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Frank Zappa

  • Freak Out,
  • Absolutely Free,
  • Lumpy Gravy,
  • We're Only In It For
  • The Money,
  • Crusin With Ruben And
  • The Jets,
  • Uncle Meat,
  • Ahead Of Their Time,
  • Hot Rats,
  • Burnt Weeny Sandwich,
  • Weasels Ripped My Flesh,
  • Chungas Revenge,
  • Fillmore East June 1971,
  • 200 Motels,
  • Just Another Band
  • From L.A.,
  • Waka Jawaka,
  • The Grand Wazoo,
  • Over-Nite Sensation,
  • Apostrophe,
  • Roxy And Elsewhere,
  • One Size Fits All,
  • Bongo Fury,
  • Zoot Allures,
  • Zappa In New York,
  • Sheik Yerbouti,
  • Joe's Garage,
  • You Are What You Is,
  • Ship Arriving Too Late...,
  • Them Or Us,
  • Thing Fish,
  • Civilization, Phaze III,
  • The Lost Episodes
  • Strictly Commercial,
  • Cheap Thrills,
  • Son Of Cheep Thrills,
  • Greasy Love Songs,

    Frank Zappa

  • Captain Beefheart,

  • Album Reviews |

    Frank Zappa

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    Freak Out ( 1966 )
    Hungry Freaks, Daddy / I Ain't Got No Heart / Who Are the Brain Police? / Go Cry on Somebody Else's Shoulder / Motherly Love / How Could I Be Such a Fool / Wowie Zowie / You Didn't Try to Call Me / Any Way the Wind Blows / I'm Not Satisfied / You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here / Trouble Every Day / Help, I'm a Rock / The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet

    A pretty straightforward entry into the murky and delightful world of Zappa. Or so it would seem. At the time he thought this album might be a hit. You have easier songs. Doo Wop influenced songs. 'Don’t Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder' is pretty straightforward. You know, it's pretty pleasant! But that's track four. First you have to navigate 'Hungry Freaks Daddy' which has a great guitar sound. 'I Aint Got No Heart' continues this rhythm and blues sound. At this point the listener who has never heard of Zappa is probably thinking 'Well it's ok.' Then we have 'Who Are The Brain Police'. Which is hardly the strangest cut here. But the vocals have of course been processed and made slightly weird. You know, for some people, that's their cue to switch off! It's pretty silly really to do that. But then, that's 'some people' for you. Personally I hate 'straight' vocals. I like my vocals to have character. These certainly have that. Of course, elsewhere on the album you actually have some pretty good singing. That's the beauty of it of course! They choose to do this! The music starts to take on a slightly hallucinogenic quality, too.

    The album continues pretty much in this alternating vein. You have the great 'I'm Not Satisfied'. I love that song! 'You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here' which is maybe the first example of that speeded up complex percussion that Zappa does so well. I love that song, too. Of course, at the very end of this you have 'Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet'. He liked his cheap monster and horror movies! The sound of jerking around, it's actually heavily arranged. If a load of semi musical literate drunks were let loose in a studio on $500 worth of rented percussion equipment, it's unlikely they'd produce anything quite this interesting. Overall, you can't really go too wrong with this album. Playing it to a Zappa novice won't bring you into contact with any violence as they try to wrestle the hi-fi control from you.

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    Readers Comments

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    I agree with what the reviewer wrote above, including the rating of eight and one half points. Not only does 'Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet' appear at the very end, but there are two more collages before it, 'Help I'm A Rock' and 'It Can't Happen Here'. All feature variable rhythm, vocal 'jungle' noises, and at times the sounds of a woman having sex in the background. Not bad at all for about twenty minutes of collage. I've been told John Lennon's 'Revolution 9' is just noise... but it isn't; neither is the conclusion of FREAK OUT.

    i to agree ,except not mentioning 'trouble every day' which is a cool piece. question as well, my vinyl copy plays side 2 on side 3 and vica versa. any idea if it has any worth, i'd love to know.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This album is superb. Every song but the "return of the son of the monster magnet" is a nine and a half.

    manlio frigo m.frigo@ludolex.com
    and what about the fascinating 3/4 how could I be such a fool and the sweetly aggressive motherly love. Don't forget It can't happen here evocating here and there luigi nono's atmospheres

    Luca highwaychile66@yahoo.co.uk
    I agree. But i think the best thing about this record is really just how cunning it is as a debut. The way Zappa just took the piss out of 60s pop guitar while loving it at the same time is incredible, if not hillarious. Superb.

    Spartacus spartacus6775@yahoo.com
    What a perfect way to start out Zappa's official career. after listening to zappa for about 3 years or so, i finally picked this one up (actually because of this review). i absolutely loved it. very political, but humorous at the same time. zappa was obviously an expert at bringing the two together. the whole change of time signatures with the same kind of "blabble" was perfect, and totally foreshadowed things to come later on in his life. i wish i woulda started off with this album, because it brings a little of his rock side, with his experimental side. great review, keep up the good work!

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    Absolutely Free 8 ( 1967 )
    Plastic People / The Duke Of Prunes / Amnesia Vivace / The Duke Regains His Chops / Call Any Vegetable / Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin / Soft-Sell Conclusion / Big Leg Emma / Why Don'tcha Do Me Right? / America Drinks / Status Back Baby / Uncle Bernie's Farm / Son Of Suzy Creamcheese / Brown Shoes Don't Make It / America Drinks & Goes Home

    The production on this isn't at the expected standard for a Zappa release. As only his second album and with the record company evidently unsure of his commercial potential, the recording budget had been cut. The songs are pretty good though. 'Plastic People' starts off dumb. Of course! Can't let people off that easily! It's actually pretty funny as we are introduced to the president who of course starts emoting 'Louie Louie'. This leads nicely into the main of the song which isn't too far removed from 'Louie Louie' and other similar garage classics. This is a good song. The next three tracks are basically a suite. 'The Duke Of Prunes' suite. Three songs rolling together. At this point it's very evident that 'Absolutely Free' is a more avant garde and difficult listening experience than 'Freak Out'. But, you know. 'Easier' does not mean 'good'. And 'difficult' does not mean 'bad'. Frequently it's actually the other way round. The record that reveals it's charms slowly or maybe even repulses you on first listen often goes on to become a cherished favourite. 'Call Any Vegetable' is kind of silly.

    You may have realised at this point. I'm not going to be doing any deep analysis into the meaning behind these songs. Zappa used so many obscure references in his lyrics I wouldn't know where to begin. And you know? I never do that anyway. I never sit down with any song and try to work it out like a crossword puzzle. You know, go do a crossword puzzle or read Shakespeare if that's your attitude! I like getting certain images from lyrics though. Zappa's give off some interesting images too! The CD release of this has 'Big Leg Emma' and 'Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?' as bonus tracks. 'Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?' is short but achieves a great sound! You know, this band weren't half bad? The second half of the album includes the sing a long 'Status Back Baby' and the statement of 'Brown Shoes Don't Make It' as highlights as well as the atmospheric 'America Drinks And Goes Home'.

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    Readers Comments

    Barry Fagan bazfagan@einstein3.thphys.may.ie
    worth at least 9 1/2. i think it's better than freak out and at least as good as money, no matter what the budget. i like the idea of the two suites. the compositions are more sophisticated than on freak out or money. thanks.

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    This is not technically Zappa's best release; but it is my favorite. If I had to pick two Zappa discs as my favorites (which I wouldn't want to do) they would be ABSOLUTELY FREE as #1; and WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, #2.

    Neal Grosvenor neagr@xchg.medisys.ca
    I like this album better than "Freak Out" just for its sheer lunancy. From beginning to end, every song just seems to build on the general air of madness. Zappa and co. totally mean business on this one. They proved in 1967 that not only were that satirists, but they were satirists who could actually play anything they wanted.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This was my first Mothers album which I bought in '67. It was the weirdest album I had at that time, but it had this feeling about it (which all good albums have) and I couldn't stop listening to it and it quickly became my number one (at that time). The first truly conceptional album, every song just floats into the next. But I don't like the 2 bonus songs in the middle of the CD (big leg emma & why don't you..) They don't belong to the album! The vinyl is much better as the two sides are like two complete songs.

    absolutely free poorroyschieder@hotmail.com
    Easily Zappas best album. May even be the best album of all time.Absolutely brilliant how it builds with each song/piece to the magnificent crescendo that is Brown shoes dont make it. Just when you think you're gonna get a chance to breath, along comes America drinks and goes home. The absolute best finale to ant record outside of Sgt. Peppers. Funny, catchy, and strangely sad. its sense of finality only makes me want to start the wholre thing from the beginning. A rating of 10, no wait, 11 , yeah thats right......11 out of 10. P.s. KILL UGLY RADIO

    rod rawdthyme@yahoo.fr
    My brother stole the vynl record from the York Miller in 1969 and passed it on to me. Since then I've been a huge fan of F.Z and the Mothers. Along with Hot Rats and Overnight Sensation it makes up the perfect trilogy. Three of a Perfect Pair anyone? Cheers!

    merph samarjkand salmonsm@missouri.edu
    Brown shoes don't make it is such a classic. and call any vegetable is my favorite zappa song ever. It just rubs itself in EVERYBODY's face. How can you not think it's genius? Aren't you surrounded by vegetables are I write/you read this? I know I am. 10 out of 10, recording quality be damned!

    Alan Brooks Midwest, USA
    P.S. I like this more and more. it is FZ's and Mothers' best by far i think. musically. but the lyrics to brown shoes are too obscene-- molesting a 13 year old is pretty heavyhanded lyricwise, not to mention immoral in reality. like the comment says, this is sophisticated what with the two suites, the compositions, and also the jacket artwork. what a time May 1967 was. i was just 11 then and what a dream it was.

    Andreas G Huntington Beach
    Very erratic. It has a fair amount of filler (Status Back Baby, Uncle Bernie's Farm, Suzy Creamcheese), as well as some of his seminal work - "Brown Shoes" and the "Duke of Prunes" sequence. "Call Any Vegetable" is great too. Growing up listening to Zappa opened my ears to exploration of the avant-garde music like Stravinsky and Varese, which influenced Zappa. When I started listening to Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring" and "Petrushka", it amazed me how much of it is referenced on this album. As Zappa's art matured, his influences weren't as blatantly evident, but it's interesting to hear.

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    Lumpy Gravy 7 ( 1968 )
    Part One / Part Two

    There's something people often miss about this record. Some of my fellow reviewers refuse to even acknowledge this as music, but if it's not music, what else is it? This is a SCORED ORCHESTRAL PIECE! OK, it's avant-garde, it's certainly not easy and the spoken dialogue and speech parts seem to make no coherent sense. But then, this is Zappa. But, hang on for a second. Frank had no kind of audience awaiting this release. The first two Mothers albums had sold well enough, but certainly neither were anything remotely resembling a best-seller, or enough to give Frank recognition beyond the underground scene. So, 'Lumpy Gravy'? Well, let's just see here....

    0:00 - 0:05 : "The Way I See It Barry, this should be a very dynamite show"

    0:06 - 1:37 : Very fast, typically Zappa instrumental music that sounds like a low-budget TV theme tune.

    1:38 - 2:07 : A section of sweet orchestral music leading into the introduction of the following sequence

    2:08 - 3:43 : An orchestral, instrumental version of the song 'Oh No' which would later appear on 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh' amongst others. This is gorgeous rendition of the piece, very strong melody. It ends with a what sounds like a farting noise.

    3:43 - 3:58 : "A bit of nostalgia for the old folks", followed by some classical musique concrete

    3:59 - 5:18 : "I'm Advocating dark clothes" / "If I'm not alone....how long have I been asleep?" / "As long as I have" / "Did you ever live in a drum" / "No" / "Well then you weren't me" / "I only dreamt I lived in a drum, ever since it got dark, dreaming is hard" / "Yeah, but with nothing over your head?" / "No, just light, over my head, and underneath too" / "I don't think I could take it without anything over my head" / "Me neither" / "Well, why don't you go out and see what's out there?" / "Well, I don't know if that's what's out there" / "Now, that's a thought" / "Yes, but still you can say darker and darker" / "I don't know what the outside of this thing looks like at all" / "I do, it's dark, and murky" / "How, how do you get your water so dark?" / "Cos I'm paranoid, I'm very paranoid, and the water in my washing machine turns dark, out of sympathy" / "Out of sympathy?" / "Yes" / "Where can I get that?" / "At your local drug store" / "How much?" / "It's from Kansas"

    5:19 - 5:46 : Speeded up, crackly circus music, complete with vinyl hisses, etc

    5:47 - 6:19 : Pots and pans? Lots of avant-garde classical stuff here and a speech segment "Bored out over 90"

    6:20 - 6:21 : "Almost Chinese, huh?" / "Yeah"

    6:22 - 6:28 : More avant-garde and musique concrete, plus dialogue "Cos I was making Two Seventy One an hour"

    6:29 - 6:41 : A silly sounding instrumental sequence followed by daft noise effects.

    6:42 - 6:52 : "I keep switching girls all the time, because if I'm able to find a girl and a really groovy car I can build up, I'll go steady with her for awhile until I can build up a car and blow up the engine"

    6:53 - 9:17 : Percussion and orchestral parts with speeded up sequences throughout reverting back to the 'Oh No' sequence of music but in a different variation

    9:18 - 11:06 : A long sequence of speech backed by drums and quiet background noises. It seems to be about a guy working in a gas station. Yup, basically that's it. I was going to transcribe this whole segment of speech purely by listening to the CD, but I gave up. I'm only human, and only have so much patience and time!

    11:07 - 11:58 : A harmonica and a garage rock band make a racket for a while! Someone starts coughing, snorting. Little tinkle keyboard, bell sounds, followed by fast, speeded up drums and percussion. A trumpet. More snorting and coughing.

    11:59 - 13:09 : A flute, ominous sounding drums, more avant-garde orchestra stuff.

    13:10 - 14:17 : A beautiful instrumental passage played by the orchestra followed by more speeded by circus cartoon music ending in an explosion of musique concrete.

    14:18 - 15:51 : Drums, flute, more orchestral avant-garde. Strings, the works!

    Well, that's 'Part One' of 'Lumpy Gravy'. Part two is similar in structure, although for some reason, not quite as enjoyable. The whole thing ends with an instrumental, slightly cheesy take on 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance' from 'We're Only In It For The Money'. This album is reportedly 'Phase 2' of 'We're Only In It For The Money', and there you have it. And, actually, writing out all those parts for the first side of this album - it almost makes no sense whatsoever! That's 'Lumpy Gravy', but it is unique, even within Franks vast catalogue. It was also a personal favourite of Franks. It's not quite a personal favourite of mine, but I do enjoy listening to this perhaps more than I should.

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    Readers Comments

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    I have mixed sentiments for LUMPY GRAVY. I only listen to the first several minutes of this collage recording. During those few minutes there are snippets of serious music as exciting as anything Stravinsky ever did and interesting dialogue concerning living in a drum...paranoia...dark water in a washing machine...your local drugstore and Kansas. However, the disc lags for me after that, and I switch the CD player off without finishing. I give 10 points for the first few minutes, 4 for the rest: LUMPY GRAVY as a whole gets 7.

    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    I like this one a lot! The dialog stuff get a little old after a while, but the orchestral stuff is great. The "Oh No" bits are beautiful, and that little snippet of "King Kong" is really cool. I can understand other people not liking this album too much, but I first heard this at the tender age of 10, and I have a very special place in my heart for it.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This is one album that was very hard to listen through but it grows on you (after a dozen listenings). The album is built almost like "absolutely free" with "one" song on each side of the l.p. It came out after "absolutely" so that may be the reason. I never understood the phrase "is this part two of we're only in it for the money?" on the cover until that album came out a few month later...

    Russ russ@josephsons.org
    I like this record. My theory is that Frank Zappa thought of himself as a revolutionary, like Igor Stravinsky, who he idolized. But there was no uproar and later acknowledgement of genius with Frank's music like what happened when Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" debuted. I think that this always disappointed Frank.

    Gabriel Artur maciel@solar.com.br
    When I bought Lumpy Gravy I really couldn't get into it. The album was forgotten for some months. One day I decided to give it another shot and it clicked. I can't say what happened, but today I love it. In fact if I play it to someone and the person manages to dig it I know we must have lots of other stuff in common.

    dummytree dummytree@caramail.com
    Well, it's weird that people find Lumpy Gravy so complicated.I got it when i was 13 (as the second part of the 84 CD issue of "Only in it for the Money")and was fascinated by its weirdness at first listening and listened to it a lot on my own, with headphones.Now, some 12 years later, i can hum every upcoming part and recite all those goofy spoken words :-) I can analyse it better now, but i'll never forget the first impression i had with that album.

    serious prehensile freka@demsa.com
    if you guys have not figured out the speach/music continuum in Franks work... then you've pretty much missed the whole point: anything is MUSIC! NO ONE can tell YOU where it begins or stops. This is a HUGELY important album in FZ's conceptual continuity, so much so that it was clear to him that CPIII would be a nothing less than a continuation of it!!! EVERYTHING is connected in FZ's output! Lumpy Gravy is fully matured composition which breaks fully the music/speach barrier. This is a complete ear-opening/awakening experience... no prejudice here guys, just listen with every fiber of your being. FZ challenges here everything you are or ever likely to be. This step is repeated and expanded beyond anything imaginable in CPIII. This album is KEY to understanding FZ's entire creative approach.

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    We're Only In It For The Money ( 1968 )
    Are You Hung Up / Who Needs the Peace Corps / Concentration Moon / Mom and Dad / Harry, You're a Beast / What's the Ugliest Part / Absolutely Free / Flower Punk / Hot Poop / Nasal Retentive Calliope Music / Let's Make the Water Turn Black / Idiot Bastard Son / Lonely Little Girl / Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance / Mother People / The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny

    The front sleeve cover parody of The Beatles 'Sgt Pepper' is misleading, in a way. It's quite funny though. You know, that's one sacred cow that needs to be brought down a peg or two. Frank saw that even back then. This is a masterpiece of an album. From start to finish. You really have to listen to it from start to finish as well. It works better that way. There is some wonderful and beautiful singing on this. Such as on 'Mom And Dad'. Where did that come from? The lyrics throughout this record are great too. The music of course is always inventive. 'Who Needs The Peace Corps?' is an example of this. 'Flower Punk' too which ends wonderfully. 'Let's Make The Water Turn Black' is a nursery rhyme sing a long with sinister undertones! I heard what this was meant to be about, but I may be wrong. I won't divulge but let's just say it's pretty disgusting and involves certain bodily fluids. And here, it's dressed up in psychedelic emperors new clothes! What a fantastic thing!

    Some people have the misapprehension that Zappa's lyrics, especially on his later albums basically are nothing more than toilet humour. And that to enjoy the music you need to have a similar toilet sense of schoolboy humour. Which is absolutely ludicrous. He was documenting things that happen. They do happen! No one else would write about them. And the lyrics are never as straight forward as they seem, either. It's not like you're meant to be at a comedy show. You're meant to be enjoying the music and enjoying yourself. You would rather listen to Jefferson Airplane? Go right ahead! 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance' has a good melody and 'The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny' is another of those challenging blocks of sound, classically inspired but sounding like complete chaos and utter nonsense. I'd love to hear that on FM radio! <

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    Joe H.
    Amazing album. I love it from start to finish. Id give it a 10/10. There’s some really weird/beautiful tunes like "Mom And Dad", "Concentration Moon", "Mother People" and "Absolutely Free" ("Flower power sucks!"), and just plain weird, but scary (especially while under the influence of, a-hem "narcotics") like "Are You hung Up" and "The Chrome Plated Magaphone of Destiny", while awesome tunes like "Who Needs The Peace Corps", "Flower Punk" ("Punk" indeed!) and "What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body" really show the pissy, sarcastic but hilarious side of Zappa and The Mothers. Oh, and "Bow Tie Daddy" is a wonderful song for only 33 damn seconds! Once again, amazing album!

    Agree! Amazing album, and definitely Zappa's best. The end of 'Who needs the peace corps' still makes me laugh hysterically, and 'Flower punk' still fucks my head up! Zappa was a genius, this album shows that.

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY is Zappa at his rather dark-sounding best. This is a 'must have' disc.

    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    This is another good one. In fact, it's probably the funnest Zappa album you can buy. The songs fly by so fast that it's impossible to get bored with it, and these melodies are catchy catchy catchy! Look out for the old 80's CD issue that is coupled with Lumpy Gravy though. It has re-recorded bass and drum tracks.

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    Four words: THIS IS GOOD ZAPPA. I have the Ryko CD version that has both We're Only In It For The Money and Lumpy Gravy on it. I read somewhere that they re-recorded the rythmn section parts for the album. I could do without the weird-ass instrumental songs like "Hot Poop", "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music" and "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny". Also I don't really like "Flower Punk", "Let's Make the Water Turn Black", or "Idiot Bastard Son" either. Oh well. The short orchestral section at the end of "Mother People" is very beautiful. He should've made more music like that. (It also appears in Lumpy Gravy, too.)

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    Yes it is a classic, but dated. It was hilarious when it came in '68, but satire works only in the right time. I liked the song but I have never liked the production. It is Zappas first self-produced record and I wish he had kept Tom Wilson as a producer.

    dummytree dummytree@caramail.com
    I still have to get a decent re-issue of "Only in it for the Money", it's too bad the rythm section had to be re-recorded for the first CD :-( But a great record, even in this controversial version.

    frank frankit@hotmail.com
    I love frank zappa. The way he put songs together , its seriously art. Were only in it for the money is my favorite album of all time , and its hard to say it since his made other records that are almost good as this one , like Hot Rats , Freak Out or my second favorite , Absolutly free. If you dont have this record , get it . NOW btw , best track is who needs the peace corps?

    adam adamg709@hotmail.com
    A timeless classic. After 35 years of owning this recording, I am still fascinated by it. The melodies are unequalled in rock music .If you don't have it, get it .

    Andy P UK
    I'd agree with the commentators who score this with 10 out of 10. In my view this is Zappa at his very best. I bought the vinyl album on its UK release (mono version because this was pre-stereo in my house) and now several decades later I have the stereo CD version, which is actually a slightly different edit. Whilst on some levels Zappa's music is complex, i often find myself singing great long stretches of this album, with one song merging into the next as it does on the recording. Zappa lampoons the music business on several levels and at the same time he makes pertinent social commentary. In the UK the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band parodied rock music, but always with a music hall sense of fun; Zappa's reflexions are far more profound - at the same time the tunes are really 'catchy', no mean feat.

    Alan Brooks Midwest
    One more comment on We're Only In It For The Money (you'll never get rid of me, I'm like a bad coin that keeps coming back): 'Mother People' is my favorite track on this album, though all the tracks are good. 'Mother People' is the track wherein Zappa first started to do complex time signatures; aided by varispeed.

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    Crusin With Ruben And The Jets 8 ( 1968 )
    Cheap Thrills / Love Of My Life / How Could I Be Such A Fool / Deseri / I'm Not Satisfied / Jelly Roll Gum Drop / Anything / Later That Night / You Didn't try To Call Me / Fountain Of love / No. No. No. / Anyway The Wind Blows / Stuff Up The Cracks

    A doo-wop homage, plain and simple. Of course, Zappa being Zappa, he played up certain aspects of the musical form, exaggerating the harmonies and what have you. But, there is some solid, if un-ambitious music here. This is certainly no 'We're Only In It For The Money'. It seems a complete about-face, and not at all related to anything else in Zappa's catalogue. But then, he did more doo-wop style stuff than just this. Doo-wop is great! Oh, let's take the opening song, 'Cheap Thrills', one of the most enjoyable tracks here. It's bouncy, fun, and well done! Oh, an aside. The currently available CD versions of this album feature bass and drums parts re-recorded in the Eighties. Frank was unhappy with the sound-quality on the tapes or something, and saw this as an improvement. Others would disagree, I wouldn't know - not having heard the original. Anyway, I'm digressing. 'Love Of My Life' is a beautiful, greasy Doo-Wop ballad, complete with those funny, grin inducing exaggerated harmonies. It's a gorgeous song, and one of the few from this set Frank would continue to play live, at least in the Eighties. This album features a number of songs from 'Freak Out' re-recorded in a doo-wop style. Again, this is a reason some Zappa fans don't like this 'Crusin With Ruben And The Jets Record'. I'm in the perhaps fortunate position of having heard these renditions of 'How Could I Be Such A Fool', 'I'm Not Satisfied', 'Anyway The Wind Blows' and 'You Didn't Try To Call Me' before I heard the 'Freak Out' versions. Just judge them as different songs, okay? 'How Could I Be Such A Fool' is magnificent as rendered here! Very strong vocals. The others are all pretty entertaining, especially 'I'm Not Satisfied' with it's weary vocals, brass and guitar parts.

    'Jelly Roll Gum Drop' refers to a certain Fifties hair style. That doesn't matter. What does matter is the genuine affection that comes through in the song, the catchy vocals and melodies, etc. 'Anything' is a slow, doo-wop ballad with great singing, 'Later That Night' including more daft backing vocals to make you grin. 'Fountain Of Love' rivals 'Love Of My Life' in terms of beauty and enjoyment. It does! Check these damn vocals Ray Collins turns in. Very fine vocals. 'No No No' is short and bouncy, the closing 'Stuff Up The Cracks' the closest we come here to the previous versions of The Mothers Of Invention. Then again, his next release would also be different. Why stay the same? This is a career! A whole lifetime of work! A project, an object. Whatever, just don't forget this little album here. It's no masterpiece, but there's nothing inherently WRONG with anything that's on this album, and I enjoy it a lot.

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    Readers Comments

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    I give CRUISING WITH RUBEN AND THE JETS an 8, because though all the tracks are 'cretin' simple (as the sleeve notes put it) Doo-Wop, the album is consistently listenable-- there are no fillers. The standout track is 'Jelly Roll Gumdrop', which Ray Collins sang very well. 'Desiree', with its space-age vocal harmonies, was released as a single in 1968 (apparently not selling). My other favored track is the closing number, 'Stuff Up The Cracks', which has a saxophone solo that sobs intensely along with Collins.

    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    Wow. I'm surprised that the comments for this album are so positive. Most people don't like this one too much, but I dig it. With the exception of a few stinkers ("Fountain Of Love" and "No. No. No." come to mind), this stuff is really enjoyable. I absolutely LOVE "You Didn't Try To Call Me." I love what they did with the bridge (the "I can't say what's wrong or what's right" part) to that song. "I'm Not Satisfied" comes off great as well. Heck, I'd have to give this one an 8.

    Joe H jcjh@sparklingriver.com
    I LOVE this album! All the songs are really beautiful, and Ray Collins in particular has a wonderfully gorgeous voice which he hasn't gotten a chance to reveal previously or since (with some exceptions). The highlights are "I'm Not Satisfied" (Probably ironic lyrically, but i think they're some of the best "teenage alienation" lyrics ever written), the bridge to "You Didn't Try To Call Me", like Dan mentioned above which is very beautiful, "Desiree" (a wonderful catchy Beach Boys-esque pop song) and "Stuff Up The Cracks", which is possibly my favorite song on the album. The wah solo at the end is a brilliant end to an already awesome song. I can't help but give this a high high 9. It's consistantly awesome, and a great tribute to doo-wop that is totally normal and totally easy to get into. Even the hokey as hell "No No No" is very fun and catchy as hell, IMO.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This is a bunch good of songs, but again Zappa should have let Tom Wilson produce it. And it didn't get better with the CD version. I hate that overdubbed bass & drums that he did on both "we're only.." and cruisin.."

    Paul Bridle, grandwazoo@mailblocks.com
    The CD version is the only Zappa CD that I do not play from my almost complete collection. The added drums etc ruin it. I find the original LP far more satsfying,

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    Uncle Meat ( 1969 )
    Uncle Meat / The Voices Of Cheese / Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution / Zolar Czakl / Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague / The Legend Of The Golden Arches / Louie Louie / The Dog Breath Variations / Sleeping In A Jar / Our Bizarre Relationship / The Uncle Meat Variations / Electric Aunt Jemima / Prelude To King Kong / God Bless America / A Pound For A Brown On The Bus / Ian Underwood Whips It Out / Mr. Green Genes / We Can Shoot You / If We'd All Been Living In California... / The Air / Project X / Cruising For Burgers / Uncle Meat Film Excerpt Part 1 / Tengo Na Minchia / Uncle Meat Film Excerpt Part II / King Kong Itself / King Kong

    The front cover picture includes a set of teeth. This is important! The music contained within includes lots of 'chattering teeth' type percussion. The first CD contains tracks one to twenty two, lots of short instrumental pieces based on the melodic themes from two pieces here, 'Uncle Meat' and 'Dog Breath In The Year Of The Plague'. There are in fact only a couple of 'regular' mothers of invention songs that fans of the first three mothers album would be able to latch onto. One of these is the charming 'Electric Aunt Jemina' which includes treated vocals and a silly, happy bouncy melody that's hard to resist. 'Sleeping In A Jar' is only fifty seconds long, but long enough to stick in your brain. 'Mr Green Genes' would later be improved for release on the 'Hot Rats' album by ditching the vocals, speeding up the tracks and generally improvising around it's main melodic theme. 'The Air' is a lovely doo-wop type song done in the 'Cruisin With Ruben' style only not quite so straight.

    The 'Uncle Meat Theme' provides a lot of the 'chattering teeth' type percussion. 'Dog Breath In The Year Of The Plague' is not only delightfully titled, but has a gorgeous melody and evocative lyrics evoking much fifties nostalgia. The problem isn't with these two tracks, but rather the instrumental variations of these tracks, which do get repetitive after the third or fourth variation. The second CD is largely given over to the epic 'King Kong'. Variations on a theme and a tour-de-force performance. Much of this album is fractured however and the repetitions of 'King Kong' don't help this. There are some fine moments here though, and a certain sense of adventure.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    The review has it about right, UNCLE MEAT deserves a 7, as it contains too many mediocre tracks with lyrics that "only members of the band ever laugh at". The better "chamber-music" tracks, experiments, and funny dialogue all deserve 10. Zappa gave his imagination free rein here... which was still somewhat wild for 1969 (it wasn't until the Punk rockers flourished in the late '70s that the word 'wild' in pop-rock lost all meaning). I like 'Project X' and 'Cruising For Burgers' most of all; but some listeners will prefer, say, the satire of advertising that 'Electric Aunt Jemima' offers. Technical quality has been spiffed up to perfection.

    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    Hmmm... 7 is a little too low for me. Maybe an 8? You see, I like this album, but whenever I go back and actually listen to it, I notice a lot of stuff that I skip. I could live without all of the live stuff, with the exception of "King Kong." Most of the album is really good though. Both of the "Dog Breath" songs are excellent. I love the little poppy songs like "The Air" and "Sleeping In A Jar" too. The instrumental stuff is really good too, but it's not as interesting after repeated listens. Oh, and the bonus tracks on the CD are worthless. AVOID THE MOVIE LIKE THE PLAGUE!

    Neil Slade neil@neilslade.com
    Your ratings perplex me- as a musician and composer in a variety of realms. Frank's Golden age petered out around 1972. All downhill from there. Sterile production and comedy is not a substitute for soul and inspiration. I like Uncle Meat tremedously on a musical level. All his early period guitar solos are infinitely better than all his own Gnat Notes over boring repetitive technical accompaniments of the latter years. I am not impressed with technique as much as I am heart, and the latter albums have little of that.

    Jay Jensen jjensen@cossette.com
    I'm sure the old maxim that one man's floor is another's ceiling is true, but for me, anyone who claims to be a Zappa fan must recognize that the Uncle Meat album is a veritable cathedrale of sound. I've listen to it on a regular basis since it was first released on vinyl, that is for the past 35 years and it never ceases to astonish me. It maintains an inexplicable cohesiveness despite the abrupt changes in musical styles. All of the early Mothers albums were very strong, but certainly this one is the summit of Zappa's work during that period.

    I know I haven't given any specific reasons why I think it should rank so high; I wouldn't know where to begin - the sound, the beautiful complexity, the variation and mastery of diverse musical styles or that "beautiful noise" quality - how are those for starters?

    Lastly, I'm not one of those people that believes that all of Zappa's post original Mothers work is inferior to those first groundbreaking albums. For me,! each period of his work saw the production of some truly magnificent work. It's not an exaggeration to say that he was one of the last half of the 20th century's greatest composers.

    Jeff Hatfield billhptr@yahoo.com
    I'd disagree. I love this album immensly...but then again, I find the unquestionably bizarre extremely amusing! I'd give it a 9, at least.

    Paul Bridle grandwazoo@mailblocks.com
    Bought the original vinyl for a small fortune in mid '70's having been after it since 69. A wonderful album. So fertile, so alive. One of my all time favourites. CD. Yep but not as satisfying as the LP - skip bits from the movie and what's "Tengo Na Minchia" doing in there? Anyone know when that was performed? It surely does not belong on this album or am I missing something?

    merph samarjkand salmonsm@missouri.edu
    I'm stunned. 7 1/2?!?! I have always had a deep respect for his album. It's a musique concrete masterpiece. Little random vocal snippets employed as sections in larger pieces. Total freakout free-form jazz, and some not-so-freaked out but damn excellent straight up jazz. I love the silliness and slight creepiness of Sleeping in a Jar and Electric Aunt Jamima. The commentary is more laid back, yes, but so what? Zappa doesn't have to bitch about society to be brillaint. Although you could say the art-collage format of this album is a big old f-you to "normal" thinking. I think it deserves a 9 at the very least.

    Andreas G Huntington Beach
    I seriously beg to differ. I have every album Zappa released in his lifetime, and if I had to pick one, this is it. (Burnt Weeny.., Weasels, Roxy, and One Size are close). One thing that needs to be said – evaluate the album in its original form. In other words, ignore the movie out-takes, which only serve to detract. The breadth of scope and innovation of this album are stunning, and I think the sequence is near-perfect. You can argue that some spots are a bit weak, and that King Kong goes on too long, but overall a fantastic album. The Uncle Meat theme and Dog Breath are simultaneously avant-garde and poppish. An absolute masterpiece!

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    Ahead Of Their Time 7 ( 1993 )
    Prologue / Progress? / Like It Or Not / The Jimmy Carl Black Philosophy Lesson / Holding The Group Back / Holiday In Berlin / The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage / Undaunted, The Band Plays On / Agency Man / Epilogue / King Kong / Help, I'm A Rock / Transylvania Boogie / Pound For A Brown / Sleeping In A Jar / Let's Make The Water Turn Black / Harry, You're A Beast / The Orange County Lumber Truck (Part 1) / Oh No / The Orange County Lumber Truck (Part 2)

    A live concert recorded in London around the time of 'Uncle Meat'. There are no vocal tunes here, although the first side of the album includes much spoken humour typical to The Mothers Of Invention. It's backed well by Zappa's orchestral parts and diversions into Avant-Garde classical played by a very real and full orchestra. It sounds magnificent. This is the essence of Zappa as alternative art, as European classic music lover. It's all over the first half of this album, and I enjoy the first half of this album a great deal. This part of the set ends with 'Epilogue' more soaring strings, brass. The whole damn orchestra play Zappa, and play it well. 'King Kong' kicks off the second side, and not having twenty seven redundant variations (!!??!!) as it does on 'Uncle Meat', I really dig this version. It sounds magnificent, rocking, etc etc. Some of the songs on this second half are rather thrown away, 'Help I'm A Rock' and 'Transylvania Boogie' are not performed seriously, but I guess they do fit in with the set. This album captures a whole, complete live Mothers Of Invention performance, by the way. Did I mention that? Well, I have now!

    The highlight of the second half of this performance is undoubtedly the thirteen minute plus rendition of 'Orange Country Lumber Truck' and 'Oh No'. I still prefer the 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh' rendition, even if it was excerpted from this! That make no sense I know, but sometimes less is more.

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    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    The play portion of the CD is fun to listen to even though it's occassionally hard to tell what the hell is going on without the visual aid. However, unlike Adrian, I prefer the second half. "Orange County Lumber Truck" friggin' cooks!

    Andrew Hoaen
    A good addition to the Zappa roster- I has always wanted to hear the full version of orange county lumber truck from Weasels, but as the reviewer says sometimes less is more. Maybe if Frank had remastered it at the time then we could have had a 13 minute classic who knows

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    Hot Rats 9 ( 1969 )
    Peaches En Regalia / Willie The Pimp / Son Of Mr. Green Genes / Little Umbrellas / The Gumbo Variations / It Must Be A Camel

    His first solo album proper following on from the experimental delight that was 'Lumpy Gravy'. A collaboration with band member Ian Underwood. He and Frank play pretty much everything on here with Max Bennett playing some bass and session man John Guerin contributing drums on four of the songs. Oh, and Captain Beefheart of course. Frank and Don ( Captain Beefheart ) grew up together for a while and were both coming from similarly 'out there' perspectives. He provides the only vocals on the album on the second song 'Willie The Pimp'. A good vocal too! The track is wound up, quite literally as it goes along. Clockwork noises are heard. The guitar goes off into all sorts of places and ends up filling the second half of the song. The support playing is superb and it's a wonderful song. So full of melody! A blues based riff holds it altogether and I highly recommend it! Before that we have 'Peaces En Regalia'. Around three and a half minutes long and it really is exhilaratingly perfect in every respect. If sometimes Zappa seems unsure of how to end songs it's certainly not a problem here. Short, concise, compact and really rather brilliant. 'Son Of Mr Green Genes' expands a melody first heard on 'Uncle Meat'. It's another long guitar workout. Such strong melody throughout that it's never dull or boring for a single second. This album as a whole is very easy on the ear actually. Without the lyrical distractions it's easier to concentrate on the music. Possibly a good entry point into Zappa's oeuvre.

    'Little Umbrella's' is a shorter number. A relaxed Jazz feel but of course Zappa's always inventive and strong sense of melody hold it together. 'The Gumbo Variations' is the longest song here. The playing from all involved continues in superlative fashion. A little funk bass! A great saxophone solo! Really, what more could you ask for? 'It Must Be A Camel' is the most relaxed moment of the record. A good way to close. Odd percussive effects are sprinkled over the song in keeping with a few others on the record. Yet again, it's strong melodically. There is melody all over this album. It's a favourite of mine and is highly recommended.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    HOT RATS is a fine work of art; but nevertheless is somewhat overrated. HOT RATS is considered by many to be the pinnacle of fusion, or jazzrock (or whatever label is pasted on)-- yet it isn't. There are many 'jazzrock' discs as worthwhile as HOT RATS. Everyone told Zappa how much they liked 'Peaches En Regalia' (the opening track) and it is flawless; however, it's not necessarily the best thing Zappa ever did. Most of the rest of the album is as worthy as 'Peaches En Regalia', with the exception of a Captain-Beefheart-sung song concerning black prostitutes, hot boots and hot soots and all that. The guitar playing is exciting, but the composition--the only vocal number on HOT RATS-- is ordinary blues; rather limp...no pun intended.

    Jeannette Brown
    What can l say....just a classic piece of music with some brilliant keyboard playing, heard this when it first came out, as my brother was into, so called 'undergound' or 'progressive' music, loved it then and love it now..

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This is my favourite! A 10! This album never tires me. You hear new melodies everytime you listen and that's the genious of Zappa, his hidden melodies which are not obvious on the first or even the fifth listen. (I wish he had stuck to jazz instead of the silly unmelodic pop songs he later did.)

    Edward Ayre Ayre254@hotmail.com
    Hot Rats is just absolutely amazing! I bought it last week, and it's the only thing i've listened to since then. 'Peaches En Regalia' is an imaginative, and flawless composition, and Ian Underwoods saxes are unbelievable! I think this album captures Zappa's ingenuity in composing, and although the cd remaster is'nt as good as the original LP, it is still THE album to have, and one not to be understated.

    Chelo tomstrong80@hotmail.com
    Well,"Peaches..." it´s just THE perfect opening track for that masterpiece that is Hot Rats.Everytime I hear those out-of-the-world saxos at the middle of the song...whoa!they always punch my heart like the first time!

    bassplayeredd, eddie123zeppelin@hotmail.com
    amazing, original and totally mind blowing album. Peaches is short and sweet, i especially like the bit where the acoustic guitar and flute play in unison. "Willie the Pimp" is weird but great and features great vocals and guitar. "son of mr green genes" is my favourite although does not provide a satisfactory ending. "the Gumbo variations" is pretty amazing although could be a bit shorter and ironicly could do with a bit more variation. The 2 shorter songs are a bit easier to listen to but still provide quite complex music. 9.5/10. Amazing music and every song has great moments.

    John M. Duffen ratchet532@msn.com
    I didn't hear it when it first came out. But about a year later I went to a friends house and we just hanging out. And he had a big record collection. So he said pick something out. So I was looking thru his collection. When i saw the Hot Ratz album. And I said is this any good. And he said you never heard this. And i said that ive listened to some of Zappas stuff before but not this album. So he said you gotta hear this it'll blow you away. Which it did, and has become one of my favorite albums of all times along with other albums. Such as traffics 2nd.Super session etc.

    granville stockdale stcgranville@aol.com
    I first heard this in 1970. was bowled over by the sheer inventiveness of it. Still enjoy, but the LP was better than the CD - more detail. Yes, Zappa never got the recognition he deserved as a guitarist, never mind as a composer, altho some of his output can only be described as banal. Overall, a sad loss. In terms of Hot Rats, most has been said, altho Willie The Pimp is a favourite for me. Sarcastic, funny, clever.

    David Owens davidowens78@yahoo.com
    I love this album! This was my introduction to the world of Frank Zappa - though having said that, I've only listened to one other album of his since, Sheikh Yerbouti (also excellent). The opener Peaches en Regalia stunned me upon very first listen - impossibly inventive, endlessly energetic, not too long, not too short, fully realised - what more could you ask for? I gave this album to a friend who was presenting a show on an Irish-language radio station one time, and told him to play Peaches en Regalia if he had to play any of the songs (that's not to say the other songs aren't good, of course). It went down an absolute storm with all at the station! This is the sort of record that, like any good jazz record, you can just stick in the machine and allow it to bounce around the room and take on a life of its own, without paying much attention to lyrics, and so on. I would also give it a 9, so we don't differ on that score, either. Pure genius from a pure genius.

    David daviddpennington@hotmail.co.uk
    Hot Rats is one of my favourite Zappa albums. Some of the songs take you on a journey that i can only imagine as a mutiple orgasm (having never experienced one). And i don't mean to be rude when i say that!

    Blake Arnold, johnblakearnold@comcast.net
    Hat Rats! is still ahead of it's time. This entire album is a 10, and I enjoy it way more than the discs that are lyric oriented. As a musician I can hear the musical puns and complex orchestration that sounds deceptively simple. Willie The Wimp literally makes me want to kick someone's ass. It is one of my Top 10 Desert Island discs. Thank you, Frank.

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    Burnt Weeny Sandwich 8 ( 1969 )
    WPLJ / Igor's Boogie, Phase One / Overture To A Holiday In Berlin / Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich / Igor's Boogie, Phase Two / Holiday In Berlin, Full-Blown / Aybe Sea / The Little House I Used To Live In / Valarie

    Igor's Boogie is thirty seconds long but Zappa all over. 'WPLJ' is so funny! A cover of a doo-wop song and it really should have been a hit! This isn't difficult music. Ok, many of Zappa's covers have been relatively obscure and certainly not user friendly to those not familiar with his music. Anybody could listen to 'WPLJ' and get it straight away. It's a straightforward moment, well performed and extremely pleasing. This album was pieced together following the break up of the original Mothers Of Invention. Instrumentals placed between two 'appetizing' tracks 'WPLJ' and 'Valerie'. It works very well as a concept. It follows on from 'Hot Rats' in a sense displaying similar Jazz inspired and often breathtaking playing from all involved.

    'Overture To A Holiday In Berlin' is a short linking track, like 'Igor's Boogie' designed to build atmosphere in-between the full length workouts. The first of these is 'Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich'. Great guitar work, all sorts of percussion noises over the top. It's a very strong melody. 'Holiday In Berlin' is even better. The basic melody here would later be used as 'Semi Fradulent/Direct From Hollywood' in his '200 Motels' film. Here we have it in all it's splendour and glory! It's quite relaxed as it's starts off. The melody is easy to grasp but very inventive and strong. A quintessential Zappa percussion effect comes in around the two and a half minute mark. It quietens down. A nice organ sound arrives. The drums, pure Mothers of Invention! Then, Zappa's guitar solo. Fantastic, and a highlight of this record certainly. 'Aybe Sea' - a strange little instrumental with a maritime theme closes the first half.

    'The Little House I Used To Live In' is the centrepiece of the album. It's eighteen minutes long and starts off with some nice classical piano. At around the two minute mark the track livens up just a bit! Wonderful playing, strange keyboard sounds. Yeah, it IS a long track. And, coming in a sequence of instrumentals in the center of the record. Well. A few people may not make it to the finale, 'Valerie'. 'The Little House I Used To Live In' - don't get me wrong, is a superb piece and again, the sound of The Mothers Of Invention all over. 'Valerie' is another little tear-jerker doo-wop song. A ballad this time. Good backing vocals! A good album.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    A great introduction to Zappa and The Mothers. A must-have disc.

    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    I didn't like it too much at first, but I now feel that it's one of the best records with Frank's name on it. This is BEAUTIFUL stuff! Have you ever heard "Aybe Sea" or "Little House I Used To Live In?" They are two of the best pieces Zappa ever wrote in my opinion. "Holiday In Berlin" is great too! People like to complain about the two doo-wop covers for some reason, which I don't understand at all. They're fun! This one is a TEN all the way!

    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    I never could get into this album. I could see where this might've been a transitional album for Zappa in terms of pursuing a free-form jazz sound. I think I prefer Zappa's inspired lunacy, social commentary, and guitar "heroics", none of which are really here. In other words, I prefer something like ABSOLUTELY FREE, an album almost 180 degrees from BURNT in concept. But, man, this album is so well-played, and it proves that these guys could play just about anything with 500 times greater competency than most rock, jazz or jazz-rock groups of their time.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This also is a classic in the true sense of the word. It's basically an instrumental album (and that's what I like best) The whole album has a feeling of classical compositions. Good melodies, beautifully arranged.

    georgei99, georgei99@msn.com
    Sugarcane Harris' long solo in Little House, and the one on Gumbo Variations are two of the greatest fiddle solos of all time! And Frank going apeshit on the pipe organ at the end! (The doo wop was Eh! the Mothers already did it as well as it could be on Cheap Thrills. Sugarcane was also great on the album he did with John Mayall.

    Ian Sinclair
    After 20 years listening to the Zappa catalogue, rest assured this is the best of the lot. Only Uncle Meat with a few tracks eliminated comes close.

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    Weasels Ripped My Flesh 9 ( 1970 )
    Didja Get Any Onya? / Directly From My Heart To You / Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask / Toads Of The Short Forest / Get A Little / The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue / Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwart Nebula / My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama / Oh No / The Orange County Lumber Truck / Weasels Ripped My Flesh

    This is astonishing. And certainly not one to play to any Green Day loving friends. Compiled from studio and live out-takes after the break-up of the original Mothers Of Invention. But stitched together so seamlessly ( and other times brutally! ) it works really well as a cohesive album. 'Didya Get Any Onja?' is musically interesting and another of those more strange Zappa moments that invites dismissal as a pile of nonsense. Actually it's been arranged and repays repeated listening. The best bit about that song though is the fade and transition into the next track 'Directly From My Heart To You'. A convincing and straight blues cover. With great violin! The next four tracks are largely instrumental and contain some frequently astonishing music and lots of quirks and challenging moments too. There is no other music like this. Not one for a peaceful Sunday afternoon drinking tea sat by the lake.

    Highlights of the second half include 'My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama'. A great, simpler rock tune. Rock! Some people seem to think Zappa only did outrageous weirdness. He did almost every style of music you can imagine. 'My Guitar...' is another more straightforward moment on here and a little light relief. 'Oh No' and 'The Orange County Lumber Truck' flow together and were often performed live that way too. 'Orange County Lumber Truck' in particular is astonishing. They create such a noise and suddenly are outplaying everybody and sounding more exciting than any band around! The album ends of course with two minutes of screaming feedback.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH is extremely diverse; sort of like 200 MOTELS on one disc. I have nothing much to add to what the reviewer wrote above, except there is one more track that should be taken note of on WEASELS: 'Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue'.

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    GOSH, this is a weird album. I listened to it but didn't buy it because I thought I'd never "get into" it. Probably would've after about 50 listens or something. Most of it is just plain annoying, anyway.

    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This sounds like an odds 'n' ends album, and maybe it's not as essential as other Zappa LPs, but there's some hilarious music here. These guys sound like an incompetent high school marching band on some tracks, and a great jazz-rock group on others. Nutty!

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    this is an album of left-overs. Half is crap, the other half could have been really good if he had eleborated on the good tunes. But he cut them in half mostly. It seems like a haste-work

    Spartacus spartacus6775@yahoo.com
    I thought this album was just pure genious. when i first bought it, i had no idea what i was getting myself into. ill admit at first i didnt get it. it took about 10 listens or so, and then the album found its way into the top ten favorites. Toads of the Short Forest, and the Eric Dolphy Barbeque are incredible. and i cant forget to mention the 'Oh No'-"Orange County Lumber Truck' collection.

    Jeremiah Funk jfunk09@hotmail.com
    This Album is with out doubt and much like any other Zappa albums BRILLIANT. What gifted musicians If you dont understand that music needs no rules than it is hard but not impossible to appreciate.

    Turbottski markturbott@blueyonder.co.uk
    An amazing title and cover, truly one of the greatest covers ever. An inconsistent album but this is a studio/live compilation after all. There's plenty of excellent tracks. 'Didya Get Any Onja?', the opening track is so totally mad but extremely likeable after a few listens. 'Oh No' is another highlight with a classic melody that appears on other albums. I would sum this album up as patchy but rarely bad. Some of the track titles sound much more interesting than they actually are. I rate this album 7.5 out of 10.

    John McCormack brute_bernard@hotmail.com
    The first Zappa track I ever heard was My Guitar wants, etc. and I loved the horns. I was into horns at the time, I'm old enough to remember when Chicago were good. I got the album after hearing it all through, and it was love, no other word for it. Sexually aroused Gas mask, great googly moogly, they don't make music llike this any more. Life changing stuff.

    Ron tufft Poland
    First listened to this when I was eighteen and thought naaah, not for me. Prefered Procal Harum, Electric Flag, CSN&Y. Listened again, age forty summat and WOW! The guys a genius: crazy, manic, eerie, wierd - but a genius. Wherever you ended up Frank, rock on you crazy diamond!

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    Chungas Revenge ( 1970 )
    Transylvania Boogie / Road Ladies / Twenty Small Cigars / The Nancy & Mary Music / Tell Me You Love Me / Would You Go All The Way? / Chunga's Revenge / The Clap / Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink / Sharleena

    Frank was in something of a transitional phase here, sort of between bands. Halfway through the recording of this he gained two new vocalists and the contrast between the songs they feature on, and the other songs is immense. Some of the songs here are 'Hot Rats' types of songs, the rest sleazy, dirty rock guitar songs with falsetto vocals and much up front leering. On the 'Hot Rats' side we have the quite frankly ( ha! ) wonderful 'Transylvania Boogie' which I guess isn't quite 'Hot Rats' but it is a similar Jazz Rock fusion of excitement and much guitar delight and virtousity. We also have 'The Nancy And Mary Music', a NINE MINUTE LONG avant-garde piece that does absolutely nothing for me whatsoever. It has no 'friend' on this album, it doesn't fit it, I don't like it, DAMMIT! On the other hand, the title track is more enjoyable Jazz guitar work with much great playing. I don't enjoy it as much as the opening song, but we can't have everything I guess. Also on this album is the waste of space that is 'The Clap', a two minute long piece of 'percussion'.

    The vocal tunes here feature two ex members of a group called 'The Turtles' famed for their high falsetto harmonies. They saw joining Zappa as a move into a more serious music form. Ha! Anyway, the songs they feature on all ROCK, so that's alright. But, before that, we have a Zappa sung blues song with 'Road Ladies'. The CD liner notes by the way indicate that the vocal tunes are a preview of the story from '200 Motels' the project Frank would work on following this release. But, that's another story, and shall be told another time. Ah, what else is here. Well, we have the pleasant 'coctail jazz' of 'Twenty Small Cigars'. If that sounds disparaging, it's not meant to. This short song contains lots of enjoyable guitar and Zappa melody. When 'Flo And Eddie' arrive, we have the very loud guitar rock groove of 'Tell Me You Love Me', 'Would You Go All The Way' etc. These tracks feature astonishing vocals and the latter, being a little fun and bouncy, is especially enjoyable. On occasion they sound like The Muppets, but a damn fine Muppets, you know? 'Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink' is hugely silly fun. A little Fifties Rock n Roll nostalgia for the old folks. The closing song, 'Sharleena' is a gorgeous piece of work, a wonderful ballad with great vocals all over the place that send shivers all through me. And, there you have it. Take it, or leave it. Frank would do other, better albums, but this is still pretty fine stuff bar the odd aberration.

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    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    A 7 seems pretty fair. I liked this one a lot when I first got it, but it wore off after repeated listens. I actually have no real problem with Flo and Eddie, and I think "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink" and "Would You Go All The Way?" are really funny. And how can I forget "Tell Me You Love Me?" "Twenty Small Cigars" is one of my favorite instrumental Zappa tunes. The rest of this stuff is alright but hardly essential.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    There are a few good song primarily the "hot rats" left-over "twenty cigars". This has also the feeling of a haste-work. I don't really like his mixing of live recordings with studio ones, especially not when the live ones are so poorly recorded as the "nancy and mary music"

    Spartacus spartacus6775@yahoo.com
    Ive gotta disagree with all of you on some things here. first, i absolutely loved the nancy and mary music. the drums solo was perfect for the tune, along with the jamming, and the unforgetable scat-drum solo. the other tracks, transylvania, chungas revenge, sharleena, all are played regularly.

    John Peters johnpeters000@btopenworld.com
    Just to say that The Nancy & Mary music on Ghunga's Revenge does indeed have a friend - me; to my ear it is brilliant piece - the guitar is excellent. Anyone that doesn't believe me needs to listen to it more!

    I was a music major and had a large band, we were very much Zappaistas. I had seen the MOI many time and taught my band all of Zappa's hand signals. My entire band and our dates attended this concert where Nancy and Mary Music was recorded. When Zappa begin giving his hand signals to the Mothers my entire group performed them with the Mothers. Zappa turned to the audience and tried a few obscure hand signals and we knew them all. He was very surprised. The rest of the audience caught on and joined in. Yes that must have been the first time an entire audience learned his hand signals and joined in the show. I am proud to be on that track. I agree it's not one of his best peices but it was obviously a historic moment in the history of the Mothers of Invention.

    Al Brooks Midwest, USA
    This is better than i thought at first listen, a six and a half or a seven. Not great by any means but listenable. Twenty Small Cigars has an Eastern sound to its jazz-- nice work.

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    Fillmore East, June 1971 ( 1971 )
    Little House I Used To Live In / The Mud Shark / What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are? / Bwana Dik / Latex Solar Beef / Wille The Pimp / Do You Like My New Car / Happy Together / Lonesome Electric Turkey / Peaches En Regalia / Tears Began To Fall

    It's 2005 at the time of writing, round abount lunchtime. It's been quite a while since I visited my Zappa page(s). I'd been struggling with them, given the fact this is the only artist page on the site that's been 'on the go' since the site first began. Hence, with my decision to return to Zappa this particularly sunny aft, things will only get even more confusing and bewildering for the reader from now on. A variety of writing styles, review lengths, opinions. Reviews written out of order with the flow of the mans discography? Somehow, isn't that fit for a man like Zappa? Well, speculation aside, what's this thing? Well, it's a poorly recorded live document of a gig that the Flo And Eddie incarnation of The Mothers put on, back in 71. Which means Mr Zappa is still exploring certain lyrical topics few thought particularly laudable to explore. Still, everything is valid art, it's been said. I'll explore the 'familiar' tunes first. The Mothers do a perfectly adequate live version of 'Little House I Used To Live In', complete with interjections from Flo and Eddie. Complete with a great instrumental break featuring stupendous Zappa guitar, keyboards.... much drums. 'Willie The Pimp', with Captain Beefheart replaced by Flo And Eddie, fares less well as a representation of the original, and better as an excuse for the band to have some fun. 'Peaches En Regalia' seems to have been taken a little nervously, but comes off well in the end, bar the perhaps not required additional wailing of the vocalists. If the story i've heard is correct, Frank and band played The Turtles ( flo & eddie ) hit 'Happy Together' for the benefit of either flo, or eddie. So they could get laid after the gig. Well, why not? Inserting ( no pun intended ) this slice of sixties pop whimsy into the middle of a Frank Zappa concert is just the sort of thing Frank was good at. Playing with peoples perceived notions of reality!

    'Lonesome Electric Turkey' proves the Mothers improvisational skills hadn't left them and is an enjoyable interlude to lead into 'Peaches' on the album. The 'Do You Like My New Car' seven minute story as such makes me wish i'd managed to see Frank in concert. At thirty one years of age at the time of writing, I got into Frank too late to be able to do that, sadly. Still, even this less than perfect live document of Frank and company still impresses me. It's the sense that he and his musicians usually did have fun on stage and that the audience especially did. This is the reaction I get from listening to 'Do You Like My New Car' and the album as a whole. A song such as 'Latex Solar Beef', well. You can miss the point or you can enjoy it for what it is, a silly, hugely fun piece of actually pretty good, rock music. Commas stopping from now on. At the end of this album - the very last song after everything thats come before? Frank gives us another piece of pop music of his own creation. It's silly. Daft. Fun. Grin-inducing. It's light and fluffy and a parody of pop music in a sense. Ah those stupidly high harmonies! Ah the descending and rising again melody lines! It's all here. Well, the stuff they did with John and Yoko can be found on 'Sometime In New York City', the Lennon release. But, we don't want to talk about that, do we? No.

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    200 Motels 10 ( 1971 )
    Semi-Fradulent-Direct From Hollywood Overture / Mystery Roach / Dance of the Rock & Roll Interviewers / This Town Is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich [Prologue] / Tuna Fish Promenade / Dance of the Just Plain Folks / This Town Is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise) / The Sealed Tuna Bolero / Lonesome Cowboy Burt / Touring Can Make You Crazy / Would You Like a Snack? / Redneck Eats / Centerville / She Painted up Her Face / Janet's Big Dance Number / Half a Dozen Provocative Squats / Mysterioso / Shove It Right In / Lucy's Seduction of a Bored Violinist & Postlude / I'm Stealing the Towels / Dental Hygiene Dilemma / Does This Kind of Life Look Interesting to You? / Daddy, Daddy, Daddy / Penis Dimension / What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning? / A Nun Suit Painted on Some Old Boxes / Magic Fingers / Motorhead's Midnight Ranch / Dew on the Newts We Got / The Lad Searches the Night for His Newts / The Girl Wants to Fix Him Some Broth / The Girl's Dream / Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce / Strictly Genteel

    Ah, but I'm tired. So very tired today. I'm wired and lost and losing my face in a pillow of tears. The fridge stands empty of food, the beer cans pile up - the faint sound of cars pass by the window - tauntingly purring and stabbing me in the heart with pollution and inadequacy. A mixture of Classical, Opera, stupendous falsetto vocals, daft lyrics, utterly beautiful musical settings, a country song - seems very attractive to me right now! By the time we reach 'Magic Fingers' Frank even remembers to get his guitar out and treat us all to a solo of breathtakingly brilliant 'made up on the spot' nature! But first..... THIS. '200 Motels' was the only movie Frank actually managed to finish and get into the theatres. 'Uncle Meat' and 'Captain Beefheart Vs The Grunt People' were both unfinished, but Frank felt the need to try to get some of his visions down onto celluloid all the same. With '200 Motels' he succeeded, but lost a bass player just prior to filming, ran out of time resulting in scenes being cut - hired a new bass player who just happened to be the chauffer of the films star, Ringo Starr! Well, he looked right. Cal Schenkel, provider of all those lovely and beautifully insane Zappa sleeve designs set to work on the set - lots of cardboard, mostly. A pit to house an orchestra, all highly trained Classical musicians who must have wondered what the hell they'd let themselves in for. They filmed in the same studios used for James Bond films and 'Fiddler On The Roof'. 

    Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, formerly of the group The Turtles and sometimes providers of distinctive harmonies for  Marc Bolan were new additions to the Zappa band - they'd worked on part of 'Chungas Revenge' then gone out on tour with Frank to fully arrive here - the only full length 'studio' outing they'd be part of from beginning to end. The album opens with the classical theme of 'Semi-Fraudelent/Direct From Hollywood'. It also works to introduce the chorus of harmony vocals sounding airy and like some twisted version of angels. Beautiful vocals, by the way. Theodore Bikel gets the narration going as far as the film in concerned introducing Ringo, playing Larry the Dwarf, who is of course dressed exactly like Frank Zappa. 'Mystery Roach' then kicks in, all guitars, all falsetto harmony vocals from Howard and Mark - it sounds pretty darn great, by the way. They soar, they rise!! The guitar is Rock guitar and so far, so normal and everyday, bar the vocals of course which remain unique. 'Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers' is a brief burst of classical percussion and twisted sounding strings to sonically lead into the 'Sealed Tuna' suite of songs. A suite in five parts with extremely silly lyrics, a whole load of beautiful, avant-garde classical moments - a ten minute long selection of songs linked together by a repeating distinctive, beautiful musical theme. The vocals continue in places, soaring falsetto - leaning towards Opera. The 'Dance Of The Just Plain Folks' section is purely Classical instrumental. I guess to appreciate this album you do have to at least like the sound of an orchestra! They sound magnificent here by the way, and Zappa's orchestral scores were often frighteningly complex, jumping around melodically, always interesting percussively. 'The Sealed Tuna Bolero' ( yes, it really is called that! ) is just as it's title suggests, a little bolero with military drums, more vocals from 'the angels' - and attentive listening to this whole ten minute suite pays dividends. It isn't something you can 'dip' into. The album as a whole deserves and demands a full hour and a half of your time, not something everybody can give, but Frank rarely made it easy for his fans, or music lovers in general.

    The Jimmy Carl Black sung 'Lonesome Cowboy Burt' is purely ridiculous and coming after this semi-serious, often beautiful ( if avant-garde, operatic ) 'Sealed Tuna' suite sounds more ridiculously happy and daft than it would have done anyway. A simple song on the face of it, a childish song even - but when the Bass and Piano comes in, a little hoe-down.... when the falsetto of Howard and Mark comes in..... 'Lonesome Cowboy Burt' is supremely silly and very enjoyable. Some kind of mad genius was needed to create it, fortunately Frank was on hand. 'Touring Can Make You Crazy' is a string based classical theme, 'Would You Like A Snack' a short but utterly beautiful instrumental with vocal parts through the second half. 'Redneck Eats' is all avant-garde but does fit the album and ends with ( Jimmy Carl Black? ) saying, 'Hey Twerp, play something I can enjoy...' upon which the album segues into the 'spooky' sounding 'Centerville' with mock horror strings and vocal effects to open, before leading into more of Zappa's brilliantly scored, wonderful sounding orchestral parts. The next five songs, like 'Sealed Tuna' - make for a mini-suite, just under nine minutes long this time with more soaring falsetto vocals, more beautiful classical parts in-between, more challenging, ridiculous lyrics. Nothing fits. You try combining all these elements, Opera as well! And still come out smelling fine!! Or smelling of something, at least :) The closing 'Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist' is a classical instrumental theme that's both very avant-garde and very beautiful. An ambitious piece of work, this '200 Motels', I mean, it utterly dwarfs the little 'Chungas Revenge' set that proceeded it.

    All of this, and more. That's just one CD down of a two CD set! Are you exhausted yet? Let's continue, a little Zappa special of avant-garde malarkey opens the second CD, followed by the supremely silly 'Dental Hygiene Dilemma' which is a Zappa trick of placing ridiculously fast and complex percussive parts and strings to a spoken word piece. All of this music was recorded for the movie, of course - although not all of it actually appeared in the '200 Motels' movie, which - wait for this, I've never seen! I've not heard great reports of it, in any case. The album is more than enough for me. The CD packaging is superb and really does deserve a special mention. It comes complete with a poster and book that has great photo's from the making of the film in addition to an essay detailing the filming of the movie. 'Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You' has some funny little lyrics spoken over the top of booming drums and percussion - it may not sound like much as I've described it, but when it bursts into another glorious sequence of Zappa strings and percussion, with a full choir of voices briefly joining Howard and Mark, it does make your hairs stand on end. And! As if all of this wasn't already enough, we get an affectionate take on Motown type Soul music with the quite frankly wonderful 'Daddy Daddy Daddy' - we get the almost irritating and offensive 'Penis Dimension' which is Zappa all over. Let me explain. Here we have a musical work of appreciable ambition and scope, with some of the finest orchestral music and inventive Zappa melodies of all of time. And then? 'Penis Dimension' of course! It's a challenge, the whole album is actually. You may actually hate it on initial listening. I know I did, Opera and Classical not being my usual listening, even if Zappa is. Getting round the musical settings ultimately, is fairly natural through repeated listening. The sheer scale of the album impresses, the melodies impress, the vocals always impress when they really go full tilt.

    Speaking of which, 'What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning' is both a song with a long title (!?!) and also a song featuring a full Mothers Of Invention band performance surrounded by orchestra and some of the most astonishing falsetto I've heard in my life. It's happy, it's grin inducing - and following a few challenging pieces, brings everything back to simpler melodies. The remainder of the album is really just a continuation of what's gone before. But, most notably - we are treated to a wonderful Zappa guitar solo in the storming 'Magic Fingers' and an eleven minute finale with 'Strictly Genteel'. 'Strictly Genteel' combines lots of operatic vocal parts with a big orchestra sounding very full on, a real Hollywood, closing of the movie song and dance number! Ok, so not song and dance. Really, just more outrageous melodic and inventive vision. Even with the supremely daft nature of the whole enterprise, this can't help but fail to impress you just a little.... and then, later on - impress you more and more. '200 Motels' is pretty much unique even within Frank Zappa's huge and varied catalogue. I can't say I can easily recommend this, but I can highly recommend this. Even with parts of 'Strictly Genteel' sounding like an episode of 'The Muppets' - yes folks, this is that kind of record. The brilliant and the downright stupid right next to each other. A ten, of course. 

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    Readers Comments

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    200 MOTELS is Zappa's most underrated release. It could be compared to the 'White Album' by the Beatles in that it is a flawed, but very worthwhile, masterpiece. Like the 'White Album', many styles from many eras are covered. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters And Corduroy Ponce is an eerie tune from the first half of the 20th century-- perhaps the 1930s. Someone once described Magic Fingers as out-doing Led Zeppelin in the hard Rocking department. There is much modern classical mixed in with the pop tracks; so you get two-for-one on 200 MOTELS-- one part modern classical and one part pop-rock.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    I saw the movie and I didn't understand a bit of what it was about. Everything filmed in one single motel-room. Terribly directed by Zappa. I bought the record and there were some really good rockers with "the florecent..." on vocals. But I couldn't melt the rest of the music though I tried. I sold the vinyl a long time ago and have no intention of buying the CD.

    chris bennett chrisbennett911@hotmail.com
    Well the first thing i can say is congrats if you live in good old blighty and have managed to snare this elusive gem (long since deleted and rights not owned by the zappa family trust, i think!) This piece of work is truly awesome, if he had only done this and nothing else he would still be called a genius. The slightly surreal story of a band on the road, remember he took no drugs, and didn't drink, which people are always amazed by. Its one of those albums when you have had a good drink you go back to, in other words its one of those few albums that matters. Musical highlits are to many to mentio... hang on, no! I'm not going to wimp out like that! The "tuna fish" suite has gorgeous melodies running all the way through it's movements. The melody starting with "she painted up her face" and finishing with "shove it right in" is probably among the best stuff the man ever wrote, PLEASE get it, and listen. Among selections on the second side, "what will this evening.." is like! a lost diamond from yesteryear,and magic fingers rocks like the proverbial motherf*****! It' a just a shame the recording quality is not pristine. But don't let that put you off, it doesn't detract from the actual quality of the music. All in all, a true classic.

    Jerry Hamric 5jerry@myway.com
    "200 Motels" is one of those pieces of music that does bend your ear at times. The first time I heard it, I'll admit I only listened to the "rock" numbers, as I loved "Mystery Roach" , and wasn't in the mood for the orchestrations. Don't get me wrong, I like the orchestra music, but I skipped most of it at first. It's just one of those works, I don't know, you have to be in the mood for something "out there," and have the time for the whole thing to fully "get it." And I'm one of the ones who indeed "get it." It succeeds on its own terms.

    steve srbalough@yahoo.com
    how dare you rate 200 motels a 10 while giving hot rats a 9, burnt weenie sandwich an 8 and the grand wazoo an 8. i guess its just a matter of personal preference, but if you're rating this album on humor, it may be a 10. for me, i rate his albums on the music contained within, which is why hot rats, weenie, and wazoo (albums that focused on MUSIC, rather than sexual humor) should be rated higher. but thats just me.

    Rich richbennetlaf@sbcglobal.net
    Adrian - your website rocks. The time and care you have devoted to Frank has earned you special place in the Here After: ...You shall be welcomed into His bosom - an infinite roadhouse in Heaven known as Nipples & Breast Milk, Inc., home of the Big Two, courtier to FZ Almighty, and home of the Concubine Tuna Sandwich... Anyway, I am impressed. It brings back an excellent memory...a date night...with an easy vixen named Mary...who was game to go see 200 Motels with me in Bloomington, IL. By this time I had mostly memorized the entire double album, so laughing and singing thru the movie annoyed everyone around me...including Mary.

    Al Brooks Midwest
    P.S. overall a great, vast, comprehensive album, but not to be listened to y those under the age of 18 (or preferably 21). kinda Misogynist, as in deodorant spray up her twat and waiting for girls they can shove it right. This album is unquestionably not suitable for nursery school and kindergarten

    Al Brooks Midwest
    P.S. i sent an email to Howard Kaylan (the large guy) of Flo & Eddie saying i like 200 Motels and he answered that he didn't think much of it but thanking me for liking his contribution. i send him another message, to tell him i thought 200 Motels is as good as the White Album and he sent me one last email that read, "well then the white Album can't be that good, can it?"

    Just Another Band From L.A. ( 1972 )
    Billy The Mountain / Call Any Vegetable / Eddie, Are You Kidding? / Magdalena / Dog Breath
    ****this review courtesy of guest reviewer Al Brooks aka Psychedelic Relic/Creepadelic Relic ( kerry_prez@yahoo.com )****

    For starters, I don't even like Zappa's music as far as real pleasure goes, it's not the sort of music that makes you feel good. Hard to say exactly, but let's put it this way: how many people do you know would want to get up and dance to a Captain Beefheart piece? What I like about Zappa & Beefheart (assuming I even actually like Beefheart) is at least with Zappa he usually aimed for quality, and tried to go beyond commercial lyrics, a striving. though common in music today, was not always the case. I'm not familiar with current music except from surfing the radio, don't know how many filler/throwaways artists place in their albums these days, however Zappa tried to keep his throwaways to a minimum. And that's what I like about 'Just Another Band From LA' (JABFLA)-- the album contains in my humble burnt out acidhead opinion, not one throwaway. Having said that, this album is not a true work of art like, say, 'We're Only In It For The Money' is. Yet all the same JABFLA is genuine entertainment, and very good for a live act. The first track, 'Billy The Mountain' has been called somewhat childish in its humor, which is true at the beginning of the track. Then the dialogue becomes denser & more sophisticated as the track builds towards its climax. Like all tracks on this album the social commentary is sophisticated for a 'pop rock' artist and leaves out the bitter anger of some of FZ's other works.

    So Kaylan and Volman can be said to have been a positive influence, taking humor in a zany but gentle and still fairly artistic direction. They could sing pretty well as far as duets are concerned. Not high art, not brilliant comedy, but just right for the conventions (or in this case unconventions) of pop rock. The live version of 'Dog Breath' rocks on quite well. 'Magdalena' is the stunner of the album, utilizing the synthesizer in the best way imaginable. 'Eddie Are You Kidding' is the most popular track from this album; it's easy to hear why: more lightly humorous social commentary and pleasing music. The dialogue is memorable, as is the case with 'Call Any Vegetable'. This is an album with only a few tracks, but all five are worthy. DISCLAIMER: Again, if you are looking for high art, this album wont be for you. I do not want to be responsible for someone being stuck with an album they regret having purchased. Worse, the sound quality, from circa 1971, is between poor and fair. This album is not for everyone; it may help to be middle aged, spacey, and to have a taste for silly-but-with-a-bona fide-message humor from the counterculture of the early '70s.

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    Waka Jawaka 6 ( 1972 )
    Big Swifty / Your Mouth / It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal / Waka Jawaka

    Flo and Eddie would depart amid much acrimony, but that's another story, and shall be told another time. This is a semi-return to the sound of 'Hot Rats' but bar the two vocal tunes, more Jazz this time round. Everything is played extremely well through the Jazz pieces, typical Zappa melodies but I get the impression he's not really stretching himself. He had no band at this time, he was in a wheelchair following an accident at a concert, his throat was shot resulting in a deeper singing voice on later albums. You know, he wasn't happy! Having said that, the opening track here IS impressive, lots to enjoy although for me personally, it goes on too long. It's difficult to pay attention to 'Big Swifty' all throughout it's seventeen minute long length. Now, don't get me wrong. This is pretty good Jazz fusion music, but maybe not GREAT zappa music. It goes on pleasantly, and that's it. It doesn't excite me, it's a little boring by the end. But then, i'm just one guy. Listen to it for yourself, please. Don't take MY word for it, good grief! 'Your Mouth' is the first of the vocal tunes, bears no similarity to the previous song here whatsoever, and is below par for Zappa with an unimaginative melody, etc, although the trumpets are nice.

    There is one underrated gem on this album, the dreamy slide and Hawaiian guitar that is 'It Might Just Be A One Shot Deal'. It's one of my favourite Frank Zappa songs and recordings, I can listen to it all day, and it's the reason this album even gets a grade of six. The closing title song is very movie theme Jazz, featuring more great playing. A little more enjoyable this, than the opening song. I can appreciate and enjoy the performance. I like this music. But, this is a review of an album, not four individual songs. So? Well, I don't care too much for this 'Waka Jawaka' album. I like at least two of the songs, and give this a grade of six. It seems appropriate.

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    Readers Comments

    Couldn't disagree more about this album. Just goes to show how subjective taste is. For me, nothin' boring about it. Inventive, unpredictable as always.

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    This of this as Zappa voyaging into jazz. With mixed results. One 17 minute jazz instrumental piece, and the rest are either instrumental or music & vocal pieces. The vocals aren't that great. There are some good mements here and there . . . but to me it wasn't worth picking up.

    Hans Lund hans.lund@chello.se
    This record was a great dissapointment to me. Hot rats two as the cover said. It had nothing of the spark or melodies of the Hot Rats. There is the title song which gets a 10, the rest is forgettable.

    Aaran Graham grahampaaran@aol.com
    Totally different from what went before.Perhaps that's why there seems to be a lot of negative comments about this album. Thank God Frank did leave behind the whole 60's MOI sound cause otherwise he'd have never made any of the fantastic, original MUSIC found here and on the Grand Wazoo. Then again it wasn't too long to wait until he got a band together to play "rock Songs".

    Frank Mullin firebirdsballs@yahoo.co.uk
    I think a six is a little harsh. You have to consider the general approach Zappa was taking to his work during this period and judge the album based on this. In terms of exploration, this album scores highly for me. It's all part of Zappa's journey to musical omnipotence.

    mike mpshea21@aol.com
    This is one of my favorites. Great improv, ahead of its time, like something you would hear from Disco Biscuits or The String Cheese Incident nowadays. The vocal tracks are not as outlandish as say, something you would hear on Uncle Meat, but Zappa didn't always have to be outlandish to succeed. I only own about 10 Zappa albums, but it is among my top 2 or 3 favorites.

    Alan Brooks Midwest
    i give this a nine because i like jazzrock/fusion, grew up in time when it was popular... Weather Report, Mahavishnu... and more. It Just Might Be A One Shot Deal has the perfect steel guitar solo Adrian mentioned, plus unusual lyrics sung (or spoken) interestingly. 'Your Mouth' I like better than Adrian does, but i'm partial to all jazz and all fusion. Why? Simple. Because my brain was warped by drugs in the early 1970s to be imprinted with jazz and fusion, that's why.

    Frank Miller Indiana
    The Hawaiian slide guitar of Denny Walley on this album should be enough for any Zappa fan to own this album.Yes there may be some extended stuff here that might not satisfy everyones taste.However the whole Suzy Creamcheese thing is pretty cute.Not my favorite however considering a traumatic accident before this one was produced might have been part of the reason for what some might consider lacking in luster.I must still rate it an 8 as I wore out the diamond needle on my old Fisher tt on this one alone.Just another avid fan.

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    The Grand Wazoo 8 ( 1972 )
    For Calvin ( And His Next Two Hitchhikers ) / The Grand Wazoo / Cletus Awreetus Awrightus / Eat That Question / Blessed Relief

    The Franz Zappa Jazz Band gets to grips with another set of tricksy Zappa compositions. The main difference between this record and 'Waka Jawaka' is the sheer size of the supporting cast this time around. The big band truly gets big. This benefits the sound of the album, 'The Grand Wazoo' is a far better successor to 'Hot Rats' than 'Waka Jawaka' ever was, because of this developing sound. This record is rich in texture and detail, a fine Jazz/Rock fusion by anybodies standards. Having listened to a lot of Jazz music lately, I can appreciate what Franz is doing here. I still don't feel inclined to rise my rating for 'Waka Jawaka' and to fans of that album, I apologise, but I just don't find it terribly interesting. As a means of comparison between the two albums, let's take the opening tune here. In terms of composition, it contains a lot of Zappa trademarks. There's different sections - tricky ones, silly ones. Yet all played and sounding absolutely magnificent, a sound to truly fill a stadium let alone a small concert hall. We still catch every single detail. Great bass playing in particular, the brass instruments are everywhere and really add excellent drama to this thirteen minute long track. It could be argued 'For Calvin ( And His Next Two Hitchhikers )' doesn't particularly go anywhere, and you'd have a point. Yet that would be ignoring the sheer invention and the glorious sound Frank and musicians managed to produce for the recording of the song. Oh, right. Compared to the two vocals tunes contained on 'Waka Jawaka', we've just the one here. It happens to be the title song and flows perfectly from 'For Calvin', that's something of an improvement over 'Waka Jawaka' where the vocal tunes just sounded out of place.

    Ah, correction. 'Cletus Awreetus Awrightus' also has vocals, of sorts. No lyrics, just Zappa going 'dum de dum dum dum' towards the end of the song. I shall place it in context. This is clearly a fun tune, lots of quick percussive elements, silly but great trumpets and a fairground atmosphere. A few great jazzy moments, a guitar solo. Some avant garde and then the 'la la la dum dum dum' vocals come in towards the end. A lovely little piece of piano going all up and down. I love 'Cletus Awreetus Awrightus' a lot. It's prime-time Zappa stupidity, done of course, in the most intelligent way. 'Eat The Question' is very jazz-fusion, at the expense of Zappa's normally inventive and intelligent melodies and arrangements and seems to have been included purely as a playing showcase, which is fair enough, I suppose. Better is the sweet mellow atmosphere of 'Blessed Relief', a jazz piece with proper jazz segments to it as well as the trademark Zappa arranging flair. It's good, and so is 'The Grand Wazoo' album. From here on in, Zappa's music would undergo quite a drastic change, though.

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    Readers Comments

    Al Brooks Midwest, USA
    Some critics like this, some think it is a pale rehash of that which was done on Waka Jawaka. I agree with Adrian that it's an eight. There are no heavyhanded Zappa obscenities to mar this because there is almost no lyrics or talking at all, except for a few seconds at the beginning, something like "where did they go; when did they come from?"

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    Over-nite Sensation 8 ( 1973 )
    Camarillo Brillo / I'm The Slime / Dirty Love / Fifty-Fifty / Zomby Woof / Dinah-Moe Humm / Montana

    The first Zappa release on which he ditched avant-garde fully for commerce. He realised that in order to fulfill his more artistic projects and ambitions, he needed to start selling more records than he was. Thus, 'Over-nite Sensation', a collection of seven seedy tracks lasting thirty-four minutes and pluggin into a nations desire to read porn magazines and have sex. Most nations have such desires. So, 'I'm The Slime' picks on people and contains a great guitar solo right towards the end. The nifty four minute long 'Camarillo Brillo' sports Zappa's then new deeper singer voice to great effect. Some delightfully daft rhymes, pop-lyrics for people who secretly like pop-lyrics but wished everyone write like Bob Dylan. Frank presents lyrics seemingly with meaning, yet actually lyrics that do everything both right and 'wrong' at exactly the same time. Hotcha! My favourite track on this album has to be 'Fifty-Fifty', though. Stupendous funk/porn-movie-music combine with vocals as daft as any on any Zappa release ever. Zappa does the backing, the lead vocalist goes so over the top as to be bordering on theatrical pantomime. Shredding vocals chords is the order of the day, kind of James Brown pastiche lyrics. Many moments of fairground-silly musical bliss played with expert speed and precision. Huge sections of stupendous musical moments abound over a rhythm section so great sounding, most bands would kill their drummer and sack their bass player in order to acheive such a great sound. Of course, Mr Zappa himself pops up with a typically excellent twiddly guitar solo over this rollocking rhythm section. The snappy 'Dirty Love' ends 'side one' with lyrics offensive to the avant-garde purists who loved The Mothers but delighting college students the land over.

    'Zomby Woof' proves Zappa actually was as complex as ever, this marrying of a twisted and deliberately rude version of pop-music lyrics to complex porn-funk-jazz works surprisingly well given a chance by the listener to appreciate exactly what actually is going on. So, 'Zomby Woof' is crushingly good, the closing 'Montana' rocks out well with mucho goings on in the guitar department as Mr Zappa really lets fly. 'Dinah-Moe Humm' became a perrennial concert encore at Zappa gigs for its pornographic lyrics, a real crowd pleaser, so to speak. It's got a great sound and a weird country influenced funk styled backbeat to it, if that's makes any sense at all. It sounds like a Hugh Hefner country and western singer about to get arrested for obscenity. No, the amusingly titled 'Over-nite Sensation' isn't great art in one sense, but of course, in quite another sense, it's some of the most enjoyable music Zappa ever did. Light, but deserving of an enjoyable listen fairly often anyway. Hotcha!

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    Rich Bennet richbennetlaf@sbcglobal.net
    I have been listening to Frank since the late sixties. I was an adolescent, easily influenced. I laughed my ass off as I transitioned from Mad magazine to FZ, finally understanding the "Blatant Nuances" of sarcastic ironic sophomoric musical complexities and absurdity that was Frank. But his records would never play at parties - I tried. The tiny humans around me didn't get it. And then came Overnite Sensation. Finally my friends could laugh with me, and be rocked when they least expected it. Sure it lacked the outright weirdness of his first release. So what? Frank was so multi-dimentional that it takes YEARS to absorb his stuff. GUYS - you gotta start somewhere! This album (and Apostrophe) was the perfect place for the uninitiated to jump in. The smart ones get hooked, and need more. The dummies go elsewhere to find amusement.

    Alan Brooks midwest
    Fifty fifty is the only song on Overnite Sensation that i feel like listening to anymore, it has a powerful violin solo by Ruth Underwood with Zappa conducting her; she later said he was positively playing her as if she were the violin herself.

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    Apostrophe( 1974 )
    Don't Eat The Yellow Snow / Nanook Rubs It / St Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast / Father O'Blivion / Cosmik Debris / Excentrifugal Forz / Apostrophe / Uncle Remus / Stink Foot

    One thing this record achieves is to create a yearning to put on 'Roxy And Elsewhere' instead. The two records share many of the same musicians and musical prowess. 'Roxy' is a rather more 'serious' proposition though. This is a collection of jokes, great playing, short melodies, super fast patented Zappa percussion, humour, etc, etc and so forth. The production and mixing are stupendous for an album released in 1974. Everything sounds clear and strong. 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow' no less so than anything else here. It would later be re-edited for single release to incorporate portions of 'Nanook Rubs It' and become a much friendly song, easier on the ear, easier to follow and a lot more enjoyable. Even in this version, we get great little instrumental parts and a story-line that's so ludicrous you can't help but smile. 'Nanook Rubs It' follows on from 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow' and features Frank story-telling, carrying on the opening song, speak-singing over Jazz influenced rock playing. One of the most enjoyable songs here for me is also one of the simplest on the surface. 'St Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast' is no less daft lyrically than either of the opening two songs but certainly less reliant on the humour of the story-line. The playing here is astonishingly fast and impressive. And, for a song coming in at under two minutes, there are a surprisingly large number of different sections to this. Same comments apply to 'Father O'Blivion' which segues from 'St Alfonzo's' and like the opening two song sequence, makes something of a mini-conceptual suite.

    'Cosmik Debris' instrumentally is a blues rock groove, lyrically and vocally some of Franks deep voiced story-telling, half singing, half speaking. It's a fairly entertaining piece and funny in places. A particularly great solo sails through 'Cosmik Debris' before the song rocks out a little to close. 'Excentrifugal Forz' is a short one and a half minute truly bizarre sounding instrumental over which Frank sings and then lets out a stupendous guitar solo before the track grooves funkily on towards it's close. And you know what the best song here is, for me? The most impressive piece? Yeah, it's the title song. It's 100% instrumental, all rocking guitar and simple rhythms. Lots of Zappa soloing to great effect. 'Stink-Foot' closes and reprises 'Cosmik Debris' in a sense. It's a song with a very similar pace and feel. Different story line this time incorporating important elements of Zappa conceptual continuity. It sounds good through the playing and mixing. 

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    This is not a great work of art. However, it is very popular, and Zappa liked to reach lowbrow listeners; the sort of meatheads who think eating yellow snow is funny.

    Aaran Graham grahampaaran@aol.com
    Well. Interesting review. Personally I think this album serves as a taster for the Ultimate Zappa album-"One Size Fits All". The immaculate production, the surreal wordplay, George Dukes Sci-Fi keyboards, the virtuosity of every band member. Oh well thats my opinion.

    Neil_E se5a@iprimus.com.au
    I discovered this album in 1977 in Colchester. Brilliant, funny, and still better than most.

    Niall Mc Grath nmcgrath@lambethcollege.ac.uk
    If my memory serves me right, Jack Bruce plays on the title track, "Apostrophe" - overall this is one of the few Zappa albums I like - everything is nice and tight - not like some of the overblown rubbish he did on later albums such as "Sheik Yerbouti"

    Mikey Canada
    Do you guys dislike this album because it is accessible? I've listened to Apostrophe about 8 trillion and 4 times. It never gets old, it never gets boring. It is a 10. It's brilliant. Lyrically and musically.

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    Roxy And Elsewhere ( 1974 )
    Penguin in Bondage / Pygmy Twylyte / Dummy Up / Village of the Sun / Echidna's Arf (Of You) / Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? / Cheepnis / Son of Orange County / More Trouble Every Day / Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)

    Here we have an album that SOUNDS so damn great, it doesn't matter that certain overdubs were applied to the basic live tracks. All of the backing tracks are 'as is', the overdubs are minimal, as far as I can tell. A bit of addition here, a touching up ( ooh! ) there. Etc and suchforth. Thing is, most live albums are like that. Where 'Roxy And Elsewhere' differs over other live albums by other groups - is that it sounds like the ultimate statement of Zappa and his band circa 1974. It's not an alternative, it's not 'live renditions', many of the songs here were new compositions. Good ones, too! So... 'Roxy And Elsewhere'? Zappa was right in the middle of his funk and sleaze period around about this time, but where 'Roxy And Elsewhere' wins out over the likes of 'Apostrophe' etc is just in the sheer astonishingly complex and virtuoso nature of the music contained within. Whilst the studio albums surrounding this, musically at least, were sometimes 'polite', the fact that 'Roxy And Elsewhere' was for the most part live - lends this an extra edge. Besides, we open with typical Zappa nonesense with 'Penguin In Bondage', it's title telling you all you need to know lyrically, all the average listener needs to know at least - whilst the music moves here and there, then moves on to a pretty great guitar solo. Straight after the song has finished, the just over two minutes long 'Pgymy Twylyte' rushes through with complex percussion, great vocals ( courtesy of Napoleon Murphy Brock ) and, you know, great energy and real Rock N Roll funk power. Oh, yes! 'Dummy Up' is six minutes of expertly executed funk backing whilst the vocals and lyrics are very made up and then very humorous. We switch back to a 'proper' song, 'Village Of The Sun' - more soulful vocals, more expert playing.

    'Echinda's Arf' combines the soulful vocals with the complex Zappa percussion elements with the virtuso playing. Zappa had a great band right about now and they were none better than in a live setting. 'Echindna's Arf'? The guitar is GREAT! Zappa and his guitar, no lyrics - pure Zappa music for everyone. Oh, Zappa spoken interludes appear here and there on the album and those are worth listening to, as well. It sounds like a proper 'showbiz' show, you know? Zappa was taking the piss most of the time, but then.... the tunes more than repaid the audiences attention. 'Cheepnis'? Guitar, backing vocals, speedy energy and tricky time signatures. It all comes across like the only music on earth. Ah, I knew there was something I didn't like about this album, and it's the renditions of 'Orange County' and 'Trouble Every Day'. Two tunes recasted in the Zappa funk of the time, slow and sleazy in these cases - but not coming across too sucessfully. Still, the closing 'Be Bop Tango' is a sixteen minute long Zappa speciality, Jazz inspired and containing some the best playing you could reasonably wish for, combined with more Zappa 'leading the audience'. It must have been an absolute ball if you'd managed to attend.

    Yeah, Zappa knew what he was doing. 'Roxy And Elsewhere' is slightly less an absolute ball to listen to on record than it was if you'd attended ( no doubt, I don't know, i'd only just been born! ) but the overall effect of the music contained within focuses your attention. There is always the music behind Zappa and Zappa is always right through the music. Whether it be through vocals, through leading the audience.... through his guitar. The sequencing here is seamless, the band of musicians he had could seemingly tackle anything.

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    Bill bill.thomson3@ntlworld.com
    Funny how tastes differ because Son of Orange County and More Trouble Every Day are my favorite tracks on this album and the Zappa tracks I still play most after 20 odd years of listening. His guitar playing on these tracks to my ears is amongst his finest, combining melody with power and fluidity .....agree whole album is superb..next to Hot Rats my favorite Zappa disc - I even have my kids singing 'I ate a hot dog it taste real good' now every time I take them to a movie..

    Luke mailorder@oldbaileypress.co.uk
    I agree with Adrian about More Trouble Every Day, the original (Freak Out) version is possibly my favorite song and I really wish that there was a faithfull rendition (the one on YCDTOS#5 is really bad sound quality! But hey with an album this wonderfully sublime it's a miniscule fault!

    Johny johny_candado@yahoo.com.ar
    Dont´you ever wash that thing is an incredible and complex song.If you are musician understand what Im talking about. This album is perfect.The cordination of the band is unique, and it is LIVE!!! A Perfect Album

    Andreas G Huntington Beach
    One of my favorites. Most of the stuff from the Roxy gig is awesome. "Dummy Up" and "Bebop Tango have their moments and would have been fun to experience live, but are rather tedious to listen to, and I usually skip them. "Echidna..., etc." is absolutely wonderful, as are "Pigmy Twilight" and "Village of the Sun". "Cheepnis" is marvelous and demonstrates why Napoleon Murphy Brock was Zappa's best vocalist.

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    One Size Fits All 9 ( 1975 )
    Inca Roads / Can't Afford No Shoes / Sofa No 1 / Po Jama People / Florentine Pogen / Evelyn, A Modified Dog / San Berdino / Andy / Sofa No 2

    As usual for Zappa, the lyrics and album sleeve seem to contain deeper meaning than a first glance might provide you. I'm not too bothered with all the fanatical Zappology that goes on and more fascinated with his music itself and with the vocal performances, both aspects always essential to any Zappa release. Recorded with one of the best set of musicians Zappa ever had, 'One Size Fits All' absolutely shines! Starting off with 'Inca Roads' was a slice of genius. Possibly my favourite ever Zappa song, this is superbly performed, it twists and turns, it's satirical possibly of the themes of prog rock, etc, etc. The lyrics are hilarious and also strangely evocative with the space-ship and alien themes, etc, etc. The vocals are gorgeously sang, the music twists and turns many many times. 'Inca Roads' is nearly nine minutes of the finest Zappa money can buy. The album is worth the entry fee for this one song alone, easily. Yet, we've also a couple or three of great Zappa rock songs, 'Can't Afford No Shoes' returns to the Zappa shoes theme that he brought up every now and again, going right back to his second album, 'Absolutely Free'. Being the second track and the song to follow the essential 'Inca Roads', a touch of fun rock humour and yet more great guitar, yet guitar more obviously in a rock mode, is especially welcome. Moving onto another great rock Zappa track that appears later on in the album, another fave of mine, we have 'San Berdino' a track with the usual Zappa percussion twists and turns, the usual fun Zappa lyrics, etc, etc. We know more or less what to expect with Zappa once we become huge fans of his, yet 'One Size Fits All' as a whole still manages to impress, every single time. One of the strongest set of songs he ever put out, says me.

    'Andy' returns to the delightful yet easily listenable, obviously as opposed to easy-listening, complexity of 'Inca Roads'. A song in sections covering a variety of styles. We've got two sofa songs, and there is a picture of a sofa floating in space on the album sleeve, something that refers to a comment Zappa made about a previous Mothers band member in the early seventies. Always self-referring, was Zappa. It brought another level for his fans to enjoy about him. Anyway, yes, the two sofa themes! 'Sofa No 1' is a cool instrumental, space elevator jazz music played by a bunch of hairy rock musicians! 'Sofa No 2' puts strange words to the same music and closes the album in satisfying style. You know, there's a couple of other songs I haven't mentioned, i'm not about to mention them all, but I will reserve space to mention 'Evelyn A Modified Dog'. Not much of a song, rather a minute long piece of strange Zappa humour, but it breaks the album up perfectly. Seamless running order, great playing, great arrangements and invention. Can't ask for more, really.

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    Al Brookskerry_prez@yahoo.com>
    I like 'Andy' the best, the drumming is unusual, it Rocks and twists direction. Andy Devine was a goofy-looking but serious character from a late '40s or early '50s Western TV serial I saw once or twice in the '60s. Zappa must have seen it while he was growing up in California. Actually, the album doesn't hang together too well, but there are hidden treats, or as my school chum Lloyd used to say, 'tweets'. Florentine Pogen is like 'Andy', it changes frequently, and is loud. Zappa doesn't sing any of the tracks except 'Can't Afford No Shoes'.

    Inca roads is one of the best songs ever recorded, well atleast a cool blend of studio and live sound combined in one package.

    I have been looking for an album by Frank Zappa and cannot find any reference to it. I was hoping someone out there might be able to help. The album cover featured Frank Zappa on the toilet and I believe had a red ribbon across it that said Happy Mothers Day. I had the album when I was in Germany in the early 70's. I think the song "brown shoes don't make it" was on this album. I was only 10 years old at the time and my memory may not be correct but, I do remember I enjoyed this album very much and would like to listen to it again.

    Al Brookskerry_prez@yahoo.com>
    P.S. I would have mentioned in my other comment that 'Inca Roads' is as good as Adrian says it is; however it's been described enough already and I wanted to concentrate on 'Andy' my fave track on OSFA. The frequently changing music of Inca Roads, as Adrian surmises, might be a deserved spoof of progressive rock pretentiousness (i.e. the band Yes, and other wasted talents from pompous topographic & hallucinogenic oceans). The lyrics are a spoof of a 1970s species of crackbrained pop sci-fi having to do with ETs, anthropology and ancient Meso and South America. The music is a bit sci-fi as well, excluding the electric guitar solo, which is contrastingly warm and friendly. In 2007 I was fifty years old going on 51 and started feeling sexually dried up and uninterested in obscenity/porn so I threw out all the obscene CDs in my collection, meaning half my FZ discs are gone. But luckily OSFA has no references to sex of any sort save for Florentine Pogen's rather chaste hope t! hat baseball player Perellis might court her. Zappa apparently didn't want any sex to mar this warped-- look at the jacket artwork-- 1970s kooky spooky (and I remember it) popular-SF masterpiece. And FZ was also wise in that OSFA does not make use of too much of his low grade, as he called it, vocals either. Only complaint is that the tracks don't hang together too well, like,'Cant Afford No Shoes' doesn't fit in and isn't very interesting aside from the guitar solo.

    Andreas G Huntington Beach
    Two words: Inca Roads! Quite arguably the best song he ever wrote. Florentine Pogen is great, as are Andy and San Berdino. Pyjama People has totally goofy but wonderful lyrics and an awesome guitar solo. One of my favorite FZ albums, which I still listen to a lot.

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    Bongo Fury 7 ( 1975 )
    Debra Kadabra / Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy / Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top / Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead / 200 Years Old / Cucamonga / Advance Romance / Man With The Woman Head / Muffin Man

    "We were young lovers...."

    Captain Beefheart guests on a good portion of this album, and although the good Captain wasn't at his finest in the mid-seventies, working with Zappa again gave him a kick up something, and he does his best. Besides, nobody else can sing 'pointed' quite the way he can, and thus the opening 'Debra Kadabra' becomes a perfect mix of Zappa instrumental prowess and Beefheart growling vocal nonsense. 'WITCH GODDESS!' But, back to something approaching normality. 'Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy' is a Frank Zappa sung song, and it's very fine, with lots of nice guitar, groovy playing all over and it sounds good too, as rendered here, taken from a live performance, as many of these songs were. Too many commas I apologise. The rest of this review will avoid them altogether. Right! 'Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top' and 'Man With The Woman Head' are Captain Beefheart solo spots vaguely reminiscent of the spoken tracks from 'Trout Mask Replica' which Zappa produced of course but nowhere near as inspired as 'Trout Mask Replica'. Zappa and the band add little musical fanfares after every sentence and that's it. 'Poofter's Froth Wyoming' is a semi-serious country song hilariously and enjoyable sung by Captain Beefheart. It's a delight and a joy and has some very groovy harmonica etc all through it.

    The second side of this album features studio cuts like '200 Years Old' which is very blues and harmonica and very growling vocals. 'Cucamonga' is almost gorgeous but not quite there whilst 'Advance Romance' horrifically is eleven minutes long and really does try the patience. The closing 'Muffin Man' is a studio cut mixing the absurd and the funny with a wonderful Zappa guitar solo. And, that's it. Whatever.

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    chris bennett chrisbennett911@hotmail.com
    Two of rocks most charismatic genius's together? I would love to have been a fly on th e wall for this event. Mostly steeped in heavy blues, there are essentials unavailable elsewhere which can only be found here. I know its a cliche' but this does need a few listens, and then on the bus, shopping, in work, or wherever, you'll think of a phrase, and say to yourself "where the bloody hell did i hear THAT?" Anyway i digress,"debra" gets locked in the mind "carolina" is a truly beatiful song and muffin man! muffin man! I want Hendrix buffs to listen to this and pretend not be blown away with the solo. Not a Zappa album i would reccomend to first time listeners but still, a must have for fans.

    Certainly not one of his greatest by far, but is saved by the excellent Advance Romance and the even better Muffin Man. By the way only the introduction FZ part of Muffin Man is studio, the remainder is live.

    Andreas G Huntington Beach
    A sentimental favorite of mine because it was inexplicably given to me as a present by a relative when I was 13. Listening to Deep Purple and Grand Funk at the time, it totally fried my brain, and I couldn't make heads or tails. I didn't listen to it for a whole year, and only then did I start getting an appreciation, which soon turned into full-blown life-long Zappa freakdom. The first track is such a full-frontal freak assault, it ranks among Zappa and Beefheart's best, as do "Carolina" and "Muffin Man" I actually really like the two Beefheart spoken word tracks. The rest is OK.

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    Zoot Allures ( 1976 )
    Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station / Black Napkins / The Torture Never Stops / Ms. Pinky / Find Her Finer / Friendly Little Finger / Wonderful Wino / Zoot Allures / Disco Boy

    By turns pornographic, artistic and basic - 'Zoot Allures' seemingly sets out to demonstrate to us all aspects of Zappa up and until this point in time. The mix is interesting with upfront vocals and bass, instruments dropping in and out so suddenly they're behind you then in front of you again. This can create some weird, almost hallucinogenic effects. Fitting in with this theme then is "xenochrony," from the Greek words xeno (strange or alien) and chrono (time). Zappa had recordings of his guitar solos dating back years. So, he'd pick out an isolated guitar solo and marry it to a completely unrelated backing track, often with additional instrumentation to support the new time signatures. Sometimes this technique was used purely as a compositional tool, at other times it seems it was used to deliberately unsettle the listener. Take 'Friendly Little Finger' for example, a great example of Xenochrony and just you try and listen and take it both the solo and the rhythm section at the same time, follow them both together. Hard, isn't it? But it certainly sends you places! In a similar, if more straightforward fashion is 'Black Napkins', capturing a superb and exhilarating Zappa solo over moody instrumental backing and the occasional 'oooh' and 'aaaah' background vocal. Oh, but 'Wind Up Working In A Gas Station' arrives first, a simple two and a half minute rock song that has the bass in and out of the song, a kind of bendy twisty song with daft, enjoyable lyrics, a stupendous little guitar solo and a furious ending. Brilliant stuff. The change in atmospheres from the first track into the second on 'Zoot Allures' is dramatic, unsettling and entirely deliberate.

    'The Torture Never Stops' is nearly ten minutes of porno movie styled music with the odd tortured sexual squeal and the excellent but also odd unrelated guitar solo. The title track sends us out into live instrumental guitar solo waters again, and again, utterly impressive. One thing I love about 'Zoot Allures' is the sheer variety, thus we have the dirty grind of 'Wonderful Wino' and the 'pop' of the absurd 'Disco Boy' to close, both of which are utterly enjoyable. That's 'Zoot Allures', perhaps too fractured to be a classic, yet we like those fractures don't we?

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    Al Brooks Midwest, USA
    I didn't like this for a long time, but now its humor is appealing-- i give it a seven for humor; a six for music, as whole ZA gets a six and a half.

    Al Brooks Midwest, USA
    Actually, i'm now sick of many of FZ's revenge-for-being-busted-for obscenity-in-1965 lyrics. It's the same old thing, just nasty tedious payback time on the part of an angry but brilliant artist, when you come down to it. Only track i like on this album anymore is 'Wind Up Working In A Gas Station'. At least there's no mention of sex torture dungeons in this album opener. But the album is rated by me as a 7 if someone is young and has a strong stomach to enable them to listen to S & M music and such like that. Bon apetit.

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    Zappa In New York ( 1978 )
    Tities & Beer / Cruisin' For Burgers / I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth / Punky's Whips / Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me? / The Illinois Enema Bandit / I'm The Slime / Pound For A Brown / Manx Needs Women / The Black Page Drum Solo/Black Page / Big Leg Emma / Sofa / Black Page / The Torture Never Stops / The Purple Lagoon-Approximate

    One hundred and one minutes of Frank Zappa and enormous band - could this prove too much for anyone other than the hardcore, dedicated, Zappa fanatic? Recorded in late 1976, Zappa enlisted some top New York Jazz hands to suplement his usual group of musicians. They played three, sold out concerts and the music showcases the full range of Zappa's absurdity and amazing way with melody and music construction. Well, on the one hand we have 'incomparable' musicianship and utter nonsense of 'Titties And Beer' which severely outstays its welcome, half of the seven and a half minutes are devoted to a somewhat 'you had to be there' monlogue between Zappa and one of his bandmates. On the otherhand, we have the somewhat distressingly titled 'I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth', which actually turns out to be a gorgeous instrumental construction, making full use of the symphonic jazz/prog/rock/avant-garde musicians Zappa had at his disposal. Those of you who delight in Zappa's extended guitar soloing will also delight in 'Purple Lagoon-Approximate', some sixteen and a half minutes of what appears, initially, to be an onstage jam - yet later turns out to be a tightly composed structure in which jamming can take place. There is, of course, a world of difference. The brass parts that parp up half way through evoke earlier Zappa ensembles, such as the original Mothers Of Invention. The rhythm section are solid and grounded throughout. On the other disc, 'Torture Never Stops' gets dragged out to a worrying twelve and a half minutes in another display of virtuosity. The best bit is, inevitably, the Zappa guitar solo.

    A disco-type vamp introduces 'The Black Page Part Two', described by Zappa as 'an easy New York teenage version'. 'The Black Page' is notoriously one of Zappa's most complex and densest compositions. Still it remains dizzyingly complex, if very impressive sounding when played by this large Zappa ensemble. The most impressive piece for me is the stunning, complex yet melodius tour-de-force of 'Crusin' For Burgers', really mixing jazz and rock instrumental work to great effect. What else? Well, 'I'm The Slime' sounds stupendous, much better than the studio equivalent. Zappa could 'do' live, it's fair to say. 'In New York' is a great display of the kind of ensemble Zappa could create. Many of the additional musicians had little time to prepare so it's testament to Zappa's skills as a composer and arranger that the whole band gelled together so very well.

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    Ben Deal
    I'm enjoying the reviews. Nice work. The horn section on "Live in New York" is the fantastic Michael and Randy Brecker, and it's drummer Terry Bozzio that Zappa has his conversation with in "Titties and Beer".

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    Sheik Yerbouti 9 ( 1979 )
    I Have Been in You / Flakes / Broken Hearts Are For Assholes / I'm So Cute / Jones Crusher / Whatever Happened To All The Fun In The World? / Rat Tomago / Wait a Minute / Bobby Brown Goes Down / Rubber Shirt / The Sheik Yerbouti Tango / Baby Snakes / Tryin' to Grow a Chin / City of Tiny Lites / Dancin' Fool / Jewish Princess / Wild Love / Yo' Mama

    Such a good collection of melodies! I adore the sound of the close up vocal on opener 'I Have Been In You'. Guitar parts emerge later in the song. It's not really a guitar song though. It flows seamlessly into 'Flakes'. 'Flakes' is pure Frank Zappa. The melodies! The percussion! A funny Bob Dylan impersonation (?!). A number of songs here are very thrashy guitar, almost punk type songs. 'Broken Hearts Are For Assholes' benefits from a great sing a long chorus and wonderful guitar of course. 'I'm So Cute' and 'Jones Crusher' continue this sound. Thus ends the first 'part' of 'Sheik Yerbouti'. No masterpieces here but enjoyable music all the same. The 30 second long 'Whatever Happened To All The Fun In The World' breaks up the record sonically to lead into the mid section instrumental 'Rat Tomago'. A steady beat is kept by the rhythm section, Franks guitar goes off into all sorts of places whilst only loosely being tethered to the backing track. A fully deliberate effect he pioneered at around this time of layering a guitar track actually from a completely different song quite often, over a different rhythm section track. Whatever the mechanics of it, the guitar playing is wonderful and enjoyable to listen to. 'Rubber Shirt' and 'The Sheik Yerbouti Tango' are two more guitar led instrumentals. Sandwiched between these is 'Bobby Brown Goes Down'. A hit! All over Europe! In countries that don't speak English! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, with controversy over Frank Zappa's lyrical outpourings clouding certain critics opinions of Frank, these non speaking European countries recognized what a damn good writer of songs and melodies he was. The lyrics? They make me smile.

    For me, the sequence of songs starting with 'Baby Snakes' and ending with 'Wild Love' is the key to this album. Such a fantastic set of songs! Words fail me..... Every song is so full of melody. 'Trying To Grow A Chin' is simply stupendous and taken at such a pace! 'Jewish Princess' and 'Dancin Fool' should both have been massive hits! Yes, they should! And, after all of this, we end with the twelve minute long 'Yo Mama'. A quiet tender track. Beautiful vocals. Guitar solo's add atmosphere and the song goes off and becomes more epic as it goes along. A perfect end to an album that really is a decent way to spend seventy minute chunks of your life.

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    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    Fun, fun, fun album! People tend to either love this album or be completely offended and turned off by it. I think it's dang funny! I won't bother naming any songs because there are so many good ones, but this album is good, dirty fun! A 9 from me.

    Frank Mullin firebirdsballs@yahoo.co.uk
    This has to be one of the greatest musical creations of modern times. Its diversity, energy and originality make it an awsome album. If you consider the size of this album aswell - you have to admit - it is a monster of immense power. City if Tiny Lights is, for me, one of the many high points of the album. The rhythm section carries the listener along in a state of blissful wonder. People who question Zappa'a genius should listern to this album and, after eating a large slice of humble pie, realise their mistakes.

    Chris B Chrisbennett911@hotmail.com
    Not a note wasted on what surely must be, one of the best, and most entertaining album of his (or anyones) career. An epic, and a good place to start.

    Wooz wooz112345@yahoo.com
    If anyone else calls Sheik Yerbouti "rubbish" I will find where they live and cook them in a pie and feed the pie to their next-door neighbors. Thankyou.

    merph samarjkand salmonsm@missouri.edu
    I agree, this is a GREAT place to start. It's a real crossroads album. If you can't do Jewish Princess, then it should stop you from getting Thing Fish. If you love the musicianship, it's a doorway opening to One Size Fits all, Roxy and elsewhere, among others. This is how much I like this album: back in the days of vinyl, I had a huge collection (including most of Zappa's) and two copies of only one album: this one.

    Sami Saukkonen ss.gekko@netti.fi
    Unlike all others that have send a message here, I don't actually think this album is great. I agree that this album is tighter than Joe's garage, but it doesn't tell an interesting story like Joe's garage and You are what you is. This is in my opinion the worst Zappa album I have heard and I have heard over dozen Zappa albums. Instrumentals fail to catch my attention and punkish tracks are crap. But there are still some good tracks like I have been in you, Flakes, Bobby Brown goes down and Baby snakes. I think the best section of this album is the last quartet of songs. In Yo mama we have at least one all time Zappa classic. Not as atmospheric as Uncle meat or beautifull as Burnt weeny sandwich, but it is still an okay album. I give it a 7.

    Al Brooks Midwest, USA
    great music, vengeful lyrics. Vengeful because Zappa wanted revenge for being arrested for making an obscene tape in 1965. By now the obscenity and vengeance are tiresome. 9 for themusic, a two for the lyrics. Overall a seven.

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    Joes Garage 7 ( 1979 )
    The Central Scrutinizer / Joe's Garage / Catholic Girls / Crew Slut / Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt / On The Bus / Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? / Lucille Has Messed My Mind / Scrutinizer Postlude / A Token Of My Extreme / Stick It Out / Sy Borg / Dong Work For Yuda / Keep It Greasy / Outside Now / He Used To Cut The Grass / Packard Goose / Watermelon In Easter Hay / A Little Green Rosetta

    A concept album of sorts where the concept and story appears to have been written down on the back of a paper napkin whilst drinking black coffee and smoking a cigarette, and not developed much further than that. Frank's incredible work-rate produced not one, but three new albums spread out over six sides of vinyl, now housed on two cd's. You wanna know about the concept? We have the narrator of the story, a character happily called 'The Central Scrutinizer' whose job it is to enforce laws that have yet to be passed. The sleeve-notes remark that you may well find the plot or idea of the story preposterous, but be glad you don't live in one of 'the cheerful little countries where, at this very moment, music is either severely restricted.... or totally illegal'. Well, that's sorted then, and by the way, I am glad, very glad. Music is some kind of religion or life-force to me, and i'm not ashamed to say that. I do have problems with this particular set of songs however. One reason I love Zappa is the sheer absurd nature of his music, rather than the absurd nature of his lyrical content which I can take or ignore depending on my mood. Zappa has provided us with outrageous melodies, superlative and impressive playing, challenging concepts of which 'Joe's Garage' is just one. But 'Joe's Garage' for the most part appears to have been based on old doo-wop melodies and chord changes, but performed not in a doo-wop fashion ( there are exceptions ) but rather performed for a large part in 'semi-funk-rock-porn movie' music mode. The lyrics are suitably controversial for the late Seventies, but listened to in the twenty first century, certainly less so.

    One song that marries doo-wop chords and melodies to actual doo-wop performance and touching homage, is the title song, which I absolutely adore. 'Catholic Girls' follows from 'Jewish Princess' from 'Sheik Yerbouti' and is suitably 'Zappa' and suitably challenging and on the edge. Musically it's pretty straightforward, but the vocals are dumb and grin-inducing and yeah, this is a good track. 'Crew Slut' opens, as several ( many? ) of the tracks here do by the narration of 'The Central Scrutinizer'. Basically, that would be Zappa with an effect on his voice then? Well, yeah. 'Crew Slut' is good, nice guitar sounds, harmonica sounds. 'Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt' is entirely un-serious but very happy with lots of melody. So far, so good actually as far as the album is concerned. 'On The Bus' follows the story of 'Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt' with a semi-funk-rock-porn-movie, very greasy musical groove but with added Zappa solo over the top. Deliberately entirely unconnected to the rest of the track, an effect Zappa experimented with during this era. The guitar solo would often be taken from a live performance of an entirely different song. But, this isn't one of the best. Both 'Why Does It Hurt When I Pee' and 'Lucille Has Messed Up My Mind' are decent enough Zappa songs and the latter has some genuinely accomplished and touching vocal work. The album rather takes an unfortunate dip in quality after this point however, until we reach the very end.

    The ending sequence of songs includes several highlights and goes some way to saving the album for me. 'He Used To Cut The Grass' is another Zappa solo over unconnected music track, but the solo is beautiful here. 'Watermelon Is Easter Hay' is impossibly beautiful with an entirely straight guitar solo from Zappa and a backing track designed to suit and compliment it. 'Packard Goose' goes absolutely everywhere during it's eleven minute length, and is rather entertaining. The very final and closing 'A Little Green Rosetta' is where Frank drops the 'Central Scrutinizer' facade to replace it with sheer delightful absurd Zappa of the highest order, although the song goes on and on, and on even more - rather spoiling the initial effect.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    Along with ABSOLUTELY FREE and WE'RE ONLY IN FOR THE MONEY, I consider the double disc JOE'S GARAGE to be Zappa's all-around best. The compositions of JOE'S GARAGE may not be Zappa's most interesting; however, the combination of its lyrics and music works quite synergistically. You could call JOE'S GARAGE a 'futurist' oriented album, it has themes including the future of the legal system; gay sex with cyborgs; and a track called 'Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt'. The vocalist of the title track sings "...and the years were rolling by..." You might think that, having been released in 1979, an album like this would have lost relevance for the the new millenium-- but only to a small extent. What makes JOE'S GARAGE seem dated is the '70s disco music layered into many of the tracks; yet the disco gives a cheerful balance to its dark themes. While WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY is sometimes depressing, JOE'S GARAGE is light and humorous-- sometimes too much so. There is not a wasted second on WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, but JOE'S GARAGE second disc has the extended guitar solos that can bore those not particularly interested in guitarist's albums. I give both ABSOLUTELY FREE and WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY 10 points, JOE'S GARAGE gets 9 and a half for its synergism.

    Dan Watkins dan_watkins@hotmail.com
    I can understand you having trouble with this one. It's kind of uneven and fairly long. I do completely love Act One though. "Catholic Girls" has to be one of Frank's catchiest songs ever. Man, I love that song. I also really like "On The Bus." It has a great late-night, sleazy atmosphere to it, and I really like Frank's guitar noodling on it. After Act One, things get a little iffy though. This album contains the filthiest lyrics Frank would pen until Thing Fish. So if you're the least bit prudish, don't even bother. "Sy Borg" and "Keep It Greasy" are quite dirty. The story also kind of falls apart about halfway through (hey, like Thing Fish!). Joe goes from his band breaking up and losing his girlfriend to joining the Church Of Appliantology and having anal sex with robots. The music is good though, and if you're not taking things too seriously, the album is pretty funny. I personally don't care too much for "He Used To Cut The Grass." It's just not a very exciting guitar solo to my ears. "Packard Goose" kicks ass though, and "Watermelon In Easter Hay" is so beautiful that it has the ability to move ol' Dan to tears. Oh, and I like "Little Green Rosetta" too! Yeah, it does go on too long, but I like it! I guess I'll give it an 8. I like Sheik Yerbouti better.

    Luke kellie@bgirls.fsnet.co.uk
    Is it just me that sees this album as pure Ike Willis Genius.

    Steven Steven@asabrush.fsnet.co.uk
    Truly Inspired Had this 2 cd since i can remember had many offers of £50 or more but would never sell

    Al Brooks Midwest
    i dont rate this as my third favorite FZ release anymore, i guess i only previously liked it alot because it was accessible, not dense, but rather sparse so you can concentrate on the lyrics. it IS clever (yet not brilliant). also it is futuristic. but now the above qualities are not enough anymore for me. sad isn't it? the older i get, i feel sadder about change. anyway, Joe's Garage is too obscene for me now. FZ was again trying to get revenge for being arrested for obscenity in 1965, spending 10 days in a terrible penal facility in the California desert-- apparently with no air conditioning. He never forgave the experience.

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    You Are What You Is 8 ( 1981 )
    Teen-age Wind / Harder Than Your Husband / Doreen / Goblin Girl / Theme From The 3rd Movement Of Sinister Footwear / Society Pages / I'm A Beautiful Guy / Beauty Knows No Pain / Charlie's Enormous Mouth / Any Downers? / Conehead / You Are What You Is / Mudd Club / The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing / Dumb All Over / Heavenly Bank Account / Suicide Chump / Jumbo Go Away / If Only She Woulda / Drafted Again

    Not content with releasing the triple vinyl set 'Joe's Garage' in 1979 and the double vinyl set 'Tinsletown Rebellion' earlier in 1981, Zappa followed those up with his 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th sides of new material in just three years, not even counting the 'Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar' album, also released in 1981. Prolific doesn't even start to describe the mans output! Zappa was accused of commercialism for this and the 'Tinsle Town Rebellion' album, but that's kind of ignoring the also commercial nature of his mid-seventies work. Well, compared to the early Mothers Of Invention material, at least. And besides, Zappa was also working on orchestral scores, rock/guitar instrumentals ( eg, 'Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar', etc ) around about the same time. 'You Are What You Is' was a very deliberately placed 'product'. Pop songs with words designed to attract attention. Ah, let's pick out something here. Well, 'Harder Than Your Husband' is a nice little country song, but the chorus is, after all, a sung-a-long "I'll be harder than your husband", so that wasn't getting on the radio too often! 'Society Pages' and 'I'm a Beautiful Guy' are social commentaries, we've got political commentaries elsewhere. A usual kind of assortment for Zappa perhaps, but we've also got 'Doreen', perfectly commercial with a stupendous lead vocal performance, great guitar through the songs close and something of a tour-de-force. We've the bouncy and light reggae of 'Goblin Girl' which also contains very lightly suggestive lyrics. It's an expertly constructed pastiche of a commercial radio song, albeit still infused with Zappa characteristics, here provided purely by the vocals and lyrics.

    Ah, a clever and very Zappa thing to do is all over this album and it's the self-referential nature of the way songs refer to each other and join together. This is something Zappa had long done and would continue to do, but it's very noticeable here, songs are referring to other songs on the same album. Well, the opening 'Teen-Age-Wind' sees Jimmy Carl Black reprise his part from '200 Motels' with the lines "Where's My Waitress'. 'Teen-Age-Wind' leads into a country song and it was a country song Jimmy sang on '200 Motels'. 'Goblin Girl' refers back to 'Doreen', 'Society Pages' flows straight into 'Beauty Knows No Pain', an so forth. The songs here, one through to nine, the first two sides of the original vinyl release, I guess - are as good a two sides as Zappa ever put out, in fact. It's a different kind of sound and feel and a lower level of musical ambition ( bar the astonishing, spiralling guitar all through the 'Footwear' instrumental ), to earlier Zappa works. But that doesn't alter the fact that these first two sides are a delight to listen to! 'Any Downers?' contains great playing - the playing throughout the album is tight. But, bar the instrumental 'Theme From The 3rd Movement', every song on the album comes across as just some kind of musical excersize in commercial music forms. The sound is fairly uniform, a good sound with great musical parts here and there - but twenty songs without another instrumental or two, without.... more variation - becomes wearying come the end of the album.

    Ah, more highlights? The title tune is rocking and swinging along with superlative vocal performances. 'Heavenly Bank Account' is lyrically scathing although, of course ( oh, but of course! ) matched to silly, light music. 'Jumbo Go Away' is very, er, NICE! It's a sweet sounding ballad. I hesitate to say the lyrics are quite as sweet, this is Zappa after all. But then, we wouldn't have it any other way, would we? Zappa liked throwing things in peoples faces, so to speak. By wrapping lyrics around easy, pleasing commercial music, he's trusting you'll listen to the songs enough to get the words. I think it just came about as a reaction against his seventies audiences latching onto the suggestive and rude words at the expense of the music. Anyway, ah - one last comment on one of the cool tunes contained on this album and that's to say I really love 'If Only She Woulda', which moves the music around the same kind of jazz pattern that The Doors used to jam around, complete with Doors-esque organ sound, incidentally. It's fun!

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    'Beauty Knows No Pain' is my favorite on YOU ARE WHAT YOU IS. It's about women who think that going to beauty parlors will make them Vundebar..

    Frank Mullin firebirdsballs@yahoo.co.uk
    Zappa's albums always knock me for six. They are complex affairs, to say the least, that keep you interested for hours at a time. "You are what you is" is no exception to this. I don't know whether Zappa intended to do this, but i like the juxtapositions in this album; simplicity and complexity, seriousness and humor etc. This may just be my interpretation of parts of the album, but, let's face it, that is the beauty of Frank's work. They are like fine art, the longer they exist, the more layers are applied to them. I would definately recomend this album. Zappa fans will love its typical Zappa commentary, arrangement, instrumental dexterity etc. For the non Zappa fan, the album contains plenty of familiar and non threatening sounds.

    chris bennett chrisbennett911@hotmail.com
    I agree with adrians comments but i think this is worth a nine. One of zappa' most underrated albums. The great man himself thought this was superior to the more successful sheik yerbouti, and i for one think he has a point. Listen to the production, listen to doreen, and listen to complex music go hand in hand with smutty lyrics which will make you smile. He is sorely missed.
    FCH fheesh@usadatanet.net
    I think that the best example of Zappa's SUBTLE brilliant side of him is "Dumb All Over." Pop on a set of headphones and tune out the monotone quality of his vocals and listen to the effects of his phase-shifted voice. It's the effect that so sharply illustrates what he's saying. It's the most apocalyptic, creepy and judgmental lyric ever committed to tape, which is so precisely what the extreme far-right religious sector pushes at you anyway. Perfect example is "verily, we must choppeth them up and stompeth them down." The phase-shift delivers that line with the most unsympathetic and total intolerant tambre toward everyone, which is the exact opposite of what religion is supposed to provide. Most religions do provide that, but I think this was Zappa's way of singling out the hypocrisy in the extreme far-right, and stabbing a stick in their eye. One of my all-time favorite Zappa LP's, this easily deserves a 10.

    Scott Hinchliffe shinchliffe@westrpac.com.au
    The first Zappa album I ever bought and probably my personal favourite. Fantastic range from heavy to country to gospel to the deranged. One of the most interesting and diverse albums of all time. If I was stuck on a desert island this is the album I would want to have with me.

    Luke Escombe info@lukeescombe.com
    I heard this album on vinyl the other day and it sounds amazing. The vocals are sublime. I rate this as one of my favourite Zappa albums - a kind of "You're only in it for the money" for the 80's. Great fun, piercing social commentary, incredible vocal arrangements and some filthy guitar playing. "Heavenly Bank Account" is a glorious highlight among many superb moments.

    merph samarjkand salmonsm@missouri.edu
    In a similar vein to my comment about sheik yerbouti, You are what you is is one of the records I bought in all available formats so I could listen to it anywhere (LP, cassette, sorry no 8-track- I couldn't find it- but I did have an 8-track player in my car in this era..). The title track, heavenly bank account, the meek shall inherit nothing are my favorites, the latter being in my top five or all zappa songs. man, he really hits a nerve with that one!

    AndreasGHuntington Beach, CA
    This not one I listen to much. I agree with Adrian's comment about it's "samey-ness". I think the production doesn't do it any favors. Too busy in a way that muddies the sound and weakens the music. You get a perfect example if you compare "Drafted Again" with the much-superior original "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted" on "Lost Episodes" If you read Zappa's comments, it's pretty clear he intended to make an album that would be commercial successful. It didn't work, and it's very ironic that his follow-up, a thoroughly non-commercial effort, would have the BIG HIT.

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    Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch( 1982 )
    No Not Now / Valley Girl / I Come From Nowhere / Drowning Witch / Envelopes / Teen-Age Prostitute

    Any Zappa album or song on which the expert falsetto of Roy Estrada appears is at least guarranteed to contain a few grin inducing moments, and 'Ship Arriving' is no exception. The opening 'No Not Now' contains many ridiculous vocal backing parts, silly Zappa lyrical and spoken parts amid many keyboards, percussion and bass parts. 'Valley Girl' was a hit single and a semi-phemonenon at the time of its release, thanks in large part to Moon Zappas 'valley speak' contributions! The lyrics are certainly funny and typically daft and consistently raise a smile, although yeah, less of a smile after repeated listening. The muisc is straight, frantic, riffing guitars - sounds great listened to loud - 'Valley Girl' rocks. Well, it does! So, two entertaining songs to open? The third song has more riffs, more daft vocal parts, more Zappa delights and all three of these opening songs are just so very easy to listen to. For Zappa, so far at least, this is a pretty easy album to dig into. Ignoring the twelve minute long 'Drowning Witch' centrepiece for the moment, 'Envelopes' is the only fully instrumental track on the album and shares many of the characteristics of Zappa instrumentals. Percussion, lots of little pieces going on here and there and some distinctive melodies arriving through the piece via various keyboard sounds. Ultimately, even without any words whatsoever, Zappa can still raise a grin and a smile - still manage to sound utterly daft and entertaining!

    The closing 'Teenage Prostitute' is the flip side lyrically to the opening 'Valley Girl' and brings this 'Ship Arriving Too Late' album to a nice rounded sense of closure. It's a well paced and sequenced record, with the twelve minute long, largely instrumental 'Drowning Witch' providing a more serious, artistic Zappa moment right in the middle of the album, lending the entire project some much needed gravity, amongst the more light-weight material surrounding it.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    SHIP ARRIVING TOO LATE TO SAVE A DROWNING WITCH is consistently listenable. The only track I avoid is 'Valley Girl' because after the first few times of hearing it the novelty was lost (aside from the bass playing there's scarce musical interest). The high points of the disc are the last three tracks which segue, concluding with 'Teenage Prostitute', whose vocals are (to my ears) well done. The album's opener, 'No Not Now' modulates well, with funny vocal exclamations from Hawaii Five-O: "Book 'em Dan-O, murder one!" and 'Hawaiian lunch".

    spartacus spartacus6775@yahoo.com
    I loved this album, and i wasnt really a huge fan of zappas 80s work. No not now is a delightful track. the favourite has gotta be I Come From Nowhere. this song just doesnt get old. the guitar solo is awesome! i also enjoy the title track. once you get into it, it grows on you like no other.

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    Them Or Us ( 1984 )
    The Closer You Are / In France / Ya Hozna / Sharleena / Sinister Footwear II / Truck Driver Divorce / Stevie's Spanking / Baby, Take Your Teeth Out / Marque-Son's Chicken / Planet of My Dreams / Be In My Video / Them or Us / Frogs With Dirty Little Lips / Whipping Post

    One of four albums Zappa released in 1984. this was originally a double LP set, we had ‘thing fish’ ( a triple set! ) and also two of franks classical / synclaivier works with ‘the perfect stranger’ and ‘Francesco Zappa’. All of this must have been tough on the wallet of any Zappa fan. These works combined displayed almost every aspect of Zappa’s muse. ‘Them Or Us’ was the more straightforward release of the four and the last studio rock album Zappa would ever put out. In response to criticism of his ‘childish’ lyrics the words to ‘frogs with dirty little lips’ were written by Franks youngest son Ahmet! They sound very nursery rhyme if failing to make much sense but can be linked to ‘In France’ earlier on the record. The groove of ‘In France’ follows on from ‘The Closer You Are’ which reprises the likes of ‘I Have Been In You’ from ‘Sheik Yerbouti with its close up, slightly sinister leering vocal. Frank sings the lead here. He contributes to other songs vocally, adds a guitar solo here and there but Frank himself actually doesn’t appear to do very much across this album. He did of course write the songs ( first and last apart ) and no doubt directed the musical proceedings.

    ‘Sharleena’ makes an appearance here and its been given a strange reggae rhythm. The vocals are soulful so perhaps this is why. I adore ‘Yo Hozna’ which sometimes is disliked by Zappa fans, though I myself can’t see why. The guitar riff is easily addictive and the strange backward vocals add to the songs weird but enjoyable overall atmosphere. The two complex instrumentals here ‘Sinister Footwear II’ and ‘Marque Son’s Chicken’ are the most serious moments on the album. They sound different sonically than the other rock guitar songs and make very enjoyable diversions. They actually work as highlights of this set. We have the humorous ‘Truck Driver Divorce’ which also sports good instrumental sections. Other than that, some lightweight material ( for Zappa ) makes up the remainder of the set. ‘Stevies Spanking’ is difficult listening. A song in ‘tribute’ (!) of then current Zappa group member Stevie Vai. The title song is a guitar showcase and ‘Be In My Video’ franks response to such MTV video’s as David Bowie’s ‘Lets Dance’.

    There are plenty of good moments on this album though. It doesn’t really flow too well, the leaping from straightforward guitar rock into a nine minute Zappa instrumental then back into the likes of ‘Stevies Spanking’ or ‘Baby Take Your Teeth Out’ is asking too much of the average listener. A mixed, inconsistent album then? Yeah, but it still retains enough quality Zappa moments to be recommended, at least to fans.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    I don't know how to rate THEM OR US. Some songs were placed in this album as throwaways, possibly to parody the vapidity of the '80s pop music industry. The rear cover photo of Frank wearing an oven mitt to make fun of Michael Jackson (the Pop King of 1983-4) wearing his white glove would indicate such. I can't learn to like 'Stevie's Spanking' or 'In France' no matter what. 'Truck Driver Divorce' and 'Baby Take Your Teeth Out' (the latter being about elderly folks taking their dentures out to engage in oral sex) are very funny, but fluffy. Though some of the tracks-- for example 'Sinister Footwear II'-- are musical viagra, many are saltpeter.

    John Goodfellow yorkbassman@hotmail.com
    I can't really understand the problems people have this album, one of the finest amalgams of Frank's work. In particular, Stevie's Spanking is called 'difficult' by people who have a) never picked up an electric guitar and b) never played the track loud enough to ENGAGE in the lyric/solo synergy. The standout track, of course is the Allman's Whipping Post, a fantastic cover rivalling the later Stairway to Heaven for sheer excitment. And again, rember guys, you have to turn that preamp UP!

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    Thing Fish 6 ( 1984 )
    Prologue / Mammy Nuns / Harry and Rhonda / Galoot Up-Date / Torchum' Never Stops / That Evil Prince / You Are What You Is/ Mudd Club / Meek Shall Inherit Nothing / Clowns on Velvet / Harry-as-a-Boy / He's So Gay / Massive Improve'lence / Artificial Rhonda / Crab-Grass Baby / White Boy Troubles / No Not Now / Briefcase Boogie / Brown Moses / Wistful Wit a Fist-Full / Drop Dead / Won Ton On

    Only the boring and bland shall survive. 'Cast', THING-FISH - Ike Willis, HARRY - Terry Bozzio, RHONDA - Dale Bozzio, EVIL PRINCE - Napoleon Murphy Brock, HARRY AS A BOY - Bob Harris, BROWN MOSES - Johnny Guitar Watson, OWL GONKWIN JANE COWHOON - Ray White. Step right up, folks, 'n meet de 'MAMMY NUNS'! You two ugly white folks hafta excuse de SISTERS, as what dey put in de mash potatoes have rendered dem INCONTINENT! Anyhow, ovuh heahhhh, de scintillating SISTER OWL-GONKWIN-JANE COW-HOON, and de delectable SISTER GHENGHIS-ADONIS-OSMOSIS . . . 'long wif SISTER POTATO-HEAD BOBBY BROWN, and de ever-popular SISTER ANNE de DEVINE . . . an' howsabouta heart-warmin' welcome fo' SISTER JASMINE NOXEMA-TAPIOCA an' her unscrutable companium, SISTER OB'DEWLLA 'X' . . . an' I's yo host: de THING-FISH!

    I've just been opening related web-pages. During 'Torchum Never Stops', the audio for the Zappa 'Letterman' interview from 1983 to promote what Frank hoped would be a 4 million dollar production came on as well. The album was stamped 'Original Cast Recording' and received a Grammy nomination, which is funny in itself. Still, this Letterman interview popping up in the middle of 'Torchum Never Stops' as the music rolled on underneath struck me as the kind of coincidence and/or freak occurence that Zappa himself would approve of, the kind of random effect he would work into his own art. Going back to the promotion of the album and hoped for staged musical, Zappa got Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine to put up $55,000 for a photo shoot that was as bizarre as it was tasteless. Originally a 3 LP set, now fitted nicely as a 2cd, 74 four minute package with 'deluxe' 44 page booklet! Naturally, i'm approaching this album with all the due caution i've been advised to by Zappa fantatics. Some love it, many many more rank it as the mans worst ever album. I'm one of those rare people who have seen fit to classify '200 Motels' as Zappa's finest album. So, what indeed will I make of 'Thing Fish'? What is there to make of it, anyway? The story involves a Government plot on inmates turning them into hideous mutations. The substance that caused this was invented by The Evil Prince ( and part time theater critic ). The mutations are known are 'The Mammy Nuns'. Harry and Rhonda meanwhile are your average white middle class couple. Harry sees himself as a boy in a flashback sequence and turns gay because of the womens liberation movement. He then falls in love with a rubber doll called 'Artificial Rhonda'. PLEASE NOTE, THIS ALBUM FEATURES RE-USED AND OVERDUBBED BACKING TRACKS FROM Tinsel Town Rebellion, Zoot Allures, You Are What You Is, and Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch. IT CONTAINS VERY LITTLE THAT IS 'NEW' MUSICALLY. Zappa fans at the time felt, rightly or wrongly, 'ripped off'. Presenting a series of deep vocals, the 'blackening' of the original tunes was entirely deliberate. The plot some kind of swipe or proposed conspiracy regarding the aids epidemic. Naturally, infused with Zappa humour and apparent crudity.

    And now.... a section taken from Wikipedia regarding the Amos and Andy show, something completely foreign to a 32 year old British guy like me. Amos 'n' Andy was a situation comedy popular in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s. The show began as one of the first radio comedy serials, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and originating from station WMAQ in Chicago, Illinois. After the series was first broadcast in March 1928, it grew in popularity. At its peak, it was heard six times a week by an audience of 40,000,000 listeners, one-third of the total U.S. population. Amos 'n' Andy creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were white actors familiar with minstrel traditions.

    Only the boring and bland shall survive. This album presents an awful lot and expects an awful lot of a listener. No one is going to chastise anybody for not understanding the album. Complete with random 'dada' sections, it's probably not even designed to be fully understood. In 2003 in London, some students formed a company and staged the show with the full approval of Frank's widow, Gail Zappa. I'd loved to have seen it. On with the show. Oh, did I mention this whole thing was/is a parody of a Broadway show? Hardly needed saying, but I thought I best do, everybody does, and it is. 'Clowns On Velvet', 'Harry As A Boy' and 'He's So Gay' form a good snapshot of the entire album. 'Clowns On Velvet' presents some Zappa instrumental music, deftly executed and presented underneath narration to forward the plot of the story. 'Harry As A Boy' sees Harry making some hilarious observations about American society as well as 'turn gay'. All of which leads into the bouncy mutant disco of 'He's So Gay', sung of course in a deliriously happy manner. Another highpoint of the album musically, if that's really the point of it, is the broadway parody 'Wistful Wit A Fistful', which only goes to prove if Zappa only had taken his music 'seriously', he could have been a lot more boring than he actually was. The closing track is 'No Not Now' backwards. Maybe just for the heck of it, who knows?

    What, you wanted conclusions? About 'Thing Fish'??

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    Al Brooks kerry_prez@yahoo.com
    ['Thing Fish' get's a six]. I don't like Zappa much, even though one-fourth of my CD collection is Zappa. What is so refreshing about FZ is how he does everything he can to escape the clutches of commercialized lyrics, lyrics concerning "I'm hot for you, you're hot for me, dinky dinky danky dee". And FZ tried his hand at all sorts of music. You're not supposed to like 'Thing Fish' because the conventional wisdom is that TF is 'racist' and also a few of the tracks are retreads. However, to hell with conventional wisdom, the album is not a bad one, not something you would want to listen to more than a few times in your life-- but am glad I purchased it. 'Thing Fish' had such a bad reputation that it sold in some shops at practically a wholesale price in the late 1980s & early '90s. I remember seeing TF being offered at a music shop here in the tasteless Midwest for less than eight dollars, which wasn't a bad deal since TF is a double-disc. TF is supposed to be frightfully obscene, but the obscenity has been exaggerated, the only part of the dialogue that is truly offensive to prudish American ears is a segment where the Bozzios recount having sex with briefcases and ball point pens in a war-of-the-sexes exhange.

    The highlight of TF for me is when 'No Not Now' is played towards the end of the disc-- backwards. That is correct: the entire original five minute and fifty second original version of 'No Not Now', the opening track from FZ's 1982 album 'Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch', is played tape-reversed on TF. No big deal of course, but that's the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it, uh huh uh huh. Party hearty, Marty. The other retreads on TF are redubbed versions of tracks from 'You Are What You Is': 'Mudd Club' and the 'Meek Shall Inherit Nothing'; plus the title track from the 1981 album. The 'white-boy' vocal tracks from You Are What You Is were removed and Ike Willis' ultra-black singing was inserted. Ike Willis' 'negro' dialect is humorous though it could be seen as a heavy-handed attempt at social commentary. Flo & Eddie (Kaylan and Volman) got a bad rap in the early '70s for allegedly bringing the quality of Zappa's music and/or humor down, but their light humor might be preferable to some. That said, TF is a clever way of standing the concept of smarmy Broadway musical soundtracks on its head.

    Adam G adamg709@hotmail.com
    This is a much misunderstood and unfairly criticised recording. Most casual listeners fail to notice some of the most important elements. Firstly, it is a Zappa critique of AIDS and the suspicion that it is a 'created' desease to get rid of 'all the undesirable tenants in the condominium of life'. This is presented for your delectation in a trivial fashion, with all the gravitas available to be discovered, whilst Harry and Rhonda (Mr and Mrs America) go to see this performed as a broadway stage show. Although they are initially dissapointed (because it's not like everything else), as the plot develops.....they become kind of liberated by it, and begin to show their real personalities. Frank was rock's greatest sociologist by a long long way! Secondly, from start to finish, it creates an atmosphere all of it's own, musically, sonically and verbally. How many artists can do that? To say it is re-hashing old material is missing the point and ignoring all the new music. Fra! nk rarely re-released the same material in the same way but often re-worked older material into new projects and new bands. As always there are some stunning performances - Napoleon's 'aria' during 'Torchum' or the stunning arrangement on 'Artificial Rhonda'. ( A re-working of 'Ms Pinky') 'Brown Moses' must be one of the most stunning vocal pieces he ever wrote and all this in a kind of invented vernacular, parodying black comedy of the 50's and early 60's. Fourteen years after his death it is becoming more and more obvious that nobody does or ever will come close to the wealth of entertainment and social comment that he left. Thing Fish is not a record I would recommend to a novice fan, but is another one of the many Zappa albums that stands on it's own as a piece of great entertainment.

    Al Brooks Midwest
    i don't like this much anymore-- am getting old and frightened, and this album can be a bit frightening to say the least. i give it a six or seven for music; an eight for cleverness; and a below zero for non-uplifting lyrics & dialogue. i now lower my rating to a five, and then only to be listened to with parents' permission and a note from the bureau of mental health attesting to the stable personality of the potential listener. Hallucinogenic drug intoxication at the time of listening may cause brain dysfunction.

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    Civilization Phaze III ( 1994 )
    This Is Phaze I I I / Put A Motor In Yourself / Oh - Umm / They Made Me Eat It / Reagan At Bitburg / A Very Nice Body / Navanax / How The Pigs' Music Works / Xmas Values / Dark Water! / Amnerika / Have You Heard Their Band? / Religious Superstition / Saliva Can Only Take So Much / Buffalo Voice / Someplace Else Right Now / Get A Life / A Kayak / N - Lite / I Wish Motorhead Would Come Back / Secular Humanism / Attack! Attack! Attack! / I Was In A Drum / A Diffrent Octave / This Ain't C N N / The Pigs' Music / A Pig With Wings / This Is All Wrong / Hot & Stupid / Flowing Inside - Out / I Had A Dream About That / Gross Man / A Tunnel Into Muck / Why Not? / Put A Little Motor In 'em / You're Just Insultin' Me, Aren't You! / Cold Light Generation / Dio Fa / That Would Be The End Of That / Beat The Reaper / Waffenspiel

    "I think it's very much about finishing his life," says Gail Zappa, his widow. After he finished this, he said, "I've done everything that I can."

    Described by Zappa as an opera-pantomime, we get to learn more about the lives of the piano-dwellers from 'Lumpy Gravy'. Composed entirely on Synclavier, Zappa takes the original 1967 tapes, adds flesh to the story with new voices ( Dweezil and Moon provide some of these ) and combines this with 19 new compositions. Close to two-hours in length, we have a lot of shorter pieces with two main compositions 'N Lite' and 'Beat The Reaper' providing over 30 minutes of music between them. A fault with the album overall and the concept is that the concept is forced upon us. The downfall of Civilization, the shaping of the voices in the piano into some kind of attempted story. The newer voices coming off as far less entertaining than the older ones albeit more plugged into the social activites of their day. Hence, it sounds more dated in that respect than the original '67 dialogue. Still, orchestral/synclavier pieces such as 'N-Lite' truly are astonishingly intense, complicated and impressive. Enjoyable? Well, that's a matter of personal taste. An important factor to note is the race against time Frank had to endure to complete the project. For example, whilst 'N-Lite' took ten years to complete with one and off work since 1983, 'Act II' of the album was going to have to be neccessarily flawed due to the fact of Cancer cutting back Franks working hours. Indeed, the album was never completed as much as abandoned when he passed away. Oh, if it can be said 'Lumpy Gravy' was good, but perhaps didn't go far enough, 'Civlization, Phase III' goes too far, I suspect. Reviewing it is nearly impossible, by the way. Look at my approach for 'Lumpy Gravy'. The sheer wealth and amount of material here makes that impossible. Well, we'll give it a shot.

    This is instrumental music that's also intellectual music. Avant-garde sound paintings, deliberate construction of specific ideas also utilizing the random nature provided by the voices and ramblings of the piano-dwellers. Still, the way the music blends in and out and the dialogue pieces is great and better acheived than on 'Lumpy Gravy'. The variety of sounds Zappa acheives is astonishing. 'Reagan At Bitburg'? President Reagan is implored to visit Bitburg by Germany to mark 40 years of VE day. Reagan upsets American jews in the process. So, the piece begins, a black comedy. The comedy of the track continues, set against an underlying darkness. Like Mickey Mouse visitin g a crime scene. Can you get this just from listening to the music? Well, yeah, you can with a little imagination. 'Buffalo Voice'? A five minute piece inhabited by a buffalo?? Sounds like it, in places. Well, I don't know! What can I say about it. It sounds really interesting, with lots of texture and a lot going on. After it's speculated 'Motorhead' is probably getting eaten by rodents, we reach the centrepiece of the album, the very impressive indeed 18 minutes of orchestral composition that is 'N-Lite'. Moving through the second half 'Dio Fa' amazes me. It's soft and mellow, yet absolutely sinister and frightening. Like something's coming, you don't know what it is or if it's even human, or a human being tortured and killed.

    By the time we reach 'Beat The Reaper' i've nearly given up. Immense concentration is required to get through the album. There's lovely and otherwise impressive talent on display compositionally, but I can't locate the heart of the project. I could with 'Lumpy Gravy' and that albums more modest ambitions. Here, something or several things, fail to quite tie up together. If he'd made this purely a compositional album, perhaps a continuous sequence of music, the music would have a place to come from. As it is, there's so many ideas here it's easy to get distracted along the way. Oh, 'Beat The Reaper' is very, very good, by the way.

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    Strictly Commercial ( 1995 )
    Peaches En Regalia / Don't Eat The Yellow Snow / Dancin' Fool / San Ber'dino / Dirty love / My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama / Cosmik Debris / Trouble Every Day / Disco boy / Fine Girl / Sexual Harassment In The Workplace / Let's Make The water Turn Black / I'm The Slime / Joe's Garage / Bobby Brown Goes Down / Montana / Valley Girl / Be In My Video / Muffin Man

    Of course, compiling Zappa is fraught with difficulties. Of course it is, especially so when faced with compiling so called COMMERCIAL moments from the vast Zappa catalogue. In face of such danger, 'Strictly Commercial' plays it rather safe, a little too safe perhaps. Although, with music as fine as much of this music is, the 'safe' nature of this compilation is rather a minor point. So, 'Strictly Commercial' sounds like a compilation and IT IS a compilation. For the non-fan, and we can presume that's what this thing is aimed at - it does a reasonable job, although not an excellent job. We won't complain about omissions, as I hinted at earlier, compiling Zappa for a commercial market? Well, forget it! But, 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow' is a crowd pleaser, especially in the version here, eg, the single version. It's more snappy and concise than the longer LP version that appeared on 'Apostrophe'. 'Sexual Harassment In The Workplace' has been taken from a double album released by Zappa in 1988, two CDs worth of guitar solos. Doesn't sound too enticing or commercial? Well, it's not quite as straightforward as that. Rather a guitar solo fashioned into a new composition, a guitar solo as composition. It's a beautiful tune.

    'Trouble Every Day', 'Let's Make The Water Turn Black' and 'My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama' date from Franks earliest Mothers Of Invention days. Compared to rest of the material here, sonically they sound out of place. Great pieces, but they sound out of place! Perhaps ( the original ) Mothers Of Invention deserve their own compilation? Anyway, Zappa is great. Whether you start here or start elsewhere, Zappa is great.

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    Cheezeman27@aol.com First Zappa Album I Ever Bought
    I think this is a great Zappa compilation for the uninitiated fan. Yes it is hardly comprehensive of Zappa's work, but Zappa's shit is so weird that the uninitiated must be introduced slowly to his work. The average person, myself included, would pick up a standard Zappa album and just blow it off as too freak'n weird. now I am not the average person because I was blown away by how great Zappa is and wondering how come I never heard him on the radio before. "Strictly commercial" may be- no wait a minute it IS the most commercial Zappa album out there that I know of (I "only" own 10 or 12 Zappa albums because I am poor) but it is still way weirder than anything you hear on top 40 radio, Zappa is the weirdest thing out there. And that is what makes it great.

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    STRICTLY COMMERCIAL is a good introduction to Zappa. I don't care for tracks such as 'Fine Girl', 'Sexual Harrassment In The Workplace', and 'Muffin Man'; however, there is no accounting for taste.

    LSami thenudechef@hotmail.com
    i agree that this is a great introduction to frank zappa, and was indeed my first zappa cd...the mixture between tracks like muffin man (a personal favourite o mine) and lets make the water turn black give the uninitiated zappa lister a good insite into the world of Zappa...though they could have included whats new in Baltimore....

    paul smith paulsmith2001@hotmail.com
    A great introduction to Zappa, don't know how it can be called the best without Watermelon in easter hay being included.

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    Cheap Thrills 8 ( 1998 )
    I Could Be A Star Now / Catholic Girls / Bobby Brown Goes Down / You Are What You Is / We Are Not Alone / Cheap Thrills / The Mudshark Interview / Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel / Zomby Woof / The Torture Never Stops / Joe's Garage / My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama / Going for the Money

    Now see, this is a cool idea. This is how you should do a compilation as a primer for an artist! Released it CHEAP!! This originally retailed for the price of £3.99, or something similar. Certainly less than ( eight american dollars? ) a fiver. Plus, this comp avoids common compilation pitfalls, eg, you're taking material from a variety of sources. Or, to put it another way, most compilations sound like compilations, rather than albums. 'Cheap Thrills' sounds like an album. Well, it can be listened to as if it were, which is much the same thing. But, this is no greatest hits or anything of the sort. It contains material from live sources mixed alongside studio sources, but guess what? They don't sound strange when placed next to each other! Zappa live recordings, particularly those that date back to the eighties - are sonically as rich as his studio recordings. Richer, actually. Zappa often based studio recordings upon tracks recorded live. There are great performances excerpted here too, 'Bobby Brown Goes Down' works very well, as does 'Catholic Girls'. If these are the versions a fan were to hear first, they'd be doing just fine.

    Another clever thing about this compilation. Songs have been plucked from some more obscure Zappa releases that may have escaped all but a completists attention. Thus, 'We Are Not Alone' is a previously uncompiled highlight taken from Zappa's 'Man From Utopia' album. 'We Are Not Alone' is jam-packed full of enticing Zappa melodies! So? Well, pick up 'Cheap Thrills' and be enticed. Yeah, I think that's the moral of this tale.

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    Readers Comments

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    Zappa was musically enriching. Unfortunately, with over 60 discs he is also wallet-emptying. I ruined my chances for a 401k due to my interest in Zappa. My advice to the youth of today is: if one isn't really serious about Zappa, one could purchase 'CHEAP THRILLS'; 'SON OF CHEAP THRILLS; and 'STRICTLY COMMERCIAL' and thus have a 360 degree panorama of Zappa's work. CHEAP THRILLS and SON OF CHEAP THRILLS, especially, are the Zappa bargains

    Sam Cincinnati
    I'm kind of a newcomer to Frank Zappa. I dig hard through the record stores to find his stuff. This, along with Son Of Cheep Thrills is not only an introduction to FZ, but a great collection of Zappa tunes. I have the first three Mothers albums, and this is a great addition to it, so you get an idea of what solo Frank is all about.

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    Son Of Cheep Thrills ( 1999 )
    WPLJ / Twenty Small Cigars / The Legend of the Golden Arches / Ya Hozna / It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal / Love Of My Life / Disco Boy / Night School / Sinister Footwear [2nd Movement] / The Idiot Bastard Son / What's New in Baltimore?

    The same idea here as 'Cheap Thrills'. The same kind of delightful Cal Schenkel artwork and the same mixture of studio and live cuts, although with slightly more emphasis on the studio cuts, this time out. So, 'Night School' is plucked from 'Jazz From Hell', a cut many fans may have missed as 'Jazz From Hell' generally isn't one of the more celebrated or best selling of Zappa's works, yet... 'Night School' does so much during it's four minutes and forty seven seconds. It goes way beyond what you'd resonably expect a simple 'rock' composition to do. Is it a rock composition? Frank is often characterised as such, but that's doing the man a disservice, methinks. In a similar vein to 'Night School' is 'What's New In Baltimore', another piece created by Frank using a device called a synclavier, a device that could imitate any instrument under the sun. Pure composition. Oh, another thing. These Cheap Thrills compilations were only the third and fourth Zappa CDs I ever purchased. They went a long way to turning me into a fan.

    'Yo Hozna', the clear highlight of Zappa's 'Them or Us' album joins other less known, but not lesser, Zappa works. 'Twenty Small Cigars', delightful jazz. From the mass of material the 'Uncle Meat' album demonstrated, arrives 'The Legend Of The Golden Arches'. Silly, happy, and avant-garde silly happy. Packed with stupid melody. Ah, the live material here? 'Love Of My Life' in a version taken the 80s, doo-wop of the, a-hem, highest order! So, buy this thing now. Get yourself some CHEEP THRILLS! Enjoy 'It Might Just Be A One Shot Deal' with its dreamy, gorgeous hawaiin and slide guitar. It's good, it's all good.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    If you aren't very serious about Zappa, but want one great disc of his, then SON OF CHEAP THRILLS is for you. All the songs are top notch. Most are studio versions, but there is a live take of 'Idiot Bastard Son' that has powerful vocals sung by someone other than Zappa (the sleeve notes tell you who performed on all songs).

    nicely done pages adrian, enjoyed the reviews. glad to come across another zappa fan... find it very interesting the way punters rate zappa's oeuvre... divergences of opinion and all... sez a little 'bout who they are... glad to report you're up there for objectivity and general easy-to-readness... bye 4 now

    Robert Atkin robash@robash.karoo.co.uk
    If you record Yo Hozna and reverse it you will be suprised at who and what you hear. Give it a try. Great site.

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    The Lost Episodes 8 ( 1996 )
    The Blackouts / Lost in a Whirlpool / Ronnie Sings? / Kenny's Booger Story / Ronnie's Booger Story / Mount St. Mary's Concert Excerpt / Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance / Tiger Roach / Run Home Slow Theme / Fountain of Love / Run Home Cues #2 / Any Way the Wind Blows / Run Home Cues #3 / Charva / The Dick Kunc Story / Wedding Dress Song / Handsome Cabin Boy / Cops & Buns / The Big Squeeze / I'm A Band Leader / Alley Cat / The Grand Wazoo / Wonderful Wino / Kung Fu / RDNZL / Basement Music #1 / Inca Roads / Lil' Clanton Shuffle / I Don't Wanna Get Drafted / Sharleena

    An interesting archival release this. Interesting for a couple of reasons. Most archival Zappa releases are live sets, 'Lost Episodes' is a studio compilation. Another reason, the sequencing of tracks here goes from the very beginning, from 1958! And, guess what? Well, after we've had a little speach titled 'The Blackouts' ( the name of the first Zappa band ) we get a genuine interesting rarity. None other than Don Van Vliet sings, accompanied by Zappa on lone guitar. Don Van Vliet later became Captain Beefheart, of course. There is more Beefheart later on this comp, but whilst i'm here, we'll skip the likes of 'Ronnie's Booger Story' and fast forward to 'Mount St Mary's Concert Excerpt'. Frank was indeed serious about his idea to be a classical composer. This is an extract from a 69 minute concert performance that reveals many of the melodic Zappa trademarks to already be in place as early as 1963. We get a great cheesy jazz version of a future 'We're Only In It For The Money' and 'Lumpy Gravy' tune, 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance' and more orchestral manoeuvres with 'Run Home Slow Theme' and 'Run Home Clues'.

    I said there was more Beefheart? Well, 'Tiger Roach' is just so astonishing, it beggars belief. It's no actual surprise listening to this that both Zappa and Beefheart went onto become two of the most critically acclaimed artists working within the rock field, of the 20th century. Oh, early versions of 'Freak Out' and/or 'Crusin With Ruben And The Jets' tunes? The version of 'Anyway The Wind Blows' here is taken straight, and it's so charming!! 'Charva' is greasy doo-wop in the extreme, etc etc. Lots of delights to be found within the CD package that is 'Lost Episodes'. An eleven minute version of 'Sharleena' that is absolutely a tour-de-force and also easily the best version of 'Sharleena' that exists.

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    Alan Brooks Midwest
    i also rate this as an eight; or maybe would even give it an eight and a half or nine. After all, this disc includes Inca Roads and Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance. Captain Beefheart is a brilliant lyricist but i don't care much for his vocals. Sorry, i'm not a Beefheart fan.

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    Greasy Love Songs ( 2010 )
    / Cheap Thrills / Love Of My Life / How Could I Be Such A Fool / Deseri / I’m Not Satisfied / Jelly Roll Gum Drop / Anything / Later That Night / You Didn’t Try To Call Me / Fountain Of Love / ‘No. No. No.’ / Anyway The Wind Blows / Stuff Up The Cracks / Jelly Roll Gum Drop / ‘No. No. No.’ / Stuff Up The Cracks / ‘Serious Fan Mail / Valerie / Jelly Roll Gum Drop / Secret Greasing’ / Love Of My Life

    "I conceived that album along the same lines as the compositions in Stravinsky's neoclassical period. If he could take the forms and cliches of classical era and pervert them, why not do the same with rules and regulations applied to doo-wop in the fifties? "

    There are whole web-sites devoted to the differences beyond the supposed re-recording of bass and drums. It's clear at least the backing vocals were also re-done, if not some of the lead vocals as well. It's possible the entire album was re-recorded. Bassist Arthur Barrow says "Let me say that I tried to talk Frank out of the the idea of new drums and bass. As a fan, I was horrified." Well, old fans will naturally prefer the original mix but some things Frank did in the 80s did improve things. 'Cheap Thrills' is far better in the 80s version. Some things did improve with the 80s re-recordings, others didn't. It's not the sort of thing that should be done, would Paul McCartney go back to 'Sgt Peppers' and re-record some of the bass parts because he now feels he could do them better? Of course he wouldn't. The original is true Mothers of Invention though, the 80s version simply isn't. On the original mix contained here the bass and drums are hilariously 'wrong'. This isn't doo-wop style bass and drums yet the 80s version is, with a little imagination and reimagining of history.

    The original bass and drums are very strange and very avant-garde. 'Cheap Thrills' is taken at 120 miles an hour, rushed through - the re-recording was better. Some of the re-recordings had better vocals and all suited doo-wop well. The original mix is simply more interesting though. Not better or worse, that's down to personal opinion of course, yet the drums..... the drums! Carboard boxes, hilariously 'wrong' drumming throughout the entire album. Zappa mixed the thing in the first place so plainly simply 'went off' the idea of the drums sounding quite so crude and, quite frankly, funny. Maybe the idea was the whole thing was meant to sound cheap? Some of those doo-wop records sounded fantastic though, this 'affectionate' tribute misses a trick or two but thinking again, it's all clearly a subversion, as Zappa himself of course indicated.

    'How Could I Be Such A Fool' is great here because nothing is right. The drums sound like paper, the bass comes from a different planet than the drums, the vocals are all high falsetto and quite good at that, then the dramatic part comes in. Well, it stumbles in as opposed to the smooth transition the 80s version gave us. The drummer suddenly thinks he's in a Jazz band, the bass guitar starts to go off on one all whilst the vocals carry on oblivious - utterly fascinating really and very Mothers Of Invention, happily so. Well, hotcha, we're gonna turn Doo-Wop into The Grateful Dead for three and a half-minutes!! 'Deseri' meanwhile has a cool spoken word section that's really outtasight! The box drums return of 'Anyway The Wind Blows' and the finale, 'Stuff Up The Cracks' repeats them and has different lead vocals than the 80s version, different backing vocals, different drums and for about half the song, no guitar at all. Entirely different track really. Is it better or worse? Ah, let's just say the original mix of the album makes more sense in the canon overall, yet that 80s version shouldn't just be entirely dismissed either. Be sensible and get both, they are different enough to each other to actually justify that.

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    this page last updated 23/8/15

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