wild Love (absolutely superb interlude section), Yo' Mama (a lovely lengthy solo that goes places, comes back and culminates nicely), a couple of FZ's best solos, City of Tiny Lites (Adrian Belew vocal showcase, oh yeah), Bobby Brown (you have to love it, I think), Baby Snakes and Dancin Fool. Admitting its weaknesses, I would still give it a high 8 I think. As with a lot of FZ the moments of sheer beauty stay in the mind longer than the bits I don't like. I wish Belew had stayed in the band longer (2 more years, then i would allow him to go and make "Discipline") as he is one of my favourite musicians, a great singer and guitarist, and a great performer. I think he would have kept an element of wildness to the 80s Zappa that would have been fun. As long as he didn't replace Bobby Martin (POOOOWWWWEEERRR VOCAL KING!).

Add your thoughts?

Orchestral Favorites - DiscReet 1979
Rating = 6

Frank liked the idea of writing notes on a piece of musical chart paper and then having an orchestra perform it. Hiring an orchestra is pretty expensive though. I'm not sure where he got the money for this orchestra, but he did and the results are everything you've ever hoped for in your life. Remember "Strictly Genteel" from 200 Motels? And "Duke Of Prunes" from Absolutely Free? They're on here in beautifully orchestrated violin fancy. Actually, "Duke of Prunes" strays off the subject and gets obfuscated by peculiar electronic feedback guitar noise, but "Strictly Genteel" is gorgeous, featuring a splendidly regal harmonica solo for the King in the middle. The three other songs range from lopey Spike Jones antics and bizarre sinister notes to unpleasant drowning bloodcurdling violin drones (like from a slasher movie) to the one single piece that ruins the entire record for me = "Bogus Pomp." If only it weren't thirteen and a half minutes! If only it weren't an inside joke for film soundtrack buffs! But alas it is both, so instead of more unsettling sick-tones and elegant exquisiteness, we get Frank making fun of boring cinematic music clich‚s. By stringing together.a bunch of..umm.boring cinematic music clich‚s. Is it a brilliant parody of a capital-driven "art"? I wouldn't know. When I watch a movie, I concentrate on the T&A, not the music.

What can I say? The Theme & Action of a film just seem much more important to me than the music.

For example, "Star Whores: The Phantom Anus" boasts impressive balls deep anal Action and a profound theme of Jasmin taking on two - oops! One sec, got a call coming in on the mobile.


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Joe's Garage Acts I, II and III - Zappa 1979
Rating = 7

This was originally issued as two separate vinyl releases - Act I and Acts II and III - but it's been available as a combined double- CD for so long, I don't see any point in treating them as separate entities. If you choose to do so, I'd give the first one a high 8 and the second one a 5. Whew! Now that the numbers are out of the way, I can get down to discussing the album itself. Not that the number grades have any relation to the reviews at all - after all, this IS the All-Music Guide!

Joe's Garage is a smutty rock opera designed, I'm pretty sure, to offend those who need offending. And it IS offensive, but as Frank would be the first to tell you, it's really really DUMB too. Ostensibly, the first act is about the groupie sex that permeated the rock scene back before women started going to college and developing self-respect, the second act is a XXX sci-fi tale about having sex with machinery and getting anally raped by record executives in prison, and the third act is about getting out of jail into a world where music has been outlawed, and dreaming of annoying guitar solos. But more accurately, the first act is an excuse for rampant sexism and gutter humor, the second act is an excuse for taking sex to its most disgusting extremes and the third act is an excuse for long, boring guitar solos.

Frank had REALLY fallen in love with the sound of his guitar solos by this time, taking to dicking around at them for six or seven minutes at a time while the band in the background diddled around on basic one- or two-chord progressions (often reggae-tempoed). In my opinion, this was a depressing turn of events, but Frank did whatever he wanted so who am I to argue with a dead man? I already tried converting Jesus Christ's corpse to Hindi and look where THAT got me! (shitting on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth)

You know what's funny about Christians? They don't realize that they're members of a weirdo cult. And, as my psychiatrist (of all people) pointed out to me, they believe in MAGIC! How do you argue with somebody who believes in magic? Who believes in shit written in a book thousands of years ago by people even more ignorant than we are now? Who believes that the brain's ability to alter mood through the release and withholding of various chemicals and hormones is proof of "the Spirit" running through them? Religion is a security blanket for the weak and/or superstitious.

Sorry - got off the subject because I rented a documentary yesterday called Hell House, and it's all chockfull of nice but gullible Christians. Look it up! It's good!

So let's talk about the first Act. Musically, it's similar to the best material on Sheik Yerbouti - catchy novelty music with loud guitars. Melodic definitely, but very parodic-sounding - for example, "Crew Slut" sounds like session musicians playing a "dirty swaggering western," as opposed to an actual dirty swaggering western band playing what comes naturally to them as dirty swaggering westerners. That's actually a good way of describing the album, I think -- It all sounds like music by well-rehearsed but noncreative studio musicians. None of it comes across as natural or real. This may be a problem with the production - or maybe the band is just too straight to inject any personality into what they're doing. Who knows. The most exciting musical moment is a VERY complicated multi-instrument break in the middle of "Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt" that harks back to the wonder years of Roxy And Elsewhere. But there is scant too not much little of that kind of practice happening here. The songs are certainly very fun though - and even (strangely) SEXY thanks to the drunk-sounding dumb girl dialogue of Dale Bozzio as "Mary."

The second act is pretty shitty though, like the WORST of the worst of Bake Your Chutey.. Cocktail jazz crap, a 9-minute reggae/soul pile of shit while a guy has sex with an appliance and way too much stupid dialogue crammed into nothingness. The few moments of genius (the shuffle-jive chorus of "Keep It Greasey," the beautiful 11/4 melody of "Outside Now") go away too quickly and, sad to say, the best part of the whole act is Terry Bozzio's uproarious dumb guy voice in "Dong Work For Yuda," which finds him saying things like "This girl must be praketing richcraft!" and "Driver, McDoodle. Sausage, Salima, Salami!"

And act three is a beautiful musical steak drowning in the stinky mustard of solos, solos, solos.

WHY so many guitar solos? WHY the atrocious sci-fi and jail scenes? WHY ASK WHY? LET'S GET DRUNK!!! (* date rapes own sister *)

Reader Comments (Steven Knowlton)
Christians don't believe in MAGIC! You see, people who believe in magic attribute supernatural happenings to human beings with special powers, while people who believe in religion attribute supernatural happenings to an invisible being whose existence has never been proved, yet whose characteristics may include the ultimate responsibility for everything that exists, or at least omniscience and omnipotence.

You see, it's completely different!

You know what else is fun about my fellow Christians? How they like to isolate one particular sin and make a big case out of it while gently skimming over other ones that don't reinforce their own bigotry. Like this flap in the Episcopal Church (my church!) over the gay bishop. Well, yes, there are one or two passages in the Bible suggesting people shouldn't perform anal sex. But there any MANY, MANY more suggesting that the accumulation of wealth is a great evil. And yet, no one has raised any fuss over the large number of wealthy bishops. So, give all your money to the poor and then we'll talk about condemning people for something they do (if they're like most married folks) twice a week at best.

By the way, you could try to convert Jesus to Hinduism, but you could only converse with him in Hindi.
FZ was cranking out albums at the rate of what seemed like one every three months. As was probably obvious to everyone except FZ, there were serious Quality Control problems in the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen during this period.

The storyline of Joe's Garage makes so little sense that FZ has to employ a lame and highly annoying narrative device, the Central Scrutinizer, just so that the plot makes what little sense it does. The music is not much better. There are a handful of good cuts scattered across what was originally 3 LPs -- the title cut, Catholic Girls (Hey, she gave me VD!), Crew Slut, Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, and Watermelon in Easter Hay are about the best. Wet T-Shirt Night sounds like some Boz Scaggs song. Outside Now shows promise but then fades early. The rest: there's nothing going on here, just endless guitar solos that are probably live performances spliced into the "songs". And the lyrics: when Sy Borg starts recycling Flo & Eddie-era stuff, you know you've hit rock bottom, Conceptual Continuity or no.

I can't rate this very high. With the possible exception of Bongo Fury, it's FZ's worst since JABFLA.
I like this album because I like All Things Zappa, but for a casual fan this is not a good place to start. You've got some sterile production here, some unfunny "humor", and some weirdness that almost seems forced. And the uncharacteristically lifeless jamming on Act III is really not a good look for Frank here.

Good things: a dense mix with new surprises that jump out at every listen and great playing and arrangments especially on Acts I & II. Even with some of the dumber stuff he's always keeping things interesting and goofy and it usually works. And you've got "Token Of My Extreme" which just rips the hell out those scientology pricks in really funny way with lines about coming out of the closet and goofy sci-fi psychology crap.

But Act III? Just ponderous, man, fucking ponderous (tm Casey Kasem).

Add your thoughts?

Tinseltown Rebellion - Barking Pumpkin 1981
Rating = 5

Supposedly this mostly-live CD features four guitarists, two bassists, a keyboardist and a drummer, but all I ever hear at any given moment is the rhythm section, an incredibly corny Mannheim Steamroller-style early-80s synth, maybe one guitar (at MOST) and a few guys singing together. I also hear a crapload of no-good songs!

The last couple of nights, I've noticed a very high-pitched buzzing tone rattling alongside the lower-pitched "whoosh" of my bedroom air conditioner. I don't know whether it's new or if it just started, but it's driving me up the fucking wall. The only way I could get to sleep last night was to fantasize that I was asleep in the country, and the high-pitched buzzing was the sound of crickets outside the window. Also, I'm experiencing a high amount of personal stress due to the fact that I fill every single day with chores, freelance work and job searches, yet still end the day feeling like I'm worthless because I don't have a full-time job. This is an unhealthy attitude, but it's hard to get past sometimes. It's the way I was raised, I guess. I don't know. FRIG! FRIGGITY FRIG!!

Around this time, Frank came up with a new style of singing that he seemed to think was really entertaining, but it wears thin quicker than a pair of pants made out of cotton candy that I'm running behind you licking. It involves him smarmily half-talking/half-singing as if he's a Vegas sleazeball. Check it out especially in "The Blue Light," and get used to it because he found it pretty darn amusing for the next decade or so, before no longer finding it amusing after it resulted in him DECAYING IN HIS GRAVE WITH WORMS EATING HIS EYEBALLS OUT AFTER HE WAS BURIED ALIVE.

Basically this CD features 80s-ized renditions of some unruinable old classics ("I Ain't Got No Heart," "Brown Shoes Don't Make It," "Peaches En Regalia"), a couple of killer new tunes (the snotty rocker "For The Young Sophisticate" and Beefheart-style blues rocker "Bamboozled By Love") and a whole lot of godAWFUL sexist drivel and stupid, stupid, EVER so stupid stage patter about making a quilt out of panties and various members of the audience. Obviously this band had some level of talent - as shown by the fact that they pull off "Brown Shoes" in a live setting - but the synth tones are ridiculously dated, most of the guitarwork is too minimal to be worth listening to, and the new songs are COMPLETELY hate-filled attacks on women and punk rockers from a rapidly aging old fuck.

That was his name right? Fuck Zappa?

Speaking of which, my psychoproctologist told me to read the book Healing Anger by the Dalai Lama because my temper is getting so out of control and I keep getting pissed off at people for being such fucking idiot asshole fucks, and I'm flipping through the thing last night and I run across this piece of brilliance from Guide To The Bodhisattva's Way Of Life: "In the case of someone hitting us with a weapon, the contributing factors are the weapon which is wielded by the other person and also our own body, because the very nature of the body is that it has a capacity for feeling the pain of injury. Without the body as a basis, an experience of pain or injury could not arise in the first place. So, since both the other's weapon and my own body in combination give rise to this injury and harm, why do I particularly single out that other factor as the object of my anger?"

Umm, how about BECAUSE HE HIT ME WITH A FUCKING WEAPON!?!?!?!?!? Sorry, book. I'd rather be a tightly wound ball of violence ready to explode at the slightest incitement than a dumbass blaming his arm for some guy smashing it with a club.

More like the Dalai LAMEASS, if you ask me!

Reader Comments
Yikes, another double-LP: it's a step up from Joe's Garage. There's nothing innovative here -- FZ seems to be regrouping -- but maybe just a good listen is what we needed from FZ at this point.

You get some radio-friendly pop (Fine Girl), but even this of course has a line like "She go up in the morning, she go down in the evening" to ensure it's never actually played on mainstream radio. You get some nice riff-rock (Easy Meat), which devolves into a synth thing Asia might have put out on a good day. You get some live versions of old favorites (Love of My Life, I Ain't Got No Heart, etc.). And it's telling that the best songs on the album -- Brown Shoes Don't Make It and Peaches III -- are live retreads as well, though as Mark notes you must give the band credit for pulling them off. The title cut evolves into a hilarious parody of a typical Oscar-night production number. All in all, pretty good stuff (ignoring the Panty Rap etc. etc.).

Being somewhat sentient, I notice that no one has commented Tinseltown Rebellion, and therefore there is some space available. So let me point out that FZ was not the first poet to write debasingly of women.

Check out Anonymous, from sometime in the 13th or 14th century, who was apparently the proto-FZ. The guy probably had a band, and when they weren't doing do-wop, well, things got a bit sexist. The language is a quirky, but the astute reader will get the general drift pretty quickly. Imagine Ike and FZ singing, Vinnie on drums, Stevie Vai contributing some guitar stunts, and maybe an FZ guitar solo between verses:

May no man slepe in youre halle
For dogges,
For dogges,
But gyf he haue a tent of xv ynche
With twey clogges
To dryue awey the dogges,
Iblessyd be such Clogges
That gyuef such bogges
By twyne my lady legges
To dryue awey the dogges,

May no man slepe in youre halle
For rattys,
For rattys,
But gyf he haue a tent of xv enche
Wyt letheryn knappes
To dryve awey the rattys,
Iblessyd be suche knappes
That gyveth such swappes
Vnder my lady lappes
To dryve awey the rattys,

May no man slepe in youre halle
For flyes,
For flyes,
But gyf he haue a tent of xv enche
Wyt such byes
To dryve awey the flyes,
Iblessyd be such byes
That maketh such suyes
By tuynne my lady thyes
To dryve awey the flyes,

There ya have it. Hmm, 15 inches is pretty impressive. So remind me, what's so offensive about FZ?

Add your thoughts?

Shut Up `N Play Yer Guitar - Barking Pumpkin 1981
Rating = 5

I totally just made up this hilarious joke when I was out in Central Park at 11:30 at night playing with Henry the Dog. Check this out: So Jesus Christ is nailed to the cross with all his disciples at his feet. Suddenly he yanks one of his hands free and immediately reaches for his cock. There's a great flurry of motion and then with a satisfied "Aaaah!," Jesus squirts jets of cum out of his prick all over the followers nestled at his feet. When he'd shot about a gallon, Paul or whoever finally speaks, "Jesus. ummm.. I must say I'm a bit surprised that when you got your hand free, the first thing you thought of to do was masturbate your penis." So Jesus replies, "Actually I was just intending to cover my nudity, but I forgot about this fucking hole in my hand!"

Say! Who's up for a triple-album of guitar solos?

(absolute silence)

Ha! I knew I would hear complete silence! Because I'm locked in a fabulous new Silence-o-Rama Sound Prevention Room! If you have trouble sleeping due to city noise and horrible memories of your back alley abortion, try a Silence-o-Rama Sound Prevention Room! Not only is it guaranteed sound-proof - it's guaranteed to run out of oxygen in 25 minutes! That's Sjddl;kkkkkkkkkkkkkk

I don't mean to be a spoilsport - after all, I love to party - but three albums worth of Frank Zappa guitar solos is about three albums too many. If there's anything good to say about it, it's that (a) he really WAS a talented guitar player, and comes up with some really gorgeous melodic lines in some of these songs, (b) he came up with some quite bizarre, atonal vacuum noises, slides, scrapes and garbage disposal noises when experimenting and (c) sometimes the band in the background is playing something really pretty or interesting. But if there's anything bad to say about it, it's that almost all of these solos are from the same two-year period (79-80), the band is often playing only one or two slow chords in the background (in fact, Frank is often accompanied by a drum solo of sorts!) and far too often, Frank just twists his dickle around, hitting as many fast ugly notes as he can in a row without regard for whatever the band is doing. Plus, who on Earth (besides Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwei Malmsteen) would want to listen to three goddamned albums worth of guitar solos??!?!? To be fair, this shit was originally released as three separate albums (Shut Up `n Play Yer Guitar, Shut Up `n Play Yer Guitar Some More and Return Of The Son Of Shut Up `n Play Yer Guitar) available only in limited quantities via mail order. It was their popularity that resulted in an official commercial box set release. And a few of the song titles are pretty good ("Variations On The Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression," "Gee, I Like Your Pants," "The Deathless Horsie").

But come on - it's three albums of guitar solos. To put that in perspective - it's kind of like lining up 20 yummy fresh tasty peaches, gutting all the pits out of them, and then packaging the pits and selling them at a grocery store to some moron fruit collector who has to buy every item you sell, even if it's the pits.

Reader Comments
I just left a comment regarding the new Dillinger Escape Plan album, after coming across this site by accident.I browsed through some of the albums on review but there are only two I feel compelled to have a word on - the other being a Miles Davis album and I'll get to that eventually. I'm sorry to disagree with your sentiments but if there was only one Zappa release I could own, this is it! Zappa didn't hire some of the worlds greatest musicians for nothing and this three record set is what it all boiled down to - playing your instrument like your life depended on it. The humour, the satire, the monkey business, found on so many Zappa records gets a bit tired after a while but this one was put together especially for the muso's.I think it helps if the listener trys to listen to each piece not as a guitar solo but as an individual composition.Zappa had a very clear sense of structure when soloing and never lost his way, if you listen you will here this.As for the drumming, listen for the interplay between the guitar and drums. At this time, NO ONE was doing what Vinnie Colaiuta was doing behind the drumset and I think it's important to appreciate how innovative he was.This is not just a collection of guitar solo's, it's some of the finest music Zappa ever commited to tape.
I passed on Shut Up n Play Yer Guitar when it was first released. I didn't need another 3-LP set of guitar solos: I already had Joe's Garage. So when I picked it up some ten years later I was pleasantly surprised.

You could almost call this the Inca Roads Variations, since all of the title cuts (as well as Gee, I Like Your Pants) are solos from Inca Roads. Given that Inca Roads is one of my all-time favorite FZ compositions, it's not surprising that this resonates well with me. Don't miss the other star of the show here: drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Any moderately accomplished guitarist should enjoy this. For people like me (i.e., guitarists who can nail the solo on the Seeds' "Pushin' Too Hard" but not much else), this is a decent addition to any comprehensive FZ collection.

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You Are What You Is - Barking Pumpkin 1981
Rating = 8

Today's a special day because I wrote a song parody that I'm going to sell to "Weird Al" Yankovic for a hundred grand thousand of dollars! It's called "Born To Be Online" and it's set to the music of "Born To Be Wild." Here's how it goes: "Get your modem running/On the Superhighway/Looking for some pornos/And whatever's on ebay!" Then there's more. And then it goes "Born to be onliiiiiiiiiine! Born to be onliiiiiiiiiiiiiine!"

But enough of my foolish "persona." It's time to be Mark Prindle. The Mark Prindle I was born to be. The Mark Prindle that all the chicks talk about when I walk down the street. The Mark Prindle that won't take `no' for an answer, especially in job interviews, and thus has several restraining orders out against him. The Mark Prindle that became a Frank Zappa fan thanks and only thanks to ONE SINGLE COMPACT DISC -- You Are What You Is.

Ridiculous, isn't it? I already owned cheap or free copies of Hot Rats, Uncle Meat, We're Only In It For The Money, Fillmore East June 1971, Apostrophe (`), Strictly Commercial (a "best of" compilation I didn't review here) and Shut Your Mouth With A Guitar, but all of them just made me feel.. Mmm, semi-interested. Like, I could tell that one day I WOULD be a fan because a lot of it seemed really smart, but that day just hadn't come. But You Are What You Is made that day come. The only reason I bought it in the first place was because I was digging through a bunch of cheapy CD bins where the deal was "Buy 9, get a 10th free" and I'd already found 9. I honestly didn't expect to like it at all, but the Moon was shining on Sagitarrius that day because it ended up being my ticket into a splendid world unknown. Suddenly I "GOT" Zappa! And I wanted more more MORE MORE!!!

Luckily I already had more more MORE MORE!!! So I was off and running on my stupid obsessive determination to buy every album in the world he had anything to do with. So theoretically that should qualify this CD for the coveted "10," but unfortunately four of the twenty songs are really really horrible, so I can't give it higher than an 8.

Okay, I know you're just going to WONDER all day if I don't tell you which songs they are, so I will. "Doreen" (a cross between a dumb big `80s rock ballad and `50s doowop that ends with a fifteen-thousand year guitar solo), "I'm A Beautiful Guy" (reggae-ish, kinda Vegasy, not good), "Conehead" (Does a song based on a Saturday Night Live skit even qualify as a "song"?) and "Mudd Club" (reggae with Frank bitching and moaning about punkers and new wavers like a doddering old man). But everything else on here is GREAT! (except for the way-too-long ending of "Goblin Girl"). And now that I've named the bad songs, I can leave all that negative luggage behind and tell you what makes it so GREAT!

It's the effort he put into it. For the first time in several years, it really sounds like Frank put a lot of time and effort into making this CD as packed full of interesting musical, production and lyrical ideas as possible. The vocals are almost all super-multi-tracked, and the songs are packed full to busting with instruments and voices smashing super-loudly into your ear (is this "overcompression"? I'm still not sure I understand what that means.). More than anything, it kinda strikes me as an `80s version of We're Only In It For The Money. Same ridiculous amount of songs -- Each song bumps directly into the next, creating not so much a rock opera as a series of vignettes that link together in minor ways - And he finally cools it on the guitar solos for the most part, because he has so many lyrics! Although he doesn't have the same kind of singular focus for his social satire that he had back when hippies were making the rounds, he does come up with some great new anti-drug, anti-teen-attitude, anti-yuppie, anti-government and anti-Christian material. And the music is catchy and poppy and idiosyncratic and full of weird sound effects and voices and - man, it's just like an up-de-dated Gimme Some Money!

I can't say no more goodness about it! "If Only She Woulda" is a DOORS parody!!! "Society Pages" chuggles along on one chord!!! "Teen-Age Wind" pinpoints exactly what it is that rebellious modern hippie youth are REALLY after with its eye-opening refrain, "FREE IS WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR NOTHING OR DO NOTHING - WE WANT TO BE FREE!" "Suicide Chump" is a bouncy rhythm and blues song making fun of people who attempt and fail at suicide! "Harder Than Your Husband" is based upon a play-on-words that renders the song (For once) more INNOCENT than its title! "Jumbo Go Away" may be the most mean-spirited song Frank ever wrote! And "Dumb All Over" may be my favorite Zappa song of all time!!!! In fact, I love it so much, I just might print the lyrics in their entirety right here:


Nah, I changed my mind.

Reader Comments
Some day i'm gonna play born to be online live. hilarious!
Jeez, ya never knew what FZ was going to come up with next. You Are What You Is starts out with the disappointing Teenage Wind, which is just a crappy rehash of Hey Punk. Then things get interesting. Harder Than Your Husband, with Jimmy Carl Black on vocals -- whoa, where'd he come from -- presents a more lyrically subtle FZ than we've been used to recently. And Doreen is a great overblown song -- musically and lyrically. It seems to be an updated (music-wise) version of some "please hear my pleas" do-wop thing. But, I'll spare everyone a song-by-song, blow-by-blow account of YAWYI. Let's just say there's enough good material on this one (Dumb All Over, title cut) to make it one of FZ's best albums of this phase of his career, though still not up to the quality standards of the early Mothers or the Overnite Sensation era. So it's a 7.

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Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch - Barking Pumpkin 1982
Rating = 8

He's shrunk his output from 20 songs to 6 songs in the time it takes most people to blink an eyelid, but this music is on Fire! This is WeIrD mUsIc!.!.! Everything sounds all rippity-blappity upsy-daisy oogy-choogy, like it's a little too fast and unnecessarily busy. All six of them are well-written, unique pieces of music comprised of novelty, noise, odd tempo changes, complexity, strong melody, idiosyncracy, aggressive production and.less excitingly..guitar solos. Four of the songs are a bit longer than need be (which is why there are only six tracks - or, perhaps, the songs are longer than need be BECAUSE there are only six tracks).

I imagine track one could almost be called normal - it's a funky bass thing called "No Not Now" that you'll either love (like me) and have stuck in your head all the time, or loathe (like people with common sense) due to the repetitive falsetto vocal goofiness. But after that, just expect to fly way out in outer space, with vomit-inducing speed shifts, awesome swoopy bass lines, Haunted House organ arpeggiations, Lisa Popeil singing opera over jack-in-the-box music accompanied by a hard rock guitar, a couple of those great moments where two or three instruments play a hilariously fast-paced set of what sure do appear to be random notes except that they're being played by multiple instruments at the same time and hardly anybody can improvise THAT well.

On the down side, two of the songs feature that stupid Vegasy sing-speak vocal style I mentioned in a recent review. But on the up side, Frank's daughter Moon Unit does an adorable valley girl impersonation for all five minutes of "Valley Girl"! Now I know this is off the subject, but I have a very fond memory of "Valley Girl." Well, not the song per se (which reminds me of how much I used to love the TV show Square Pegs, starring Sarah Jessica Parker before she became a wrinkly butt-ugly crotch of a human being), but the movie Valley Girl starring Nicholas Cage. I'll never forget the day that I woke up - I must have been 13 or 14 - and went downstairs to watch some of that movie, because it was the morning of my first "wet dream." I woke up to find my at-that-point- never-having-been-masturbated penis going into convulsions and spurting out sticky globs of hair gel into the men's briefs that I wore under the shorts I wore to bed. I'll never forget how scared I was that my mom would find out, and how I ran in the bathroom and washed them out and then tried to dry them with the hair dryer before throwing them in the dirty clothes bin, and then how I couldn't concentrate on Valley Girl because I was afraid that I or my room would smell like sperm and my parents would find out and think that I'd been masturbating, which at that point I had never done because I thought only losers and people who grew up to be serial killers masturbated. Which is why I then went through several periods of intense disgust and self-hatred in college when I actually DID begin masturbating and found that it made me hate myself, yet I couldn't stop for more than a couple of months without one night convincing myself it was okay and doing it, then despising myself again for my lack of self-discipline. I even put a sign on my bedroom wall saying "I hate myself" after masturbating once, and my punishment was that whenever anybody asked why it was up, I had to tell them why. The first person who asked was my friend Doug, and when I told him, he calmly explained that I had some serious emotional issues that needed to be dealt with. I don't remember what happened to the sign, but I do know that I only became comfortable with masturbation when a girl told me that she did it all the time, and that everybody she knew did it all the time. So I figured if girls did it too, it must not be something that only losers and people who grow up to be serial killers do. Of course, then when I actually started having sex TOO, I had the whole issue of not knowing when I could masturbate because what if my girlfriend wanted to have sex and I was all used up from masturbating and couldn't Papa Boner? This fear of failure of course eventually led to me contemplating suicide twenty or thirty times, spending thousands of dollars on psychiatrists and becoming addicted to several different anti-depressive, anti-anxiety and anti-OCD medications.




Reader Comments
So after years of counseling myself with Cat Power records, I decided to seek professional help in 2003, the worst fucking year in my existence. The shrink's a cool guy who told me to stop reading Camus for a while and diagnosed me with a "severe depressive episode" but didn't use that term when invoicing sessions to my insurance company. I guess it had something to do with the fact that the more kooky you are, the less amount of coverage you're allowed. By that same line of thinking, all schizophrenics should be homeless and find their own initiative to just get better.

So then, after three "lets see if we like each other" sessions, we get to the main reason(s) why my shit's fucked up. Minor progress is made, but I continue to self medicate and still feel the urge to overdose with Chan Marshall. Then he announces that he will be moving out of state and that leaves me alone again with my "severe depressive episode" and a well worn copy of "You Are Free." I'll miss the guy: I taught him what "mouthbreather" meant, we both used the word "fuck" sometimes, and I found out that his one and only desert island disc was Frank Zappa's "Ship Arriving To Late To Save A Drowning Witch."

I'm lying. That was just a cheap ploy to intro into the review. And with Mark spilling his guts, I felt compelled to share. At only six songs deep, the album does a good job of showing off the musicianship of his merry pranksters and, as Mark himself notes, demonstrates that Frank is on a whole other level compared to most rock artists. Initially, I was pissed the release didn't have more of the "naughty" Frank that I was totally into at the time (along with Saxon, Iron Maiden, The Gap Band, Yaz, and The Clash...go figure) but I came to tolerate, understand, and eventually appreciate Zappa's craft including the songs that had nothing to do with urination.

Twenty years after the fact, the album holds up well and seems to be regarded well among Zappa brethren. I should also point out that it took about that long for me to figure out the cover art, but then again, I never claimed to be that bright. And in case you're wondering, my shrink's desert island disc is Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Greatest Hits." He would have been so much cooler in my eyes if he'd named this one.
I never had a wet dream. I used to masturbate before I could spit semen, so I never had it, it was The Hand (tm) who made me eyaculate. I used to feel guilty, but just because religion. Was Billy Corgan a big zappa fan? or just a fan of the record company?
OK, I'll be honest.

No Not Now kinda rocks. Valley Girl is deservedly well known and enjoyable and is appreciated by the youth of today, no less. But as for the rest...

After what seemed like a lifetime (and what was at this point for me nearly two decades), I found myself losing enthusiasm for FZ. There's just less and less going on here. It wasn't limited to FZ either -- I wasn't real excited by the latest Pink Floyd or Zep or Who albums, and the Stones sucked, McCartney sucked (Lennon be dead), Neil Young sucked, and pretty much every 60's artist who had carried the standard into the 70's and 80's was lost in some mediocre vortex, from which some never returned.

XTC was making pretty good music however...


The Man From Utopia - Barking Pumpkin 1983
Rating = 5

With an enjoyable cartoon album cover and such amusing song titles as "The Dangerous Kitchen," "The Jazz Discharge Party Hats" and "Tink Walks Amok," this one seems like it should be as happy a joyride that whips a horse's ass as the last two, but it's just not. Too much of it is underwritten genre lampoon and half-assed on-stage improv shit-tones with Frank doing his detestable Vegas sing-speak over it. For the music fan, there's one nice bass-driven instrumental and one admirably composed vibe/key/guitar complication, but other than that we're stuck with some surprisingly basic songwriting (or NON-songwriting, in many cases): Elton John piano balladry, standard blues rock, appalling `50s songs made even worse with dire `80s technology, featureless reggae, and one-dimensional doowop with sub-bad falsettos. That's not good! Do you see what I'm understanding?

I know it sounds like I despise this CD, but I actually really find irresistible the first few songs and the last one. I can deal with fundamental songwriting if it's catchy, and both "Cocaine Decisions" and "SEX" are just that. But when you get to songs so general that it literally sounds like they're just improvising "reggae" or improvising "doowop," there's just nothing to grab onto. Especially when the lyrics are as uninteresting as "We don't want to hurt your feelings/But you're a dor-r- r-r-k!/Might as well admit it/When you're a dork/You're a dork, by the way/You're a dork/A double/A double dork butt rash/A double butt rash dork."

It's Shiterrific! It's Loustastic! It's Vomitastygood! Speaking of which, did you see what's going on in the world today? God, I can't BELIEVE that thing that happened! Clich‚ taken seriously! Anatomical joke! Writing in all caps with exclamation points! Another clich‚, but with one word changed! The word "poop"! Very little mention of the actual album! Lack of self-confidence! Desperation to be loved!

Making fun of gay people.

Reader Comments
The man from utopia... oh boy, todd rungren rulez...
I hated this album when I first got it 20 years ago lol. But it takes a lot of listening to .. it's actually brilliant. Sex is a wonderful parody. The Dangerous Kitchen sublime .. my best mate had the lyrics framed and put in his own (dangerous) kitchen. Cocaine decisions is a wonderful track. Some of it is difficult I grant you .. but it's worth it!

ps I used Moggio from this album to introduce my own radio show for a number of years!
If I recall correctly, it was Hunter S. Thompson who wrote, "How long, Lord, how long?" He may well have been listening to The Man From Utopia at the time.

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Baby Snakes - Barking Pumpkin 1983
Rating = 7

This is the mostly-live soundtrack to what I guess was a movie. Some of the songs are old ones that you know by heart from having heard me sing them earlier on this page ("Baby Snakes," "Jones Crusher," "Disco Boy," "Dinah Moe- Humm"), but others are brand new and absolutely bewildering to your tiny penguin mind (including the quite honestly hilarious "Titties `N' Beer," which goes far beyond sexism to reduce a woman named Chrissy to "Titties," as well as the multi-parted but crappily composed "Punky's Whips," both exiled from the unreleased Lather Opus). Oops! Sorry, forgot a comma.

Okay, I'll give you 55 minutes to re-read the preceding paragraph to find the hidden "play-on-words" joke that isn't the least bit funny. It's THERE, believe me. But even if you find it, you won't consider it clever. GO FOR IT!!!! START RIGHT NOW!!!!

I'll give you a hint: it sucks and isn't funny. Much like the song "Punky's Whips"! Which brings us right back where we started. "Titties And Beer" is a funnyass tune built on a series of hilarious couplets exchanged between smarmy biker Frank Zappa and The Devil as portrayed by Terry Bozzio. I'll share a sample line for you: Frank: "I'm not afraid of Hell! I've BEEN there! Remember, I was signed to Warner Brothers for eight fuckin' years!" SEE??? YOU were expecting a Sam Kinison-style marriage joke, but YOU were left out in the rain, crying as Roger Daltrey screamed in your ear and you rode your bicycle really fast to get a Diet Dr. Pepper. It's a good CD, but one of the least essential he ever released.


(although I did fuck Toldy too, to be honest - did you know genital warts provide extra sensation for her pleasure?).

Hey, check out what a former member of Caroliner emailed me the other day:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a ttoal mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Fcuknig amzanig huh?

Reader Comments
I just finished working 14 hours straight, sat down to my computer and got back into the Frank Zappa section of your site, when my wife breezed in to inform me that the power would be shut off from eleven tonight until 1 in the morning. Something about the coming New Year (I know that makes no sense, since Nude Beer is almost a month gone, but this is China, and it takes them some time to get around to things, like shutting my electricity off for two hours for no other reason that the calender changed to a page with a bigger number on it, but I digress.) At least they had the courtesy to warn me. Though of course, they didn't warn ME, did they? They warned my wife. She's cute. She bats her eyes, and China will do whatever she asks it to, except, of course, NOT turn off my power, and make me Chairman, but even a dew-eyed adolescent like China has to draw the line somewhere, I suppose.

But that's not why I'm writing.

I have two Zappa quotes I thought I'd share. You need to flesh out the Zappa section, so I thought I'd help.

One is from, I think, Roxy&Elsewhere - "Jazz is not dead; it just smells funny."

The other one is from the Baby Snakes movie. Frank is holding a toy accordian, the kind we have all played with at some point. He sees the camera following him around the store, looks up holding the accordian and says, "The important thing about this instrument is the way the air smells when it comes out these little holes."

Decent live set, but nothing to get too excited about. The term 'holding pattern' comes to mind. Redundant if you have Live in New York, Sheik Yerbouti, and Lather. If you don't have a lot of FZ albums, it's a nice intro to late-70's Zappa stuff, but then I'm a sucker for any album that includes "Baby Snakes" and "Titties 'n Beer", two of FZ's finest songs. "Punky's Whips" is a rockin' piece of music, in spite of it's juvenile subject matter, though one wouldn't confuse it with any of FZ's better songs.

She's just like an Opus in bondage, boy...
I love the movie to death, but I wouldn't bother getting the soundtrack. Not only does this thing only have a small fraction of the songs featured in the movie (which has something like 26 songs), but there's just so very much more to the movie than just the band performing live. You also get: footage of the band backstage (including the story of how FZ discovered Adrian Belew), crazy-ass claymation sequences (plus some chatting with the guy crazy enough to make that shit), and a look at how those neat little blasts of musical interlude on Lather and Sheik were made (seems they didn't have to speed up the tape to get that quick, high-pitched sound). Speaking as someone who will never see FZ live, it's great that this concert movie exists. It's even better that it features some of my favorite players and is just an all-around great set of songs.

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London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1 - Barking Pumpkin 1983
Rating = 5

I personally have never been a fan of classical music. I like little bits here and there, just as I like little bits of country (Johnny Cash!), rap (Public Enemy!), electronica (Meat Beat Manifesto!), blues (Robert Johnson!) and jazz (The Ramones!), but as a whole, I find the whole "orchestra" experience incredibly dreary, especially since I started Gabitril. So I guess it's no surprise that, though I do appreciate and quite enjoy Frank's more emotional and frightening collections of violin drones and trombone bends, his classical LPs are not among my favorites. This stuff is just TOO difficult to get into, often sounding as if the orchestra is playing notes that Frank randomly jotted down on musical paper, which simply isn't as exciting and unexpected an effect in this context as it is on his rock albums. At its best ("Sad Jane"), the album demonstrates Frank's formidable talent for conjuring disturbing vibrations out of his players' instruments -- which, in this case, is 24 violins, 12 violas, 12 cellos, eight basses, five flutes, four oboes, five clarinets, four bassoons, eight horns, five trumpets, five trombones, one tuba, one timpani, one harp, one keyboard and six jerks going around percussing at everybody. At its worst ("Mo `N' Herb's Vacation"), it just sounds like unfinished incidental background music for a series of short horror and action films.

You know what kicks ass? The guy who plays the Bernadel 1900 cello is named Douglas Cummings. That's TOTALLY Dee Dee Ramone's real first name added to Johnny Ramone's real last name!!! What's NEXT? Jeffrey Erdelyi??? HAHAHAH!!! HAHAHA!!!!! HAHAH!!HAHH HAHH!H!!HH

None of the other 101 musicians on here have names worth mentioning, except the horn player James Brown. I bet HE "feels good"!!!! HAHAAHAHAHHAHH!!HHAHAHAH!!H!HHAA ! I bet HE's one HORNy "Sex Machine"!!! AHAHAHH!!HHAHAHAHAH!!!! I bet HE held a woman hostage in his house and beat her up for three days!!!! AHHAAHAHAFHFFFFFFFF Goddammit how'd my finger end up on F?

Reader Comments
Man, this is funnier than bobby brown!

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Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger - Atlantic 1984
Rating = 7

At times, America drinks too much alcohol. And so it is times like these very ones that I find myself in my current predicament: awake with a painful headache (in my head - specifically the right frontal lobe portion) at the unChristianly hour of 6:12 AM, with every minor window rattle jabbing needles of uncomfortableness into my brain. I'm too cold in my birthday pants and too hot with a blanket on. There is no middle ground between the two states of being! I don't know what my goddamned brain wants me to do - vomit? Drink yet more water? Not having ingested four shots of whiskey on an empty stomach? One cannot turn back the clock, silly brain. Let's let bygones buy bee gones (I'm told that honey is bee vomit - bees puke tasty!) and dance a hearty, happy waltz to the existence that we are all forced to forfeit sooner or later. (In my case later, because I'm going to keep getting cosmetic surgery until my entire body inside and outside resembles a four-year-old)

This is another orchestral CD, but with a twist. NO NO, IT'S NOT A DUET WITH CHUBBY CHECKER - HAHA! HAHHAAHAH! A LITTLE "TWIST" HUMOR FOR THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME! (stephen foster) The twizzler is that only 23.5 minutes of the disc is created by a real live 29-piece orchestra. The other 13.5 minutes is attributed to "The Barking Pumpkin Digital Gratification Consort." In other words, it's Frank Zappa dicking around on a keyboard in his basement.

But that's simplifying what was actually quite an important change in Frank's approach. At some point shortly before the recording of this material, Frank obtained a synclavier, which is some sort of musical synthesizer that allowed him to program scores and have them played back note-for-note precisely as he wanted them. As he had previously expressed his discontent with the capitalist attitudes and mistake- filled, passionless playing of the orchestras and symphonies he had commissioned to perform his work, Frank fell in love with his synclavier and wound up using it on several more projects in his final decade on God's America. Still, you have to wonder what the heck the guy was thinking, replacing actual instruments with a little electronic thingamajig (NOT a whatchamacallit, as Hershey made painfully clear with their recent cease-and-desist order) that just sounds like a bunch of warped soulless chimes. Was this really how he wanted his serious classical compositions to sound - as anonymous and fake as The Residents?

Regardless, the music on this disc (aside from the bunch of incidental shit crap poop that makes up the title track) is possibly his greatest "serious" music ever. It's still awfully challenging, but the moods are very powerful -- scary, sorrowful and troubled, painting a jittery maniacal soundograph of creeping insanity before culminating in the sick audio suicide of "Jonestown."

So enjoy a Prindle's Thingamajig candy bar today! Ingredients: Milk chocolate (contains: sugar;cocoa butter;chocolate;nonfat milk;lactose;emulsifier:soya lecithin;artificial flavouring:vanillin), High fructose corn syrup, Crisp rice, Sugar, Partially defatted peanuts, Blend of vegetable oil (contains partially hydrogenated palm kernel and soybean oils), Milk, Nonfat milk, Dairy butter, Refined palm kernel oil, Salt, Grilled human penis, Mono and di-glycerides, Malt, Molasses, Emulsifier:soya lecithin, Disodium Phosphate.

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Francesco Zappa - Barking Pumpkin 1984
Rating = 3

Frank claims that he ran across the work of a mediocre 18th century composer named Francesco Zappa and decided to program his synclavier to play several of the guy's compositions. This has been verified by folks at Berkeley and the Library of Congress, so presumably it's true. But why would Frank have put time and effort into sharing such a generic composer's work with the world? As a cheap joke?

I don't think so. I think this was Frank making a statement about artists that create music not for the love of music but for MONEY. Francesco made his living by creating simplistic orchestral works for the nobles. Because he had to please those with simple minds, all of his work sounds exactly the same. Happy little church-sounding major- chord disposable balderdash. No experimentation at all; no risk. And this was Frank's point, I think. To compare Francesco's wearisome constructions with the shitty shit shit music of shitty 80s rock bands and pop artists who are only in the industry for radio success. He might also be saying, "Yes, my classical sonatas may be difficult to comprehend at times, but what would you prefer - instantly forgettable twaddle like this?"

Speaking of instantly forgettable twaddle, did you know that the Adam's apple is the male equivalent of the clitoris? It's true! If you rub it gently but thoroughly for several minutes, steadily increasing the speed and pressure, eventually you'll throw up!

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Them Or Us - Barking Pumpkin 1984
Rating = 8

As I did walk down Hampstead Fair last night, I was suddenly struck by yet another of my patented "hilarious `Weird Al' Yankovic-like parodies" that the Cosmos uses me as a conduit to convey to the world every once or twice in a while. And before I even think about discussing the Pink Floyd song "Us And Them," I must bring the laughter and comedy to you, the guy reading this in my electronic newspaper. The song is set to the chorus of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and goes as follows:

Billy's peen is under my cover/He's just a boy and I just turned 41/But the kid has real nice buns!"

See? This is why I've made Who's Who for the past four years running. Because I'm an Artist. And my friend Art is an Iist.

See? It's plays-on-word like that one that put me in such a high tax bracket. Now I might go on to discuss Van Morrison's Them or Us by Peter Gabriel.

This is a rock double- album like Sheik Yerbouti but not as dumb. Lots of different lead vocalists share their wares, the mix is really dry but you can hear everything that happens and it's all very loud, which is cool, and the Zappa family is almost completely represented! Moon sings back-up on one song, Dweezil plays a couple of really fast Van Haleny guitar solos, Ahmet co-wrote one song and even Frank plays on one track! This is the first time that avant-rock legend Gail Zappa had allowed her other family members to take up space on her albums so that was a rare treat for several of us at the time and even constantly since. There's a corny Van Halen "Jump"-style keyboard dating several of the numbers, but the songs themselves are a Tun of Fun, ranging in size, structure and genre from a doowop cover to a slow blues rocker like "Have A Cigar" to a Van Halen-style rocker with multiple backwards vocals (AMAZING effect too - works really well!) to a reggae version of an old Mothers of Invention classic to complex sci-fi multiple- instrument speed playing insanity to circusy novelty to four really long boring noisy guitar solos to sleezy `70s sex rock to advertising parody to time signature trickery (from 7/4 to 5/4 to 6/4 in the blink of an ear!) to Tom Lehrer/Sparksy old-timey piano vaudeville to 50sy doowop set to dopey 80s beats to dark funk bass with Monty Python falsettos to an Allman Brothers cover - and that's all in the first fourteen seconds of the album!!!!

Okay, that's not all in the first fourteen seconds of the album. But if you can read, you can see that this album is diverse, jovial and filled with terrific good times for any fan of diverse novelty, intense instrumentation genius and modernized blos- rueck.

"Classics" from this album include "Truck Driver Divorce," which is a funny as hell song until the guitar solo comes in and makes the entire planet Earth suck for seven full minutes. "Classics" also include the (a) most popular and (b) most poorly composed song on here - "Be In My Video." How old and out-of-touch do you have to be to parody the MTV era with a DOOWOP song??? Not to mention "satire" that's even more obvious and less interesting than the worst of Jello Biafra ("There's a cheesy atom bomb explosion all the big groups use," "You can show your legs while you're getting in the car, then I will look repulsive while I mangle my guitar").

Otherwise, rock down with The Mothers of Invention!

None of whom appear on this album.

Hey! Speaking of which, how's about a stinky? No hang on - speaking of which, all this Van Halen stuff reminded me - did Steve Vai know that he was going to be playing with David Lee Roth in just one or two years???? How could he have known that he would be going directly from one artistic genius to another??? How many musicians get the chance to work with TWO visionaries in their lifetime??? Aside from that old Jane's Addiction bassist who's in Alanis Morrisette's band now, damn near EVERYONE!

Reader Comments
FZ's best since Sheik Yerbouti, I say!

The Closer You Are reaches back to the Ruben & The Jets days. In France sounds like it might be something from the Overnite Sensation era, nice 'n' bloozy with Johnny Guitar Watson delivering some hysterical one-liners (mystery blow job, that's where it's located, stick to your cheeks, ooh smelling funny now, etc. etc,). This song should have been a #1 single. Then there's Sharleena (the best song FZ ever made). Not to mention Truck Driver Divorce, an instant FZ classic. Whipping Post fulfills the wishes of an audience member from the Roxy & Elsewhere album, and is at least on a par with the Allman's original version and just rocks. And there is not a lot of real filler to speak of here. Jeez I like this one.

But -- welcome to Mark Prindle's music psychotherapy site! -- I think I've figured out my ambivalence about FZ during this era.

Ya know how the Stones, unfortunately to this day, keep releasing "Rolling Stones" albums. And the better ones are always "the best since Exile" according to some critic or another. But once you listen to it, you understand that "the best since Exile" actually means you've just wasted your $ on another mediocre Stones CD. Yeah, there are usually a couple of decent riffs, but nothing in the same league as Jumpin' Jack Flash or Brown Sugar. You know you'll listen to it a few times, then queue up Beggars Banquet or Let It Bleed when you want to hear some excellent music from the guys.

Well -- and it pains me deeply to compare FZ with the Stones -- this describes FZ's output in the 80's. He kept releasing "Frank Zappa" albums. There's a complex melody here, a great guitar solo there, some offensive lyrics here, and little FZ flourishes and surprises and conceptual continuity all over the place. But in the end it just doesn't measure up to WHAT WAS. Don't get me wrong: there are excellent songs to be had on all of the 80's albums, but when I want to hear great FZ music, it's usually something from the original Mothers or the Overnite Sensation era band that ends up emerging from my speakers, not something from Man From Utopia.

That being said, this is a solid FZ album, worthy of inclusion in every FZ collection, but maybe with an asterisk indicating: not to be confused with the really great stuff. I'd give this one an 8.
I've been reading through these Frank Zappa reviews at the GVSU computer lab instead of doing what the college computer lab is meant for, and for one, have to say that, I completely agree with the person who commented on this album's review. I've only heard the first two Mothers albums and, despite how entertaining these reviews are to read, especially as a diversion from work, they still underline the point of the commenter before mine. Especially with the amount of 6, 7 and 8 scores you give. Why bother with albums, if they're not all 10s, right?

It's unfortunate that, as hard as these artists try, and let Alice Cooper and Motorhead by my prime example, they just release album after album after album, despite, realistically not ever being able to release an album as good as the one's they released in their prime. What's the point of all this OCD driven music collecting?

Eek, on with the reviews!

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Thing-Fish - Barking Pumpkin 1984
Rating = 4

So it's 6:38 AM, which I realize isn't early (I used to get up at 6:45 every single morning back when I had a job), but I've been awake for the past hour and a half itching like crazy and thinking about birth, death and what we put between them, so I finally figured I'd drag my sleepless carcass out of bed and review Thing- Fish.

Thing-Fish was not so much a bad idea as just a poorly executed one. The main overall point was to make fun of Broadway - the rich white yuppies who attend Broadway shows and the cliched parts written in for black people. But Frank blew this simple idea by (a) hardly bothering to write ANY Broadway-style show tunes AT ALL, (b) having Ike Willis talk in a tiresome exaggerated "dumb old-timey black person" voice over every single song, and (c) clogging the story up with so much perverted, sexist nonsense and pointlessly grotesque and confusing imagery that it's impossible to either follow or give a crap about. However, he DID direct a photo-set for Hustler based on the concept, and if memory does recall me correctly, he confused and disgusted readers into sending hatemail about it.

The plot involves a white couple going to see a Broadway play based on the idea that AIDS was created by the government to kill off gays and blacks. During the course of the musical, Frank once again displays his antiquated view of "a woman's place" through a subplot whose theme is that the feminist movement has led to the weakening and gaying up of men. One also gets the sense that Frank thinks men should be macho and tough to keep women in their place - being "sensitive" like the lead white character Harry is equivalent to being an "over-educated cocksucker" in Frank's mind. Thus, the white female lead Rhonda fucks her briefcase, shoves an engraved pen up her ass and - look, why am I even discussing this piece of shit? It's no good.

Musically, Frank replays some tunes from Zoot Allures, You Are What You Is and Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch with stupid new lyrics having to do with the stupid plot of this stupid musical, includes lots of completely empty background music (the point, after all, is the lyrics and narration) and presents a scant THREE great new songs. Pity these three great new songs are stuck on a triple-album of pbbbllll and ecchhh, but we can't have everything in Life, no matter how many times we email Quaker about replacing the oat biscuits with little sliced-up alligators. They are "He's So Gay" (Village People-style disco song with doowop vocals!), "Brown Moses" (dramatic blues-based melody with a ton of voices singing together!) and "Wistful Wit A Fist-Full (a hilarious Billy Joel-style bar song with Al Jolson vocals, and the ONLY TRUE "SHOW TUNE" PARODY ON AN ALBUM THAT SHOULD BE FULL OF THEM).

But at least you get to hear Missing Persons vocalist and nude model Dale Bozzio say things like, "This is my PUSSY, HARRY! Look! See it? You know what I'm going to do with it, you worm? I'm going to make it FUCK SOMETHING!"

Of course you also have to listen to an hour and half of lines like "Thoo de magik o' stage-kraff, de blubulence of yo' blobulence done reciprocated to a respectumal reclusium."

Which is sexier? To find out, you'll have to tune in later to my new reality TV program The Butt Stops Here!

Reader Comments
OOPS MARK, you forgot one new song which is really great, The Evil Prince. Especially the live version on YCDTOSA 4 shows that the '84 Zappa Band could do the multi-harmony singing better than anybody on this side of (you guessed that) Broadway. But of course, the general concept of Thing-Fish is a bit hard to swallow. If you didn't like the humor of Flo 'n Eddie, the chances are slim that you'll like this one.
I think it's fair to say that all of FZ's work since Sheik Yerbouti culminated in Thing Fish. It was all inexorably heading towards this release, and it's fitting that it should end up in Hustler instead of on a WAY off-Broadway stage. Rudimentary Googling will get you to reproductions of the Hustler spread, should you care to take a look.

I avoided this three-LP set upon its release, given FZ's track record with big projects (2000 Motels, Joe's Garage, not to mention Billy the Mountain, Greggary Peccary, etc.). That turns out to have been both a good choice and a bad one: good because everything that's wrong with FZ's big projects is here in spades; bad because this is deep stuff. One could argue convincingly that the universe that FZ's characters inhabit has never been more fully realized than on Thing Fish. The gubbint is outright trying to kill us with some potium it's dreamed up; religium is outright stealing every cent we have, speshly if we ignint. Relocatium ub de ignints be likely. Man, it be de concentratium camps evokated on WOIIFTM reduxted. De relevant text still be In The Penal Colony! We be woikin' and livin' in a gas statium!

Highly recommended for the FZ fanatic, because virtually every verse in every song has Conceptual Continuity with references going all the way back to at least WOIIFTM. For the uninitiated, steer clear: this ain't the place to start your FZ collection.
i have every zappa album, and i definately like some more than others. i gravitate toward the albums that are more instrumental. i play percussion and have performed a few zappa compositions. but i gotta tell ya, i think "thingfish" is absolutely hilarious, and had to be one of the most fun records to make. i love the mammies and the potato-headed-watcha-ma-call-it

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Meets The Mothers Of Prevention - Barking Pumpkin 1985
Rating = 8

Hey, if space aliens are using mind control against you, check out

But more importantly, I need to tell you about this weirdass nightmare I had this morning. My wife and I had somehow ended up on some remote island where we ran across a bunch of people playing some violent game in which they all chased down one of their friends (who was given four minutes to run as far away as possible) and either bash them really hard with a big piece of wood or just shoot them. Somehow we got mixed up in the game and they chased us too. And we could NOT escape and it was very, very scary. Yet these people were all FRIENDS, and were very friendly to us too. So that night, everybody was gathered around the TV chit- chatting and enjoying themselves and I just couldn't contain my anger and confusion any longer, so I shouted, "WHY DO YOU KEEP PLAYING THIS TERRIBLE, POINTLESS, VIOLENT GAME????" And the main guy (who was very nice, but also very good at bashing people really hard with big pieces of wood) replied, "You mean you haven't figured it out yet?" So I looked around and realized how at peace everybody looked. How comfortable and satisfied they all were to just be socializing and watching TV. No complaints of boredom or pissing and moaning about what was on TV. And I felt the same way. And I realized the reason for the game: These people were completely content and at peace with everything taking place in the world AS LONG AS THEY WEREN'T PLAYING THE GAME. The fact that a major facet of their lives involved being scared shitless and/or in incredible physical pain made it much easier for them to appreciate the normal everyday events that most of us take for granted. Without the game, they would have been miserable stranded on the island. But because they had the game to remind them how bad life CAN be, they greatly appreciated every single moment of (non-game) existence they had. Isn't that a smart as fucking hell dream??? Why can't I be that smart when I'm awake!?!?!

The Mothers Of Prevention is one of those Zappa albums I'm not supposed to like, but well I don't care if I do-die- do-die-do-die-do. Because in this world, there are two things: Opinions and Tastes. There are no other things. Especially oxygen and President Bush. I made up this hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch while walking Henry the Dog through Central Park at 11:30 the other night. It's for when Billy Joel is the guest host. When the scene starts, he's sitting behind a piano with a frizzy afro and early `70s clothes, and the pre-recorded narration says something like, "Being a piano player in a sleazy bar may not have been the most luxurious job I ever had, but I was damn sure I was gonna get some great songs out of it." The scene is set in 1970 or whenever the hell he was a piano player, who gives a shit. And right at the beginning of the sketch, you hear a drunk at the bar say, "Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star! If I could get out of this place!" Upon hearing this, Billy nods his head smiling, stops playing the piano and takes notes in a little notebook. Then he starts playing the main riff of "Piano Man" and humming along to it, at which point we see a woman smacking a gross Brooklyn-voiced guy at the bar, who turns around to his friend and says, "Psssht. Uptown girl. She's been living in her UPTOWN world!" His friend nods and says, also in a thick Brooklyn accent, "I bet she's NEVER had a backstreet guy!," then suddenly an excited Billy, writing quickly in his notebook, shouts out, "I bet her father never told her why!" The Brooklyn guys look at him like he's an idiot. Then Billy notices an angry woman yelling at her husband, "You had to be a big shot, didn't ya? You had to open up your mouth!" Billy smiles, begins writing. The husband responds, "I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life!" Billy looks perplexed, then smiles, nods, turns the page and begins writing on a new page. The man continues, "Go ahead with your own life!" Billy waits expectantly. Nothing more is stated. After a long pause, Billy angrily says, "That's it? That's all you're going to say?" The man looks at Billy with confusion and anger in his eyes and shouts, "Leave me alone!" Billy smiles joyously and writes it down. Then suddenly a group of guys burst into the front doors singing "The Longest Time" in full harmonies. Billy is hopping up and down writing feverishly as fast as I can, going, "Yes! Yes, this is great!" Finally, after a verse or so, the lead guy says to Billy, "Hey, what are you doing?" Billy sits at their table and responds, "Oh, I'm a songwriter! I like to, you know, just take note of what real-life people are saying, and then work it into a song!" The guys were blown away by this, and the lead guy goes, "You. you mean that normal conversation that we were just having -- about the longest time -- you could take that and make a SONG out of it?" Billy nods and smiles, "Yes!" And all of the guys go, "WOOOWW!" As this is taking place, an astronaut holding his little space helmet in his hand sits down on a barstool near their table, shaking his head sadly. He says to the bartender, "I think it's gonna be a long long time `til touch down brings me `round again to find. I'M NOT THE MAN THEY THINK I AM AT HOME!" At this, Billy whips his head around and angrily shouts, "Hey, there's people over here trying to have a decent conversation!" At this, the astronaut is quiet, but suddenly a person at another nearby table whips around to face the camera, and it's (obviously) Elton John, nodding his head and grinning. The scene cuts back to Billy shouting at the bartender, "Hey, six whiskeys for my friends over here!" The bartender just puts his head down and shakes it, muttering, "I can't take it anymore." Billy queries, "You can't take WHAT?" The bartender looks straight at the camera and screams, "PRESSURE!" That stupid "anxious" synth line starts playing, the bar lights start flashing different colors, Billy races to get his pencil and notepad, and the scene fades out. Three weeks later, I am awarded an Emmy for "Funniest Man In America With Hilarious Ideas."

As for the record, it's pretty fractured around in different directions - a silly sound-effect-heavy Dr. Demento novelty tune making fun of modern hippy kids HERE, a groovy organ jazz number bashing union musicians THERE, two extremely complicated and mathematically challenging full-group exercises OVER HERE, two dark herky-jerky synclavier compositions OVER THERE! OVER THERE! NABISCO CHIPS, NABISCO CHIPS ARE OVER THERE!

And finally, if you're an American, you'll enjoy hearing 12 minutes of looped, synclaviered samples from the September 1985 Senate hearings on the contents of music and lyrics of records, at which Frank spoke. There are some pretty funny (and scary) exchanges in this piece, including:Al Gore of all unlikely people, saying, "I found your statement very interesting and, although I disagree with some of the statements that you make and have made on other occasions, I have been a fan of your music, believe it or not. I respect you as a true original and a tremendously talented musician." Did Al's WIFE know that he was a fan of this sleazeball? Did he ever tell her little bits of trivia like the fact that the song "Lather" also goes by the alternate title "I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth"? A Senator Gorton then follows up Gore by telling Zappa, "I can only say that I found your statement to be boorish, incredibly and insensitively insulting to the people that were here previously; that you could manage to give the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States a bad name, if I felt that you had the slightest understanding of it, which I do not." HA! So yeah, it's a fun one to own. The synclavier stuff is dark and fast enough to hold interest, the two sarcastic songs have witty lyrics ("I play shit, but I love that loot!"), the two full-band instrumentals bring back the spirit of the hyper-complex Roxy And Elsewhere work and if you're an American, "Porn Wars" is an interesting historical document supported by boring synclavier nonsense. A no-good un- American version of this album also exists, replacing "Porn Wars" with three other songs. The CD has all ninety of them. I've never heard the CD.

In fact, I've never heard A CD. Do they sound as good as my trusty Wilcox Gay Coin Recordio?

Reader Comments
Lemme tell you a little story 'bout Mothers of Prevention.

This is the one where Senator Slade "Skeletor" Gorton disses FZ during the 'Porn Rock' hearings against certain upstanding musiciums, FZ and Dee Snyder and Prince (and John Denver?) being some of the big name targets of an outraged, I mean outraged, Tipper "Bend Over and Spread Em" Gore. F "Here Comes My Bullet" Z remains remarkably civil throughout the Senate proceedings and is in fact a model of restraint, just barely resisting the urge to use the phrase "apply rotation on her sugar plum" even once! Skeletor, on the other hand, is a pompous and bloviating Senator who disses musiciums who are jes' trying to earn an honest living, being unable to suck at the public teat like said Senators.

Fortunately, the Great Voters of Washington State are having none of this, so ol' Skeletor is eventually spewed from that Capitol Hill faster and messier than a e. coli burger outta yer ass.

Yep, in the years following this ugly episode I used to see ol' Skeletor hanging out on the sidewalks of downtown Seattle, near 4th and Pine -- he'd kiss babies in spite of wary mamas, offer tax cuts to the rich and a pretty good sized unit up de anus to de rest, and maybe sell a Gorton Fish Stick or two on the side (tartar sauce extra!). He'd be wearing gloves with the fingers cut out, waving a little cardboard sign sez 'will use cretinous intellect to insult rock musiciums for a cheeseburger', and be orating too: "By the way, has anybody got some spare change?" You do not mess with FZ!

Pretty good CD, by the way. "Porn Wars" almost gets us back to the collage-brilliance of WOOIIFTM. Given that there is No Redeeming Social Value to this music, per Senator Hollings, it has to rate at least a 6 or 7.

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Does Humor Belong In Music? - Barking Pumpkin 1986
Rating = 5

Here's an interesting thought that a young man named Willie Simpson implanted into my bean a fortnight hence: When you listen to music, you either automatically or consciously begin answering a series of "Yes" and "No" questions, agreeing or disagreeing with each decision that the songwriter has made. If you agree with the majority of the songwriter's decisions, you become a fan. If a hefty number of people (or large percentage of the music media) agree with the majority of his/her decisions, he/she becomes known as a "genius." It's a pretty interesting way to look at it. I certainly do this when I'm reviewing records - I've just never thought about it in such basic terms!

For example, I completely disagree with Frank's decision to call this album Does Humor Belong In Music?, because it makes it sound like a comedy album or "Best of Zappa's Phunnies" compilation, and it's just not! Instead, it's another pointless live album featuring three cover tunes, three instrumentals and four just really uproarious comedy tunes like "Trouble Every Day" and "Penguin In Bondage." HAHAHA! "Penguin in Bondage"! HA! And get this - before his cover of the Clovers' "Cocksuckers' Ball," Frank announces, "This is for all the Republicans in the audience!" AHHAAHHAAH!! HAHAHAHEEEEEEEEEE! And see, that's the strange thing: surely he was aware that Tipper Gore - the woman whose record lyric hearings he documented on just his previous album - was a Democrat. Ah well. I guess he figured that an obvious Michael Moore-style anti-Republican blanket statement would help all the limousine liberals in the audience feel more comfortable with his rampant sexism.

In my fancy tradition of counting how many tracks he played from each album, here you'll find one song each from Zoot Allures, Tinseltown Rebellion, Freak Out!, Roxy and Elsewhere, Mothers of Prevention, Burnt Weenie Sandwich and Them Or Us, along with a new 17-minute instrumental (very catchy! Piano, weird synth noises - goes on too long though, and has a drum solo), a 7-minute politically-minded original called "Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel" (good lyrics from the point-of-view of a forgotten struggling homeless person, and fantastic driving horn lines! But then he ruins it with another endless guitar solo) and the previously alluded-to Clovers cover.

In short: Why release this? It has far too many guitar solos. You can't beat "Zoot Allures" or "Trouble Every Day," but too many of these songs are just mediocre. So to answer the title question, "Why YES! Humor DOES belong in music, Frank! Perhaps you should try PUTTING some in yours!"

No no, I've got a better ending. Maybe a better title for this album would be Do Shitty Guitar Solos Belong In Music?.

No hang on - I thought of a REALLY good one, check this out - Does Humor Belong In Music?. Well gee, I don't know - try playing some actual MUSIC instead of just rubbing your dick all over your guitar strings and maybe we'll find out!

Hey - today was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of the Animals! We took Henry The Dog to a big fancy church in Harlem, and it was all full of dogs!!! DOGS!!! A church full of DOGS!!!!! All there to be BLESSED!!! So they could go to Doggie Heaven when they pass away!!! Who wants to go to Doggie Hell, after all? It's all full of vacuum cleaners and people giving you baths all the time! But Doggie Heaven - ahhh, now THAT'S the life. Slow-moving squirrels running everywhere, the tangy aroma of urine wafting through the air and St. Peter covered in peanut butter. Mmmmmm!!!!!!

Goddammit, my high-tech "smart" refrigerator was watching me type again. For the last time - I do NOT want my peter covered in peanut butter!

No, I'm SERIOUS!! My sheets are STILL soaked in vaginal tissue from that time I used Chunky Jif as a lubricant!

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Jazz From Hell - Barking Pumpkin 1986
Rating = 4

This LP is a ruse - a fickle-minded lie of Herculean proportions. No lie told by Man (like when Adam told God he was sleeping with Eve when he was actually dickin' the snake) hath ever reached such facetious inheritance as the ploy perpretated by Mr. Stinky as he prepared this release for distribution to the record stores of the young. Do you know what he did? Well, I'll tell you what he did, in case you don't know what he did. He LIED is what he did.

But more specifically, if that's what you mean by "did," he told a FIB.

But enough procrastination. You want to know what he did, and I'm not going to hesitate to tell you. In a nutshell, Frank Zappa put something on this album cover that was specifically intended to fool the unsuspecting consumer into spending hard-earned money (by prostitutes and cocaine sales) into buying this piece of less-than-good shit in expectation of enjoying a full band experience not unlike that of Hey, We Want Your Money and Uncle Rats. Isn't that bad of him to do that? Let me extrapolate: this mustachioed cancer-ridden twinkletoe posted a large-sized list of musicians on the back cover. This list features any of several people - Steve Vai, Ray White, Tommy Mars, Bobby Martin, Ed Mann, Scott Thunes - hell, Chad Wackerman might even be on the list, if you can begin to believe that. But then, when you read the fine print - and this is where Frank, just like the exterminators that sneakily got me to sign over my house to them, FUCKS you. "All," it reads, "compositions executed," it continues, "on the" and here's the part that gets me "synclavier DMS with the exception," it concludes, "of `St. Etienne.'" THE GODDAMNED BAND ONLY GODDAMNED APPEARS ON ONE MOTHER- FUCKING COCK-SUCKING ASS-KICKING DOUCHE-LICKING BUTT- GRABBING BACK-STABBING LOOSE-LIPPING EAR-SNIPPING TIRE-POKING POT-SMOKING ARNOLD-VOTING ERROR-NOTING STEVIE-WONDERING JOHNNY-THUNDERING SONG!!!! The rest is him dickin' around on his little electronic box of semen! I'm as offended as a fish buried alive in a silt mine, and so should you be such.

Three of the songs are good though. The dark ones - "The Beltway Bandits," "Jazz From Hell" and "Damp Ankles" - sound like neurons firing haphazardly in the brain of an insane man. Extremely disturbing and incorrect collections of bleeps, bloops and possibly foul-ups and blunders as well. But the other songs - what, are you kidding me?

I'm told you're telling the truth about the other songs, so the least I can do is describe them for you. They sound like smooth jazz. Bruce Hornsby, Kenny G. Action News theme songs. If you thought Frank was too smart to make bad music, you haven't heard "Night School" or "G-Spot Tornado."

Or the Francesco Zappa album.

Or any of that Beat The Boots shit.

Oh! Or those godawful guitar solo records!

Or anything with Flo & Eddie on it!

Say - are you sure you've actually ever heard a Frank Zappa record? Christ! He SUCKS!

Reader Comments
Strange CD this one. Musically, this is reminiscent,of the instrumentals on Uncle Meat, for which I'd tend to rate it highly. But there's something about the Synclavier that just doesn't do it for me. It imbues the proceedings with an iciness, a coldness, a mechanicality. Go ahead and take the test: listen to the Uncle Meat Variations or the Dog Breath Variations from Uncle Meat, then listen to Night School on this one. Long term, ya wanna listen to the LA pachucos, or ya wanna listen to the machine?

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The London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II - Barking Pumpkin 1987
Rating = 7

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines it as "A consonance or harmony of sounds, agreeable to the ear, whether the sounds are vocal or instrumental, or both." But to the rest of the world, it's simply "Suicide."

No wait, "Symphony."

This seventh volume in the two-volume London Sympathy Dorkestra series was engineered by "Mark Pinske," whose name is a little too close for comfort if you catch my drifter. Pointlessly, or rather "Regardless," this LP brilliantly showcases all three sides of Zappa's classical songwriting: the cinematic soundtrack style (boring), the unnerving, weird one (awesome!) and the pretty one (beautiful!). "Bogus Pomp" strangely actually appears to have some nice melodic parts this time around (including an unexpected riff from "Who Needs The Peace Corps?"), but it's still too full of cinematic clich‚ jokes for me personally to enjoy it as much as a John Williams fan might. The two tracks on side two, though, paint my boat the perfect shade of strings and horns. "Bob In Dacron" is one heck of a disturbing "ballet" (???), and "Strictly Genteel" is as lovely as always. I take tremendous pride in my ignorant dismissal of all types of music that don't kick ass, so it's pretty significant that I enjoy this orchestral album enough to give it a 7 out of 10. You see, the whole - oh hang on

Oh I see what happened - I accidentally reviewed this one on a scale of 1 to 500 trillion. Still, a 7 is certainly higher than at least 5 or 6 other possible grades, not to mention an endless stream of negative numbers if I ever decide to lower my basement grade from zero to something even lower for Madonna to shoot for.

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Guitar - Barking Pumpkin 1988
Rating = 3

More like SHITar, if you ask me! This is another two albums worth of amelodic, loud, crappy guitar solos over nothing at all going on. I honestly don't understand why Zappa himself would want to listen to an album like this, let alone anybody else! There are THREE great songs: "Watermelon In Easter Hay," which you probably already own on Joe's Garage, "That Ol' G Minor Thing Again," in which Frank keeps catching parts of his solo in the infinite delay pedal and then playing against them in the opposite speaker, and "Sunrise Redeemer," which has a Kcatchy as Fuc bass line! Some of the others have some melodic runs here and there too, but for the most part, this is just a whole lot of dick-driving over the hills and valleys of Forgettable Avenue. Confusing note plicking, tedious pricking, atrocious noise, high- pitched hammer-ons, repeated ugly high trills - I really do hate most of this guy's solos. I even hate his guitar tone in most of these solos! It's an ugly, idiosyncratic tone. All bluster and no beauty.

But then again, I only have the 19-track vinyl version. The double-CD version features 31 tracks and supposedly those extra 12 tracks are so good, they made the Jews For Jesus organization take baths in their own shit.

Reader Comments
People, Mark is being charitable here. Guitar starts out pleasantly enough with a bluesy little number, then goes quickly downhill -- it's basically a mind-numbing, two-hour barrage of guitar solos, the quality of which varies widely. The biggest problem is that there's no context for any of the solos; we don't know how the band got to where they are, or where they went afterwards, but they sure ain't doing nothing here. Yes, I guess these are mini-masterpieces of spontaneous composition, but unless you need something like eight Let's Move to Cleveland solos, several City of Tiny Lites solos, and a few Whipping Post solos added to your FZ collection, this is for the completist only, which is why I bought the CD in the first place. My mistake.

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You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 - Barking Pumpkin 1988
Rating = 7

Canada's You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore was an uproarious children's television show starring Christine "Moose" McGlade and Alasdair Gillis in which whenever anybody said "I Don't Know!," a big pile of green slime fell down on their head. Then if they said "water," they would get doused with a heaping helping of God's Homemade Beverage! I spent many a day laughing at this fantastic television series on Nickelodeon, and even enjoyed Turkey TV, which was my introduction to a young, buxom Dana Carvey and his hilarious "Chopping Broccoli" song that so pleased my United Nations of America many, many years later when the ass- backwards populace first saw an aging, decrepit Dana Carvey performing a lackadaisical phoned-down run-through of the outdated skit - a far cry from his young, wild days on Turkey TV, as far as you ask me! Frank Zappa had nothing to do with the series and, of this writing, it's unclear to me exactly how this entry wound up in his discography. Hang on one sec while I go ask my butler, as portrayed by actor Robert Guillaume.

Okay, my butler (who's apparently now running for Lieutenant Governor, if you can believe THAT shit!) explained everything to me. Apparently in the late `80s, Frank Zappa sat down to create six double-CDs worth of his favorite previously unreleased (mostly concert-recorded) material by his sundry performance outfits. This first one includes such must-own crap as one of the Turtles telling the other guys about how he threw up on stage the previous night, a catchy but dopey narrative in which one of the Turtles pretends to be a sofa, a cover of "Louie Louie" called "Ruthie-Ruthie," a horrid doowop song about a dog fucker, a 20-minute exploration of the various themes presented on side one of Apostrophe (`) (including some Frenchy Germanman in the audience reciting dumbass poetry), a 16-minute flask full of alcoholic "The Torture Never Stops," a synth-swaggered instrumental beer with a touch of "Sofa #2," an infinitely less interesting live version Merlot of "I'm The Slime," a silly billy boo chit- chat in which Franklin Zappa introduces his band members by their sicknesses, a great blues/smooth jazz/rock instrumental with the word "Mammy" in the title (making me wonder if it was later reworked for Thing-Fish and I just didn't recognize it?) and, best of all, a cover of Bing Crosby's "Sweet Leilani" that quickly smashes to pieces in a wall of pounding Weasels Ripped My Flesh noise-racketry.

This 2-disc set traverses every alleyway of the Zappa career, from an In It For The Money medley through "Zomby Woof" and right on up the asp of three lovein'a ittttttttt You Are What You Is greats. Frank is a rappin' MC on "Dumb All Over"! Write this stuff down! You'll want it for your SATs! I remember how pissed I was when I got to the analogy "Pour is to Rain as Blow is to _____." I mean, whoever heard of hiring a little boy to give you a "Blow Wind"? What the fuck sense is THAT supposed to make?

Reader Comments
When I originally heard that FZ was going to release several multi-CD sets of live/unreleased stuff, spanning his entire career and covering all incarnations of his bands, I was downright excited! So I bought Vol. 1. Uh, there's a track called "The Groupie Routine". Damn! Seems I forgot about those Flo & Eddie years! As always with FZ, the good comes with the bad.

Vol. 1 gets off to a lame start -- a conversation in which Flo and Eddie discuss puking because they drank too much (who woulda thought...). But why would FZ choose it for the opening track on his great retrospective? Only one explanation makes sense: "Ya see, folks, these are the idiots I've had to put up with all these years..."

However, there are great tracks from the original Mothers (Oh No, Sweet Leilani (okay, I'm a sucker for the woozy saxes), Orange County Lumber Truck). There's not much from the Overnite Sensation-era band , but there are solid tracks from the late 70's band (The Torture Never Stops) and the early 80's band (The Mammy Anthem, later to show up on Thing-Fish, with lyrics).

All in all, a pretty strong opener for the series and recommended.

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Broadway The Hard Way - Barking Pumpkin 1988
Rating = 6

This latest album by Frank Pappa (Don't Preach) is the most politiciacal CD of his life. Every single song relates to Ronald Reagan or corrupt televangelists or many other things that aren't exactly politicritical, but are at least societatical, discussing such horseshit as Lamekind's obsession with Elvis The Pelvis (wouldn't it be uproarious if he'd had a Spanish cousin named Lupe the Poope'? I speak for the entire Internet when I reply, "Yes it would, Mark Prindle!"), Hollywood starlets who are too ignorant to realize they're being taken advantage of (like Marilyn Monroe), Michael Jackson's insanity and - in one motherfucking cocksucking asshole of a song - strong-willed women on Wall Street. Can you believe that? It's 1988 and Frank Zappa STILL feels so threatened by strong career women that he has to berate them in song (and once again put down the "sensitive men" who let women take charge). If this were still 1988, I'd find Frank Zappa and give him a smack with my white glove for his misogyny. That bloke was a right cunt who knew nowt about bleedin' birds.

Musically, Broadway Is A Hardy Ho is not all that impressive. Recorded live, most of the songs feature weak `80s production and synth tones (though the sleazy New Orleans horns are a fine touch!), and the melodies too often fall into the "parody r'n'b" and "generic blues/jazz/rock" categories, no doubt because Frank was more concerned about the lyrics than the music. A few genre jokes are unexpected enough to really work - as pathetic as the lyrics are, "Planet of the Baritone Women" is the first time Zappa's ever approached the coveted "old-timey Italian song" genre; the country/western hoedown of "Rhymin' Man" is quadruply funny when you realize that the lyrics are about Jesse Jackson; and "Promiscuous" is a full-blown RAP song! Not a very good one but still - an actual RAP song! With (fake) turntable scratching and everything! Also, a few nice cover tunes provide a smiley change in the breaktion (beautiful trumpet jazzer "Stolen Moments" and Police b-side "Murder By Numbers" with guest vocals by the man that Zappa hilariously refers to as "Mr. Sting"), but all in all, the disc comes across like a bunch of boring old people trying to perform a witty biting satirical "Capitol Steps"-style political revue. Some of the lyrics are fun (though obvious as all hell), but for the most part, the music takes a back seat while the lyrics ride shotgun, the vocals fall asleep at the wheel and the arrangements sit in the trunk with the door open peeing on everybody. Also, the production is trying to fix the antenna, the CD cover is surfing naked on the roof, and the synthesizer is snorting cocaine on the floor in the back seat. That's my review of the new Ford Taurus '04. I find it deplorable and, in the words of Green Party presidential failure Ralph Nader, "Unsafe - Got Any Speed?"

Reader Comments
Man, this coulda been a good album. There's a lot of crap floating around on the surface here, but if you can swim deeper, damn! Any Kind of Pain is one of FZ's better songs (sorta Son of Charlie's Enormous Mouth) with a beautiful, understated guitar solo that just wastes anything on Guitar. The band is way competent, in spite of a tendency of the keyboard players to overuse their samplers. Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel is yet another classic, but apparently, solo-wise, FZ can no longer keep up. This is a bit depressing, but probably reflects the state of his health at the time (um, the guy's dying). Docked a star cuz FZ's lyrics are still hammerin' on corrupt Republicans and hypocritical TV evangelists, always easy targets given that they are so plentiful, even to this day. Give this one a 7, cuz there are two better albums from this tour yet to come. (Ryan Kelly)
All I will say about this one is I got into Zappa when I was about 14 and a friend of mine returned from holiday with a cd and said "Ryan, you're going to love this", put on peaches en regalia and my mind was blown. From then on we scrimped and saved money between the two of us to amass quite a huge collective FZ collection over the next 2 years or so. The journey was full of wonders and greatness, and maybe even makes me forgive some of FZ's less good moments due to my sentimental attachment to them. We got Hot Rats, In it for the money, Roxy & Elsewhere, Sheik, Apostrophe, One Size, grand Wazoo, Waka/Jawaka etc etc etc (That is the rough order).

On about out 20th FZ cd we picked up this one, scrambled together the pennies and bought it. Took it home, listened to it once, went straight back into town and got our money back.

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You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 - Barking Pumpkin 1988
Rating = 7

Because all of my best ideas come to me when I'm out prowling the town with my dog Henry The Dog (The Greatest Dog In The World), last night I came up with the most amazing pick-up line of all time. If you don't have a girlfriend, wife or sexually abusive mother, this is a great way to

Oh man. That "sexually abusive mother" bit was too horrendous even for ME! Eject those words from your computer's tape deck and we'll begin again.

Here's the new pickup line I came up with: "Are you elongating my crotch?"

See? It makes the girl feel good because she thinks she's elongating your crotch! You have to be sensitive and take girls' feelings into consideration. That's what I do and that's why I'm married with 9000 illegitimate children.

They warned me I'd get burned out on Zappa if I tried to review all 75 of his albums in a row. They warned me; they said I'd better be careful. And of course they were right. But the funny thing is - I'm not at all sick of LISTENING to Zappa. In fact, I still really look forward to it every day. I'm just sick to death of WRITING about him! And I have to imagine that if you've managed to read this far, you've got to be either (a) sick of reading about him or (b) about to look me up in the world's address manual so you can hunt me down and smash all my fingers with a hammer. Because - guess what? My writing style can get pretty tiresome! And I do apologize for that. I sorely lack the patience and discipline to write in a less irritating manner.

Hey, check this out! I'm going to write this entire review using nothing but the letter "G"!


Oh look! It's a special decoder ring! Hold it up to the screen and the REAL review will appear! (But hold it up to the screen slightly BELOW the big group of G's, and below these words as well - it's MAGICAL!).

I think this album has a lot going for it, but it suffers from too many long, tedious jams. This is the same band that gave us Roxy And Elsewhere, so of course a lot of it is tight and amazingly well-played. But the boring "jazz fusion" jams that drag on for twenty minutes (particularly "Dupree's Paradise," "Pygmy Twylyte" and a crappy new song called "Room Service") ruin the otherwise great, soul-lifting experience.

The electric keyboard, horns and vibes are prominent and there really are some amazingly well-performed complex pieces ("RDNZL," "Echidna's Arf (Of You)," "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" and "Approximate") as well as intriguingly radical reworkings of some Zappa crassics (a relaxed, laid back "Stinkfoot," a fast "oompah" run-through of "Village Of The Sun," "Montana" with its lyrics altered to meet an audience member's request for "Whipping Post" - this was a few years before Us And Them truly fulfilled the request, you understand). But way too many of these songs cruise along wonderfully for a couple of minutes before completely devolving into Doobie Brothers jams that neither end nor feature the heart-melting vocals of Michael McDonald (whom I personally cannot listen to without imagining his beard literally dripping in drool - does he even have a tongue?). Follow this simple mathematical formula for You Can't Do Me On Stage Anymore Volume 2, and you can't go wrong: Tight ones rule, Jam ones bore. This formula also applies to those holes that girls have and Paul Weller albums.

You'll never convince me that this mid-`70s version of the Mothers weren't an incredible bunch of musicians, but nobody - not even Dave Matthews of "Ants Marching (To Two Shitty Chords For Eight Minutes)" fame - can take a song as boring as "Dupree's Paradise" and make a pleasant TWENTY-FOUR MINUTES out of it. Christ! TWENTY-FOUR MINUTES!?!!?! That's a full DAY to people who can't tell time!!!

Reader Comments (Mihajlo Lalic)
Shit, Prindle, you actually made sure that the number of G's in the first review's "words" corresponded with the real review. You really are obsessive.

As for your writing style being tiresome - well, after reading about twenty thousand of your Zappa reviews, I thought I wouldn't manage reading yet ANOTHER one, but the Jam joke made my day. As much as I love that band, I think I love your hate towards them even more.

Oh yeah, I have two of FZ's albums, "Apostrophe" and "Zoot Allures"; the former is a warped-out masterpiece, the latter a bit too '70s-rock-ish for me ("The Torture Never Stops" rules, though). But, being a sucker for funny song titles, I guess I'll go get me some more Zappa soon...
I've been a Zappa fanatic for something like 15 years now and I'm having a great time reading your reviews. Not that I agree with you or anything, I just don't take you seriously. But I just have to give my comment on this one.

You see, this has been my desert island disc since it was released in 1988, I suppose. And it's got nothing to do with the fact that I'm from Finland, where this was recorded back in 1974. This package totally freaked me out and sucked me into the weird world of FZ, never looking back.

One funny thing is that you mentioned Pygmy Twylyte as one of the boring jams here. When you were reviewing some of the earlier Zappa albums, you had a big revelation that Zappa guitar solos are like telling you a story or something. That is exactly the feeling I get when I'm listening to the Pygmy solo here, and personally I consider it The FZ Guitar Solo Of All Times. Every Zappa fan has his (or even her) own opinion here, but what the heck.

And you are not the first who has realized that Zappa solos are telling stories, in fact they are constructed like human speech, with words, sentences and so on. That is really fascinating when you think that there are lots of guitar players who are technically better and cleaner than Zappa, but no one is playing just like he used to. Take some Petrucci for example: his playing is like Maurice Greene running 100 m, perfect. But Zappa solo is like a man walking on the street after a bottle of Jim Beam, on the edge of falling down, and that makes it interesting.

But I agree with you about Dupree's Paradise, this version IS boring. This same ensemble played it much better many times with hot solos and everything, but I guess they just didn't hit the mark that night in Helsinki. But the amount of great guitar solos (I know you don't give a shit, Mark) on this album is amazing: Inca Roads, RDNZL, Pygmy, Montana, they are all classics.
The only YCDTOSA release to feature one band, one concert (actually the best bits of two shows in Finland). This is the early-70s band, which as I probably mentioned previously is so competent at playing FZ stuff that it's jaw-dropping. Ruth, Chester, George, and the rest of the whole crew are present. Lest you think the studio albums from that era were merely the result of studio trickery, just give this a listen. Inca Roads, live!, with nary a note or time change missed. FZ was still playing coherent solos -- they actually relate to the song structure and don't require the band to downshift into a slow reggae-ish beat.

There's much else to enjoy: an early version of Token of My Extreme and decent versions of Echidna's Arf, not to mention Idiot Bastard Son, Dog Breath Variations, Uncle Meat, and of course Montana aka Whipping Floss.

As usual, some of the songs here fall into the "I Guess You Had to Have Been There" category so typical of FZ's live albums, where for example the listener is left wondering just what was so exciting about 23 minutes of Dupree's Paradise. I dunno, maybe Jim Morrison's ghost was onstage exposing his unit...

All in all...if you like this version of the band, if you like Roxy & Elsewhere -- you'll have only minor quibbles with this one.

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You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 - Barking Pumpkin 1989
Rating = 8

It's another Because I Told You Before, Oh, You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol.! Unlike the second one, which was recorded all at the same concert, or the first one, which I gave a 7 to, this is a double-CD with lots of `80s live material on it. Don't jump off the boat on account of that though, because the `80s were a telling time. 1984 in particular is the year I'm discussing. The year in which George Orwell wrote his famous play Animal Farm. The year in which the Beastie Boys brought urban youth to their knees to praise "My Adidas." The year in which Frank Zappa's synth sound was so up-to-date, it is now entirely impossible to listen to without cursing every keyboard manufacturer around at the time for their overuse of cocaine. Not to mention the completely flat recording mixes - there are no dynamics AT ALL in Zappa live recordings from this era. You can hardly hear any of the instruments, and the "music" all sounds kind of fake, pre-programmed, amelodic and one-dimensional. Plus, the drum sound is weak and "tippity," Frank plays too many interchangeable guitar solos and the band seems to constantly get stuck on the same drab reggae beat over and over.

So how can I possibly give this double-CD an 8 when the last two volumes only got 7's? To tell you the truth, this is only BARELY better than those two - and it's because regardless of recording quality, this one simply has more musically pleasing moments than those two. You may recall that my main stickling points for Volumes 1 and 2 were (1) too many poorly written novelty songs and (2) too much jazz fusion. Such is not the case with number 3. The novelty songs are either ones I've already mentioned loving ("Bobby Brown Goes Down," "Keep It Greasey," "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?," "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?") or rare ones that are unavailable elsewhere and thus fun to own for the first time (goodtime rocker "Ride My Face To Chicago," beautifully harmonized doowop "Carol, You Fool," worthless but cute "Chana In De Bushwop," fantastic r'n'b satire on the way blacks have always been treated in the record business "Nig Biz"). Elsewhere, he lets Terry Bozzio (whose wife I've seen naked!) have a drum solo right after crying out in pain that it feels like he's hitting his hands with a hammer every night, splices together the weirdassiest "King Kong" ever (featuring funny vocal noises, harmonica, guys shouting "Blow Job!," great clarinet and jazz guitar solos, weird synth noises, etc - and almost no resemblance at all to the song "King Kong"!) and presents a string of dandy You Are What You Is songs.

Which brings me to the song "Charlie's Enormous Mouth." I'm not sure why, but Frank did a terrific job putting these lyrics together. The song follows a three- part musical pattern with each verse leading narratively into the next, first discussing the big hole that Charlie shoves food into (they call it the mouth - kinda young, kinda wow!), then leading right into the big hole that she shoves white powder into (they call it the nose - kinda young, kinda dead!), finally moving onto Charlie's disgusting brain and the big hole that they shove her box into (they call it the grave!). Very smart, great rhyme schemes - the music is terrific 50s-tinged pop too. I think it's actually one of the best songs he's ever written.

It's difficult to get a general overall feeling from a compilation like this, because Zappa loved to piece together material from all different eras of his career, overdubbing newer solos over older performances, replacing old rhythm sections with new ones, etc. So the best I can do is tell you whether the songs are worth hearing or not. In this particular case, they are. Even when the 1984 band sissy- hands everything up, they don't manage to bury the melodious strengths of songs like "Advance Romance" and "Joe's Garage." My ears hear only two completely horrendous songs out of 25 -- "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up" is throwaway reggae and the original Nixon-era recording of "Dickie's Such An Asshole" is unfortunately long and lousy, but at least it's finally shown to be from 1973, clearing up the question of why it made no goddamned sense at all on 1988's Broadway The Hard Way. And on the plus side, the last 46 minutes of disc 2 are unbeatable!

My penis isn't though, so I'd better get back to staring at Terry Bozzio's wife through this high-powered telescope with the "Clothes Removal" button.


Reader Comments
Gotta disagree here, Mark. Easily my least favorite of the YCDTOSA series.

The first disc has remarkably generic versions of a number of great FZ tunes (Sharleena, Advance Romance, Bobby Brown, In France, etc. etc.); they just ain't great here. With the exception of King Kong -- which manages to achieve liftoff in a few places -- the second disc has remarkably generic versions of a number of not-so-great FZ tunes. You're better off hearing all of these songs in their original settings.

If this is the best FZ could cull from the live shows of the '84 band, then they must have really sucked. Glad I was too broke to see them during this era. This one's for completists only.

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The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life - Barking Pumpkin 1991
Rating = 8

The title of this live double-CD is a complete lie since this very band appeared on Broadway The Hard Way just a couple years earlier, but they really were an awfully good band. It was his 1988 touring band (which quickly self- destructed due to internal politics), a 12-piece with horn section that was capable of handling Frank's finest and most complicated material with panache and goatstick. This double-CD is living, breathing, pulsating, crawling, hopping in a car and trying to drive to work but too small to reach the pedals and the steering wheel at the same time resulting in a bunch of haphazard lurching motions toward no destination in particular proof!

TBBYNHIYL features NO material later than or equal to Sheik Yerbouti. You hear me? In other words, no questionable novelty songs - just amazing displays of competence and tonality from such toe-tapping LPs as Apostrophe (`), Zoot Allures, We're Only In It For The Money, Overnite Sensation, Uncle Meat, One Size Fits All, Freak Out!, Roxy And Elsewhere and Weasels Ripped My Flesh. In 1988! One might be led to believe that even Frank was aware that his previous decade of songwriting was perhaps not as interesting or challenging as that which came before. Yes, I see?

But you're not wanting to refuse purchase of CD onacounta you figure you own all the songs so why bother. Because the band also throws in some well-balanced and actually FUNNY cover tunes, including: a reggae version of Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire" with vocals by a guy who seems pretty confident that he sounds like Johnny Cash when he actually appears to be doing a Mr. Ed impression - AND I AIN'T TALKIN' ASNER!!!!! Other covers include: shortenin' and sweet big band covers of "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" (which reminds me of a hilarious joke that ends in the underroarious punchline "I Left My Harp In Sam Frank's Disco"), "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," "'Godfather Part II' Theme" and "Theme From `Bonanza.'" Other covers include Ike Willis's Thing-Fish character dumb-talking his way through Residents-style deconstructions of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and Cream Creamerson's "Sunshine Of Your Love." Other covers include "Bolero" and a reggae version of Dread Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven." Other covers include several Frank Zappa songs, including "Swaggart Versions" of "Lonesome Cowboy Burt," "More Trouble Every Day" and "Penguin In Bondage." There's also a shitty televangelist joke that goes on for four minutes without a single laugh. Enjoy it by proxy, Roxy!

My bottom line is that the horn section made this band just terrifically good, a vast improvement over the pippity 1984 touring band. The only pile of horse shit about it is that one of the members keeps playing dumb speed-manipulated samples on his high-tech sampling keyboard, mostly of voices going "Yoooh!" and "Bwwooooah!" and Sam Kinison screaming and stuff. It's a real drag hearing these same stupid noises over and over again, making a mockery out of otherwise greatastic flapdoodle.

No tears - just flapdoodle!

I rented the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre on DVD yesterday to get myself all psyched for the remake. And let me tell you something - that original is a really good movie! The best scenes were (a) the intro, (b) the Hitchhiker's first scene, (c) Leatherface's first appearance and (d) the insane dinner scene. I was surprised at how spooky the film was! That hitchhiker - YIKES! I'm greatly looking forward to the remake, even though it's supposedly completely different. When I was a kid, I loved the sequel with Dennis Hopper, but I haven't seen it in years so it might actually suck. I'm told that the third and fourth ones are pretty bad, but I'd still like to see them if given the chance. I LOVE a good insane Matthew McConaughey!

Reader Comments
The guy responsible for all those pitch-shifting vocal samples on Zappa's '88 tour was Ed Mann.
The cover is telling. We see a detritus of broken musical instruments and icons of Conceptual Continuity -- a Sofa, and Uncle Meat, and the Mystery Horn! -- littering the countryside. What'd Yeats say, "the center cannot hold", eh?

Disc 1 starts off with Heavy Duty Judy, and it's an ear-opener. The band sounds great and the horn section is top-notch (the Fowler Brothers -- late of the Overnite Sensation era -- are back). FZ plays an in-time solo! Put it this way: the whole crew seems committed to the endeavor this time around. Fugedabout Mr. Ed, fugedabout the mindless keyboard player with the sampler. There's great performances here, with virtually all of the material coming from pre-1980. The early-70's era stuff has a particular good vibe to it: Florentine Pogen, Andy, Inca Roads, Sofa. Those four songs alone are worth the price of admission.

Disc 2 picks up where 1 left off -- older material reworked just a wee bit in some cases to take a swipe or two at Jimmy Swaggart, who at the time was having a few PR issues. Wha?, he's Jerry Lee Lewis' cousin, what do you expect; PR issues run in the family! Generally weaker than the first disc, mainly because whenever FZ decides to go after a particular person or class of persons (i.e., Swaggart and/or TV evangelists), the music generally suffers. When the band is playing (Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque), things fare much better.

The finest cut on disc 2 is, of all things, Stairway To Heaven. Given the overexposure of this song, one expects FZ to skewer it. But they play it reasonably straight (ok, shut up that fucking sampler), and it's stunning to hear the horn section duplicate Page's guitar solo note for note.

Dunno, I really like this one, as in 9/10.

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You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 - Barking Pumpkin 1991
Rating = 8

Another collection of odds and ends, including something like eleven otherwise unavailable tracks! I noticed an interesting thing about guitar solos while listening to this the other night: they sound much better if you're almost asleeppp. Jesus. I swear I only ppp - DAMMIT! My "p" key is fucked up. You people treat my "p" key like it's some kind of fucking joke, but it's pretty important considering my last name is "Prindle." One sec. ppppppp[pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp

Okay, that's better. It was a little sticky for some reason. I can't imagine a single reason why my computer keyboard - which I use to navigate naked girl sites six nights a week - would be sticky. Perhaps somebody broke into my office and spilled chocolate jam onto my "P" key. Either way, I fixed it and we can continue. You know, most short story authors would go back and delete that embarrassing period during which my "p" key was messed up, but I'm not most short story writers. I'm Mark Prindle, and I want you to see the real me - warts and all. Even if it forces me to admit the truth - that the "P" key is sticky because I keep confusing it for the toilet. What, am I the ONLY one who thinks of urine when the letter "P" is around?! HARDLY, I'D SAY!

So I was on the couch half asleep listening to disc one, and the guitar solos became visual, bopping around to and fro inside a light tunnel of the riff. The riff is continuous, a straight series of lines, and the guitar solo is in the middle, jerking around like electricity, but always WITHIN this series of lines. That's how I saw it when half asleep, and it made the solos seem so much more melodic and worthwhile! It baffles the mind why guitar players don't just bounce around zanily in tunnels of light instead of playing boring dickaround notes for 5 hours. But that's what you get when you allow your world to be ruled by corporations.

Highlights for Children on this CD include "Goofus And Gallant," two drawings where you have to figure out how they're different, and a landscape with a bunch of apples hidden in it. GODDAMMIT, WHO REPLACED MY CD WITH A

Highlights on this CD include a silly `50s-style song about a sex doll called "Little Rubber Girl" - that title! It makes me sing Sonic Youth's "Little Trouble Girl," but replacing the word "Trouble" with - get this - "R

Other highlights include George Duke singing "Willie The Pimp" (Unless it's Ike Willis; memory doesn't recall. - George Duke has a GREAT voice, btw. He's the best singer Frank ever had. Very soulful and strong. But Ike Willis just sounds like Thing-Fish to me now - the same way I can't take Isaac Hayes seriously anymore because he just sounds like "Chef" from South Park), live versions of two Thing-Fish tracks - they did Thing-Fish tracks LIVE!?!?!? Who on EARTH would have wanted to hear them!?!?

Let's see what else is on here that might interest you - Oh! Having grown up an Atlanta Braves fan during their illustrious shitty era (pitchers Rick Camp, Al Hrabosky, Phil Niekro and Pascual Perez, catchers Bruce Benedict and Biff Pocoroba, first basemen Chris Chambliss and Bob Watson, second baseman Glenn Hubbard, shortstops Pepe Frias and Rafael Ramirez, third basemen Bob Horner, Jerry Royster and Ken Oberkfell, outfielders Dale Murphy, Rowland Office, Gary Matthews and Jeff Burroughs), I'm sure you'll get a "MAJOR LEAGUE" (no pun intended) kick out of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," which the band plays while two silly-sam vocalists do impersonations of Skip Carey and Harry Carey announcing a Braves/Cubs game. They even mention ZANE SMITH!!!!

Elsewhere else, one will find the original version of "The Torture Never Stops," featuring completely different music and vocals by Don Van Vliet. Othere dandye rare trackes include a lackluster anti-religion discourse ending in the timely-again (if you're a moron) conclusion, "There is no Hell - there is only FRANCE!" Then there's "Tiny Sick Tears," a dreadfully pleasurable parody of Jim Morrison's dumbassed Oedipus soliloquy in the Doors' shitty "The End" song. Then a couple live tunes dedicated to "The Booger Man," whom I have to presuppose is one of the guys mentioned in "Let's Make The Water Turn Black" (a babyhood friend of Frank's). And a side-splitting bunch of absolute GARBAGE avant-garde crap blonking around for four minutes wittily titled "You Call That Music?"

And finally the double-disc winds down with a medley of six `50s covers, for fans of `50s music and covers.

And the number 6.

Oh NO! Satan People are fans of the number 6!!! You don't think Satan People are reading my site, do you?!?!?!?!?! Oh GOD, I hope not!!!!! Satan People worship SATAN!!!!

Reader Comments
Well Mother Mary and Joseph this one's a hodge-podge, with resultant variable quality.

The highlight of the first disc is a blues-infused version of The Torture Never Stops w/ Captain Beefheart on vocals, recorded during the same shows that produced Bongo Fury. The riff is basically a slow variation on Howlin' Wolf's Smokestack Lightning. While not essential, it's certainly of interest.

As for Disc 2, the necessity here is Tiny Sick Tears (parody of 96 Tears, title-wise and semi-musically, for you ? and the Mysterians fans). Beyond that, there's a decent version of Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy, and some ol' 50's stuff that's nice to have if not exactly groundbreaking.

So not one of my favorites of this series, but for FZ fans there's enough here to give it a listen or two.

So jeez louise how the hell did you remember Goofus and Gallant? My mom always told me to be like Gallant, and maybe I tried, but when I first heard FZ I knew I was doomed to be in the Goofus camp...

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Make A Jazz Noise Here - Barking Pumpkin 1991
Rating = 7

I was hoping it was just going to be a double-CD of hilarious jazz noises (like a tuba going "BRAAAP!"), but I was sourly dissertated to discover a ton of live versions (1988 band again) of instrumental classics from throughout Frank Zappa And His Band's career. The horn section and dumb sampled noises are in full bloom, bringing the notes on material that, although MOSTLY old ("Let's Make the Water Turn Black, Harry," "You're A Beast, Though Strictly a Genteel One," "Big Lumpy Lumber In Orange County's Swifty Gravy Truck"), does include some new avant-garde collisions of difficulty, unintelligibility and guitar solos ("When Yuppies Go To Hell," "Fire And Chains," "Star Wars Won't Work") as well as one or two, but NO MORE than one or two, classics with lyrics ("City of Tiny Stinks," "(Gordon) Litefoot," "Oh No! Burgers are Cruisin'"). This is a fantastic album for people who like horn sections, instrumental tracks and obnoxious voice samples being sped up and slowed down over and goddamned over again until you want to go back in time and strangle everybody in the world until you find the person responsible.

But you don't have to, because I already did!

And I started with your parents! Don't you feel faint? Look! You're disappearing from this photograph!

See, my feeling is that, if it doesn't include a reference to Back To The Future, it's not really a record review.

1.21 JIGOWATTS!?!?!

Reader Comments
Yep, two more discs from the '88 tour. No tubas going BRAAP, but the idiot with the sampler is still around. Same difference in terms of annoyance, though said sampler guy is relatively quiet on this one.

Make a Jazz Noise is on a par with Best Band You Never Heard. Same tour, same band. Same excellent quality. These are basically the best FZ live tracks since the late 70's (Zappa in New York, etc.).

So what do you get here? Howz about on the first disc a Lumpy Gravy theme, a mercifully short Eat That Question, a slightly overbaked Big Swifty, and mebbe a reggae-fied King Kong. This particular crew channels the history of the Mothers very well. The second disc give us more horn-driven favorites (Black Page, City of Tiny Lights (haven't heard that one in a while!), Cruisin' for Burgers, and of course Advance Romance (haven't heard that one in a while either!).

So as maybe mentioned previously I'm a sucker for any CD which contains Oh No and Orange County Lumber Truck, even if the performances are subpar from what you get on Weasels. So regardless this gets 9/10.

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Any Way The Wind Blows - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 8

This was so funny, you have to hear about it. In 1991, fed up with bootleggers putting their legs in all of his boots, Frank nabbed a fistful of them off the shelf and released them on his own "Foo-ee!" imprint, telling his fans something along the lines of "If you must buy crap, you should at least be able to buy it at a decent price." These eight Beat The Boots! releases (two of which are double-albums) are available separately or as a full box set (which I bought on ebay dirty deeds done dirt cheap) and follow Mr. Zappa's career from 1967 through 1981 - in that order! These next several reviews (up to and including Unmitigated Audacity) are all part of this series.

This one is a double-ablum from 1979. It's probably soundwise and setwise the best of the Boots series, but you've probably heard 19/20ths of it five million times on other releases, so who gives a shit. The title track isn't even included, and the one new song, "Dead Girls of London," is just a sexist pissed-off thing about not having sex in London. It's hard to tell though - at all points of his career - whether Frank is singing sexist lyrics or just making fun of his band members for their sexist comments. For example, the song "Jumbo Go Away" from You Are What You Is is just HORRIBLE, talking about beating up a girl because she's fat, but apparently the lyrics are not Frank's thoughts at all, but in fact a kind of sick record of something that really did happen to a band member (and his horrible response to it). I don't like the Scorpions, and that's okay. Henry the Dog has trouble getting started on the spiral staircase now - he has to take a few running starts. It's Halloween, but I'm not having sex. Is the calendar broken? This recording features four guitarists, two keyboardists, one bass, one drummer and one percussionist (vibes). It only sounds like two guitars, but the recording is actually, as I said, quite decent - especially considering it's part of the horrible Beat The Boots series. It's also a very good set of tunes, featuring tracks from Joe's Garage, Freak Out!, Absolutely Free, One Size Fits All, Sheik Yerbouti, Tinseltown Rebellion, You Are What You Is and Lather. 20 tracks on a double-album. But tracks 17 and 20 are mislabeled. They are NOT "Another Cheap Aroma" (?) and "Titties And Beer," but in fact "For The Young Sophisticate" and "Peaches En Regalia." And "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" sounds as genuine as in '68! Where are the corny 80s synths? Nowhere to be found! "Jumbo Go Away" is actually on here, I just noticed. And Henry the Dog is going upstairs. He must be sad that the wife and I are stunking drink It's unfortunate, because he's adorable even though he rubbed his face in homeless person shit last night. He still smells a little, but I took care of most of it with shampoo, conditioner, bath oil and baking soda. Why do dogs like stink so much? What is the appeal? He was so happy after he rubbed his face in it. He was running joyfully all over the place. And I'm just stigging here listening to an MP3 disc with five million grindcore bands on it. So who, really, has the less appealing hobby? Maybe I should start rubbing MY face in homeless person shit and then running really fast and excitedly all over creation. STINK STINK STINK! I'm probably now a high green belt in Tae Kwon Do, so just TRY to fuck with me and see what happens. And don't think they haven't taught me how to grab your balls, because they have. It's an ancient Korean movement called "Grab The Guy's Balls." Plus sometimes people fall in love when they grab each others' balls. Look at Paul and Linda McCartney. They grabbed each others' balls during the Sgt. Peppers White Album session and have been together ever since. I'm told Paul even sleeps with her decaying corpse these days - his new wife wears it as a leg.

That was real sensitive. Thanks for nothing, Pope John Paul II. FUCK YOU! This album is really good, but unnecessary. I could have said that in one sentence, but four whiskeys - four whiskeys - four whiskers - a cat with four whiskers told me I had to write more. This band sucks. They're called "Holy Terror" and they sound like the Scorpions. I hope every member is happy. It's amazing how many fucking prick asshole douchebag immature prick worthless fucking children there are in the "grownup" world. Every day I read about silly childish conflicts. An author who sends a pissy note to an editor who gave his book a bad review, etc. Grownups are big babies. Maturity is difficult to attain, it appears. Far too many "Grownups" act like children on quite literally a daily basis. Egos run rapid among people in visible industries. People think they're stars when they're really just overhyped pieces of mediocre shit. So they get pissy about bullshit. People like that deserve to get the shit kicked out of them by people with real problems. Like Ethiopians or something. Playwrights, failed actors - love them if they're nice, fuck them if they think the world owes them something. Nobody owes anybody anything - especially the gas company. I fart plenty, and my house could run on it easily if "CON" editson (more like "CON" Edison if you ask me) weren't such greedy backwards cocksucking assgrabs. This socieity has a lot to learn, but they never will learn it. People raised by childeish parents will be childish adults. Get drunk and beat the shit out of them is my motto, even though I've never actually done so. But if you're big, consider it. Consider hunting down Bill O'Reilly and just beating the living shit out of him for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours. He's a hate group leader. His hate helps nobody and hurts many. He is greedy and stupid, and deserves to be beaten within an inch of his life. Lots of people do. Lots more than I would know about. Four whiskeys. Four Jack Daniels. Happy Halloween!

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The Ark - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 6

Recorded in Boston in 1968, The Ark shows the band boarding 3 ships in Boston Harbor, some dressed, not very convincingly, as Mohawk Indians. In a very orderly and quiet fashion, they plunked 9,659 sterlings worth of Darjeeling into the sea. This concert was a protest of British tax policies. It came in the midst of a boycott of English tea during which the East India Company, which owned the tea, had seen its profits plummet in the wake of a boycott of tea in the colonies. Consumption in the colonies had fallen from 900,000 lbs. in 1769 to 237,000 lbs. just three years later. You should have seen John Adams' reaction to the "Uncle Meat/King Kong" Medley! No fan of mob action, he wrote, "There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the. (Frank Zappa Band) .that I greatly admire."

Frank actually KNEW this show was being recorded, as evidenced by a comment made right when the needle hits the vinyl at the beginning of side one. After the guy in the raincoat shoots up, Frank mentions that it's being recorded. (HA! "needle"?? "vinyl"???? NEW-FANGLED LAUGHS FOR A WORLD GONE RUSTY!) Unfortunately, the band didn't really have a whole lot of tight complicated material yet, so their live material was split between very 50s-ish r'n'b/doowop and extended improv jazz Jamnations. Which reminds me - isn't it interesting how all it takes is an "E" to make an "improv" "improve"? I invite you to gawk at my brilliant observation for a few seconds.



You're getting too far away from it now. Go back up and gawk a bit more.

Okay then.

It's worth noting exactly how surprised Frank seems to have been at the time by the failure of his proposed hit single "Big Leg Emma." He seems stupefied that a song "as dumb as `Yummy Yummy Yummy'" (as he himself calls it) could fail to attract radioplay. The answer is that (a) "Big Leg Emma" isn't a very interesting or catchy song and (b) it was written in the style of a pre-Beatles single, yet released in the year of Sgt. Pepper's! The same goes for "Status Back Baby" and "Valarie" - these are actually pretty good songs, but again they weren't terribly colorful releases in what WAS a terrible and colorful era. Presumably, this eventually occurred to Yanklin Pappa because the "upcoming single" he mentions during the show turns out to be "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama," which actually resembles `70s blues-rock more than its 1968 release date would suggest. So even when he was behind his time, Frank was still AHEAD OF HIS TIME!

This era of the band was pretty big on loud organ and electric violin, so get ready for muffled high-pitched electrical tones if Noah's The Ark is on your Christmas list. But don't put it on your Christmas list. It's not good enough, and it will just take Santa's attention away from the rock polisher you really want.

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As An Am - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 6

The title of this five-song album is a riotous play-on-words involving Sadism and Masochism. The album itself was recorded on Halloween 1981 (which was exactly 22 years ago yesterday, for all the trainspotters and Trainspotting fans in the audience) and was, I'm told, broadcast on MTV. This was back before "MTV" stood for "Moron Tit Vulva," though. Times was different and so was the Post. No Jayson "Fuckbrain" Blair to contend with. "The New York Times is supposed to be the smartest paper in the world, and I fooled them." Well, it's not that FUCKING HARD to fool them if you WORK for them, you honorless pill-popping piece of shit. But enough about yesterday's supervillains.

Yet another version of "Sharleena" is available on this recorded product, along with an eleven-minute version of one of Frank's better classical numbers: I'm completely blanking on the REAL title, but it's incorrectly called "Young & Monde" on here. Side two's no great wobbles though. Just a pair of god-unpleasant guitar solos (one thing about Frank - he did what he wanted, even when he must have known the audience would be bored slow by it) and a version of "The Torture Never Stops" that depreciates into that bushllit Vegas smarm/sing/speak crap that so captivated the Zap back in the early 80s.

In other words, it's not a total loss but why on Earth would you want to pay money for it?

Perhaps that's a question I should have asked myself before I bought it. Damn hindsight and it's 20/20 television program!

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Freaks & Motherfuckers - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 5

Yabba-dabba-delicious, it's another Bang Your Box LP! This one is from the Fillmore East 1970 when Flo & Eddie were up to their old tricks. The sound quality is pretty bad; you can hear the organ, drums and vocals - and that's about it! Supposedly there are four other people onstage, but you'll have a hard time convincing me of that. Go ahead and try:

(State your primary argument here)

Me: Nope.

(State your secondary argument here)

Me: Whatever. I mean, come on. I don't think so!

(State your tertiary argument here)

Me: My God, you're RIGHT!

GODDAMMIT! HOW COME I'M CONSTANTLY LOSING ARGUMENTS TO TEMPLATES?!?!? This recording mostly - but not completely - stays away from the obnoxious groupie/penis routine, focusing instead on a bunch of really fantastic songs that just happen to have Flo & Eddie yelling and shrieking all over them. The Turtles' "Happy Together" is again in attendance, and not nearly as tardy as it would later be on Live - Fillmore East 1971 (which was recorded in the exact same building as this record, on the exact same day and at the exact same time and with the exact same musicians and the exact same set list, except the set list and the time and date were different). "Little House I Used To Live In" is here, and Fans/Romans/Countrymen will THRILL to a version of "Holiday In Berlin" that has LYRICS! I wouldn't have known to remark about that "Holiday In Berlin" thing had I not read about it on All-Music, so if it's no big deal, blame those assholes.

The album cover is so totally wrong about what songs are on here, it's not even funny. "Do You Like My New Car," "America Drinks" and "Sharleena" are NOT on here - I don't care what the jacket tries to claim. I'm so sick of loud jackets always trying to be the center of attention with their LIES!!! And guess what's NOT on the jacket but IS on the album? That's right! (assuming you said "Sleeping In A Jar," "Cruising For Burgers," some bizarre "Palidan Routine" and "Concentration Moon"). "Sleeping In A Jar," "Cruising For Burgers," some bizarre "Palidan Routine" and "Concentration Moon"!

Say, that reminds me of a hilarious joke I just made up. What did Frank Zappa say when his daughter asked him the key to his success?

"Concentration, Moon!"


It's got four great songs, but too many of the previously-great jazz/rock songs degenerate into long shitty guitar solos with unentertaining Flo and/or Eddie dialogue. And the sound quality is just abysmal! PEPTO-Abysmal!

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Picantique - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 6

My dog is so much cuter than this album. This album is muffled, but you can hear the horns and violins very clearly. Some drums, guitar solos, electric piano. Lots of improve jazz and poorly recorded complex classical composition. It was recorded - HANG ON - Stockholm 1973. That was the very year I as born. 1973. Times were good. My mother always says that it was my birth that made the economy turn to sshit. Abnd that's the truth! aWhegb n I was born, I purposely invaded Watergate in my diapers becassuse I love Richard Nixon and I wanted to make sure that the Democrats didn't beat him. But dammit! That damned Bob Woodward was getting his cock sucked oin the balcony and he totally saw me. Fuck! Fuck! I did so much to prevent his book "Wired" from coming out and exposig the truth but I was only a few days old - how could I withstanbd that kind of climate? IT was chilly in DC that year, and I didn't have very much body fat yet. Plus I couldn't speak English. But about the album - it's only got five songs. Two fo them are good. The last song has a great difficult into into ele tric violin solo, violin and vibes playing a ton of insane notes together, really weird rubbery echoed noises, sax, violin, synth or all three? Very spacey, great! Turns into "Five to One" by the Jim Morrison Band Featuring Jim Morrison at one point - ten there's a drum solo!?!?!?! Insanely difficult ending - it's a sideleolong track called "Father O'blivion." Not a lot of vocals on this, except Frank saying, "It's so fuckin' cold on this strage, we don't even want to talk about it!" It's like when John Lennon on Le3t It Be My Smelly Ass saying, "Hands are getting too cold to play the chords!" They don't tell you that John Lennon was a major-league heroin addict at the time, but he was. He and YUoko showed up together every day, and Paul couldn't get them to put any effort into the album. And they trashed or ignored everyhthing that George did. Like "All Things Must Pass" was supposed to be a Let It Be song, but the guys just didn't gibve a s hit about it because Ringo was a no wait - George was a second-tier Bealte. John was q a worthless heroin addict though. Tired, lazy all the time. Never said anything. Come on! Who's with me? This is how history captured the eent s of 1969, and if you weren't there like I was (in spirit - I hadn't been born yet and was just a spirit floasting through the ether of immaculate gelatinous cyber spherical goop socieity grudge traffid wires you rolled toilet paper trees and I got in trouble for it) The album is muffled and mostly instrumental. If you like the 1973 band, you might dig the boogie-woogie piano. It's obviously performed amazingly - George Duke is good. "It's cold as a motherfucker out here, but we're gonna keep palying for you even though our fingers are itching and throbbing!" Frank was cold. We've been through this. I am an hnest soul and cannot get through a drunk review without admitting "This is a drunk review." As such, I am now goping to tell the truth to you, my reader. Are you ready/ ? I don't want to surprise you,bitut truth is too important. Here's the truth:

Oh wait. I forgoet.

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Saarbrucken 1978 - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 7

Still booting the beats (Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Harry Jockstrap), Boboskeeyattenotten 1572 is a monophonic crapass double-album recording of a bunch of great fun tunes recorded in (according to the cover) '78 or (according to the spine and record label) '79. According to the 1998 Census, there's nobody in the world who doesn't love "Dancin' Fool," "Village Of The Sun," "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing," "City Of Tiny Lites," "Bobby Brown," "Flakes," "Magic Fingers," "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" and "Bamboozled By Love," but it doesn't exactly help matters that the recording sounds like the band is playing in a barn and the tape recorder is lodged in the middle of a cow. You can hear the drums, the pathetic "state of the art" synthesizer, an occasional piano and vocals - and that's IT. The guy who put the thing together didn't even bother figuring out the names of all the songs, just naming 7 of them (out of 17) and adding ".and many, many more insider hits from the late 70's." Can you believe the shoddiness? In my day, bootleggers cared about their wares. In my day, bootleggers made homemade beer or wine in their basement. I'm not sure at what point the definition changed, but believe me - after a few times being BURNED into trying to drink a record album, I learned my lesson. In the words of President Daltrey, "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Did you know Saarbrucken is a city in West Germany? For years, I got it mixed up with that first baseman that blew the '86 World Series, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how Zappa crammed his whole band into that guy, especially with the beard and all. When I learned the truth, my only reason to recommend this album flew right out the window.

You see, my only reason to recommend it is the free canary that they put in the gatefold of each copy. If only I'd closed the storm window like Dad suggested. FUCK!

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'Tis The Season To Be Jelly - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 6

Live in Sweden 1967. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Zappa was really sick at this show, which would explain his exhausted voice and the cartoon on the front which has him wearing an oxygen tank. Other things aren't so easily explained away, however. Like the fact that I'm writing a review when I do not at all even in the slightest feel like writing a review. So let's get this fucking thing over with.

The recording is pretty decent for a bootleg. You can hear the bass, organ, drums and voice very clearly, but barely the guitar - and if there are any other instruments in there, they're not there anymore! Wiped from history like the Great New York/Connecticut Nuclear War of 1922. See how many history books you find THAT in these days. But that's the media for you. Oozing pus sore of hatred Bill O'Reilly, drug addict scumbag Rush Limbaugh - they want you to hate. HATE! Hating = Ratings and that's all they care about. Hate is easier than understanding, but it hurts more too. It hurts YOU to hate, I'd wager. Feeling MAD doesn't make most people happy. It just leads to headaches and wasted time. How about this guy who caught the Cubs' foul ball? How about all the people sending him death threats? How about it's a fucking baseball game and if he'd known what he was doing, he wouldn't have done it? How about forgiving the guy for an honest mistake?

Side one is 50sness and rare cover tunes ("Baby Love," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Bristol Stomp," "Petroushka") and side two is avant-garde noise and improv jazz. The record is similar to Freak Out! in the way it shifts suddenly between normal `50s rock and roll doowop and "out" noise, but the performances aren't very gripping and the "live" nature of it necessitates that the more `off-the-cuff" performances ("King Kong" and "It Can't Happen Here") can't be dubbed over, edited and spliced until something interesting emerges. So it rarely does.

Still, the `50s medley on side one is a hoot, even though "You Didn't Try To Call Me" is played poorly in waltz time.

Don't buy any of the Beat The Boots albums. If Frank was still alive, he'd tell you the same thing. He wasn't trying to make money off these pieces of shit. He was just trying to take money AWAY from bootleggers and do a favor for the rabid fans that were paying ridiculously inflated prices for inferior live recordings of their favorite artist.

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Unmitigated Audacity - Foo-ee! 1991
Rating = 7

Now this is a curiosity! (*kills cat with a hammer*) If you're obsessing about purchasing a Beat The Boots album and you can't stop washing your hands until your collection includes one, this might be the one to hunt down. The recording quality is abysmally muffled and monophonic, but dig this, Jack (off): it's the 1974 line-up performing songs mostly pulled from, of all ridiculous things, Freak Out! "It Can't Happen Here," "Hungry Freaks Daddy," "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here," "How Could I Be Such A Fool?," "Ain't Got No Heart," "I'm Not Satisfied," "More Trouble Every Day" and "Wowie Zowie" - performed live in the mid-70s??? Can you imagine being in the audience for this show? I'd have been like, "Holy crap!" and then I would have settled back in the stroller to play with my rattle.

At first, in fact, I thought the 1974 date was a mistake. But, even behind all the muffledness (it honestly sounds like it was recorded from OUTSIDE the concert hall), you can't deny the expressive voice of George Duke, in my opinion the greatest singer Frank Zappa ever had. I may have stated that opinion earlier, but I'm not positive since I've been doing these Zappa reviews since the Dawn of Time mud codebase moved to a new hosting company.

Another clue that the album wasn't recorded in the `60s (because it's always good to have a second clue even if the first clue is that the album features a singer who wasn't even in the band until the `70s) is that the music is altered a bit, suiting the funk/soul/rock sensibilities of the Overnite Sensation band more so than the clink-clonk garage rock jazz avant blues fusion of the early Necessities (GET IT??!??!?!! HEEEEEE!) - "Hungry Freaks Daddy" is more like "FUNKY Freaks, Mama!" "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here" is more like "You're Probably Playing an Awe-Inspiring Grinding Guitar Intro"! And "I'm Not Satisfied" is more like, lousy.

But isn't it odd that "Camarillo Brillo" is the only track on here to have been originally recorded after 1968? Everything else is from '67 and earlier. No Uncle Meat or Chunga's Revenge or 200 Motels or Fillmore 71 or Another Band From L.A. or Hot Rats or Waka/Jawaka or Grand Wazoo!?! I mean, Christ - There's "Camarillo Brillo" and NOTHING ELSE AT ALL FROM THE PREVIOUS SIX YEARS! That'd be like going to see U2 right now and having them play nothing but material from every one of their albums except the newest one!!!

Reader Comments
Just for the information for those who don't know (but who is interested, probably already knows):

This was recorded during a short sort of "Freak Out Anniversary Tour" in May '74. Frank only knows why he decided to revive many songs from that album in '74, wasn't Freak Out released in '66. Maybe it was a 10th Anniversary Tour of The Mothers.

Anyway, the personnel was approximately the Roxy ensemble, so lots of skill was involved. They used to play newer material also, but the bootlegger here wanted to include the nostalgic Freak Out numbers. In my opinion, Napoleon Murphy Brock was not the right guy to sing this stuff.

However, apparently Frank probably thought that this was a good idea. As a result, for the good part of '75 they used to play a "We're Only In It For The Money"-medley, including Lonely Little Girl, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance and What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? And to make matters worse, for the good part of '76 they used to play another "Freak Out"-medley including How Could I Be Such A Fool? I Ain't Got No Heart and I'm Not Satisfied. Both of these medleys were a regular part of the set during Fall '75.

This habit actually stuck to Frank until the end of his career. Remember the You Are What You Is-medleys sticking up in the '80's, or the wonderful One Size Fits All-medleys during the final '88-tour.

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You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5 - Barking Pumpkin 1992
Rating = 7

Did you ever notice that "Cat's In The Cradle" is a really sad song? I'd never actually listened to the lyrics before, but I'm listening to Johnny Cash's heralded Boom Chicka Boom LP and my wife pointed out how sad the lyrics are. And she's right! See, what it's about is that the narrator is always too busy to spend time with his son, and then his son grows up and the narrator really wants to spend time with him, but the son is always too busy. He grew up "just like him."

Oh christ, now my wife is talking about how sad "Don't Go Near The Water" is. Because of the polluted river. You see, what it's about is that the narrator is always too busy to spend time with his water, and then his water grows up and "isn't water anymore."

But let's stay on- topic. If I'm going to review a Zappa album while listening to Johnny Cash, I'm going to have to learn how to multitask. This double-CD features one disc of all early Mothers live material - the FIRST band. It's mostly modal jams, but they actually (for the most part) sound pretty good. Those old-timey 60s instruments and tube amps really chunka- chunked up a cool bluesy-rock vibe when they wanted to. Much more musical - and evocative - than the tinny cornball electronic synth shit attack of his later bands. It's so interesting to note the differences between Frank's early guitar solos (straight blues-rock with normal guitar tone) and his later ones (Metheny-sounding song-destroying lite jazz excursions played over NOTHING in a wobbly wah/slight delay tone that pierces above the din like a Moon Over My Hammy). I'll go with the early ones.

Disc two has some decent songs played by his 1982 band ("Advance Romance," "Dancin' Fool"), but is really bogged down by far too many of those crapass exploratory guitar solos I described in the last paragraph. A more conscientious writer would cut and paste that sentence into this paragraph and use it as a kind of segue between disc one and disc two, but I have no conscience about anything, especially punching babies in the face when they're up on their fathers' shoulders.

Yeah it's really fucking exciting to describe eight hundred live albums that all have the same goddamned songs on them. Hey! Great news! You Can't Chew Tobacco On The Stagecoach Anymore Volume Five has "City Of Tiny Lites" on it! I can't imagine ANYWHERE else you might find that song! (except for Any Way The Wind Blows, Make A Jazz Noise Here, Saarbrucken 1979 or Sheik Yerbouti.). And whoa! Holy shit! It has "Trouble Every Day" on it! You actually may not be familiar with that one, as it's a hard-to-find rarity heretofore only available on Freak Out!, Does Humor Belong In Music?, Electric Aunt Jemima, The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, Roxy & Elsewhere and Unmitigated Audacity. But believe me - it's well worth the price of admission (that you're gay)!

No, but that's not being fair. Disc one really does have a lot of non-song jams with new titles, so if you love Frank's first band and jammin's your bag, could I borrow some for my biscuit? No wait, if jam's in your bag, could I -

Oh also, I wanted to mention: I've seen quotes from Zappa complaining about how people always claimed that his first band was his best. So I almost wonder if he intended them to hear this double-disc set and say, "Hey, this first band sucked! All they did was joke around and jam! But this 1982 band played some really complicated and memorable music!" Doesn't quite explain the unlistenable dickarounds of "A Pound For A Brown" and "The Black Page #2," but perhaps Frank was truly PROUD of his -

CHRIST. I finally get it. He WAS. Frank was PROUD of his guitar solos. He thought that they should be treated as improvisational genius like the solos of any other jazz musician. Hmm. Well, I've never been a fan of guitar solos OR jazz. So you tell me - how do Frank's solos compare with those of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and folks like that? Because now I finally see that that's who he was comparing himself to. He wasn't playing rock solos - he was playing what he saw as jazz solos. Which is why he made us sit through so many of them - to him, they were an essential part of his work as a jazz- influenced artist. Finally I get it. And it only took me about 60 reviews to do so!!!

Reader Comments
Oh yeah, you are finally getting it, or at least a part of it. Zappa certainly had an improvisational attitude to playing guitar solos. Which might mean that he wanted to play jazz solos, but that was not the case. He never listed jazz among his main influences (Varese, Stravinski, doo-wop, R'n'B, you name it, but no jazz). I vaguely remember him saying something against jazz sometimes.

He used to describe his solos as "air sculptures", a pretty idea, isn't it? He considered himself about the only rock guitarist who has the nerve to go on stage night after night and start playing guitar solos without pre-determined paths to go. He would take the risk and sometimes it would take him into uncharted territories, sometimes it would be noodling or wanking, your choice. He saw himself as an explorer who could find something interesting and new on the way there and back, and then he would come and bring it to us, who were waiting home on our sofas.

In this respect he sure had something in common with John Coltrane who was also constantly in search of something new. But Zappa never considered his solos within any categories, rock, jazz or whatever, they were just air sculptures. He was very interested in how his solos are working against the background of bass / drums / keys. He used to take risks and see if his accompanists could follow him, how they would react. Sometimes this meant that they seemed to be playing different songs altogether. Sometimes he would make them play different songs in purpose! Sometimes he would mix them up later in the studio. It all may sound weird to you, but oh boy, he had the nerve to try these things.
So what was Frank going for with all those guitar solos? I hear you ask. It's a valid question - one which, until now, I had always taken for granted. In fact, for the last 20 plus years, I've never questioned the motives of FZ, and always hung on every note he played. But nowadays, I'm learning that it's OKAY to not like EVERYTHING he's done. Too many fans just indiscriminately take it as given that everything FZ has ever done has been great. And much of it has - but jeez, there's plenty of albums now that I have a hard time sitting through.

But back to the guitar solos. I have a theory. Zappa didn't really enjoy singing that much, especially in the guise of the "rock band frontman" role that he somehow felt obligated to fulfill. That's one thing that kinda bugs me about Frank - he seems to have a low opinion of his audience's tastes. He thought that his audience would walk out of the auditorium if he didn't employ enough "rock concert" atmosphere (especially in the early 80s - a pretty fallow period for his music, backing-band-wise). So even though he personally thought he was putting on shallow, generic performances, he did it anyway out of "necessity"... how cynical can you get?

To keep himself interested, he would play guitar solos. He couldn't play and sing at the same time (by his own admission), so he'd direct his band to go into two chord vamps while he did some "spontaneous composition" on his guitar. I love most of his solos - but I do get sick of the omnipresent faux-reggae vamp that his used way too often in the 80s as backing music. Frank was a very prolific composer, and I think he derived some of his melodic ideas spontaneously on the guitar in concert situations (of course, he also did plenty of composition using the "drawing dots on paper" method too). His phrasing on his solos was often very linear and modal - at it's best, it sounded like one elongated melody rather than repeated figures and phrases. A very unique style - though I'm not sure it justified releasing four albums worth of guitar solos edited from 13 different versions of "City of Tiny Lites", "Advance Romance", and "Inca Roads".

YCDTOSA Volume 5 is my favorite of the series. The 82 concert is pretty high energy for an 80s band of his. Tommy Mars, no offense, but those keyboard sounds you used back then SUCK! What a waste, cause you've got some great chops... but that synthesized trumpet fanfare crap (remember "Touch and Go" by ELPowell? That keyboard sound is positively regal sounding compared to Tommy Mars's sounds) sounds and smells like a broccoli fart.

But the real reason to get Vol 5 is disc one - the early Mothers stuff. It's my favorite version of all Zappa's bands (though the Roxy band was great too), and this disc has plenty of rarities: stuff from Run Home Slow!! a comedy skit featuring Lowell George! An early version of "Little House I Used to Live In" called "Return of the Son of Hunchback Duke"!

Enough about Zappa for now... the point is, he played so many guitar solos because it kept him interested and engaged, and insulated him from his dreaded "frontman" role.
Disc 1, devoted to the original Mothers, gives an idea of just how strange that band could be. These can probably be considered out-take quality: you'll hear any number of songs that could have fit in on Uncle Meat, Burnt Weenie Sandwich, or Weasels, but don't expect the Mothers greatest hits. I won't attempt to point out highlights; this is probably best enjoyed as a weird, organic whole.

Disc 2 presents the '82 lineup. To hear this juxtaposed with the original Mothers is actually kind of interesting. The original band barely can keep up with FZ, but they are ever inventive and you never know what's coming next. The '82 band is obviously more accomplished, not to mention that the sound quality is improved. These guys are putting on an arena-quality rock show, complete with staple 80's synth sounds and rockin' guitar courtesy Stevie Vai. The upside is that when this band is good it kicks ass. The downside is that when the band is bad, it sounds like Journey, 'cept with more complex songs. And wait, there's more: ya get to hear Advance Romance and City of Tiny Lights. Haven't heard those in a while...

So let's give this one a thumbs up (someone's ass) . . . I'm sure FZ would approve.

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You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 - Barking Pumpkin 1992
Rating = 7

Have any of you seen Disney's delightful new cartoon Brother Bear? Well, I have! Please allow me to present a scene from this fine motion picture.

Indian: I'm an Indian, even though my voice is clearly that of a white person!

Baby Bear: Ayyy man! Wassup, yo? BOO-YAA!

Indian: I don't feel comfortable around these bears. Oh no! I've turned into a bear.

Adult Bear: Yo man, where's my crack pipe and rap music? I'mo fuck me a white woman!

Indian: This is quite bad indeed. I miss my job as a stockbroker.

Other Bears: We live in the ghetto and are black people.

Indian: Oh no! I've been turned into a black person.

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but my wife and I walked out of the racist piece of shit about 2/3rds of the way through, when it was clear that Disney is run by a bunch of fuckheads who think it's somehow appropriate to equate black people with animals. Then I drunkenly complained about the movie to our black stewardess at Pizza Uno, who found me to be a drunken fool.

Thus, this album. You Came On My Face Vol. SeXXX is Frank's attempt to present two full CDs of his most offensive sex-oriented material, including "I Have Been In You," "Camarillo Brillo" (by "brillo," does he mean like "brillo pad" as in that patch of hair above a woman's Hole Of Friendliness?), "Dinah-Moe Hummm," "Ms. Pinky," "Dirty Love" and "The Illinois Enema Bandit." It's obviously incomplete though, because this creep recorded more gross sexual material in his last 15 years than most people do during their first 15 years. "Catholic Girls" yes, but no "Jewish Princess"? "Crew Slut" yes, but no "All Those Gross Songs About Fucking Briefcases on Thing-Fish"? Something called "Lobster Girl" yes, but no "Goblin Girl"? To be fare fowl, it's possible that he never played those songs live, but I just feel it's worth noting that he would choose to include some instrumentals and harmless material like "Strictly Genteel" and "Alien Orifice" when so much other gross material lay languishing in the recesses of his pathetic mind.

Aside from dirty songs, this double-disc set is also distinguished by extremely unfunny sex-related monologues ("The Poodle Lecture" is so fucking unfunny and repulsive that it caused my usually stoic, long-suffering wife to remark "I hate Frank Zappa."), loads of pre-recorded female orgasm noises (real or fake? I can't remember. But they're all over the place! Or at least in "Tracy Is A Snob" and "Emperor Of Ohio" (a Neil Young reference for no clear reason?). Two songs isn't really "all over the place." I accidentally ended my sentence about what this CD is distinguished by before I finished saying what it's distinguished by. Sped-up versions of old songs! "Dinah-Moe Humm" gallops by in a whiz-bang polka so fun and bouncy that even I enjoy it! "Camarillo Brillo" speeds by in a flaming Corvette of America! And "Crew Slut"? So fast, it SUCKS now! The key to that song was the sleazy Tex-Mes feel. Now it's just overfast and not so good.

Other interesting phenomena include Popeil/Ronco daughter/sister Lisa Popeil operatically singing about sex (in a disturbing number that surely couldn't have pleased her immediate family), an interesting saxophone-led take on "Black Napkins" and a live version of "We're Turning Again" that sounds EXACTLY like one of those embarrassing yet somehow likable reunion new-fangled FUGS tracks from No More Slavery or thing-no-plenty.

In conclusion, if you like sex, you'll LOVE getting raped in prison!

Reader Comments
Wha? Mark, you never owned a Popeil 'Pocket Pal' Pudendum? (Kinda like a puffed and flatulent Mexican rubbergoods mask, I'm guessing.) Said 'Pocket Pal' was probably cast from Lisa's nether...

Um...nevermind, I hear lawyers. It seems we're listening to YCDTOSA Vol 6 now. What can I say? The first CD basically sucks, which is what you'd expect from a CD where the topic is sex. It had better suck, and put it's ankles behind its neck as well. Poodle Lecture, Panty-Sniffing Festival, etc. Sucks. When an actual song slips in here and there, things improve.

CD2 fares much better. We get pretty good versions of Catholic Girls, Crew Slut, and Tryin' To Grow A Chin, plus a decent take on Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance. We touched on Lisa's Life Story above. So that leaves a few 200 Motels cuts. 200 Motels Finale is downright funky. Sounds like Billy Preston or some such. Who woulda thought?

All in all, not a bad way to end the series.

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At The Circus - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 7

Ahhg! He's done it again! As if one volume of negligible bootlegs wasn't enough, in '92, Zapaapp issued Beat The Boots II, featuring At The Circus and the six entries that follow...

Let me know what you think of this hilarious church song parody - "He's got the whole world - covered in Shit! He's got the whole wide world - covered in Shit! He's got the whole world - covered in Shit! He's got the whole world covered in Shit! He's got the little bitty babies - covered in Shit! He's got the little bitty babies - covered in Shit! And so on." What do you think? I capitalized Shit because I figure if God made it, it's Holy Shit. And God don't make no Shit! (with the rare exception of marijuana).

At The Jirkus has lousy sound quality; there's simply no dennying it, Denny. There just seem to be a lot of instruments missing from the mix, especially in "Dancing Fool," which sounds a capella half the time. I can't even tell what tour this is supposed to be from because I swear I hear Flo & Eddie a couple of times, yet most of the songs are from the late `70s. Maybe it's just a haberdash mish-dish of sassafrash - LITERALLY!!!

Two rare tracks for fans of the otherwise unobtainable: "Seal Call Fusion Music," featuring a bunch of ugly seal calls and a drummer (as an intro to a version of "Penguin In Bondage" that is not included on the disc) and "I'm On Duty," which is an honestly pretty funny bit where Zappa answers the age-old question, "What are you on?" I'M NOT GONNA GIVE AWAY THE ANSWER THOUGH!!! NO SPOILERS HERE!!!! I'M STILL GETTING ANGRY THREATS FROM THE TIME I TOLD EVERYONE THAT BRUCE WILLIS WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME!

Huh? No no, on "Moonlighting."

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Conceptual Continuity - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 8

Perhaps I'd be more interested if it were Conceptual Conti- Nudity, toot sweet. Pish posh. Actually, I gave it an 8. It features good solid liver versions of five great songs - "Stink," "Foot Dirty," "Love Wind," "Up Working," "In A Gas," "Station The Torture," "Never Stops City," "Of" and that band "Tiny Lights." The only reason it sucks so much sphincter that I gave it an 8 is because the sound is muffled and Frank recites his grotesque "Poodle Lecture" again. If you haven't heard the "Poodle Lecture," let me save you fifteen dollars by telling you it ends with a woman putting her Sloppy Meat Package on a dog's nose.

This disc is from a Detroit 1976 concert starring Ray White, Eddie Dobson, Patrick O'Hearn and Terry Bozzio. I hope your OCD doesn't make you buy every album I give an 8 to because you don't need this.

Actually, Michael Nesmith's The Prison is no walk through the park either, and I gave that an eight as well. Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn't have sliced my ears off that Halloween I dressed as Van Gogh.

What's that?

Oh I know, but the first one was CROOKED!

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Disconnected Synapses - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 3

From a 1970 show in Paris. You know, I've really grown to hate Flo and Eddie over the years. They're like the two most annoying fat loudmouth kids in middle school who thought they were funny with their dick and tit jokes and would never shut the fuck up for half a second except to shove more fried poop logs down their throats and masturbate in each others' ear. And even years later, when one of them loses a lot of weight and has a popular online record review site - oh! But I've said too much.

But while we're on the topic of Stephen Erlewine, this CD sucks. It starts with an eleven-minute dick joke, continues with the worst song on Uncle Meat, is then rudely interrupted by "Dog Breath" and "Mother People" (2 songs 2 great 2 be 2 na fish sandwich-esque) before continuing with the worst song on Cruising With Gloria Estefan And The Miami Sound Machine, a horrendously go-nowhere bunch of soloing shit bookended by the "King Kong" riff and finally an outlandishly likable `70s boogie woogie Canned Heat-style version of "Who Are The Brain Police?" All in all, nearly 11 minutes of this 61-minute CD sounds better than a man lifting weights with his sphincter muscles! HITTY jazz, RAPPY vocals. HEY!!! WHO STOLE MY "S" AND "C"?!?!?!??

(mustachioed Mexican holding magazine): "I stole your Essence - si!"

(live studio audience): "Fuck you!"

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Electric Aunt Jemima - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 6

Nothing could be finer than to lick your mom's vaginar in the morning..... Lick her loose canal, and then throw up inside the gal while filming porning..

For more Sensuous Songs of Erotic Love, please write:
Fuck Fuckleton
162 E. Fisting Street
Apt. 69
Sweaty Ballsac, OR(gasm) 696969

Recorded May 3rd, 1968 according to legend, this is a pretty decent bootleg but a little muffled, of course You see, back in 1968, they didn't have fancy file-sharing software like today, so the bootlegger had to use a Sony MiniDisc Recorder and transfer it to CDR when he got home. But you can hear the guitar and horns fine. The drums are okay, I guess (kinda booming), but the bass is gone gone gone, it's been gone so long, it's been gone gone gone so long. (Ah, how my very essence aches for the untroubled days of Chilliwack chart presence!) As for Zank Frappa and the Iothers of Mnvention, this recording captures them and takes them into custody a few months before the discharge of Uncle Meat, playing heaps of instrumental jams with brass and drums and clarinets smashing napkins of noise into each others' water of confrontation. There are approximately no vocals on the album, regardless of its claims to include "Hungry Freaks Daddy" and "Trouble Every Day" (it's LIARING!!!!). Though the Grateful Dead-style jams drag badly at a couple of key points, there's nothing on here that a few Ronnie Montrose overdubs couldn't transform into auditory rapture.

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Our Man In Nirvana - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 3

Someone told me today that Ashton Kuchner is sleeping with Dinty Moore! Can you imagine the smell?! As for you, I don't know whether or not you know who Wildman Fischer is - I'm no mind reader and you hardly ever respond to me no matter how many messages I send you on this giant IM screen - but he was a crazy street singer that Frank Zippity-Doo-Dah discovered back in the marijuana sixties. For some as-yet unspecified reason, Frank thought it would be a good idea to let him record an almost-completely-acapella double album, so that happened and boy is it painful listening. Wildman would later get mixed up with Barnes & Barnes and put out some great melodic novelty records, but his early raw stuff with Frank was just horrible. Just this quite literally schizophrenic dope up there screaming out stupid lyrics in his ridiculous ever-cracking crazy voice. Lucky for you, you get to hear TWO songs by him on this Beat The Boots CD!!!!!!!!!!

And wow (!) - the rest of the CD is great too! There's this totally awesome 31 minute version of "King Kong" in which nothing good happens at all, and a wamazingderful cover of a novelty 50s song that doesn't have any good parts in it, and this really terrific 17 minutes worth of wacksturbation pretending to be "Sleeping In A Jar." Wow! And don't let me forget the fact that the CD doesn't even come close to being any good at all!

But that's what you get when you let Kurt Cobain make a Frank Zappa album. Jing-a-jink (jicka jicka) Jing jink-ah jinga jink (jicka jicka) jing jink-ah jing-a-jink (jicka jicka) jing jink-ah PIDDUH! PIDDUH! PID-RUH RUH-DA RUM-A-DUM JIGGA JIGGA RUM-RUMMA RUM-A-DUM JIGGA JIGGA RU-DUH! DUH- RUM-A-DUM JIGGA JIGGA RUM-RUMMA RUM-A-DUM TIBBA-TIBBA-TIBBA-TIBBA - (doo doo) BURR-DEEURR! (doo doo doo doo etc.

I know!!!! Can you believe that I found the ACTUAL sheet music for "Smells Like Teen Spirit"??? As Metallica said on their Black Album, "Crazy But True!"

You did get that, right? "Our Man In Nirvana"?

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Swiss Cheese/Fire! - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 7

I'm a bit unclear as to why the two discs have different titles, they being from the same concert and all, but then I'm also unclear as to why my stomach feels like I ate a bowling ball right now. I'm going to assume it has to do with the wretched diet I exercised yesterday (McVeggie Burger with Cheese, Fries, M&M McFlurry, two Glazed Krispy Kreme Donuts, 3/4s Box of Low-Fat Cheez-Its, an entire blender of homemade Banana/Mango Smoothie), but my tummy has to understand how difficult it is to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle when you fucking hate vegetables more than God hates fags. And believe me, I hate all kinds of vegetables - spinach, broccoli, people on life support systems, zucchini - in fact, my motto is "If it's green, it's a booger so don't eat it." But now I'm paying for my insolence. My tummy feels like I visited a Taco Bell restroom and went from stall to stall sucking the contents of every toilet bowl up into my ass. Which, interestingly, is exactly what I did yesterday. But I fail to see what that has to do with my tummy hurting.

Therefore, this is a historical recording. Have you ever heard the song "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple? I know you probably haven't because most kids today think that this hot combo began their career with 2003's Grammy-award-winning Bananas LP, but the truth is that Deep Purple has been around since 1939, when Mitchell Parrish and Peter DeRose wrote them and Artie Shaw performed the band with Helen Forrest on vocals. When the band eventually converted from song form into a full-fledged band in the late `60s, they wrote this kickass hard rock song called "Smoke On The Water" about a fire in Montreux at a Frank Zappa show. And - now here's the crazy part - this song "Smoke On The Water" uses the word "stupid" as a NOUN!!!!

Now then, about this CD. It is a Frank Zappa show in Montreux that ends with a FIRE! Deep Purple wrote a song about it called "Burn" - you can find it on their Stormbringer LP entitled Come Taste The Band under the title "Woman From Tokyo." It's a Flo & Eddie show, but not at all a bad one! The guys use a few too many annoying falsettos, but at least they avoid the stupid groupie routine. Of major interest to fans should be the inclusion of the entire "Sofa" stage piece, which begins with Mark Volman making the band guess what he is (answer: "Sofa"), followed by a performance of the One Size Fits All track "Sofa" - and THEN!!!! Wait right there! Then it goes right into that "Fuck me you ugly son of a bitch" song from Joe's Garage! That was originally part of the "Sofa" stage piece! Do you see the German language connection there? Indeed, we all do.

Another interesting moment (even though it sucks and is ultimately tiresome and darn near unlistenable) is a 16-minute intro revolving around a forboding high-pitched synthesizer note and Pink Floyd-style blurbles. This from Zappa's "comedy" band? Odd choice. Elsewhere you'll find oldies ("Any Way The Wind Blows," "Call Any Vegetable"), newies ("Wonderful Wino," "She Painted Up Her Face"), "Sharleena" for the five millionth time ("Sharleena") and finally the moment I've all been waiting for. "King Kong" immediately falls apart as a loud siren rips through the air, followed by Flo (or Eddie's) surprisingly comic warning to the crowd: "FIRE!... Arthur Brown in person!" The disc then continues for another couple of minutes, mainly focusing on two non-Americans speaking to each other. I guess they were evacuating the venue at that point. Luckily (as far as I know) nobody was killed in the blaze (take a note, GREAT WHITE), and just a few weeks later, the Flo/Eddie Mothers split up like they should have THE GODDAMNED DAY THEY WERE FORMED.

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Tengo Na Minchia Tanta - Foo-ee! 1992
Rating = 4

Look! I'm the Jackson Pollock of the Cyber Age!

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Playground Psychotics - Rykodisc 1992
Rating = 6

Frank Zappa was supposedly really hot on documenting the foolish banter and crazy behavior of his musicians over the years. Whether this was due to disgust, desire to live vicariously through them, or academic interest in the sociology of the touring musician is up to the listener to decide (he would claim #3, FYI). Playground Psychotics is the most documentarian of any record he ever released, containing as much tape-recorded "on the road" dialogue as actual songs. It's a close personal look at the Flo & Eddie years, when Zappa let the focus of his music art drift too far away from smart music in the name of lame comedy. And obviously, I imagine that Zappa found the comedy pretty funny since he wrote it, but it's not. It's not funny almost at ALL.

But this disc itself is better than that - it demonstrates (A) the mind-corroding tedium of touring (through boring tapes of airports, restaurants, cabs and getting high in motel rooms), (B) the fact that Flo & Eddie didn't BRING bad XXX humor to the band; they were just reciting what Frank wrote for them (as shown in both a precursory read-through of the so-sophomoric-it's-a-freshman "Penis Dimension" and a scripted interaction in which the band nervously explains to Frank that at first they didn't understand the point of the song, but now they really dig it), c the group-splintering effects of Frank's forced onstage slapstick and 200 Motels movie script (Aynsley Dunbar pissed about having champagne poured on him during "Call Any Vegetable," Jeff Simmons quitting the band ON TAPE (!!!) in reaction to what he considered an embarrassing portrayal of himself in Frank's movie) and (d) this band actually COULD play good music live! A gleeful "Status Back Baby," unsettling "Mom & Dad," TIGHT "Billy The Mountain" and lots of improv electronic noises and odd vocalizations all conjoin at the hips to show that Zappa's head wasn't as far up his ear as it seemed to be at the time.

It's a double-disc separated into five parts: Two sets of in-concert performance, two "Typical Days On The Road" travelogue recordings and a 7-minute "True Story Of 200 Motels" which REALLY makes me want to see the movie (a feat that listening to the actual soundtrack never managed). A lot of the recordings and even some of the songs are dull to hear, but they're at least a semi-accurate, somewhat honest portrayal of what the numbing, horrific life of a touring rock band must be like.

Which makes me myself think about the nature of fame, and why so many of us desire it (including not EVERYBODY, but certainly me, I'm ashamed to say). What is the real appeal of being famous? What are the benefits? First there's money, which is NOT the same thing as fame and often doesn't even accompany it. I'd rather be rich than famous, unless the circumstance had to do with a monkey paw curse or something. But as for fame, I DO crave it. But why? When you get down to it, I don't really enjoy the company of most people all that much. Even when with my dearest friends, I often find myself wishing I were at home with the wife, dog, a book and the record collection. So why would I want people coming up to me all the time asking for my autograph? To pump my ego up? To what end? Would the approval of the masses mean that my art (record reviews and homemade music - that's all I do) was objectively GOOD? No, that's definitely not the case because the "masses" have horrendous taste in such things ("If It Makes You Happy" by Sheryl Crowe sold quite a few copies). Would it make my life any less stressful? Hell no, because then I'd worry all the time about having a reputation to live up to. And I'm using the word "I" here, but this could apply to anybody who wishes they were famous and appreciated, so I thought I'd put it here online where other members of our Stupid Club could read it and put in their own two cents (a near-worthless amount of money as a metaphor for independent thought - that's good livin'!).

So what else is there to fame... Seeing my stupid weak face on magazine covers? Impressing the people who picked on me in middle school? Proving that I'm SUPERIOR to the average Joe? Fame is popularity, and popularity is the desire of high school girls. It's an immature, selfish desire, and most likely a holdover from my youth - when fame seemed to suggest absolute power, wealth and adoration. But it means none of those things. All that fame really means is that you have the capacity to impress a large number of human beings (all of whom exist solely because two other human beings fucked, and all of whom will die soon). To impress the "majority," your creations must be slightly above mediocre, and easy to understand. You have to make the public either (a) giddy with excitement or (b) feel that you have brought them to a richer understanding of some obvious philosophical truth that just never occurred to them before because they were playing Nintendo and smoking cigarettes. You also have to hire a good publicist to make calls and keep your name out there. You have to be young and cute to appeal to a spending-consumer demographic. You have to kiss the starmakers' asses, you have to work yourself to death on stupid tours and promotional campaigns and you have to watch everything you say (Dixie Chicks) until you're famous enough to get away with it (Sean Penn). And for what reward? The thrill of seeing your love life lied about on the cover of Weekly World News? The opportunity to hang out with Dennis Hopper, John Travolta and a host of other talentless hacks in love with themselves? The chance to "sign autographs" for people who've never considered how moronic and humiliating it is to cherish a scribble because it came out of a pen maneuvered momentarily by an actor or musician?

Fame is dumb. And I wish I could honestly say that I don't want it, because it sounds horrible. Maybe the reason I want it is just to prove that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it? If that's the case, I should really shoot for world peace or building a pool where people can swim with their dogs or something. But that's too hard. Can't I just write some shittyass song like Kid Rock did?

Reader Comments (Steven Knowlton)
Why do we want fame? Well, I think it's this: we work hard and like what we produce (in my case, songs). I hate to think of all those songs just going unremarked upon. Even if people hate them, it's nice to hear people commenting on your work - to have some attention paid to it. If the price of people noticing your work is the rest of that fame b.s. (autographs, sex rumours, etc.), well, that's worth it.

In the case of people who don't harbor any particular artistic aspirations (e.g. Anna Nicole Smith), I don't know why they want to be famous. Maybe she's really proud of her breasts.
Let's look at what Playground Psychotics has going against it:

1. Flo & Eddie
2. Yoko Ono
3. Billy the Mountain

Jeez, a freakin' trifecta of bad! So naturally I went out and bought it. What can I say, people love a train wreck. That's human nature. If the dogs and cats that have been a part of my family over the last 25 years are any indication, it's animal nature as well, e.g., if a coyote has managed to grab hold of a cat in the neighborhood, all the other cats run to a window to watch the ensuing carnage, albeit from a discrete distance! And so begins today's sociology lesson, because we have Playground Psychotics to consider.

Way too much of this one is day-to-day taped documentation of life on the road with the Mothers and is just boring, which may actually be the point. However, when we get to a real song and/or jam, it seems that this version of the band was pretty good when they tried, as the better moments of Fillmore East show. So basically the songs here are equal to anything you'll find on Fillmore East or JABFLA -- which does not negate the fact that this was FZ's absolute nadir.

Gets bonus points for having historical value, i.e., a bunch of stuff with Lennon/Ono from the Some Time in New York City era, with Ono sounding like...let's just say Don Preston's Minimoog couldn't make those noises unless experiencing severe oscillator drift.

So what's the deal? Buy Fillmore East. If you like that, then this has a better version of Billy than you'd get on JABFLA.

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Ahead Of Their Time - Rykodisc 1993
Rating = 9

Lordy lordy lordy knows why it took Zappa 25 years to issue this fantastic and unique 1968 concert, but at least we can be Glad he finally did, Tom Bosley! (re-read previous sentence for hilarious joke). What happened here is that Zappa wrote a bunch of chamber music pieces and decided to structure a silly little play around them, to be performed ONE time with members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The deed occurred on October 28, 1968 (just three days before Michael Myers would escape from the mental hospital to slash up Jamie Lee Curtis and develop a hilarious character parodying James Bond!), and the result is so fuckin funny, it made me piss all up and down Nancy Reagan's naked body. (I had also just broken the world record for Most Days Keeping a Live Tapeworm Lodged in One's Urinary Meatus, which may have played a larger role in the incident than I originally implied.) But enough hilarity from the Pee-Nut (balls) Gallery. As my dearest 8th grade homeroom teacher Mrs. LaPaglia once said, "Mark Prindle, your humor is about this (*holds finger and thumb right next to each other*) funny." Luckily, Mrs. LaPaglia sucked off goats during lunch every day, so my sense of self-worth remained intact.

The play is basically a battle between warring factions of the Mothers - three want to play disciplined serious classical music, one wants to play futuristic electronic music, and a fifth wants to play good old rock and roll so he can attract sex groupies. Then the Pope joins in and after that, it's all a mess of craziness. But funny! The improvised dialogue makes it clear that at least a couple of the band members had better senses of humor than Frank, and the creepy avant garde classical music is just further evidence of his idiosyncratic vision. Unless it's a ripoff of some avant garde composer I've never heard, which is just as likely. Mothers = Monkees in this madcap work of the Theater!

The second half of the set is made up of classix like "Help, I'm A Rock," "King Kong" and a beautifully orchestrated instrumental medley of "Let's Make The Water Turn Black," "Harry You're A Beast," "The Orange County Lumber Truck" and "Oh No." The recording is clarity-licious (though some of the dialogue is a bit hard to hear if you don't eliminate all interruptions and distractions), the material is onderfulway and the song "Agency Man" is a piece of toilet tissue that is used to cleanse the posterior of a guy with diarrhea and then wrapped back around the remaining clean tissue on the roll.

Yuck. That was gross. Metaphors are gross.

Reader Comments
Ahead Of Their Time is what us old FZ fanatics had been waiting for: the classic 60's band doing their thang. Yeah, it's live and the sound quality could be better, but the strange Pachuco funkiness of the original band comes through pretty well. The first half falls into the 'ya had to have been there' category while still being hilarious -- we don't get to see these Mothers cavorting about the stage -- but the apparently obligatory King Kong and Oh No/Orange County Lumber Truck that ends the disc are rock solid. Not essential perhaps, but good enough for anyone who enjoys the original Muthas.

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The Yellow Shark - Rykodisc 1993
Rating = 6

This CD fulfilled Frank's lifetime dream of having his Konvoluted Klassical Kompositions performed by an enthusiastic and competent orchestra. Though he acknowledged that the performances weren't completely perfect, he did feel that they were very well done (as opposed to the London Symphony Orchestra recordings, which actively angered him). Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of classical music - especially when it's this avant-garde. I just prefer the harder, tougher, more REBELLIOUS, PUNK ROCK sound of rock instruments. However, I will say that the recording is excellent, the stereo separation makes it possible to hear every single snatch of sound and it's good to hear such reverent high-brow renditions of "Dog Breath Variations," "Pound For A Brown" and "G-Spot Tornado." A few other less exciting old numbers are gussied up as well ("Uncle Meat," "Be-Bop Tango," "The Girl In The Magnesium Dress"), but the majority of the tracks are previously unheard Zappa-penned (and awfully random-sounding) piano notes, violin swoops, brass toots, cymbal crashes and collective noise abstractions.

There are two wonderfully entertaining "opera concrete" pieces though, which use Spike Jones-style instrument-created sound effects to bring dialogue to life. Both of these - "Welcome To The United States" and "Food Gathering In Post-Industrial America, 1992" - were conducted on stage by Zappa himself, and are just a riotous good time - especially the former, which features an actual real-life U.S. custom card recited in a thick, threatening German accent, with each sentence punctuated by appropriate background music or noises. For example, "Are you a drug abuser or addict?" is followed by a hilarious "hallucination" harp flourish, and a mention of Nazi Germany is answered by a scary German march. And sure, it's probably not appropriate for "Have you ever been involved with terroristic activities?" to be followed by a moment of "Louie Louie," but see that's good humor! And if you don't have good humor, you'll be horribly depressed by the photo of an aged, cancer-suffering Zappa on the CD cover.

Speaking of good humor, I really must take a moment to talk about something I love to pieces. It's the way dogs learn the words that they want to learn. I just get such a hoot out of that. For example, my wife Brenda and I easily taught our dog Henry what a "rawhide" is, and decided to use the code term "R.H." when discussing it amongst ourselves (for example, "Hey, should we give him an R.H.?"). Unfortunately, he soon put two and two together and figured out what "R.H." means. So we switched it to "H.R." No go - he figured it out. So now, we've resorted to the preposterous code word "Human Resources." You could quite honestly walk into my home on any given day and hear me say to my wife, "Is it okay if I give the dog a Human Resources?" And Lord knows that even if "Human Resources" was a singular noun, I still wouldn't be able to pick one up at the PetCo.

Another example - "Pig Ear." Henry loves a good Pig Ear, as we all do. But "P.E." sounds too much like "Pig Ear" and didn't fool him at all. So now Brenda and I have to say shit like "Do you want to give him a Physical Education?" Which just sounds gross, especially if you're an Olivia Newton-John fan.

A third but no less enjoyable example happened just last week. We quickly taught him the meaning of the word "kitty cat" ages ago. He's very curious about kitty cats and tries to play with them, but strangely they're reluctant to wrestle with an 80-pound monster. So - as an aside, we long ago taught Henry to pee or poo in the bathtub in the case of emergencies. He hates to do this, but if an emergency is due, he does the right thing. It keeps our floors clean and is easy to clean up with Comet and water or what have you. So we live on the fifth floor of a walk-up, it was 2 in the morning and had been pouring rain all night, and we wanted Henry to pee in the bathtub so we wouldn't have to go outside. But he refused to do so. Over and over again. Just refused. Lay upstairs in bed and wouldn't go downstairs where the bathroom is. Since he hadn't "hurried up" since the morning, we were of course concerned. But what finally did the trick? A ridiculous dog misunderstanding on Henry's part! Brenda said, "Come on, Henry! I don't want you to get a kidney infection!" Henry's ears perked up and a little growl snuck out as his full attention turned to his Mommy. I thought for a moment and realized that he had mistaken the word "kidney infection" for "kitty cat." So I excitedly galloped down the spiral staircase shouting, "Henry, there's a kidney infection down here!" He ran down after me at breakneck speed in hot pursuit of a fuzzy meowing kidney infection. When he finally realized that none was too be found, I guess he figured "what the hell - I'm down here anyway" and peed in the tub like a good son would. I like my doggy so much!

"Squirrel" is another word you can't say around him. "S.Q." works though. And don't say "Petco" unless you're damn serious about taking him there. (The code word is "His favorite store"). "Swimming"- please don't mention swimming around him. He only recently learned that one, so we don't even have a decent code word yet. When I say "Clink clink clink - BUZZ!," he knows that Domino's pizza is on the way (he always hears the delivery guy chaining his bike to the rack outside and then pushing the buzzer). What else, let's see - he knows "the mailman." He knows "Schmata" because it's a big huge dog that he hates. He knows "Buzz" (our Tae Kwon Do teacher - Henry LOVES Buzz! Can you feel him love Buzz? Can you feel him love BUUUUUUUUZZZZZ?). He knows "Dog Run." He knows "The Park" (Central Park). Oh! I know another one! He learned "Taco Bell" (where he stands outside and we keep bringing little scraps of food out to him), so now among ourselves we have to call it "Tuberculosis"! That one certainly wasn't my idea. Have to talk to the wife about that one. I do think it would make for a good ad campaign though. Ooo! Speaking of which, I thought of a fantastic radio campaign for the restaurant Fuddrucker's. Have the jingle sing, "What starts with an F, and ends with an ucker's? That's right - it's Fuddrucker's!" and then have an old lady say, "Where are we going for dinner?" and a younger woman answer, "I told you Mother.Fuddrucker's!" Then have the jingle sing, "What starts with a Mother F, and ends with an ucker's? That's right, it's..awwwwwjakjsf." If you know a radio guy, I'll submit it and you can take half!

And, in a wonderful Seinfeld-like wrapup, this is where I reveal that The Yellow Shark was actually recorded by a bunch of talking dogs in the bathroom at Fuddrucker's!!!

That's In The Bathroom with Buttfuckers - the new George Michael DVD, coming your way this spring!

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Civilization Phaze III - Barking Pumpkin 1994
Rating = 6

Okay, I have this problem. And it's not the boner one - alcohol solved that one (as it solves so many others in life). My problem is that, as I've learned more about instruments and musical composition over the years, my mind has programmed itself to listen to all the aspects of a song as individual elements. In other words, unless I'm listening to basic punk rock or simple chord-based rock, my mind separates the lead guitar from the rhythm guitar from the bass from the drums from the piano from the synthesizer from the mandolin from the vocals, etc, in order to revel at all the different facets of the song and how they work together or against each other throughout the song. This is why I'm so fond of "challenging' rock bands like the Cows, the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Polvo and, yes indeed, the Mothers of Invention.

The problem comes when I'm presented with something like THIS. This CD is a collection of almost frustratingly non-linear electronic synclavier compositions, interspersed with people talking inside a piano (some leftover recordings from the Lumpy Gravy sessions, as well as some hilarious new ones featuring Moon Unit Zappa, some guy pretending to be a stereotypical young black man and three or four guys who refuse to speak English). When I first put the CD on, I simply could not get a grasp on ANY of it. My mind kept trying to separate the various tones, notes and noises that Zappa had programmed his machine to play, and NONE of it would come together and make any sort of sense. It all just sounded like random bleeps and bloops - occasionally creating a feeling of tension, but just as often seeming to fidget around like a person who'd never played a keyboard before. Finally, I sort of gave up on understanding the appeal of this type of experiment and went to lie on the couch.

Then suddenly, as my brain began to shut off and the relaxation preceding slumber began working its way up my body, I finally GOT IT!!! You CAN'T listen to the various parts of these songs, because the songs aren't ABOUT "parts" or "instrumental counterpointing" or "interaction" or even "melody." They are about the absolute WHOLE. You have to listen to the absolute WHOLE of every track. The nervous, itchy notes bouncing around are INSIDE something larger - a key, a mood - that CANNOT be seen, heard or felt if you're too busy concentrating on the 500 thousand seemingly unrelated notes that are played throughout each track. I know I'm having trouble explaining this well, but basically what I'm saying is something along the lines of "I couldn't see the forest for the trees." Once I realized that the forest of overall SOUND was the point of these compositions (rather than the individual tree notes), it was easier still for me to realize how many of the compositions are absolutely fucking INCREDIBLE - and at the same time, how many don't quite make it to the same peak of perfection as the more successful ones.

The successful tracks revolve around clusters of noises and tones that stay in and around a certain series of notes in a key - not playing a melody necessarily, but staying in an area of blue or grey and not bouncing haphazardly up and down into brights and darks all over the place. In fact, it's the tunes that try to hit too wide an area of notes that, to me anyway, lack focus and end up sounding too made-up-on-the-spot. To name names, there is no way in Hell that I (or, I would guess, most people) could create music like "Why Not?" or "Dio Fa" or the first half of "Xmas Values" or the more memorable portions of "Buffalo Voice." Listening to these tracks is the absolute aural equivalent of staring at a painting. If you get too close, all you see (hear) are a collection of different- colored smudges and blobs that make no sense at all. You have to back up and look at (listen to) the work in its ENTIRETY to realize that all those little droplets of notes like rain that speed up and slow down in no apparent order are actually PERFECTLY placed to create a portrait of.. Jesus, mostly darkness. Cold. Rain. Fear. Isolation. Lots of dark blue with droplets of snow/rain.

I know this music is difficult. And I'm sure that I don't get all of it, especially since I don't know anything at all about classical composition, which is essentially what this is. But at least, at long last, I'm able to enjoy SOME of it! I wouldn't feel right giving it higher than a 6 out of 10 at this point though, because as genius as some of it sounds, it gets samey as absolute FUCKING after a while. Two full CDs with the same electronic tones over and over again - and almost no actual melodies? What does Zappa think we are, a bunch of that "Dieter" character that Mike Meyers used to play on Saturday Night Hilarious? "Touch my monkey" indeed!

No, he knew how difficult it was. That's why the last exchange of dialogue on the CD reads as follows:

JOHN: We don't even understand our own music.
SPIDER: It doesn't, does it matter whether we understand it? At least it'll give us.strength.
JOHN: I know but maybe we could get into it more if we understood it.
SPIDER: We'd get more strength from it if we understood it?
JOHN: Yeah.
SPIDER: No, I don't think so, because - see I think, I think our strength comes from our uncertainty. If we understood it we'd be bored with it and then we couldn't gather any strength from it.
JOHN: Like if we knew about our music one of us might talk and then that would be the end of that.

Who knew what Zappa was trying to do. Create the most intelligent and challenging music of which he was capable? He knew he was dying of cancer. Maybe he wanted to do something so intensely difficult, it even boggled HIS mind. Either way, don't expect a lot of hit singles out of this one!

Also there's a plot about people living in a piano.

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The Lost Episodes - Zappa 1996
Rating = 8

Can't imagine this CD being of any use to somebody who's not a HUGE Zappa fan already, but it's a gotta-buy for those who are. And I think we all know who I am. When you become a Frank fan and you start buying up all his crap, there's a pressing need to learn more. So maybe you buy a book about him. Me, I bought five or six of them. Read them cover to cover. Enjoyed them, but came out the other side thinking he was a control freak adulterer asshole. Nevertheless, the books gave me a better understanding of the important people in his life, the events that made him who we was and basically what the heck he thought he was doing. All of this is expounded upon in the material he compiled for The Lost Episodes shortly before he died.

Speaking of dying, I just saw the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I liked it - it was different. Though it didn't leave me with the kind of lasting images and creepy chills that the original did, I was definitely scared throughout the entire film. That sheriff was SO unbelievably creepy. R. Lee Ermey. Keep an eye on that guy! And that's my little story.

Strange feeling going on right now. Very dark, empty inside me. Cold day, wife away, dog wants to go out and play, I want the Zappa reviews to be done already, okay? Some folks telling me I joke too much in my reviews. Makes me self-conscious, like maybe I shouldn't joke. Not ANGRY, mind you. Not suicidal either. Just self-conscious, like making me wonder if I should change what I'm doing. Kinda feel like the ridiculousness is all I have to set me apart though. You know how it is - when you get a niche you succeed at, you kinda feel like you should stay there while the accolades last. I'm capable of writing serious reviews, but they probably wouldn't be very good because I wouldn't be able to stir up enough self- passion to complete them. Somebody pointed that out to me, and that person had a good point. Like right now all I feel is an intense desire to be FINISHED with the Frank Zappa review page. It's been more than three months now since I started writing them. Am I ever going to return to creating my own music (that nobody likes anyway?). Perhaps more importantly, am I ever going to find another job? I've been out of work for nearly four and a half months now, and I'm no closer to employment than I was the day I was let go. Winter is cold, dark and depressing. Especially when you're afraid to spend any money. I feel like I'm back in college again. That's no feeling for a thirty-year-old who's used to the High Life! (La Vida Umveltwerschmitzung)! I definitely do NOT feel suicidal - make no mistake about that. In fact, I'm at a point now where I'd be really upset if I found out I was going to die. And I've been at that point for a while - almost a year (and more or less I felt the same way the previous year too). Blog. Blog. Blog. Love that song on Out Of Time. One thing's for certain: there are a lot of people in the world. So if a hundred or so hate you, big fucking deal. I have to wrap my arms around that idea and stop trying to please everybody. In fact, from now on, I'm going to purposely DISPLEASE everybody, because an important part of eliminating anxiety is to face that which you are most afraid. So here I go, purposely making everybody mad at me.

Eric Clapton threw his baby out the window. Believe it or not, it IS possible to dislike AC/DC's Ballbreaker while at the same time not being a huge Spice Girls fan. Just because a band sells 5 million copies of an album doesn't mean that they're any good. I play the guitar and have recorded roughly 20 homemade CDRs (5 of which I'm honestly proud of). And even if I hadn't, that still doesn't mean I don't have the right to critique Linkin Park. Very few people have ever been President of the United States either - does that mean none of us have the right to criticize George Bush's moronic decisions?

The thing is - to really upset people would require me to say things that I don't really feel. I could say that blacks are technically dumber than whites, but I don't believe it. I could say Hitler was right and the Holocaust was hilarious, but I don't feel it. I could say that Madonna deserves to be shot dead because her last few albums sucked so much cock, but again, I don't honestly feel that way. If something I write upsets you, read it again or ask me what I meant. Because I don't honestly MEAN anything "offensive" that I say. I just joke a hell of a lot, and sometimes people don't realize it, due to a language barrier or missed reference or unclear sarcasm on my part. And believe me, it's not necessarily the reader's fault! A lot of times I'll be typing along, singing a song, and something will come out that seems appropriate at the time, but upon re- inspection reveals itself to be unfunny, mean-spirited and without purpose. So feel free to point out something like that if you see it anywhere in my reviews. I know a lot of them use foul language, but that's just "adult comedy" like Richard Pryor.

As somebody in the liner notes of this CD points out, The Lost Episodes is kind of like You Can't Do That In The Studio Anymore -- a behind-the-scenes look at Zappa's beginnings, influences, unreleased material and unheard versions of popular classics. And half of the CD is comprised of pre-Mothers of Invention material! It includes Captain Beefheart's first-ever recorded vocal (as well as a couple other appearances by the Master of Phlegmy Voice), booger anecdotes by the real-life Ronnie and Kenny of "Let's Make The Water Turn Black" fame, additional words from the studio engineer heard complaining about Zappa on We're Only In It For The Money, straight pre-Mothers versions of "Any Way The Wind Blows" and "Fountain of Love," some early orchestral concerts that Zappa commissioned for his work prior to forming a rock band, "Wonderful Wino" with Sugar Cane Harris on vocals, a hilarious haranguing from a policeman who's tired of Frank's neighbors complaining about all the noise coming from his apartment - oh man, you look for it, it's here. A veritable pisspump of Frank's closet recordings. Instrumental "Inca Roads." Boring early r'n'b bands he was in. A home synth recording from the early `70s. Another version of "Sharleena" (12 minutes worth!). It's all this and everything more for the REAL FZ fan. Not those FAKE fans who only gave Ballbreaker a 3.

Frank Zappa's Ballbreaker, that is. I'm sure I reviewed it somewhere in here. Just keep re-reading the page over and over `til you find it.

Reader Comments
Eh, Ballbreaker I sent to the recycle bin.

Mark, I share your pain, as one of our great Presidents once said. I sometimes don't even freakin' know which FZ album I am commenting. But I think this is Lost Episodes, which means I can move on to King Crimson or Moody Blues or something else shortly...

But since we're talking Lost Episodes...

As a package, this is almost perfect in terms of documenting the songs. Nice little booklet w/ excellent notes, etc. Basically a mini-box set, minus the never-before-seen photos. As for the music, it's perhaps epitomized by the strange jazz samba rendition of Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance. What's interesting is not just the weirdness of it, but the fact that many of the classic FZ songs had been around for several years, in some gestational stage, before we ever heard them. How many demos did FZ cut that never saw the light of day?

There does seem to be some revisionism happening. Anyway the Wind Blows is listed as being a 1963 version, but it reeks of the British Invasion/Merseybeat style, and I don't think there's any evidence that FZ invented that.

There's some interesting Beefheart stuff here, and an early look at Inca Roads.

And of course: Sharleena. As great a song as FZ ever wrote.

While it's worth the price of admission, there's a reason this hadn't been released to this point. For FZ fans, it's great, virtually a missing link type of find. For everyone else, not exactly must-have, e.g., Sharleena runs 11:00+ minutes, of which much sounds like a band doing generic jamming, gearing up to play some FZ songs. And I'm not sure even us die-hards need the detail of Kenny and Ronny's numies...

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Lather - Zappa 1996
Rating = 8

Everybody has an opinion, and most of those are correct, but in this circumstance, the "L" is the "Oobledoke" if you know what I mean. This was the two-decades-late triple-CD release of Frank's long-rejected quadruple-album project. And listening to it today, knowing what we know about tomorrow, it's impossible not to think (A) Frank Zappa was a phenomenally clever man with an equally gifted band, and (B) This quadruple-album wouldn't have sold more than 50 copies. It does a stupendible job of showcasing all of Frank's Strankths -- avant garde classical composition, more straightforward classical composition, dumb fun rock, pop novelty, modal, free-form and fusion jazz, electric blues, gross lyrics, boring guitar solos, difficult instrumentals, sound collages - even r'n'b! - and may very well be a great way for the Zappa beginner to get a good sense of the wide range of his talents, but unfortunately I can't give it the 10 because of a few truly horrifically bad (and long) moments that would never have made the cut back when Frank was in his old band.

Hey wait! You know what Frank Zappa's wife was? A Mother Fucker!!! HAHAHAHAHA!! HHHAEHEH!! HAHAH!!

Oh wait! You know what? He was in a BAND called the "Mothers of Invention" too! So it's DOUBLY funny!!!!

When you're presenting a collection of 26 songs (nine of which are over six minutes long), there's bound to be some downtime here and there (especially the sixteen-and-a-half minute "The Purple Lagoon," which is so boring, rumor told me it got a job BORING holes in steel! Heh heh! That was a little piece of mainstream comedy for you there), but it's inspiring to hear so many moments of multivaried musical genius in one collection. Diversity and musical competence are so present, I could easily describe 18 downright fantastic songs that can be found on this three-piece Frisbee. I've decided not to do so though.

Oh no! I just accidentally pressed the "Erase" knob, thus erasing my last three months of writing! All of my Frank Zappa reviews have been erased in a heartbeat! I guess you were so excited by the thought of them that you hallucinated all of them up to this point because they don't exist! Oh well, since my entire family has turned to shit, I'd might as well describe 18 great songs from Lather.

You have to start somewhere, so the beginning of disc one is probably chronologically the least appropriate place you'd find a (literal) human turd. So enjoy the "Atom Heart Mother"-reminiscent lead-off track (curiously, the album cover appears to be an Atom Heart Mother reference as well) and don't be surprised if your hat lifts slightly off of your over-excited brow in response to the murky violin depths of "Naval Aviation In Art?" Then grab a Diet Milk because you won't be leaving as your ears lead you through the groovy almost parodic lite-rock of "Down In De Dew" into the jazzy great sardonic "For The Young Sophisticate," retarded rocker "Tryin' To Grow A Chin" (and yes, some of these rejected tracks were re- recorded for other albums - Sheik Yerbouti, for example), awesome lengthy soul groove "The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit," uproariously corny bubblegum "Lemme Take You To The Beach" (the final verse adds the word "again" to the title. As in "Lemme take you to the beach - again"), strange genre-unspecific complicated "Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra," extremely difficult Brubeck-style piano jazz "RDNZL" and by far the most musically pleasing version ever recorded of "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like me" straight on into the old flop r'n'b single "Big Leg Emma," relaxing lounge number "Flambe," odd eerie insane string/horn destruction "Pedro's Dowry," lite jazz "Spider Of Destiny," dark as hell riff solo vehicle "Filthy Habits," funky funny awesome "Titties `n Beer" (in a live version which finds Dale Bozzio asking his off-stage wife, "Hey Dale! Wanna come up and hold my pickle?"), chuggling instrumental rock-esque mood piece "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution" and Raymond Scott TO-THE-HILB aural cartoon "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary," a 20-minute Loony Toon about a pig that invents a new trend but is despised for it.

Eighteen abominably good songs is nothing to bitch about. But the other eight songs are questionable. Not to mention LONG. And that's why I'm ultimately too disappointed to give this masterpiece a 10 out of 10. Too many sections (most of "Punky's Whips,' for example) are less masterPIECE than (get this - this is gonna totally blow your socks off - aided, of course, by the fact that you have them on OVER your shoes) masterBATE.

LATHER would make a RATHER great purchase for any nude BATHER, I'd GATHER.

See this bag of stomach bile? Find Rosie O'Donnell and throw it ATHER.

Reader Comments
Well, here I am still putting off writing a paper that I should have turned in this morning, but it's just so much more fun to write record reviews than Shakespeare papers so here's one more:

William Shakespeare's "Henry IV part I" is a brilliantly conceived, richly plotted drama about the struggle between

No, wait. Frank Zappa's "Lather" is a great album. I DO NOT think that this should be relegated to the status of some posthumous compilation, because this is the album that Frank actually wanted to release and should have been able to release if the people at Warners werern't fucking neandrethals. I actually think it would have had some commercial potential - a quadruple album would have at least garnered a certain amount of curiosity from fans and reviewers and he was touring like crazy to support the fucking thing. And it was the cocaine seventies! Quadruple album? Hell yeah, baby! We got some Puerto Rican girls that's just dyin' to meet you! We gonna bring a case of wine...etc. And what was the alternative? "Sleep Dirt" and "Studio Tan" are part of a string of albums that even hardcore Zappa fans don't get too excited about so I can't imagine anyone else did. Great move, Warners. Fucking pricks.

Anyway, I love the suite on side one: the funky "ReEgyptian Strut" crashing into the uncharacteristically quiet beauty of "Naval Aviation" that leads into a much better version of "Green Rosetta" than the one from "Joe's Garage". By the way, how was this guy NOT a stoner? Does anybody still really believe this? Now THAT is a topic I could write my goddamn thesis on. "A little green rosetta makes a muffin betta" - goddamn right it does. So he tokes up, grabs a snack and then "The door closes violently" as he heads down to the basement to jam. And we suddenly get a rambling, funky solo, and then he starts wailing on the "Whole Lotta Love" riff of all things! But he's just fucking around on all this stuff, and in the context of a quadruple album, this is all just like Zappa's version of the "Overture" from Tommy. Finally, we get the first song "Young Sophisticate," which is a jazzy, late-seventies rock tune in its best version you'll find in his catalogue. Good, catchy song, not too goofy either.

Okay, now "Tryin To Grow A Chin" kinda sucks. To me, it sounds like your dad and his buddies goofing on their idea of what punk is, with an over-simplified riff and condescending lyrics. Frank, who was actually making his own form of anti-establishment punk rock in the sixties, just doesn't get it. Too bad. And "Broken Hearts" is good, but man it seems like I've heard that thing a million fucking times. It's like that instrumental "Let's Make The Water Turn Black" medley. Enough already. But "Illinois Enema Bandit"! Wow! Where the fuck did THAT come from? Now THIS is how you take that tired rock blues structure and actually do something interesting with it. Dynamic, melodic, FUNNY. Mysogynist? Yeah, kinda, but else do you expect from ol' Havetha Clappa? Still, great singing, great soloing, great performance. A real highlight on this album.

Alright, I'm not gonna go through every fucking song on this thing, but let me just add: "RDNZL" is one of my favorite Zappa instrumentals, with one of his patented off-kilter melodies and truly phenomenal playing from one of his tightest bands. And I love the instrumental Muzak version of "Duke Of Prunes"! Man, imagine how cool it would be if you heard stuff like THAT while you were shopping at A&P? What a wonderful world it would be. And I'm actually a big fan of "Punky's Whips" - so many melodic ideas and changes in this thing that somehow really flow together well and lyrically, he's totally predicting all that androgynous hair metal crap of the next decade. "Purple Lagoon" kinda drags, but it can be good if you're working on a paper like I'm supposed to be doing right now. And "Pedro's Dowry" is like the perfect soundtrack to cartoon - I always picture the ending with a walrus in a suit and tie ringing a doorbell and finding all his walrus friends waiting for him with surprise party. Seriously, listen to the end again and tell me the whole thing isn't some crazy cartoon. On the other hand, you have "Greg Peccary" which really IS a cartoon but might have been better as just an instrumental. And there's some great solos on "Filthy Habits" and "Ocean" and there's some boring stuff, too.

But overall, this is a great Zappa album, maybe not his best, but indispensible for fans. I really commend the Zappa Clan for this release and I like Dweezil's cover design. Look, Frank's a cow now! I bet he's already released, like, nineteen albums with overlapping tracks that only one or two of the other cows will actually buy!

And so, in conclusion, "Henry IV part I" is a great fucking album.
In this age where we get new releases of old music w/ bonus tracks (live stuff, alternate takes, B-sides, etc.), I'm thinking maybe this was the first time a sorta major artist just let loose with what was in the vault. And it is an absolute and enjoyable mess. I would have a hard time either recommending it or not to the casual listener. However as usual for FZ fans, you need this, most of which also available via Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, Live in New York, and Orchestral Favorites. I'm not sure if the mixes are the same, so a completist may need both Lather and the four other albums.

Stylistically, this is all over the place. Cretinous R&B-influnced rock (Big Leg Emma), Wazoo type stuff (Re-Gyptian Strut), FZ's version of punk (Tryin' to Grow a Chin), FZ story-time songs (Illinois Enenma Bandit, Titties 'n' Beer, Greggery Peccary), and the usual dose of complexity (Ocean is the Ultimate Solution, RDNZL, et. al.). In short, many FZ classics available here.

Interesting aside: RDNZL's title is supposedly what FZ saw on a car's gear shift interface, though I've never driven a car with the gears in that order that I can remember. It would've been more like PRND2L, back in the 70's. Which is awfully close to PRNDL. Which is however you look at it just eerily prescient or coincidental in the context of this web site.

As mentioned previously, this was a very weird time to be an FZ fan. He was at total war with Warners Bros., and their versions of this are frustrating. I can't rate this with FZ's best, but listening to the highly-varied songs, it dawns on me that this is a pretty good album.

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Cucamonga - Del-Fi 1998
Rating = 3

This is just a collection of really early ballads, surf instrumentals, doowop and novelty material that Frank produced, wrote for or played with various friends and local celebrities in 1963 and '64. There's nothing worth hearing here; it's just a bunch of crap. If you can find MP3s of "Blind Man's Buff," "Jesse Lee" and "Letter From Jeepers," grab `em, but the rest can all go jump off a roof into a tree from which they hang themselves down onto a short pier on which they take a long walk before taking a flying leap onto a bumblebee and buzzing off back into the original tree, from which they now make like it and leave. That's my opinion anyway. Also, men who say rude things to women in public, like "Yeah, I'd fuck THAT ass!," are gay. There is no other explanation for why they're doing what they're doing. (A) They're obviously not going to "score" with such a hateful approach, and (B) They clearly hate women and just want to make them feel threatened. (C?) See? They're gay.

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Mystery Disc - Zappa 1998
Rating = 7

This Mystery Disc is a "Mystery To Me" (Fleetwood Mac). In combining two previous bonus discs from Zappa's Old Masters box sets, why did they leave off both sides of the "Big Leg Emma" single? The booklet claims that they did it because both songs are available as bonus tracks on the Absolutely Free CD. If this is the reason, then why the hell did they leave ON a full TWENTY-TWO MINUTES of material that they acknowledge is already available on Ahead Of Their Time?????? I'll tell you why. ASSHOLES is why.

Honestly, Mr. Reedisc is more interesting as a historical document than as a listening experience. But I guess that's the case with ANY song once you've heard that pinnacle of artistic creation that goes, "I was living for a dream! loving for a moment/Taking on the world, that was just my style/Now I look into your eyes, I can see forever/The search is over, You were with me all the while!" Historically, it features some early soundtrack work by a young Zappa named Frank who would later go on to become one of the most ferocious dictators that the world has ever known. That young Zappa named Frank was none other than Adolf Hitler.

It also includes the very BEGINNING of the name "Captain Beefheart," 40 seconds of a hilarious pre-Mothers radio show in which Frank demonstrates two piano lines that can be used to play 4,000 hit records of the day -- followed immediately by an absolutely HILARIOUS Mothers song called "Charva" that uses one of the two piano lines to back up a love song about beating up a girl's father, some dumb dialogue from an early shindig Frank threw when he opened a studio, some drunken onstage rambling from an old man at a club introducing the members of one of Frank's early r'n'b bands ("On guitar - Franky Zappo!"), a studio version of "Agency Man" that knocks the daylights out of the disappointing live version from Ahead Of Their Time (which is ALSO included here. So that's two versions of "Agency Man" and ZERO versions of "Big Leg Emma." Thanks, Gang of Prick!) and just I mean OODLES of other lots of stuff from the 60s. Nothing later than the 60s except a 1972 girl talking about how she came up with the name "Willie The Pimp."

I'll sum things up by saying that it's mysterious like an odyssey to the stars, but it's also a disc, like a compact disc. So confused listeners can at least grab on to that one bit of familiarity - that of it being a disc.


Oh wait no, I guess it is a flying disc.

On an odyssey to the stars! Fare thee well, Strange Disc! Fare thee well on your voyage through the galaxies!


Man #1: "So what do you think of my script, Mr. Spielberg?"

Man #2: "Hang on -- UUUGGGNNNNHHHH (squirt squirt squirt)!!!!!!"

Man #1: "Jesus Christ! What the hell was that all about?"

Man #2: "Sorry - I was just imagining the flying disc being full of a bunch of dying Jews!"

Man #1: "Count me in! I hate chinks too! UUUGGGGNNNHHHH (squirt squirt squirt)"

And that's my little story about the water gun fight between Steven Spielberg and the script-writing knight in a suit of armor. In conclusion, this disc is probably a must-own for hardcore Zappa fans, but a not-must-own for everybody else.

Reader Comments (Jamie Robinson)
You see, the reason for leaving out "Big Leg Emma" and "Why Dontcha' Do Me Right?" is because including them would resort in this being a double CD, even if only by a couple of minutes. For fuck's sake, if you want a CD copy of those two songs, just go out and buy the Absolutely Free CD.
Well at least this is interesting as a historical document and is a nice complement to The Lost Episodes.

But don't get too excited: this ranges from the abyssmal (Steal Away) to the curious (Birth of Captain Beefheart/Metal Man Has Won His Wings) to the mindless (Charva) to more common early Mothers fare (How Could I Be Such a Fool) to some decent 60's acid-rock sorta stuff. Believe me there was much worse crap being cranked out by both lesser and greater bands during this era.

The rare photos are probably better than much of the music. Look: there's FZ w/out trademark facial hair! there's Henry Vestine, right before he joined Canned Heat! there's Beefheart!

So if you can pick up a used copy of this on the cheap, go for it. But it ain't gonna make yer Ipod playlist.

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Everything Is Healing Nicely - Zappa 1999
Rating = 6

Hey now, everything's not healing THAT nicely, heh heh heh (?)

This CD was released in Space 1999 by the Zappa Family Trust led by his widow, who sues everybody. It is comprised of material that was recorded during the Yellow Shark shows but not included on the CD of the same name (The Yellow Submarine). This CD fulfilled Frank's lifetime AMBITION of having his Convoluted Classical Compositions performed by an EXCITED and GOOD orchestra. Though he ADMITTED that the performances weren't completely SCOT-FREE, he did feel that they were very well GOOD (as opposed to the London Symphony Orchestra recordings, which actively MADDENED him). Unfortunately, I'm not a AFFICIONADO of classical music - especially when it's this WEIRD. I just prefer the harder, tougher, more LOUD, HEAVY METAL sound of rock instruments. However, I will say that the recording is GOOD, the stereo separation makes it ABLE-ABLE to hear every single MUFF of sound and it's good to hear such reverent NAMBY-PAMBY renditions of "T'MERSHI DUWEEN." NO other less exciting old numbers are gussied up as well ("NONE"), but the majority of the tracks are NEVER BEFORE RELEASED Zappa-penned (and awfully random-sounding) piano notes, violin swoops, brass toots, cymbal crashes and collective noise SONGS.

Some of the pieces have hooks, others rely too much on a German voice reading things that aren't interesting (a library card, letters to the editor of a tattoo/piercing magazine) and still others create wonderful jumpy, itchy notes from all over (the excellent, quite amazing actually "Amnerika Goes Home"), eerie Sun City Girlsy Eastern blocs ("Roland's Big Event/Strat Vindaloo"), beautiful relaxing haunting dark blue tones (the brilliantly titled "Nap Time") and everything flittering around like attack butterflies (the Raymond Scott-esque "9/8 Objects"). As little as I know about Crassical Music, even I can tell that Frank had the ability to compose some amazing, AMZAGING work. But, just as with his jasss fuzion and comedy rock, some of it seems a little extraneous and insipid. Dull, bland. Weak. Mild. Monotonous. Dreary. Dry. Wishy-washy. Characterless. Colorless. Trite, tame, unexciting. A little boring. A bit uninteresting. You might say tedious. Plain, featureless. Ordinary. Feeble, frail, puny, scrawny - that kind of thing. Weedy. Pathetic and fragile. A little meek, maybe. Droning, repetitive. Lifeless, lackluster - even, believe it or not, routine. Dessicated. Irresolute, spiritless and ineffectual. Soulless. Nondescript. Both uninspired and uninspiring. Neutral and drab. Commonplace, stale and pedestrian (the adjective, not the noun!!!). Worn, stock, hackneyed and corny are all words that come to mind. Humdrum. Mind-numbingly tiresome. Run-of-the-mill everyday average.

I wish I could find a better word to describe it, but my thesaurus is gay. Probably out sucking some guy's dick.


See, this is why I'm a hero of the trash.

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FZ:OZ - Zappa 2002
Rating = 6

Et's great when your last album - and you've been dead a long time - is a live album where your band (napoleon Murphy Brock, Andre Lewis, Terry Bozzio, and Roy Estrada) is trying too hard to be funky like Steive Wonderful. That ruins everything. You shouldn't change all your songs in an attempt to be black and funky in `1976, if you're white. Black people and white people have different strengths, probably, and Frank Zappa's strength as a white man is NOT to make funky Stewive Wonmder music. That's why these versions of songs like "Chnga's Revenge" and "Keep It Greasy" just SUCK COCKS.. Because Frank isn't a funk player - he's a rocker (sort of, vaguely). But I at leat under stand why his wife would release this CD - because these versions are MUCh much different than any you've heard before. Freak Out songs like "How Could I bBe Such A Fool," "I Ain't Got No Heart" and "I'm Not Satisfied" have become SOUL songs, like on Motwon. But Napoleon's voice isn't very strong. Not as strong as some other singers anyway. So it doesn't work. Everything seems half-done and misconstr8ued, and that's why the double-CD suffers. It has 27 songs, but so many of them try to be SOUL and FUNK that finally I just give up and say, "Fuck you, album, you piece a shit." Then I grab it, and it was recorded in 1976, and I throw it all over. But you have to understand that I do really ,.ike Frank Zappa - I just have to admit, even as a fan, that certain types of music were not his "forte." For example, he can't make emotionally resonant pop-rock. And his reggae shit is horrible. And, as much as he wanted to be Sly and the Family Sonte on this release, he's not. He's just the white leader of a mostly-wyite band full of people that are boring and fail when they try to be funky. :Look, I was there. I was in Pizza Uno tonight when my wife read a printout of my Beach Boys reviews. And I saw how certain things worked and certain things didn't. And I very much appreicated popele readng my stufff. Spelling is hard after five Jack Daneisls, and that's another thing. Writers are known to be alcoholoics. HOW? How do they devellp stopries whe ndrunk? I cant' veven SPELL when drunk (now?). HOW? It's just the bottom line is that when you, and I know this from [personal experience, when you release EVERYTHING you record, \rather than just the BVEST, then the \result is that your albums - some of them suck - and some are wekaned by their length and inclusion of substandard materail. But it's so hard to cut off your right arm. Randy Bullock was in my dream last night. Can you believe that? I haven't thought of that guy in ten years. I wonder what he's up to. Smoking bongs in Chapel Hill maybe? They say he was talented, and e probablay was. Occainsllionally - OCAACASSINOALY - I am, but too much of what I write is bad. And yet I relase it all. That's why there's so much, and I'm like Zappa in that sopme of it is worth experiencineincineincinigneinicneigneigncineingeinicnigneig and oters I shohuld delete, buit I'm too lazy to do so. What am I, that R.H. Cummings guy who wrote "Catchier In The Rye?" JD SALINGER? He's a castawau/ O , MPt/ (OIIIIII I tink that peo0le do no wait

This is a live recording from 1876 Australia. It's disappointing, in that the performances attempt to be "funky" but fail. Luckily, Frank didn't try to keep this "funkiness" on his later materaila. I mean, some of ths ongse asre great. Bvospi;u/ O ,eam But obviously, some of it sucks. Because Listen. This is good for collectors, because y'ou've never heard Frank's songs like these. But people who don't know h im well should feel lucky that it's hard to find this release. Because it should not be one of your first 60 Zappa purchases. It's too fail-filled. Henry the Dog is a good boy. He's sniffing around. NOW he's l8icking his bed. And now he's licking his bed. And now he's licking his bed. And now he's lickin ghis bed. Ad n9ow he's licking his . No I'm lying now. His nose is sniffing the floor and rug. Now he's walking and sniffing, and now he's setling down for a long winter's sleep and sniffing the rug, but his bed is going unsinifieed. A dnf dthat's why I have to leave Johnny's work and play makes me a dull boy. Johnny's work and no play wmakes mMark prinelde ad dull. Every good boy deserves favoare.a Here is a importna t t wordl:::: Are you ready? Here it is . Pleae think this through: YOU ARE GOIUNG TO DIE. IN THE MEANTIME, BE H APPY AND NICE TO PEOPLE. IF THEY'RE PRICKS TO YOU, BE NICE BACK AND IF NECESSARY, KILL THEM AND DON'T LEAVE ANY EVIDENCE.

LOTS OF people ask me, "Mark, have4 you ever killed anybody??" The answer is no. I haven't met anybody evil enough to kill. Most mean people are just troubled, and dumb. I'm sure evil exists - I've just been ortuntate enough not to come face to face with it. And for that I am grateful. That's what this double-CD sounds like. So FUCK YOU!!!

Listen to me. Please. As you know, you will die. Until then, try to control your temper. It will make YOU happier, and it will make the world happier. And I'm speaking as a person who has to really STRUGGLE to control his temper. Because people are such assholes. I assume thjey will ALWAYS be assholes, but it's not true. And in the interim, I get a headache because I imagein them being assholes. Then they're NOT assholes, and I still can't get rid of my headache. It's ME. I'm the asshole.

What you just read was a true account of the tragedy that befell five youths in August 1973. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that they died so young. But had they lived long lives, they could not have hoped to see as much of the mad and macabre as they saw on that day - the day Mark Prindle went insane trying to finish his Frank Zappa reviews.

Reader Comments (Larry Graves)
Well, I got up extra early this morning to read all of the Frank Zappa reviews. I can now say that MARK PRINDLE SUCKS in great big capital letters like I just did, without a hint of guilt. I actually didn't read every single line (23,345,678 total) but I skimmed each review with a fine tooth. Luckily I know how to speed read, although when I do that I have no idea what the person is writing. On a more serious note, that was a lot of work to do, writing all of those reviews IN ONE NIGHT. That would be almost as hard to do as writing reviews for all 103 Aerosmith Greatest Hits albums. Mark is basically dead on with the early albums (mainly because he likes them) but later on....Bongo Fury..........6 out of 10??? WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES!!! This includes on of the greatest Zappa songs of all time (actually three......Muffin Man (and not just because I am the Canadian Studmuffin and my site is at or that it contains one of the best GUITAR SOLOS since that guy in that band did that five minute guitar solo at the end of that album way back in 1987, "Debra Kadabra" and "Carolina Hard Core Ectasy". You liked "You Are What You Is" (my personal favorite) although the cd I bought was mastered terribly (and there are a lot of others with the same cd) Well, not the SAME cd...that would be impossible. Nothing like a constant humming noise throughout the whole cd!!! Oh...and Flo and Eddie were hilarious! Obviously, Mr. Prindlepecker has no sense of humor. Ha ha ha that was a good one! No...I love "Billy The Mountain" and all the other stupid songs they did with Frank and so do a lot of other Eagles fans. This add your comment review is becoming longer than the actual reviews, so I will stop now and just say that....yes....Zappa did release some crappy albums (Thing-Fish........................Waka/Jawaka..........Tales Of Topographic Oceans) but overall Zappa is the best (after the Beatles, Sparks, U2 and Mark Prindle) (Jamie Robinson)
Heh. Unlike *you*, Mr. Graves, I actually took the time to read each and every one of these Zappa reviews. :P (Dave B. Wagner)
This page is even crazier than the Miles Davis one. The real question now, Mark, is - after hearing SO much Zappa - does any of it sound like the Fall's "I'm Frank"? I've been waiting for a conclusion on that thought for ages.
Oh yes, you finally did it, and I finally did it. I mean reading through your Zappa review page, every line on it, even those consisting of G's only. Boy, it was worth the effort! But next I'm going to do something even heavier, I'm gonna read Lord Of The Rings in Russian, of all things!

By the way, there are a couple of connection points of Zappa and Tolkien, would you believe! First, of course, I'm a big fan of both. Second, Mark's favourite singers Flo & Eddie have actually performed one of the Hobbit songs about food and beer, of course. This immortal masterpiece can be found on a vinyl bootleg called "Soup 'n Old Clothes" (noticed the conceptual continuity?) That vinyl is part of the 12-record box set "20 Years Of Frank Zappa", you can try to find it maybe on ebay. The performance sounds like it was recorded in some hotel room, actually it sounds very much like "Diptheria Blues" on "Playground Psychotics".

Third, and this one is serious, (hips or lips?) Bilbo Baggins once said something like: "Going out of your house is a dangerous business. Once you step on the road, you can never know where the road is going to take you." Compare this attitude to Frank's attitude towards guitar soloing (check my comment on YCDTOSA #5 for that) and you will see the similarity.

Last but not least, I've found out three major differences between myself and Mark Prindle:

1. I don't like dogs, not even poodles

2. I like dirty jokes, even by Flo & Eddie

3. My name is on the sleeve of FZ:OZ
Whoa! I found out this guy had an I.Q. of 176!! That's insane, I better get one of his albums sometime. I mean, I used to think Bob Dylan was rock's premiere genius, but can he beat 176? I mean, that's higher than what Einstein is predicted to have!
Gotta say this one's a disappointment.

Upside: the first Vaulternative release, an entire concert (with some necessary tweaks), bringing us complete live recordings from FZ's stash. One would think there's unlimited Commercial Potential here! Downside: compared to other live stuff from the era (Bongo Fury, Roxy, etc.) this one is relatively weak.

It's a small (5-piece) band, which gives FZ room to stretch out more than a few times. However taken as a whole a lot of this sounds really perfunctory, like they are just going through the motions, which is somewhat contradictory because no one can "just go through the motions" and play some of these songs. But that's it to these ears. Too bad Ruth wasn't around for this tour. You'll find much better versions -- live or otherwise -- elsewhere. I may be wrong, but I don't think any material from this incarnation of the band made the YCDTOA releases, which should give you a clue as to the general musical quality.

Apparently the second Vaulternative release, entitled Buffalo, is now for sale in a store near you! Sorry Dweezil, but based on this one, I'll take a hard look at that before plunking down da dollars.

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Trance-Fusion - Zappa 2006
Rating = 3


That's right, it's time for me to Get My Review On! so you can Get Your Internet On! and read how Frank Zappa Got His Guitar Solos On! back when the world was Getting Its Late-70s and 80s On! and hopefully you'll be inspired to Get Your Reader Comments On! so I can Get My FTP On! and all the readers out there can Get Their Reading On!

So with no further ado, let's GET OUR TRANCE-FUSION ON!

Every Advertising Firm In The World

P.S. Get Your Post-Script On!

No, but serious... We all miss Frank Zappa. Even if you hated him, you miss him. He's un-notmissable. However, the universal act of "missing Frank Zappa" is not equivalent to "missing a bunch of shitty boring guitar solos." This is where the disconnect lies. Or "where the truth lies" if you're a 14-year-old writing a poem. And after waiting half a decade for the Zappa Family Trust to finally get off their rectums and issue another CD of unreleased Frank material (of which there is A JILLION TONS), it's a real drag on a cigarette that it turned out to be another Goddammited guitar solo album.

You know which one I love though? The one that goes "Bwee! Bwee bwoo ding dang doo diddly doo dit dit dit diddle (etc)

When Mr. Zappa took the time to think through and perform melodic solos, the results were sometimes impressively expressive (the dark, odd "Bowling On Charen," David Gilmoury "Scratch & Sniff," intrigue-ridden "Light Is All That Matters" and fun "Soul Polka" are especially good), but he too often just dicked around with note combinations that were neither musical nor interesting. Furthermore, whenever he tried to perform fast note runs through that thick, idiosyncratic guitar tone, all that came out of the amp was a bunch of THUCK! THUCK! THUCK! pick-plucking noises drowning out the actual notes he was (presumably) trying to play. I guess it's just as well, since (as son Dweezil demonstrates on two performances herein) fast Satriani-style solos can be every bit as numbing and listless as slow ones.

The disc features nine guitar solos with the '88 live band, five with the '84 group, and one each from '77 and '79. As these dates might suggest, far too much of the background music is synthetic cocktail jazz and that embarrassing pseudo-reggae beat that Zappa was so stuck on during his final days as a Rock Performer.

I'll close with a joke for today's youth:

What's the difference between Paris Hilton and a jar of eggs?

When you drop a jar of eggs on the floor, you get a bunch of yolk, egg shells and broken glass. When you drop Paris Hilton on the floor, you get the Congressional Medal of Honor!

Look, I'll be honest. I typed in the first part of the joke before I'd come up with a punchline. Come on, it's a great 'first part of a joke'! Now I just need to think of a good punchline. Here are a few other possibilities. Let me know if you like any of them:

a. When a jar of eggs gets a DUI, it doesn't call a press conference to tell the world how much it's grown from the experience.

b. I don't know but, as a staff reporter for Us Weekly, I'll get right on that topical story!

c. If you have a rich imagination, you can almost envision a jar of eggs having a personality.

d. Fraternity members need at least one drink before they'll fuck a jar of eggs.

e. A jar of eggs can be placed in a minimum-security prison cell without cracking up.

And of course if you have any good punchlines for this fine, fine first part of a joke, I'd love to hear them! (and then post them, claiming I made them up) Indeed, I'd love to hear them!

Reader Comments
I think the winner is b:

"I don't know but, as a staff reporter for Us Weekly, I'll get right on that topical story!"

My less than satisfactory attempt is:

"The jar of eggs knows that no matter how you dress it up it's pretty much useless unless you can get inside it."

Paris Hilton is gross.

Mike F
What's the difference between Paris Hilton and a jar of eggs?

The eggs were laid only once.
What's the difference between Paris Hilton and a jar of eggs?

A. None, they are both going to get eaten.

B. The jar of eggs cost more.

C. The jar of eggs have more brain cells.

D. The eggs will have chicken legs one day, but Paris already does.

E. Saying "Teach your grandmother to suck Paris Hilton" is much worse insult.

Still none of them beats Mike F's.
What's the difference between Paris Hilton and a jar of eggs? Not a goddamn thing.
Paris Hilton likes them big

NOTHING compares to the feeling of having a larger penis

People judge your dick size by your shoes size.

A few inches can make a real difference

With Xtra Size+ you dont have to wear
bigger shoes to make women think you have a huge dick.

Be satisfied for life!

You can actually have it.

Are you insecure?

partner faking her orgasm?

Add your thoughts?

Imaginary Diseases - Zappa 2006
Rating = 6

When I heard that Frank Zappa was issuing a new CD, I was of course very excited because that guy's been a real hermit for the past 15 years, concentrating most of his attention on his online shoe store. So imagine my irritable bowel syndrome upon receiving said CD and discovering it to be yet another bunch of crayola he recorded before I was born. Tragically, I sat down to listen to the CD, happily.

Imaginary Diseases is a set of 1972 live recordings from a tour that Frank conducted with the 10-piece 'Petite Wazoo Orchestra' (trumpets, trombones, woodwinds, saxes, flugelhorn, slide guitar, bass and drums). In both theory and half-practice, this is extremely exciting because Frank's written parts for the orchestra are terrific. In tracks like "Rollo" (previously available only on the Saarbrucken Beat the Boot) and the 16-minute version of Apostrophe's "Father O'Blivion," the horn chorale plays all manner of warped, mysterious chord changes and intelligent countermelodies -- like jazz if didn't jazz didn't have a JOB at the RIM factory! (rim job) !

Unfortunately (though not unexpectedly), Frank devotes far too much of the running time to tedious guitar solos, killing most of the potential offered by this unorthodox touring line-up. If this were a straight-up 'guitar solo' album, I'd have no problem with this. Instead he teases me pleases me with all these strange, forboding creative and intertwining orchestral/jazz note and chord runs, only to wind up twiddling his stringed dick for half the disc. "Been To Kansas City In A Minor," for example, is a 10-minute series of solos over a repetitive minor-key blooze riff. "Imaginary Diseases," for example, begins with action-packed TV cop show horn interplay and then turns into a 10-minute guitar solo over generic boogie rock. "Montreal," for example, is a 10-minute guitar solo over a couple of basic r'n'b chords. "D.C. Boogie," for example, is over 10 minutes long. The band line-up, for example, has 10 men, Utes.

Sorry, just giving a shout-out to my favorite Utah college football team. Shake that ball all night long, Brian Johnson! Don't stop spinnin' that vinyl pigskin, John Peel! Keep suckin' those Christian cocks, Christian Cox!

There are no vocals on this album, aside from the audience going "Ohhhhhhh" on cue during the tiny opening track "Oddients" (GET IT!??!?! 'ODDIENTS'??? 'AUDIENCE'???? GET IT?!!???! Chances are you get it.) and Frank interrupting "D.C. Boogie" to ask the crowd if they would like it to end with a boogie, a ballad, a march, a polka or a dog food jingle. Because 1972 was knee-deep in the drug era, nobody voted for dog food jingle like I would have. Pricks.

Yes, with every prick of the heroin needle, 1972 America found itself further alienated from the traditional folklore of the dog food jingle. Remember this one? "Kibbles n bits n bits n bits!/Kibbles n bits n bits n bits!"? Sure it was simple, but America's dogs are simple. Simply GREAT, that is!

Speaking of which, for some reason my wife and I have adopted the unfortunate habit of pronouncing Henry The Dog's favorite foods in exceedingly stupid ways, such that he has now learned to recognize them by these poor pronunciations:
- "Pizza" = "Pizzar!"
- "Tuna" = "Tunar!"
- "Turkey" = "Turn-key!"
- "Innova Senior Wet Dog Food" = "Stinky!"

Hmm. That was more exciting when I thought there were more than four.

In finale, Imaginary Diseases has some brass compositions that are REALLY GREAT, but you also have to sit through some guitar solos that REALLY GRATE. But that's the nature of the homonym. Why else would I join all these SETS of religious SECTS for more than a few SECS?

To drain my BAWL SACK of course! If you need a shoulder to cry on, look no further than God.

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Joe's Corsage - Vaulternative 2004
Rating = 6

This compilation of super-early Mothers of Invention material is mostly composed of 1965 demos -- with four of the songs even featuring Henry Vestine on guitar! He later wound up in Canned Heat of "On The Road Again" fame! Considering their age and scarcity, the demos have astonishingly good sound, but boy oh boy were the Mothers a straightforward r'n'b act when they started out. Even though five of these songs would later end up on Freak Out!, one on Absolutely Free and one (with new lyrics) on We're Only In It For The Money, these early versions feature none of the psych/freak sound and attitude that would soon distinguish them. Instead, they're just straight rhythm and blues songs, sung in harmony by two men with such rough, ugly and low voices that the harmony doesn't help.

In addition to the songs you'd later grow up loving on the first three Zappa albums (including "I'm So Happy I Could Cry," a straight, non-jokey sad sack tale set to the soon-to-be music of "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance"!), the disc includes godawful covers of the Righteous Brothers' "My Babe" and Marvin Gaye's "Hitch Hike" (wait til you hear how horrifically they mangle the legendary intro!) and a few interview snippets with Frank discussing the genesis of the band name and how his eclectic musical tastes (sea shanties, Arab/Indian music, avant-classical) combined with the r'n'b passion of the first line-up to create the initial Mothers of Invention sound.

The total disc length is 35:39. It should definitely be of interest to any Freak Out! fan curious to hear how a normal band would have handled Zappa's early material, but by no means are any of these renditions better than the official versions. So keep that in mind or go home crying!

Wait a few minutes before going home crying though because my penis is stuck in your wife's ear.

Huh? No no! I mean her ear of CORN!

(*crowd laughs approvingly, realizing that the sin of adultery has not taken place, even in ear form*)

Look, wait until YOUR best little doggy friend of 8 years develops an agonizing spinal injury and see how funny YOU are.

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Joe's Xmasage - Vaulternative 2005
Rating = 5

If it's a 55-minute CD of chit-chat, guitar jams, avant-garde noise and only two actual songs you're after, Joe's Xmasage has a present for you and it's called a stocking! A stocking of SHIT, that is! Let's try that again.

This CD features eleven tracks. Eleven tracks of SHIT, th no hang on.

This CD includes eleven tracks. And a full FIVE of those are just people talking: Frank and his first wife Kay talking about a 1962 gig at a Mormon Church Recreational hall; Frank, Ray Collins and some feeble-sounding drummer named Al Surratt talking about going to get some beer; this same Al Surratt mocking a letter he's found in a girl's purse -- for eleven minutes; Frank and Ray performing an (honestly pretty darned funny) skit about a failed teen idol named "Suckit Rockit"; and Frank making up fake I Was A Teenage... movie concepts - for another eleven minutes! Don't these people have better things to do with their eleven minutes!? Christ, I could jam my dick in a barrel of milk and stir it into butter in that time!

Speaking of which, for all your household butter needs, be sure and pick up a bottle of I Can't Believe Mark Prindle Stuck His Dick In My Butter. Tell 'em Mark Prindle's dick sent ya!

Elsewhere, you get 15 minutes of early guitar jams (YEAH MORE LIKE SHITar jams, if you a), two brief snippets of moog/sax/piano/vibes noise, and finally IF YOU'RE REALLY PATIENT, two actual songs -- the adorable 1963 r'n'b single "Mr. Clean" and a super-early version of Absolutely Free's "Why Dontcha Do Me Right?"

To sum up: 5 chit-chats, 2 awful guitar jams, 2 worthless noise snippets, and 2 songs.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and infer that this CD is geared towards the 'Zappa completist.'

But wait a second -- I am a Zappa completist, and this is STILL a bunch of bullshit! Why would I want to listen to some asshole who never even played on a Frank Zappa record make fun of a letter he found in somebody's purse for nigh on a quarter-hour!? What joy and tears am I expected to garner from some of the dullest and least releasable guitar jams on record? And most of all - how come they couldn't find any other skits as funny as "Suckit Rockit"? That thing's hilarious!

There's an amazing Frank Zappa site called "Information Is Not Knowledge" that was kind enough to transcribe some of the pointless chit-chat preserved for all posterior on this silver-urine-colored CD, so here let's enjoy together:

"Well, this is the swinginest dance you've ever seen, man, this was really beautiful. It was a Christmas dance and this recreation hall was about as big as our living room. Now dig, it had a hard wood floor, it had a little stage, and on the floor they had a basketball thing marked off. And it was all decorated up, you know, like they really went to a lot of trouble. And they had these wires going across the room like that, they had millions of them, and they had these little threads coming down with cotton balls tied on the ends so it looked like snow. They had these trees, these dead trees, set up on these, uh, pedestal deals all around the wall. Then, they were sprayed with snow and they had little ribbons, bows, and parasols, and little bufers, and all these things attached to them, and then they had these color lights underneath lighting it up, it was real, real lovely. And then they had the, the uh, when you walked into the place they had like a, uh, a beaded drape, only it wasn't beads, it was these little cotton balls like snow tied onto threads. And then they had the big crystal punch bowls and all these, uh, all these wonderful Mormons standing around there getting ready to have this fine party. (Laughs) Ray told me, he says, you shouldn't smoke when you go there, man, they don't like it, so I said, aw man, he's just being too cautious 'cause he's a pretty tame guy."

"Ray: I don't know that I'm on, but I don't get the sound of that chair, so you know where I'm at. And then he took it like this.
?: It's gonna fall on the Christmas tree.
Ray: I don't know that I'm actually on, but he actually took the thing and he ruffled it around and he says, "Oh! Oh boy, am I gonna throw this down!" And then he... Then he went -
?: ...second one's fun.
Ray: It was classic, because he knew it was on tape."

"Isn't that fabuloss? I am so excited when the captain of the team and the coach told me. I was a happy and excited. I wanted to cry. And jump up and down and hug and kiss everyone. But somehow I managed to control myself. Mary Comerfound is queen, and Sheryl Bridges and myself are princiseses. You know something? I feel just as honored with being a princess as I would being queen. Our homecoming is the Friday and we play against Palmdale. I wish you could come up for it. That would be so neat. Oh, Edie, I am so excited about the whole thing. I wanted to write and tell you the first day I found out but I never found the time. Another big shock: John Gosset is back in town. Remember how he ran away from home last year? Well, he came back."

"Quiet, so I can tune up.
Three twenty.
Okay. We're rolling.
Just wanna stick some brushes?
Same thing.
No, let's-- Can you do a bossa nova in 3/4? No, just do bossa nova, fuck it. And we'll just-- See-- Do the same thing. One two, one two three four . . .
Unh-unh. No. Look.
Okay. One two, one two three four . . .
No, no. I said just do bossa nova like you were doin' before. One (ready?) two, one two three four . . .
One two, one two three four . . .
No, no. Bobby?
Like that. One. One two, one two three four . . ."

I know! It's almost as if Frank Zappa and all his boring friends are hanging out at your apartment, stinking up the joint with their hippie facial hair!

"Suckit Rockit" is funny though. You're not gonna wanna miss that one. No way! I know you! You were too short! You had bad skin!

Heh heh. Good old references to poems Henry Rollins wrote like two decades ago. But that's why they call me "Relevant Jim"! Because I'm "relevant, Jim"!

Reader Comments (aaron "not going to use shift or capslock tonight except when i hit the quotations" moyer)
frank zappa made too many albums and i hate how his fans hold his music up as some sort of genius.

i do like mom and dad from we're only in it for the money, i also like peaches en regalia.

i guess i am sort of a zappa fan.

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Joe's Domage - Vaulternative 2004
Rating = 6

Johnny never learned to read or write so well
But he could play the guitar just like a-ringin' a bell

Meaning what? That Johnny B. Goode could only play a single clangy note on his guitar? That hardly seems worth mythologizing.

My head is fucking killing me Yes I'm drunk but it's not my fault. We went to Arriba Arriba and you know how there are two speakers/channels in the world? One speaker was going HAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN at five trillion decibels because it wasn't plugged in all the way, and the other speaker (because they played SGHITTY MUSIC) was always something with a vocal autotuner. You know me, right? I'm not a racist or sexist and you know that, right? So I can be honest here? And you won't judge me? Here, I'll be honest:

50% of music in the past ten years has featured a vocal autotuner because BLACK PEOPLE ARE STUPID.

Okay great! Now that that's settled, let's remind YOU that I voted for Obama and that I don't think black people are stupid. But HOLY LIVING FUCK DO TOO MANY SO-CALLED "ARTISTS" USE VOCAL AUTOTUNERS. Cher had a hit 55,000 years ago with a vocal autotuner, and everybody is STILL imitating it. Why? WHY? TELL ME WHY! IT SOUNDS DUMB AS MOTHER FUCKING SHIT! HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY THINK IT SOUNDS GOOD TO HAVE YOUR VOICE GO EH-EH-EH-EH-EH-EH WITH A HARD CLIP BETWEEN EACH NOTE WHERE HUMAN WARMTH AND COURTESY SHOULD BE?

This CD is a Frank Zappa rehearsal. He recorded a "Wazoo" rehearsal and a billion years later some douchebag released it as an 'actual cd.' But you know what in life today? It's NEET! It's NEET to hear Frank Zappa explain to his band how all his crazyass weirdo time signature songs go! Sure, you hear the band practice the same bits over and over again, but you also get to hear Frank saying to them, "No no, it does SO-AND-SO, not what you just did." And maybe if there were a billion Frank Zappa rehearsals on the market, this would earn a 2, but as it is we don't have ANY and this is the only one, so you can listen to it and go, "HOLY SHIT! Frank Zappa had to TEACH his bands how to play all those weirdo songs! They weren't born with such knowledge already ingrained!" So htat's neat. Also, I don't think he actually toured with this band. Somebody look that up.

Horns galore! They never play the whole songs. But do you need them? Possibly. Tight, good, loose, blooze-rock, Frank singing what the bass should play - who knew? You're with me, right?

Example: "Duh-duh duh-duh-duh duh-duh duh duh duh
Duh-duh duh-duh-duh duh-duh duh duh duh
Duh-duh duh-duh-duh duh-duh duh duh duh
Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh"

My head is killing me but I don't care because Henry The Dog is getting better every single day. Today is his best day yet. I love him SO MUCH. I thought we were going to have to put him to sleep just a few days ago, and now he's like a big shot happy DOG!!!!

This CD is one that (a) DESERVES TO EXIST, but (b) is not something you'll listen to all that often. Because it's KEEN AS FACKIN SHOT to hear Freak Zappo's teach his band how to play his loony tunes, but why would you want to listen to that more than once? You know what I mean? Unlsess you're like gay for funny mustaches or some pus. Some crappin' fuck.

Frank Zappa would be pisseder than schidt if he knew this were released, so keep that in mind. Somebody is trying to profit off of his REHEARSAL TAPE.

Reader Comments

I've only heard this once, and it was kinda fun and enlightening, but I don't feel much need to hear this again. The "Corsaga" series (Joe's Domage, Corsage, etc etc) is clearly aimed at diehard fans who want anything and everything the ZFT will release from the legendary FZ vault, so I certainly understand its release, and I certainly don't feel it's a ripoff or a cash-in, it's just there if you care to buy it. The main thing I remember from it is the long stretch of learning one particular passage from "It Just Might Be a One Shot Deal" - just a small part of the overall song, but a particularly dissonant and rhythmically insane one. Makes me wonder how in the world Zappa came up with that passage and thought it made sense musically. Just a Zappa trademark I guess. If I brought a passage like that to my band they would think I was nuts and start poring through the ads in Melody Maker. Hey, Steve Hackett is looking for a gig, let's call him up.

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Wazoo - Vaulternative 2007
Rating = 2

Wait -- a TWO!? That seems a bit low for this highly-regarded recording of Frank's short-lived 20-piece big band performing classic material from The Great Wazoo, Waka/Jawaka, 200 Motels and Lather at the Boston Music Hall on September 24, 1972. Let's take a closer look at the computational data here to see how such a rare and wonderful document could've scored so improbably low on the Mark Prindle Scientific Scale Of Objective Record Review Grading. Okay, the lights are blinking on the room-sized Mark Prindle Computer Machine, and here comes the answer ribbon. It reads as follows:


And there you have it!

Look, here's my impression of this 96-minute double-CD:

"Hey I'm Frank Zappa and I'm going to talk for like 5 hours."

(*band plays a 20-second riff followed by nine thousand years of shitty boring solos*)

"Hey I'm Frank Zappa. Talk talk talk."

(*band plays 3 minutes of genius, tight, sharp, fast, herky-jerky pre-written brass music, then says fuck it and plays some more shitty boring solos*)

"Hey I'm Frank Zappa. Now I'm going to show off how smart I am by talking about time signatures or some crap."

(*band brapps like twenty Miles Davises, making even previously great songs sound like a men's room bowel difficulty*)


Look I never claimed to not be suffering from a mental illness.

(if "hating everything" is a mental illness)

What the hell is that on my windowsill? A bird!? HEY! FUCK YOU, FEATHERED SHITBALL! (*hurls shoe*)

Reader Comments

Wait, a 2? This probably indicates your distaste for jazz improv more than anything else. Which is ok, it's your review, but I still think this release is fantastic. Plenty of great big-band jamming, both in a funky groove mode and a free-jazz type of groove. This also contains one of the earliest known recordings of "The Adventures of Greggary Peccary", presented here without vocals, and with a substantially different arrangement than what eventually ended up on Studio Tan and Lather. It's a good piece of "20th Century Modern" composition. Fans had wanted a document of the "Wazoo" tour for a long time, and this release really hits the spot for folks like me. I'd give it... hmmm... an 8 or a 9.

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Joe's Menage - Vaulternative 2008
Rating = 7

A Michael Bay Production
Working Script

It is nighttime. A group of young men and women are gathered around a campfire, drinking beer.

Bill: You know what this night reminds me of?

Steve: Sex?

Group laughs heartily.

Bill: No! It reminds me of the legend of 'The Exorcist'.

Tiffany: What's that, a porn movie you jerked off to?

Group laughs randily.

Bill: No! Legend has it that twenty years ago, there was a massacre on this very site. A whole group of campers were slaughtered by a maniac killer wearing a facial mask. They called him 'The Exorcist.' And legend has it that he's still out there.... somewhere.... waiting.

Group stares forward in silence.

With gigantic violin SHRIEK!, a cat jumps into the scene.


Marie: Come on, you guys! It's just a cat!

Group laughs relievedly.

Buffy: Let's have sex! (takes off shirt)

With gigantic violin SHRIEK!, 'The Exorcist' jumps into the scene with a hand saw and, with one quick swoop, lops entire group's head off.

It is now daytime. A different group of young men and women are gathered around a fireplace, smoking pot.

Dave: Hey, have you guys heard the legend of 'The Exorcist'?

Amii: No, but here are my tits! (flashes her breasts)

With gigantic violin SHRIEK!, 'The Exorcist' jumps into the scene with a bicycle, rams it through the entire group's body and impales them to the door.

It is now dusk. A third group of young men and women are gathered around a picture of a fire, freebasing crack cocaine.

Jerry: I heard the weirdest story the other day.

'Pecker': When you were jackin' off?

Group laughs delightfully.

Jerry: No! I heard it from a guy at Reno's Steak Park.

Bing: What was he doing? Beatin' off?

Group laughs warmly, cozily.

Jerry: No! He was talking to his friend about a maniac killer called 'The Exorcist,' whose Asian daughter had her head accidentally twisted all the way around by an absent-minded chiropractor. Supposedly 'The Exorcist' is still out there today, killing and killing and killing to avenge her murder.

Karl: Is he jerkin' off?

Group laughs candidly

With gigantic violin SHRIEK!, 'The Exorcist' jumps into the scene with a bow and fires an arrow that traverses the room, piercing the entire group through the heart and creating a pool of blood eight feet deep, in which they drown while screaming and taking their shirts off.

It is now dawn. A fourth group of young men and women are gathered around a copy of Arthur Brown's Fire LP, gambling away their life savings on the Internet.

Bernie: I don't know if you guys have ever heard the Frank Zappa CD Joe's Menage, but it's a live album that was recorded on November 1st, 1975, during the brief period in which vocalist/alto saxophonist Norma Jean Bell was a member of his touring band. They perform two Lather songs, one from Bongo Fury and the title tracks from Chunga's Revenge and Zoot Allures, as well as gross novelty-soul-reggae revamps of three We're Only In It For The Money songs. The live sound is fine, and this band's "jammin'" capabilities may be the strongest of any Zappa line-up. Pity's the more then that rather than sticking to his killer mid-'70s rock catalog, they find it necessary to puke out Dylan At Budokan-level renditions of three formerly excellent '60s songs (not to mention the weak early version of soon-to-be-superbusy-novelty-classic "Baby Don'tcha Want A Man Like Me," presented here as a clunky, empty, falsetto-ridden nightmare). Still, the soul harmony vocals of "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstacy" are pristine, "The Illinois Enema Bandit" is as sickeningly humorous as always, and the fourteen-minute "Chunga's Revenge" is fantastic, featuring groovy soul vocals and a sweaty sax workout from Ms. Bell, as well as a high-tech 'Melodica' break, a speedfreak drum solo and even a 'rhythm guitar solo'!

Young Asian woman with long black hair covering her face suddenly appears in the corner.

Nick: Hey! What are you doing over there, pullin' your pud?

With gigantic violin SHRIEK!, her head turns all the way around.

Marci: Holy shit!

With gigantic violin SHRIEK!, 'The Exorcist' jumps into the scene with a hangnail and slashes the entire group's throat except for Maureen, a non-gambling tee-totaller virgin who was upstairs reading the Bible and donating to charity.

Maureen: Hey, what's all that noise?

Startled, 'The Exorcist' dies of a heart attack.


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Halloween - Vaulternative 2003
Rating = 6

I was visiting Ricky's Fruity Store For Girls with my wife the other night after dining on several species of fish at the local Ooki Sushi restaurant when I found myself smiling uproariously at a number of anti-children 'joke' magnets. Here are just two of the many, many kid-debasing gags at which I marveled:

"I had sex with my husband and all I got was this lousy child."

"I raise puppies instead of children because I'd rather ruin my carpets than my life."

Outstanding, am I not uncorrect? But who ARE these people that come up with such magnet-encompassed witticisms? And how can I join the ranks of their lofty guild? How can I too become a novelty magnet billionaire, lying at home on a bed made of money and using a flaming $100 bill to light my cigar, itself composed of a $100 bill 'wrapping paper' surrounding shredded $100 bill 'tobacco'? The answer is obvious. I need to prove that I too can insult babies and small people! Here, let's join me in this pursuit:

"If I wanted to hear the pitter-patter of little feet, I'd put an amplifier on my ball crabs."

"Children are our nation's most valuable natural resource. Because I've just designed a car that runs on dead children."


See? Those were good. Where's my royalty check?

When Zesty Fripfrop And The Masters Of Disaster made the scurvy decision to perform several live sets at NYC's Palladium between October 27-31, 1978, they never could've imagined that 25 years later, Frank's son Dweezil would go through the tapes and put together a compilation of what he concerned to be the finest song performances of the week. How could they possibly have imagined this would occur? There is NO WAY!

As such, they performed 2 songs each from Over-Nite Sensation and ('), one each from Sheik Yerbouti, Tinseltown Rebellion, 200 Motels, You Are What You Is, Zoot Allures and Bongo Fury, a guitar solo, a drum solo and a fucking KICKASS introductory track called "NYC Audience." Every time I hear this track -- which consists of one minute and eighteen seconds of the crowd cheering as the band gets ready to perform their first song -- I literally type a letter to God telling him he can have every other album in my collection as long as he leaves me "NYC Audience" (or as I like to call it, "OMG Miracle").

Supposedly a big selling point of this record is that it features violinist L. (or "Lakshminarayana," as his friends called him as a Nick Name) Shankar. Dude, "Nick Name" would be a fucken AWESOME pseudonym for a late-70s L.A. punk rocker. So if you know any L.A. punk rockers in their late 70s, be sure and HA HA! HA HA! I've defied all expectations!

Oh, here's some "great" news. Last night Brenda The Wife, Henry The Dog and I went to Central Park at 8:00 PM and left at 8:45 PM. At 9:15 PM, my wife and I returned to the park in our newly-donned jogging clothes only to run fist-first into about six trillion fire trucks, policemen and ambulances. Apparently during the mere half-hour we were away, a man bashed a woman in the head over and over with a metal pipe and stole $15,000 worth of jewelry (watch and wedding ring). Granted, you almost can't feel sorry for a woman careless enough to wear $15,000 worth of jewelry into Central Park at night during a recession. HOWEVER, please understand that the wife and I have always felt safe walking into Central Park at night, with or without Henry. By the time we moved here in 1996, the bridle and jogging tracks were no longer dangerous. We've literally gone in there pretty much every night for the past eight years - up until 1 in the morning - with no apprehension at all. But apparently the tide is turning something fierce with this new recession. More unemployment = more homeless = more desperation = more violence. There have apparently been three attacks on joggers within just the past few weeks, and the trend is expected to continue. FIE ON IT!

As a sidenote, my wife is pretty sure she saw the man who committed the crime, shortly before he did so. A tall black man wearing an '80s-style track suit approached her and behaved very erratically (pretending to jog away while actually jogging in place and staring at her) until he realized that she was accompanied by a man and dog (we were several yards away from her at the time), at which point he moseyed along. I wouldn't put much credence into her suspicion except that this guy was the only person that either of us saw during our entire walk with Henry, and the crime took place only fifteen minutes later. If only Barney Miller were here, he'd crack this case! With the help of good old Fish! And dopey old Wojo! Annd the Chinese guy? FUCK the Chinese guy! What good was he ever did do?!

One guy gets so excited about the Zappa show that he shouts, "THIS IS FRANK ZAPPA ON HALLOWEEN! HE'S LIKE GUY LOMBARDO ON NEW YEAR'S!" Frank talks to the crowd a lot too, which is fun. He even invites girls up from the audience to perform the female dialogue in "Dancin' Fool" and "Dinah-Moe Humm"! (which raises the question of what kind of freakish girl would learn the lyrics to "Dinah-Moe Humm").

Dweezeil includes lots of sleazy blues-rock on this one, as well as several long guitar solos. Some of the songs just don't ZING in these renditions though: "Camarillo Brillo" is rushed through with no soul at all; "Easy Meat" loses its way to boring axe wank; and as beautiful as "Black Napkins" and "The Deathless Horsie" are, you'd have to be a member of the Zappa Family Trust to enjoy seventeen minutes of him soloing over them.

It's still pretty good though. And it's nice of Frank to admit "Some of you people hate this song" before "Dinah-Moe Humm." I count myself among those people!

No hang on what's the w -- Ah! I TOUCH myself among those people.

Actually, check out THIS gag. I'm gonna blow their minds at this fancy cocktail party -- if you know what I mean by "COCK" "TAIL" "PART"(your legs)y!!!

(*pulls out penis, places into hot dog bun, covers in ketchup and mustard, eats*)

AHHH! Damn you, faulty short-term memory!

But as I was saying, the reason I don't like "Dinah-Moe Humm" is because it's so immature.

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Buffalo - Vaulternative 2007
Rating = 8

This is a good one! Extremely well-recorded at an October 25, 1980 concert in Buffalo, NY, it's two discs and two hours worth of tuneful multi-part soul harmonies, long but listenable guitar solos, parodic lounge singing, catchy novelty-pop songs, big dumb rockers and Steve Vai on stunt guitar! Included are five Sheik Yerboutis, four You Are What You Ises, three each from Joe's Garage and Tinseltown Rebellion, two each from Zoot Allures and You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 5, one each from Chunga's Revenge, ('), Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch, Lather, One Size Fits All and Freak Out!, and one extended comedy monologue. The set list is full of fun and hooky tunes, marred only by the vehemently un-songlike "Drowning Witch" and Frank's ugly and humorless anti-punk tirades "Mudd Club" and "Tinseltown Rebellion."

Highlights of noteworthy include:

- Frank reading aloud some audience members' T-shirts: "'Lick me! My 10th Zappa concert'....'Fuck the draft' -- my sentiments exactly!"

- I realize I should've mentioned this much earlier on the page, but I just noticed that the guitar riff near the end of "Cosmik Debris" (starting at 2:47) is a ripoff of a Band of Gypsys song.

- Frank forgetting the lyrics to "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" -- THREE TIMES!

- The singers RAPPING the verses of "I Ain't Got No Heart." Actually, that's not so much a highlight as a SHITlight.

An album like this forces me to admit that Frank Zappa is a novelty artist. These are joke songs! "Keep It Greasy"? "Broken Hearts Are For Assholes"? "Dancing Fool"? "Bobby Brown"? "I'm So Cute"? Could these songs even EXIST without their comedy lyrics? There's nothing else to them! Yes, they're catchy as all hell, but in the same way that, say, a "Weird Al" Yankovic original is catchy. As JOKE music.


I'd like to give an angry curse-out to the assho who posted a downloadable file of this album WITHOUT THE TWENTY-THREE-AND-A-HALF-MINUTE VERSION OF "THE TORTURE NEVER STOPS" ON IT.

So I guess keep in mind that I'm awarding an 8 to this album without actually hearing the twenty-three-and-a-half-minute version of "The Torture Never Stops." :7(

(*listens to the twenty-three-and-a-half-minute version of "The Torture Never Stops"*)

Ahh! This sucks!

(*raises grade to a perfect 10; signs it 'David Fricke'*)

Reader Comments

This one has Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. He's great. Dave Logeman toured with them on drums earlier the same year, and he's solid, but he's no Vinnie. The sound is bright and loud throughout, and the drum fills are extremely powerful and busy. A few big solo showcases like "Torture Never Stops" (so you're missing that, eh? it's a pretty great take of the song and has a good piano solo section in a different tempo by Tommy Mars, otherwise you can probably guess what it sounds like), and the opening "Chunga's Revenge". This is about as good a document of the late 70s/early 80s Zappa that you could ask for.

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One Shot Deal - Vaulternative 2008
Rating = 2

Shut Up Your Fuckin' Guitar!

This si mostly guitar solos., from 1972 to 1981. One song has a long keybard solo. One is neat because it sounds like a Gamelan. In one song, he palys Toto's "Hold The Line' at the beginning. Wy does my claccis rock station play that song so much? It's old and stupid! Also, here's how my wife sings it"

"Hold the line. Wny don't you hold the fucking line?"

In my opinion, it would've been less of a hit had those been the actual lyrics. But also the crowd laughs at Frank's antics while he RUINS the entier Eskimo story from APOSTROPHE. There's a norn section in one song. The rest are guitar solos.

Here's my impersontationpression of this album:

BWEE! Biddly-biddly-biddly-biddly-biddly. BWEE! Biddly-biddly-biddly. Your sense of music is STUPID AND ASININE if you think this is a good album. If that offends you, STOP LOVING GUITAR SOLOS, DICKHEAD.

You're not really a dickhead. I'm just jealous because I don't enjoy guitar solos as much as you are. I'm currently crying. :7(

Also, FUCK YOU BROTHER JIMMYS - they refused to give my wife a glass of wine tonight becuase they're DOUCHEBAGS. I was far drunker and they said they'd serve me. DOUCHEBAGS! SEXISTS!

This album is all guitar solos and terrible renditions of once-great songs. If that's what you like about Frank Zappa, by God purchase this item. But click through my AMAZON click first because I'm unemployed. EARNING NO MONEY AND FAILING. DEATH WILL END MY EMOTIONAL TORMENT.

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The Dub Room Special! - Zappa 2007
Rating = 7

You know, sometimes when I think about the old days and how it used to be, I can't believe some of the horrible things they taught us back in school. Take nursery rhymes, for example. Remember those? Well, I know they seemed innocent and innocuous at the time, but now that you're older and more professional in the world, take a fresh look at some of these so-called 'harmless' rhymes and see if your perspective has changed at all:

"Old McDonald took a dump
Took it on my face
And in that dump there was some corn
Fuck the human race!"

See? When you're a kid, you don't realize what's being discussed here, but as a grown-up it's right there IN YOUR FACE! Here's another:

"Yankee Doodle went to town
Riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his cap
And then he fucked his pony
Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Don't lose your erection
Fuck that pony in the ass
And make a brown confection!"

And you still hear children, TO THIS VERY DAY, singing this song in churches and saloons! When will we finally learn? O God, when will we finally learn?

The Dub Room Special! is the soundtrack to a direct-to-video film that Frank Zappa pieced together in 1982. It contains nine tracks from an August 1974 concert and two from a Halloween 1981 show. And I'll tell you one doggone thing right now: they sure used some dumbass synth tones in 1974! These squiggly retarded fart noises nearly make rancid horse flesh out of the otherwise delightful "A Token Of My Extreme" and "The Dog Breath Variations." I won't get stuck on small details though. The larger detail is that the soundtrack includes two tracks each from Uncle Meat, (') and One Size Fits All, and one each from Joe's Garage, Them Or Us, Tinseltown Rebellion, Over-Nite Sensation and You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2. I like to detail such facts for I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

"Inca Roads" seems a bit goofy and overlong in this rendition, and the horrible "Room Service" is just the band laughing at their own inside jokes for nine minutes, but otherwise this disc is a true Enjoyment Parade for fans of good old lowdown dirty Zappa blues-rock grooves ("Florentine Pogen," "Cosmik Debris," "Montana," "Stink-Foot"). And yes, the seven-years-and-entirely-different-band-later "Stevie's Spanking" and "Easy Meat" seem flown in from a Joke-Rock Convention, but there's some smilehood to be found there too.

My favorite moment of the disc occurs at the 3:56 mark of "Stinkfoot," when Frank suddenly announces, "Oh, that's enough of that!" Without a beat, break or pause, "Easy Meat" slams right into his words, jumping across an entire decade to complete his one-liner.

I'm going to come clean about something here: although I'm thrilled that The Zappa Family Trust continues to release these great live shows, I don't actually buy any of them. Because honestly - how many versions of "Stink-Foot" do I need? If I already own it on ('), Make A Jazz Noise Here and You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2, is there a valid reason why I should own it again, again and again on FZ:OZ, Halloween and The Dub Room Special!? It's definitely interesting to hear how a later line-up tackles an early song (or vice-versa), but in most cases it's pretty much the same line-up doing the live renditions.

My point is that YES this album is worth a 7 out of 10 because it's full of solid live renditions of great Zappa material. But do you need it? That depends on how much of a Zappa fanatic you are. If you can't get enough of his guitar solos, definitely go for it because he's always changing those things up. But normal Zappa fans like myself? Do we really need to be spending this kind of money during a recession?

Well, he sing-speaks "Montana" in a higher register than on the studio version, that's kind of interesting.

Hey! I just checked Amazon and the DVD itself is much cheaper than the CD soundtrack. Get it! Get the DVD! It's only like 7 dollars plus shipping! Click on my Amazon link right down there below! Do it! Now!

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Other Frank Zappa Sites

*Say! Why not click here and buy every Frank Zappa CD?

*You paint your head, your mind is dead, you don't even know what I just said -- that's YOU! Frank Zappa's Musical Language!

*I might be moving to Montana soon, to raise me up a crop of Frank Zappa's Revenge!

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