FRANK ZAPPA: CDS, SCORES AND TRANSCRIPTIONS
The section below is a brief description of the CD collection and lists
scores and transcriptions per CD limited to the
following published scores, explaining the codes used below.
The numbering of the albums is such that it coincides with the official list of releases that Zappa himself - and today the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) - is using. Some other issues are indicated with letters.
a) THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER, 1962
In 1961 the twenty year old Zappa wrote the score for Timothy Carey's "The world's greatest sinner". It's mostly an orchestral work, partly some rock band music. It's the oldest music of Zappa, that is publicly available, though the movie has somewhat sunk into oblivion. Wrongfully if you consider the soundtrack, showing Zappa's capacities for handling an orchestra at an early stage.
|The world greatest sinner|
|- The world's greatest sinner, soundtrack sections||KS|
|- The world's greatest sinner, single, opening||See b)|
|- Two themes from the Overture to Holiday in Berlin||See 9)|
b) SINGLES 1962-1964
During the early sixties Zappa cooperated with Paul Buff in producing and writing singles for the local market. These singles, common blues and doo-wop, nowadays lead an obscure life. Zappa didn't have the copyrights, nor did he bother to re-record them later on or regain the copyrights (except for "Love of my life"). Currently they have been available as "Cucamongo years".
|- Memories of El Monte (Zappa/Collins), opening||KS|
|- The world's greatest sinner, opening||KS|
|- Grunion run, opening||KS|
|- Jessie Lee, section||KS|
|- Love of my life, theme||See 30)|
c) THE PAL AND ORIGINAL SOUND STUDIO ARCHIVES, 1962-1964
Paul Buff has just started opening up his Cucamonga archives for the public. The recording are downloadable via internet and contain, among many others, a series of singles and obscurities featuring Frank Zappa. The tracks carry no specific dates but must be from the period 1962-64.
|The Pal and Original sound studio archives|
|- Breaktime (Williams/Buff/Zappa), section||KS|
|- Why don't you do me right, section||KS|
|- I'm losing status at the high school, section||KS|
|- Walkin' out, section||KS|
|- Waltz, section||KS|
d) RUN HOME, SLOW, 1965
The idea for writing the score for the movie "Run home, slow" goes back to 1959. It got effectuated in 1963 with the recording of various chamber music pieces. The movie itself got bad reviews, though Zappa's music is fine. Other than for The world greatest sinner, several pieces from this film are available on his own CDs. They are early examples of his interest in modern music and jazz.
|Run home, slow|
|- Run home, slow, theme and variation||See 64)|
|- Run home cues #3, opening||See 64)|
|- The little march, opening||See 58)|
|- Original duke of prunes||See 68)|
|- Run home, slow, soundtrack excerpts||KS|
|- Right there riff (1963)||KS|
1) FREAK OUT!, 1966
In 1965 Zappa reached a deal with MGM records for five albums with his group The mothers of Invention. The first album Freak out was meant to launch Zappa's career by looking for publicity. This was done by various means. It was the first rock double album, the sleeve was modern and it contained partly improvised absurdistic lyrics as "Help I'm a rock". For nowadays standards these features aren't much conspicuous no more but if you compare "Freak out" to "Aftermath" by The Rolling Stones or "Revolver" by The Beatles, you can see that in 1966 this was an unusual album.
Musically the material on the album is accessible. It sets off with a sharp guitar riff in "Hungry freaks daddy", and is mostly based upon familiar chord patterns. Apart from the experimental sections and the lyrics there's little on the album that you could call off mainstream. The Freak out! collection, that the Zappa family trust is (or used to be) selling, includes the songs coded with BS (Barfko Swill) in the list below. It's a good starting point if you'd like to perform some Zappa music yourself.
|- Hungry freaks daddy||BS/KS|
|- I ain't got no heart||BS/KS|
|- Who are the brain police||BS|
|- Go cry on somebody else's shoulder||BS|
|- Motherly love||BS|
|- How could I be such a fool||SB|
|- Wowie zowie||BS|
|- You didn't try to call me, sections||See 5)|
|- Any way the wind blows||BS/See 64)|
|- I'm not satisfied||BS/SB|
|- You're probably wondering why I'm here||BS/KS|
|- Trouble every day||KS|
|- Help, I'm a rock, opening||KS|
|- It can't happen here||BS|
|- Monster magnet, opening bars||KS|
2) ABSOLUTELY FREE, 1967
On "Absolutely free" Zappa could do what he couldn't afford to do on his debut album, namely demonstrate his compositional capacities. The album opens with a traditional progression "Louie Louie" (I-IV-V), but that's about all that's conventional on the album. "Duke of prunes" is an early example of the melodic Zappa, a larger fluent melody not based on A-B-A structures and so. "Call any vegetables" contains varying metres, tempi and rhythms. It's opening riff with a string of fast 16th and eight notes immediately strikes me as Zappa, not because he's using them all the time, but because I don't know them by other rock artists. In Neil Slaven's Zappa biography Zappa gets quoted about the time it took to learn "Call any vegetable", but there's a mix up of songs on that page. The changing meters Zappa is summing up are from "Son of Suzy Creamcheese" (see the Songbook). This versatility is something that Zappa would repeatedly turn to and it culminates on "Absolutely free" itself in "Brown shoes don't make it", exhibiting a wide stylistical variety, with among others an atonal section.
Seen its complexity "Absolutely free" was recorded in a ridiculously short time-span, due to the limited budget. It could only be done because the band by then had more than a year experience in rehearsing and playing these pieces.
|- Plastic people||KS|
|- Duke of prunes, themes||KS/See 27)|
|- Call any vegetable, opening||See 14)|
|- Invocation & ritual dance ..., opening||KS|
|- Why dont'cha do me right, opening||KS|
|- America drinks, opening||KS|
|- Status back baby, theme||KS|
|- Son of Suzy Creamcheese||SB|
|- Brown shoes don't make it||See 30)|
|- America drinks and goes home||SB|
3) WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, 1968
At the end of 1967 and the beginning of 1968 Zappa was recording music that would appear on different records from 1968 to 1969. The songs might as well have been grouped in a different way. This is the idea behind the addendum "Is this Lumpy Gravy phase I" on the album sleeve of "We're only in it for the money". With this latter album Zappa responded to the 1967 summer of love, the beginning of the hippie era. Commenting and criticizing upon phenomena from society was Zappa's favorite subject for his lyrics, and he's doing it here with an almost malicious refinement. He preferred individual creativity far above group conformation.
The music on the album is friendly, but more complex than on Freak Out! because the themes and chords change more rapidly. At the beginning and in between the songs there are some whispering voices, uttering all kinds of innuendos. The album ends with some experimental music. Probably because of its historical context and relative accessibility the album has a good reputation among rock critics.
|We're only in it for the money|
|- Concentration moon, sections||KS|
|- Mom & dad||SB|
|- Harry, you're a beast (arr. Jon Nelson)||BS|
|- Bow tie daddy, opening||KS|
|- What's the ugliest part of your body?, sections||KS|
|- Absolutely free||SB|
|- Let's make the water turn black||SB|
|- The idiot bastard son||SB|
|- Take your clothes off while you dance||See 64)|
|- Mother people||SB|
4) LUMPY GRAVY, 1968
For "Lumpy Gravy" Zappa used his own name instead of The mothers of invention, among others because he worked here with a self-assembled chamber orchestra. The CD is a strange collage of various ideas, some get only touched upon, others are being worked out more extensively. The one that gets the most attention is the melodic Zappa in "Duodenum", "Oh no!" and "Take your clothes off when you dance". Most specific for the album are the modern atonal sections, that with their use of dissonants and percussion, are sometimes remindful of Edgar Varèse, the French composer that Zappa admired a lot. Because of the low sound quality the chamber orchestra doesn't really function orchestrally, but it doesn't matter much, the intentions are clear. The facet that only gets touched upon is jazz, like at the beginning of "Oh no!", but more outspoken in "King Kong", that preludes the brass arrangements of for instance "The grand wazoo" of 1972. In between the music are the weird monologues and dialogues of people speaking with their heads in a piano with the pedal open. When you subtract these spoken parts, only 20 minutes of music remain, but "Lumpy Gravy" doesn't feel like a rip off because of the freshness of Zappa's ideas.
|- Lumpy Gravy, Capitol version||BS|
|- Part I: Duodenum||See 85)|
|- Part I: Oh no! theme||See 10)|
|- Part I: It's from Kansas||KS|
|- Part I: Almost Chinese, lick||KS|
|- Part I: I don't know if ..., sections||KS|
|- Part II: A vicious circle, opening bars (Unit 9)||See 85)|
|- Part II: King Kong (Lumpy gravy)||KS|
|- Part II: Kangaroos, fragment||KS|
|- Part II: Take your clothes off while you dance||See 64)|
5) CRUISING WITH RUBEN AND THE JETS, 1968
Ambiguity is something that occurs often in Zappa's public utterances. He has often argued against conventional chord progressions and especially the ever returning love songs in rock music. But this is what he's doing on "Cruising with Ruben and the Jets". In "The real Frank Zappa book" he tries to evade the issue by suggesting that the album is meant as a parody with submoron texts, but that's hardly credible, written twenty years afterwards. Therefore the album is too much coherent and sincere. More believable is what he says on the album cover, namely that he really liked simplistic love songs. The pieces on "Cruising with Ruben and the Jets" are all deliberately easy and deal with the love life of teenagers. It's contrary to the blunt sex in "Is that guy kidding or what" on "You can't do that on stage anymore" and offers a different aspect of Zappa's output.
The vocal harmony accompaniment of the songs was popular in the fifties, Zappa's teenage years, and is called doo-wop, after the use of non-textual syllables as "doo-wop" by the singers. In the Real Frank Zappa book, he tells about the modes that were mostly used in the fifties, namely I-VI-IV-V, I-II-I-II or I-IV-V, "you'd seldom hear a III chord or a diminished 7th". "Cruising with Ruben and the Jets" isn't typical in this respect, he explains, indeed "Anything" is for instance doing I-II-III-II, another progression.
|Cruising with Ruben and the Jets|
|- Cheap thrills||KS|
|- Love of my life, theme||See 30)|
|- How could I be such a fool||See 1)|
|- Jelly roll gum drop, section||KS|
|- You didn't try to call me, theme/fragment||WL253/KS|
|- "No, no, no", opening||KS|
|- Any way the wind blows||See 64)|
|- Stuff up the cracks, section||KS|
- Anything (Collins), section: WL170
- Deseri (Buff/Collins), fragment: KS
6) MOTHERMANIA, 1969
A compilation of his first three albums, set up by Zappa himself in 1969. There are some slight re-edits on this release. When Zappa took over the rights of his MGM albums this compilation passed out in silence. He showed almost no interest in compilation albums and only after his death some new ones got released. In 2009 the ZFT made this collection downloadable via www.zappa.com and in 2012 it became part of the regular CD catalogue.
On the sleeve the Mothers from 1967-1968. From left to right: Ian Underwood, Jimmy Carl Black, Motherhead Sherwood, Art Tripp, FZ, Roy Estrada, Bunk Gardner, Don Preston.
7) UNCLE MEAT, 1969
"Uncle meat" is the big project from the sixties and was intended to be accompanied by a movie. The arrival of multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood as a band member gave Zappa more possibilities to have his modern compositions performed. On the album a lot of overdubbing is used to facilitate the recording of difficult music. It can roughly be divided in three blocks. The first one runs from "Uncle meat, main title" to the "Uncle meat variations". This part is apart from one guitar solo strictly composed and contains most of the modern music sections. It ends with the only pause on the album. All other songs segue. The second block includes "King Kong" and allows the band members more space to improvise; here included are also a few easier vocal songs.
The film project remained unfinished, but in the eighties video had become a new medium and Zappa could return to working on the material. "Uncle meat" was now completed as a video, while the included concert music appeared on "Ahead of their time" (1992). Dialogues from the movie were added as a third block on the CD. The latter served more for Zappa's personal satisfaction.
|- Uncle Meat main title/variations||SB/See 62)|
|- Zolar Czakl, opening||KS|
|- Dog breath, section||KS|
|- Legend of the golden arches, theme||KS|
|- The dog breath variations||See 62)/KS|
|- Sleeping in a jar, section||KS|
|- Pound for a brown||1)|
|- Mr. Green Genes||See 8)|
|- Project X, opening||KS|
|- King Kong||2)/KS|
2) See the album liner notes for the main theme
8) HOT RATS, 1969
Zappa continued his cooperation with Ian Underwood on his second solo album "Hot rats", where he worked with various musicians other than the Mothers of invention. The CD is almost entirely instrumental and balanced to a degree of perfection. It combines electric and acoustic instruments typical of jazz (contrabass and saxophone) and contains various solos, because of which it became referred to as jazzrock. Miles Davis did it the other way round, adding electric instruments to a jazz combo.
Melodically the compositions are elaborate, often using various layers. All music is constant in its metres and tonal, except "It must be a camel", that belongs to the territory in between tonal and atonal. The album is therefore also fit for music lovers who have problems with the rudeness of Zappa's lyrics or his modernistic aspects.
On "Hot rats" Zappa made serious business of his establishment as a guitar solo player. Three lengthy solos are included, the longest one during 8 minutes in "Willie the pimp". The contributions by Ian Underwood on saxophone and Sugarcane Harris on violin are worthwhile as well.
|- Peaches en regalia||BS/AA/WL253|
|- Willy the pimp||AA|
|- Son of Mr. Green Genes||AA/WL75/166|
|- Little umbrellas, themes||AA/WL255|
|,, , sections||KS|
|- The gumbo variations||AA|
|- It must be a camel||AA/WL255|
|,, , section||KS|
9) BURNT WEENY SANDWICH, 1970
After the disbanding of the Mother of invention in 1969, Zappa considered for a while the release of a multi-record set with live performances and remaining studio recordings. But eventually he chose for two albums with a mix of studio and live music, this one and "Weasels ripped my flesh".
"Burnt weeny sandwich" begins and ends with a vocal cover song. In between it's all instrumental, combining complex studio recordings with much live soloing. "Igor's boogie" is a short and difficult atonal piece with changing metres and counterpoint. "Holiday in Berlin" refers to a riot by leftist students during a concert who wanted Zappa to stand behind their ideas. Zappa refused. The "Tengo na minchia tanta" bootleg has a version with lyrics about this happening. The theme returns in the "200 Motels overture" of 1971. The piano introduction to "Little house I used to live in" is the only original composition for piano solo on CD, also atonal and among others working with alternating intervals. The solos include Sugar Cane Harris on violin, Don Preston on keyboard and Zappa on guitar and keyboard.
|Burnt weeny sandwich|
|- Igor's boogie, phase I||SB|
|- Overture to Holiday in Berlin, section||KS|
|- Igor's boogie, phase II, first half||KS|
|- Holiday in Berlin (full blown)||*)|
|- Little house ..., piano introduction (rev.)||SB|
|,, , theme||WL256|
10) WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH, 1970
The album cover suits well with the content of this album. It shows a commercial like picture of a happy shaving man, but getting cut by a weasel. The happy face can be associated with two accessible songs on the album, the blues cover "Directly from my heart to you" and the rock song "My guitar wants to kill your mama". The ripping is done by the experimental live songs, that have a calculated touch of insanity, especially the closing one, a rushing dissonant lasting two minutes. The contribution of these latter songs can lead to some disappointment when you buy this album expecting a regular music album, but judged upon their own merits, they are pretty interesting.
In between these contrary sides various other aspects are passing by. Like a little counterpoint showpiece, "Dwarf nebula", the atonal "Eric Dolphy memorial" and the melodic Zappa in "Oh no!" and "The orange country lumber truck". "Toads of the short forest" has a friendly opening but abruptly moves into a live improvisation with polyrhythmics (explained to the audience) and a distorted saxophone playing the notes as if "blowing his nose".
|Weasels ripped my flesh|
|- Didya get any onya?, fragments||KS|
|- Toad of the short forest, opening||KS/WL258|
|- Eric Dolphy memorial barbecue, opening||WL258|
|- Dwarf nebula, first four themes||KS|
|- My guitar wants to kill your mama||*)|
|- Oh no!||SB|
|- Orange county lumber truck (arr. J. Nelson)||BS|
|- Lumber truck solo-Weasels ..., transition||KS|
11) CHUNGA'S REVENGE, 1970
In 1970 Zappa thought of a follow up album for "Hot rats", but things went on differently by coincidence. Zubin Mehta, conductor of the LA Philharmonic, expressed his interest in playing Zappa's music, if he would want to write orchestral music. When Zappa in return explained that such scores already existed things were swiftly arranged. In the Pauley Pavilion, the scores for what would become "200 Motels" were premiered. In the audience were Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, former lead singers of The Turtles, who afterwards visited Zappa backstage.
Zappa decided to incorporate these two men, by now calling themselves Flo and Eddie, in his new line up of The mothers of invention and recommence his usual touring schedule. They were introduced on "Chunga's revenge" with the five vocal songs of this CD. Two of them have something of almost hits, the sharp rocksong "Tell me you love me" and the ballad like "Sharleena". Of the instrumental parts one is all composed, namely "Twenty small cigars", the others are mostly improvised and partially recorded live.
|- Transylvania boogie, opening||KS|
|- Twenty small cigars, opening||KS|
|- Tell me you love me, opening||KS|
|- Rudy wants to buy yez a drink, sections||KS|
|- Chunga's revenge, theme||KS|
|- Sharleena, main themes||KS|
12) FILLMORE EAST, JUNE 1971.
On stage Flo and Eddie proved to have good textual improvising talents and vocal capacities fit for comic effects. Zappa's own experience with groupies and what had happened to them after The Turtles had scored their big hit "Happy together" provided the material for a whole series of songs for "Fillmore east" and "200 Motels". The live performances became comedy shows with sometimes the music central, sometimes the lyrics.
After three partially live albums, "Fillmore East" is 100% live. It begins with the accent on music with a good performance of "Little house I used to live in". It has a new intro, that might as well have been indicated as a separate instrumental. Then we get to a story telling piece "Mud shark". For the musical accompaniment Zappa is using a vamp, as he would do more often for such songs. After the bluesy "What kind of girl" the music is gradually becoming more important again and culminates in the "Willie the Pimp" solo. Then we're back at the bizarre groupie events in "Do you like my new car", again using a vamp. "Happy together" closes the sequence. Three songs unrelated to the groupie business round off the album.
|Fillmore East, June 1971|
|- Little house ...||See 9)|
|- Latex solar beef, opening||KS|
|- Willy the pimp, themes (1971)||KS|
|- Bwana dik, section||KS|
|- Do you like my new car?, fragment||KS|
|- Peaches en regalia||See 8)|
13) 200 MOTELS, 1971
Zappa's desire to come up with a combined film and album project became reality in 1971. It brought together rock music, orchestral pieces and chamber music in a flabbergasting variety. The chamber music and orchestral pieces are all complicated, sometimes more tonal ("Strictly genteel") sometimes more atonal ("Penis dimension"). The rock band pieces are friendly and serve as necessary resting points on the double CD.
Chaotic as it first may appear, the album contains some classical construction methods. The "Tuna sandwich" theme gets varied upon a lot, later combined in a regular orchestra composition "Bogus Pomp". The "Overture" returns in "Touring can drive you crazy". "She painted up her face" is used as the central theme for a rondo. A pure classical variation piece is the finale "Strictly Genteel".
There are also some little stories included, like the "Dental hygiene problem". The bass player decided to leave the group during the shooting of the film and Zappa had to respond quickly to the altered circumstances. A new bass player was found and "Dental hygiene problem" as a cartoon section was his answer to the little crisis. Zappa could adapt to circumstances well, also necessary for his high productivity rate. After all he wanted his ideas realized, rather than hope for ideal circumstances some day. In order to enjoy 200 Motels you have to accept that it's low budget. The sound on the CD is a bit dim and the movie is using visible cardboard constructions.
A stage performance of 200 Motels was also planned in the form of "200 Motels, the suites". But the directors of London's The Royal Albert Hall drew back two days before the concert, because they found Zappa's lyrics obscene, and Zappa started a lawsuit for breach of contract. It ended with a stalemate, the breach of contract was acknowledged but without further consequences. Only in 2015 The suites got released on CD (CD nr. 101 in this list). The table below lists the scores of both the album and the suites version. They overlap, but far from completely.
|- Overture, Tuna sandwich suite, Centerville||1)|
|- 200 Motels soundtrack orchestra scores||2)|
|- 200 Motels, The suites||BS|
|- Mystery roach, opening||KS|
|- What's the name of your group?, section||3)|
|- This town is a sealed ... (prologue)||KS|
|- Dance of the just plain folks, opening bars||3)|
|- Would you like a snack?, theme||KS|
|- She painted up her face, main theme||KS|
|- I'm stealing the room||BS|
|- Dental hygiene dilemma||4)|
|- Does this sort of life ...||4)|
|- Penis dimension||BS/SB|
|- What will this evening ..., theme||KS|
|- Can I help you with this dummy?||SB|
|- The pleated gazelle, opening||3)|
|- Nun suit||SB|
|- Magic fingers, theme||WL259|
|- The girl's dream, end ("The girl, in a statement ...")||SB|
|- Little green scratchy sweaters||SB|
|- Strictly genteel (no lyrics version)||See 48)|
2) The soundtrack orchestra scores were used for performances by The LA Philharmonic and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1970/1. They largely overlap with The suites.
3) Included in this study.
4) Samples of the orchestra sheet music can be found in the CD booklet.
14) JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A., 1972
At the end of 1971 Zappa got thrown off stage and needed recuperating for some months. After this forced interruption of the touring program, Zappa compiled a second live album from the 1971 tapes. The main piece became "Billy the mountain", a 25-minute mix of music and dialogues. The modern opening and the "Studebaker Hawk" block are the musically interesting parts. In between the comic story of a mountain being drafted is told. On the CD a subdivision for selection purposes would have been welcome.
The remainder of the album is all musical. Two musically humoristic new pieces are played between two earlier songs that get revisited in a rock environment. The lyrics of "Magdelena" about incestuous desires go beyond humor and are more intended to shock the audience. When accused of rudeness, Zappa would defend himself by saying that such things exist, so he's entitled to write about it.
|Just another band from L.A.|
|- Billy the mountain, atonal section||See 60)|
|- Call any vegetable, opening||KS|
|- Magdalena, opening||KS|
|- Dog breath (1971), opening||WL260|
15) WAKA/JAWAKA, 1972
Sitting in a wheelchair and walking with crutches Zappa returned to the idea of making a sequel to "Hot Rats". A large amount of mostly instrumental music was written and recorded in April.
"Waka/Jawaka" is using a small brass section, like "Hot rats". "Big swifty" is a fast changing metres changing tempi piece, followed by Sal Marquez soloing on trumpet and Zappa on guitar. The themes get varied upon in the outchorus. It's dealt with at length in the Ludwig study (see also the literature). On page 93 he's giving an overview of the meters and tempos of the opening theme. Then he continues indicating how Zappa is varying his themes and motifs. In the outchorus a 2:3 tempo relation is used. The study here includes two bars as an example.
The other three pieces belong to the comfortable Zappa, a bit complicated but not that much, and pleasant to listen too. The score of "Waka/Jawaka" existed as working sketch and was developed during recordings using overdubs. Steve Vai was asked to transcribe the end result, "which was really tough [...], with the real close horn section in that song, it's almost impossible - if not impossible - to hear the individual voices. The human ear won't hear more than four individual voices in a closed-voice motion individually" (Guitar Player, Feb. 1983).
|- Big swifty (arr. Jon Nelson)||BS|
|,, , intro and outchorus||WL237|
|- Your mouth, section||KS|
|- It just might be a one shot deal, opening||KS|
|- Waka/Jawaka, sections||KS/WL260|
16) THE GRAND WAZOO, 1972
"The grand wazoo" soon followed using a big band. The album cover presents an army of brass players attacking the strings, where the grand wazoo stands for a fantasy big horn. The music gradually moves from the complexity of "For Calvin" and the title song to a gentle relaxed piece as the closing number, called "Blessed relief", unusual for the energetic Zappa.
The players were assembled via advertising and, after the recording sessions, were invited to make a little tour. Zappa did this tour for the experience; it was calculated in advance that it wouldn't be profitable. Still unable to walk properly, he conducted the jazz band sitting on a high chair and playing guitar. No recordings of this tour have been included in the later series of live CDs, but the Zappa Family Trust released 70 minutes of this tour as "Imaginary diseases" in 2005. The title track is included in this site. The little attention Zappa has obtained in jazz literature is strange, apparently a bit of a closed circuit. His acceptance in the modern music world went a lot easier.
|The grand wazoo|
|- For Calvin, opening||KS|
|- The grand wazoo, section||KS/WL261|
|- Cleetus awreetus awrightus, opening||WL261|
|- Eat that question, riff||WL262|
|- Blessed relief, opening||WL262/*)|
17) OVERNITE SENSATION, 1973
With "Overnite sensation" Zappa changed course. He returned to the mainstream idea of a rock album, a series of songs of about equal length, limited in size and with lyrics. The first three songs of the CD are uncomplicated, following familiar chord patterns. "Camarillo brillo" is using I-V-IV-II-VI (Ludwig, page 81), "Dirty love" begins with a riff alternating the D and C chords. Those who look for the complex Zappa get served as well with "Zombie woof". Solos on this album are short, of the interlude between the refrains type, common in pop music.
On the album Zappa is developing the literary side of his lyrics, using a lot of rhyme and verbal inventivity, most notably in "Dina-Moe humm". In content they are intentionally provocative, but with enough humor not to become repulsive. He cultivated this audacity aspect as part of his image. There's no anger behind the lyrics and they seldom relate to his personal life. If you ask me, you could even call them superficial in a positive sense.
|- Camarillo brillo||PP/WL216|
|- I'm the slime||PP/KS|
|- Dirty love||PP/*)|
|- Zomby woof||PP/WL263|
|- Dinah-moe Humm||PP|
Note: the PP transcriptions are the full songs; WL and KS refer to sections published earlier or additionally.
18) APOSTROPHE ('), 1974
Apostophe (') is even more accessible than its predecessor. It's one of the few Zappa albums, that have some direct appeal first listening. It actually reached the album top ten for a moment.
It opens with a song based upon a riff, than followed by little story over a vamp about an Eskimo defending his baby seal against a fur trapper. The lyrics of the album are unusual for Zappa, not much biting cynicism, no sex at all. Then Zappa the composer comes by in a concentrated form in "St. Alfonzo's pancake breakfast" and "Father O'blivion", fastly changing themes, rhythms, metres and tempi.
After this dazzling intermezzo the album becomes relaxed again with "Cosmic debris" through "Stinkfoot". The title song presents a steady 4/4 joint improvisation with Jack Bruce on fuzz bass, Jim Gordon on drums and Zappa on guitar. It's a strange solo. Jack Bruce is playing the bass almost as a solo instrument and is as much present as Zappa's guitar. George Duke contributes in "Uncle Remus".
|- Don't eat that yellow snow||AA|
|- Nanook rubs it||AA|
|- St. Alfonzo's pancake breakfast||AA|
|- Father O'Blivion||AA|
|- Cosmic Debris||AA|
|- Excentrifugal forz||AA|
|- Apostrophe (')||AA|
|- Uncle Remus||AA|
19) ROXY AND ELSEWHERE, 1974
In 1973 Zappa performed three gigs in a row at the Roxy theatre in L.A., from which most of the material for "Roxy and elsewhere" was extracted. The album has an intimate character with Zappa talking a lot to the audience in the small concert hall.
Apart from Napoleon Murphy Brock, whom Zappa loved for his voice, the band consisted of trained score reading musicians, like George Duke, Ruth Underwood and the Fowler brothers. They were able to execute pieces live, that thus far only had been possible in the studio via overdubbing. The three most complex ones, "Echidna's arf (of you)", "Don't you ever wash that thing" and "Be-bop tango", remained specific for this line up of the band. Of these three "Don't you ever wash that thing" is an extremity regarding complexity and unpredictability, executed with a very high tempo and containing wild chromatic and counterpoint passages.
The "Be-bop tango" event is an example of what Zappa called audience participation; people are invited to dance on stage not to the beat but to Duke's be-bop singing. Eventually everybody can dance to the blues ending of the song ("everything is gonna be alright").
|Roxy and elsewhere|
|- Penguin in bondage, solo opening||1)|
|- Pygmy twylyte, sections||See 52)|
|- Dummy up, opening||KS|
|- Village of the sun, theme||2)|
|- Echidna's arf (of you), opening||3)|
|- Don't you ever wash that thing, sections||KS|
|- Son of orange county, theme||WL266|
|,, , solo excerpt||KS|
|- Be-bop tango||See 62)|
2) Joint effort by Paul Strawser, Wolfgang Ludwig and me.
3) Two sections are included in this study (various sources).
20) ONE SIZE FITS ALL, 1975
One size fits all contains several examples of through composed melodies. They turn up in "Inca roads", "Sofa", "Florentine pogen" and "Evelyn". Other songs are one based upon rock, "Can't afford no shoes", one upon country, "San Berdino", a rhythmically pronounced piece called "Andy" and the mainstream "Pyjamas people". See the Ludwig study, pages 97-100, for all the rhythmic complexities of "Andy". "Pyjamas people" has understandable funny lyrics about an unreal problem. Most of the other lyrics are difficult, picturing undaily images of a space vehicle landing in the Andes and a dog pondering in a piano saloon. The original intention of "Sofa", the songtext as well as its depiction on the album cover, for instance only became clear via the Fire! bootleg.
Though Zappa is saying in the "Zappa in New York" liner notes that "One size fits all" didn't receive much attention, it has become an album generally appreciated by fans and critics alike. It's complicated music, but not that unpredictable that it becomes problematic.
|One size fits all.|
|- Inca roads||AB|
|- Sofa 1/2||AB/See 23)|
|- Can't afford no shoes||AB/WL170|
|- Po-jama people||AB|
|- Florentine pogen||AB/KS|
|- San Ber'dino||AB/KS|
21) BONGO FURY, 1975
In 1975 Captain Beefheart was without a record contract and came complaining about his condition to Zappa, with whom he had quarrelled after their "Trout mask replica" cooperation. Zappa invited Beefheart to go on the road with him. From this short tour "Bongo fury" was compiled, along with some studio material. The appearance of Beefheart's name on the album was an act of a friend, for his contribution in writing was restricted to the reciting of two poems.
The album opens with the rhythmically irregular and complicated "Debra Kadabra". Its lyrics are of the nonsense type Beefheart used to apply on his albums, here referring to cheap Mexican made monster movies. Hereafter the album becomes more normal with for instance an archetype blues song called "200 years old". The album closes with the hilarious "Muffin man", with Zappa soloing over a merry vamp.
"Touring with Captain Beefheart wasn't exactly easy", Zappa commented in the Real Frank Zappa book, "he carried around with him a shopping bag with all his possessions - art, poetry and his soprano sax. He kept forgetting his bag, driving the tour manager insane. However loud the monitor system was, he kept complaining that he couldn't hear his voice (I think he sang that loud that his neck muscles contracted so that his ears sort of imploded)"
|- Debra kadabra, sections||KS|
|- 200 years old, opening motif||KS|
|- Cucamonga, section||KS|
|- Advance romance, opening||WL268|
|- Muffin man, section||KS|
22) ZOOT ALLURES, 1976
In 1976 most members of the Roxy and Elsewhere band had left and Zappa performed with a smaller band, playing a lot of guitar himself and with less virtuoso pieces for the band. This found its reflection upon the "Zoot allures" album, where his guitar is the main instrument and where he chose to play bass and keyboard as well.
It's a greasy rock 'n roll album, containing three individual guitar solos that were developed on the road. They are of different types, "Black napkins" is played over two alternating chords, "Friendly little finger" uses a pedal note and "Zoot allures" is non-typical. The latter one is a chord progression itself.
"The torture never stops" became a concert favorite. The album version has a lot of musical embellishments for the text part, on the road it was more used to introduce a guitar solo. The solo here is small but fine. The additional suffering voices aren't credited on the album itself, but are a contribution by Zappa's wife and a friend of hers. The closing number "Disco boy" is musically not disco, not even a hint at it, but a summit of traditional rock 'n roll with Zappa pumping the chords over thick synthesizer bass lines.
|- Wind up working in a gas station, section||KS|
|- Black napkins||GB|
|- The torture never stops, opening and coda||KS|
|- Friendly little finger, sections||KS|
|- Zoot allures, middle block||KS|
|- Disco boy, theme/section||WL224 *)/KS|
23) ZAPPA IN NEW YORK, 1978
At the end of 1976 Zappa was performing with a larger line up again and the virtuoso band pieces returned with for instance "The black page" and "Man X needs women". "The black page" has become one of Zappa's best known instrumental compositions and difficult to play, because of the wide variety of irregular groupings in it. The opening song "Titties 'n beer" is using a rhythmic riff and a vamp, with Zappa portraying a motorcycle man encountering the devil. It's a comic conversation between this man, uttering his stereotype sexism and love of beer, and the devil, who gets confused by how easy his opponent is willing to sell his soul to him.
Zappa's clash with Warner Bros. left it scars upon the original double album, because "Punky's whips" was censored, causing a short side 1. The current double CD includes the censored parts and even additional material with a strong lengthy version of "Cruising for burgers".
Apparently there was cooperation with Warner Bros. for the album cover. Zappa's son Dweezil delivered a photo of New York wasteland and his wife took the shots for the inner sleeve.
|Zappa in New York|
|- Titties and beer||KS|
|- I promise not to come in your mouth, theme||KS|
|- Punky's whips||See 37)|
|- Honey, don't you want a man like me?, opening||KS|
|- The Illinois enema bandit, theme||WL269|
|- I'm the slime, opening||See 17)|
|- Pound for a brown, theme||See 7)|
|- Manx needs women||1)|
|- The black page #1||BS|
|- Sofa, melody/interlude||WL267/KS|
|- The black page #2||BS|
|- The torture never stops, opening and coda||See 22)|
|- The purple lagoon/Approximate, theme||2)|
2) Theme included in this study as a combination of the original Approximate scores and transcribed notes by KS.
24) STUDIO TAN, 1978
The last three contractual Warner Bros. albums were issued by this company without consulting Zappa. The material was meant for album releases as well as inclusion in the "Läther" box (see 58), so apart from the careless album covers, they are certainly not second choice. Zappa felt pissed off at the time, but in the eighties emotions had calmed down and they reappeared on CD as part of the regular Zappa CD collection.
The opening piece "Greggery peccary" tells the story of a little pig inventing the calendar. Because of the fragmented music and a talking piglet, to me it gets the character of a cartoon without the images. But there are larger composed parts as well, modern at the beginning and pop like at the end. Much of the piece was scored out and Steve Vai was later asked to complete it with the improvised parts. It was played live in 2000 by the Ensemble Modern (see also the What's next section).
The others three pieces are a modern chamber music piece dating from 1970, the mainstream "Lemme take you to the beach" and the melodic instrumental "RDNZL".
|- Greggery Peccary||*)|
|- Revised music for low budget symph. orch.||BS|
|- Lemme take you to the beach, theme||WL269|
|- RDNZL, opening||WL270|
|      ,, , section||KS|
25) SLEEP DIRT, 1978
Sleep dirt opens with the melody of "Filthy habits", that has some melismatic Arab effects in it, followed by two feedback guitars soloing. Then follows a sequence of songs from the 1972 musical "Hutschentoot" with Thana Harris singing the lyrics. The original album was instrumental and still is as included in the 1996 "Läther" CD. The use of a contrabass and a piano once again are giving an album a jazzrock character (the album at first appears to have been called "Hot rats III"). "Time is money" gets special attention in the Ludwig study. It's presented as a piece dealing with ongoing metre changes, using many odd numbered ones, "apparently at random the most varied rhythmic-metric sections are combined, making it sound as a collage" (Ludwig, page 104). The title track is a for Zappa unusual solo with Zappa playing over a chord progression. The notes of chords are played in broken patterns till the player after three minutes of doing so finally gets his fingers stuck. Guitar solos are also the main ingredient of the lengthy closing number "The ocean is the ultimate solution".
|- Filthy habits, opening||See 57)|
|- Flambay, section||WL271|
|- Regyptian strut, sections||WL271/KS|
|- Time is money||WL247/KS|
|- Sleep dirt, opening||KS|
|- The ocean is the ultimate solution, fragments||KS|
26) SHEIK YERBOUTI, 1979
The basic tracks of "Sheik Yerbouti" were recorded life when Zappa had no access to studios due to his litigational problems with Warner Bros. In 1979 things were back to normal, and "Sheik Yerbouti" could be finished in a studio, adding a lot of overdubs. Much of the album is accessible, even leading to a European hitsingle "Bobby brown" (the couplet progression is I-VI-II-V, Ludwig, page 82). There a two little but fine disco references included, presented in this study.
Complex pieces are passing by as well, especially the "Sheik Yerbouti tango" and "Wild love". On pages 100-102 of his study Ludwig is demonstrating how Zappa is using changing metres and tempos as a construction method in this song. The majestic "Yo' mama" solo opens pure solo without accompaniment and hereafter it continues combining playing over a pedal note and two alternating chords. In the press, as usual, the album cover, circumstances and the lyrics received most of the attention.
|- I have been in you, opening||KS|
|- Flakes, sections||KS|
|- Jones crusher, opening||See 37)|
|- Rat tomago||GB|
|- Bobby brown, themes||WL225/See 45)|
|- Sheik Yerbouti tango||GB|
|- City of tiny lights, section||KS|
|- Dancin' fool, theme||KS|
|- Wild love, melody||WL244|
|,, , disco section||KS|
|- Yo' mama, sections||KS|
27) ORCHESTRAL FAVORITES, 1979
With "Orchestral favorites" Zappa returned to the 200 Motels scores. "Bogus pomp" is a suite of the orchestral parts of the "Tuna sandwich" block from 200 Motels, with additional material added. "Duke of prunes" is a more elaborate version of this melody from "Absolutely free", now also including a guitar solo. Of the two new pieces "Pedro's dowry" is a difficult atonal piece, that gives a hint at the later "LSO Vol. I" CD.
The album sleeve gives no information about the recording circumstances. The orchestra performing was a 40-piece group of musicians, specifically assembled for this recording in 1975 (the liner notes of 83) finally give an answer to who took part in it). They did a few concerts in L.A. as the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Orchestra, the name Zappa also had used for the Lumpy Gravy orchestra. The electric part in this case was Zappa on guitar and some amplified acoustic instruments. The concerts also included the "Revised music for a low budget orchestra", but this piece would make the album overflow and landed on "Studio tan". The material got rerecorded again in the eighties by more renowned orchestras, so "Orchestral favorites" hasn't obtained the status that by itself it deserved.
|- Strictly genteel||See 48)|
|- Pedro's dowry||See 38)|
|- Naval aviation in art||See 39)|
|- Duke of prunes, themes/section||WL271/KS|
|- Bogus pomp||See 48)|
28-29) JOE'S GARAGE, 1979
The musical drama "Joe's garage" was originally released as a single and a double album. The single album with act I contained the accessible songs, with which Zappa continued the commercial success of "Sheik Yerbouti". On it are for instance the merry "Fembot in a wet t-shirt" and the relaxed ballad "Lucille". The lyrics are mostly dealing with sexual abuse. On Act I Zappa once more returns to the groupie life, Acts II and III are undaily, dealing with fetishism and homo sex in prisons.
Acts II and III are musically more complicated, now and then sentimental, like the wailing "Watermelon in eastern hay". Zappa often chose to play his new compositions on tour first, so that they could evolve and ripen. This applies to more than half of the material on acts II and III, dating from 1971 onwards. The album versions indeed surpass the earlier concert tracks on bootlegs and posthumous CDs. The guitar solos were directly taken from concerts, with the rhythm section added in the studio. Zappa didn't enjoy soloing in a studio much without the extra energy of an audience present.
|Joe's garage, acts I-III|
|- Joe's garage, sections||KS|
|- Fembot in a wet t-shirt||BS|
|,, , opening||KS|
|- On the bus, opening||KS|
|- Lucille has messed my mind up, themes||KS/WL273|
|- A token of my extreme, themes||KS|
|- Sy Borg, theme||WL273|
|- Dong work for Yuda, end||See 89)|
|- Keep it greasy, sections||KS|
|- Outside now, solo||GB|
|,, , theme||See 53)|
|- He used to cut the grass||GB|
|- Packard goose solo||GB|
|,, , section||KS|
|- Watermelon in Easter hay||GB|
|- A little green rosetta||See 65)|
30) TINSEL TOWN REBELLION, 1981
During the eighties Zappa's business were financially running better and better and he could afford to move his own way, not obstructed by record companies and fashions. It led to some confusion among fans and especially among critics, who are inclined to present the earliest albums as the best. With the title song of "Tinsel town rebellion" Zappa takes a stand against the current rock trends.
Apart from the opening reggae tune "Fine girl" all material is from the last 1979 tour, two third new songs, one third earlier pieces in a new jacket. The later Zappa bands were well rehearsed and he mostly chose to refrain from the studio overdubbing he applied in the seventies. The instrumental line up of the band from 1979 to 1984 was rather constant, making the material from this period sound as a unity. Much appeared on the later live double CDs, with hindsight "Tinsel town rebellion" was a first step into this direction.
|Tinsel town rebellion|
|- Fine girl, opening||KS|
|- Easy meat, opening||KS|
|- Love of my life, theme||KS/WL274|
|- I ain't got no heart||See 1)|
|- Panty rap, opening bars||KS|
|- Tell me you love me||See 11)|
|- Pick me, I'm clean, opening||KS|
|- Brown shoes don't make it||SB|
|- Peaches III||KS/See 8)|
31-33) SHUT UP 'N PLAY YER GUITAR, 1981
In 1981 Zappa grouped a series of guitar solos from the period 1977-1980 on three records available via mail order. When they proved successful, they also reached the stores as a boxed set. The atmosphere of the albums is partially set by the three title solos in the C Lydian mode, playing over I and II alternating. They are from the three concerts that Zappa played in a row at the Odeon Hammersmith in London, February 1979. The sound of the guitar is also specific for this set, making explicit use of the stereo double channelling possibilities.
Steve Vai was later asked to transcribe several of these solos, making visible on paper the high degree of rhythmical variation in them. He had sent Zappa a homemade transcription of "The black page" and subsequently Zappa called him to transcribe on salary. Steve comments: "[in the beginning] it was really hard. I used to sit and listen to one bar of music maybe a hundred times - hours and hours and hours of music. But it was fun; I enjoyed it. I felt useful [...]. I think that transcribing is one of the biggest learning experiences for a musician." (Guitar Player, Feb. 1983).
|Shut up 'n play yer guitar|
|- Hog heaven||GB|
|- Shut up 'n play yer guitar||GB|
|- While you were out||GB|
|- Treacherous cretins||GB|
|- Heavy duty Judy||GB|
|- Soup 'n old clothes||GB|
|- Variations on the Carlos Santana ...||GB|
|- Gee, I like your pants||GB|
|- Canarsie, fragment||KS|
|- Ship ahoy, section||See 65)|
|- The deathless horsie||GB|
|- Shut up 'n play yer guitar some more||GB|
|- Pink napkins||GB|
|- Return of the son of Shut up 'n play yer guitar, section||KS|
|- Why Johnny can't read, opening||KS|
|- Stucco homes||GB|
34) YOU ARE WHAT YOU IS, 1981
"You are what you is" is Zappa's last effort at a commercial album. It became an enjoyable collection with a large list of singers contributing. All material is of a friendly nature, except for the "Sinister footwear" solo. Coming by are rock in "Doreen", country in "Harder in our husband", blues in "Suicide chump", but much is traditional vocal popmusic. There are some rhythmical difficulties though, as in "Beauty knows no pain". All is executed with Zappa's musical craftsmanship and eye for details. Several songs from the album were included in the concert with the same name, that MTV broadcasted in 1982.
Two topics get dealt with at greater length in the lyrics, the lifestyle of the local society and religious fanaticism. The latter is a returning and consistent item in Zappa's output. It's coming back on "Broadway the hard way" and receives a chapter of its own in The real Frank Zappa book. He keeps stressing upon the separation of church and state, intellectual freedom and democracy (don't forget to register and vote).
|You are what you is|
|- Teenage wind, theme||WL274|
|- Harder than your husband, sections||KS|
|- Doreen, opening||See 58)|
|- Theme from Sinister footwear III||GB|
|- Beauty knows no pain, opening||KS|
|- Any downers, '75 outro||See 98)|
|- Conehead, fragments||See e)|
|- You are what you is, opening/theme||KS/WL275|
|- The meek shall inherit nothing, section||KS|
|- Heavenly bank account, opening||KS|
|- Jumbo go away, interlude (keyboard/bass)||BS|
|,, , section||KS|
35) SHIP ARRIVING TOO LATE TO SAVE A DROWNING WITCH, 1982
Here Zappa delivered a pretty extreme album. For the first two songs this applies more to the text than to the music. In "No not now" he's cynical as ever about the sexual desires of truck drivers and waitresses. Unexpectedly "Valley girl", a cooperation with his daughter Moon, became a hit in the US. The remainder of the album is the versatile Zappa at his technical best, mixing rock and atonal passages, using counterpoint and ultrafast tempi. In the album liner notes of "You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. III" he talks about the performing difficulties of the title song: "the 1984 band never played it correctly during its 6-month tour, and the 1982 band only managed to get close on one occasion". The album version is made up of combining the parts that succeeded from the various 1982 gigs. On top of this complexity come the strong guitar solos.
"Drowning witch" is not appreciated by some of the fans and critics. Maybe they have difficulties with the abstraction level of the album. It's not exactly music to please. The melodic lines can be unconventional, especially the chromatic vocal part in "I come from nowhere", that deliberately avoids melodic lines that are generally considered as fluent.
Ship arriving too late|
to save a drowning witch
|- No not now, section||KS/WL166|
|- Valley girl, opening||KS|
|- I come from nowhere, opening||KS|
|- Drowning witch, interlude||BS|
|,, , sections||KS|
|,, , opening theme||WL275|
|- Envelopes||See 38)|
|- Teen-age prostitute, section||*)|
36) THE MAN FROM UTOPIA, 1983
On "The man from Utopia" Zappa experimented with speechwise singing. Two live-recorded pieces were included along with one from the studio. Three of them is maybe a bit too much of the same at once, but with the selection possibilities of a CD this release became better enjoyable. The other vocal songs are mainstream, less exciting than the album cover might suggest. There's rock 'n roll in "Sex", a simple reggae tune "Stick together", a rhythm and blues cover medley, an all vocal doo-wop piece and the more melodic "Cocaine decisions". Interesting are the three instrumentals. "Tink walks amok" deals with varying bass guitar motifs, "We are not alone" is traditionally melodic. The closing "Moggio" is the versatile Zappa with fast melodies played over a jazz styled counterpoint bass line.
The circumstances for the album cover are based on reality, but far from clear by itself. The explanation follows partly later on with the "Cocaine decisions" version on "You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. III". A swamp with mosquitos nearby the concert location contributed some more to the emotional state of the enraged man from Utopia.
|The man from Utopia|
|- Tink walks amok||2)|
|- The radio is broken, section||KS|
|- We are not alone, section||KS|
|- The dangerous kitchen||BS|
|- Jazz discharge party hats||BS|
2) Opening included in this study, source: internet file/KS.
37) BABY SNAKES, 1983
"Baby snakes" was released as a gadget in 1983, containing the soundtrack of Zappa's second film carrying the same name, premiered four years earlier. It was originally printed on expensive picture vinyl, available only via mail order. Nor the movie, nor the record received much attention. The album only became widerly known since the CD re-release. The same might happen to the movie, nowadays available on DVD.
The film consisted of concert footage, clay animations and backstage stuff. The recorded concert was a 1977 Halloween gig in New York, here without the overdubbing used in "Sheik Yerbouti". As a concert movie it's excellent, the interaction with the public went fantastic. At the time of the CD release it contained the censured "Punky's whips" as a novelty, the other songs were live versions of known material. In "Titties and beer" the sentence with the devil being accused of jerking off at a Punky Meadows picture could now pass, as well as saying the hell it was being assigned to Warner Bros. Since "Zappa in New York" nowadays also includes "Punky's whips", the CD has lost some of its meaning. It's good by itself, but adds little to the previous albums.
|- Titties 'n beer||See 23)|
|- The black page #2||See 23)|
|- Jones crusher (1977), opening||KS|
|- Disco boy||See 22)|
|- Punky's whips (1977), section||KS|
|- Conehead vamp (DVD)||KS|
38) THE LSO, VOL. I, 1983
In 1982 Zappa hired The London Symphony Orchestra for two weeks to record several of his modern orchestra pieces with Kent Nagano conducting. Kent had contacted Zappa for performing music with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and "one thing led to another, and Frank decided to have a huge project that would include a public performance of his works and a recording of these very large orchestra pieces. The London Symphony Orchestra was chosen, and the conductor selected was me" (Kent Nagano in Zappa!).
Volume I appeared in 1993, a balanced coherent album, containing among others a large atonal piece called "Mo 'n Herbs vacation". Notable are the many solo lines for the clarinet player, as well as chord textures, making full use of the different orchestral instruments. To listen to such music is demanding, personally I can only consume two of the three parts of "Mo 'n Herbs vacation" at once.
The recording conditions weren't ideal; Zappa is giving the technical details in the Real Frank Zappa book. The orchestral sound differs from the regular sound, more voluptuous, but occasionally too thick to hear all the details clearly.
In Guitar Player, Feb. 1983, Zappa comments upon how such orchestral music originated. "Some of the pieces to be performed by the LSO were written in airports or hotel rooms with no appliance whatsoever. What I usually do is come back from a tour with a briefcase full of sketches and I'll test the parts of the harmony and the lines on the piano, refine it, and then generate a handwritten score in fairly messy condition, which I then give to the copyist I have on the payroll." It's the same idea as in composing 200 Motels. In the 1971 VPRO tv documentary you can see Zappa doing some of the copying himself.
|The London Symphony Orchestra, vol. I|
|- Sad Jane||BS|
|- Pedro's dowry||BS|
|- Mo 'n Herb's vacation||BS|
39) THE PERFECT STRANGER, 1984
In the early eighties Zappa had contacted the French conductor-composer Pierre Boulez to perform his orchestral scores. Boulez didn't think French orchestras were fit to do this, but he did commission a piece for his Ensemble Intercomporain. So Zappa sent in "The perfect stranger" to be premiered by the ensemble. Eventually three pieces received a one time live performance in 1983 and were subsequently recorded. Zappa could use his newly acquired Synclavier to turn this project into an instrumental album.
The event resulted in an interesting varied album, difficult to come to terms with and opening new directions. The relation with the Ensemble Intercomporain became under strain however. Apparently some members had expected another rock star wanting his popsongs performed by an orchestra. It was expected to be diversion, but during the recording session Zappa insisted on a perfect execution of his modern atonal music, retaking some bars over and over till they were satisfying. Up till today Boulez only wishes to comment that Zappa's technical knowledge of music was unprecedented for a rock artist.
|The perfect stranger|
|- The perfect stranger||BS|
|- Naval aviation in art||BS|
|- The girl in the magnesium dress||See 62)|
|- Outside now, again||*)|
|- Dupree's paradise||BS|
40) THEM OR US, 1984
With "Them or us" Zappa delivered a CD, that by now you could call a traditional Zappa album. It ranges from doo-wop and traditional blues in "In France" to modern atonal music in "Sinister footwear II". "Truck driver's divorce" is based upon conventional country and western, but with so many extras that it surpasses all limitations of this style. Then of course there are the usual guitar solos, this time also presenting Steve Vai and Zappa's son Dweezil. The title song has in its sound something of the metallic guitar flavour that hard rock bands worship.
The cover of "Whipping post" indicates why pieces can sound as Zappa. Not the style, but how the music is performed: bright, sung with clear voices, not looking for effects. Any style can get incorporated in Zappa's music without any problem. Zappa doesn't rank all his different compositions. "Baby take your teeth out" was composed on the road in twenty minutes, "N-lite" on "Civilisation, phaze III" took ten years. He comments in Zappa!: "And there are people who will never be able to sit through "N-lite" - it's 23 minutes long. They would rather have a minute and ten seconds of ["Baby take your teeth out"] that'll make them laugh. The point is that each piece, for what it is supposed to do, achieves a certain level of entertainment success".
|Them or us|
|- Ya Hozna, section||KS|
|- Sharleena, sections||See 11)|
|- Sinister footwear II, sections||KS|
|- Stevie's spanking, opening bars||See 81)|
|- Baby take your teeth out, opening||KS|
|- Marque-Son's chicken, opening||KS|
|- Frogs with dirty little lips, section||KS|
- The closer you are (Lewis/Robinson), section: WL277
41) THING-FISH, 1984
"Thing-Fish" belongs to the literary output of Zappa. In the same year he released his first book entitled "Them or us", treating about the topics he dealt with in the last twenty years. "Thing-Fish" is an opera, complete with libretto and stage directions. An earlier attempt at musical, "Hunchentoot", was never released in its original form. It's questionable whether an opera was the proper medium to ventilate the themes in "Thing-Fish", because it contains little original music and the accent lies on the text. Attempts to raise a budget to have it performed failed.
Thing-Fish is a strange piece of fiction, sometimes amusing, but also far-fetched and inconsistent. Some recent events from reality served to trigger it off, like the spreading of aids. The music is about one third synthesizer vamps and accompaniment for the spoken text, one-third earlier material and one-third new songs. Only the last ones are sometimes specific for an opera.
|- Mammy nuns, fragment||KS|
|- Harry and Rhonda, sections||KS|
|- The 'torchum'/torture ..., opening and coda||See 22)|
|,,    , evil prince aria, section||KS|
|- That evil prince||*)|
|- You are what you is, opening||See 34)|
|- Harry-as-a-boy, section||KS|
|- He's so gay, sections||KS/See 45)|
|- The crab-grass baby, section||KS|
|- No not now, section||See 35)|
|- Wistful wit a fistful, section||KS|
|- Won ton on, themes||KS/WL166|
42) FRANCESCO ZAPPA, 1984
The Italian composer and cellist Francesco Zappa lived in the second half of the 18th century, during the transition period from the baroque to the romantic era. As a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart he wrote traditional easy going baroque music. His scores have been kept in some musical libraries and he's included in the New Grove Dictionary of music and musicians. After a friend had informed Zappa about Francesco's existence, Zappa recorded some of his music in 1984, performed on the synclavier. It was the first recording of Francesco's music. The CD contains no music by Frank Zappa himself.
Here's some quotations from the New Grove Dictionary:
-"He had reputation among his contempories as a [cello] virtuoso and he toured in Germany in 1771, playing in Danzig and Frankfurt."
-"[Francesco] Zappa's writing is lyrical but tends towards a seriousness of manner in which the galant elements are tempered by a classical dignity. His works with obligato cello demonstrate an easy familiarity with thumb positioning fingerings, slurred staccato bowings and idiomatic string crossing patterns."
One of Francesco's trio sonatas got published the year before by Fullerton, California, Grancino editions, as part of their early cello series.
To the left the head of a review of a Francesco Zappa CD from 2009 (De Volkskrant, November 11th 2009). It deals with what is probably the second CD with his music on it. It's in Dutch and says: "Francesco Zappa really lived. When someone called Simon Murphy releases a CD with symphonies by 18th century people called Zappa and Schwindl, then he's asking for mistrust. This Dutch-Australian baroque musician might have started composing himself in his attic. But Murphy can hardly be accused of a Zappa fraud. Even better: by his research we get a better view upon the music, that entertained the court of William V at The Hague during the years 1760-1785." The article implies that Francesco Zappa was employed at this Dutch court for a certain period, though I haven't checked out the CD itself.
43) THE OLD MASTERS, VOL. I, 1985
Boxed reissue of albums 1)-5) together with a mystery disc. The content of the mystery disc got released separately in 1998. See that issue for transcriptions. This is the release with the newly recorded bass and drum part for albums 3) and 5), that was also used for the first CD release. The general acclaim for this change was such negative, that Zappa gave in. The second CD reissue had the original tapes of 3) restored. Personally I find that he overdid the effect for 3), a modern sound bass dominates over the other tracks, but when you turn the bass down, I don't mind that much.
44) THE MOTHERS OF PREVENTION, 1985
This CD was compiled for the occasion. Zappa had spoken in a senate hearing about possible legislation against "outrageous filth" in some rock lyrics, that possibly could include his own lyrics. It resulted in parental advisory stickers. Zappa recorded the event with a portable tape recorder and transformed it into the "Porn wars" collage. The subject gets dealt with at length in chapter 15 of The real Frank Zappa book, including the complete text of Zappa's testimony.
The CD lacks cohesion, but not quality. On it are three synclavier compositions. "One man - one vote" could be called perfect, ongoing melodic variation along with interesting counterpoint and harmony. Of a different nature is the jam with Johnny Guitar Watson, "I don't even care", meant for entertainment. Zappa apparently enjoyed the uptight manner of speaking that Watson could improvise.
|The mothers of prevention|
|- I don't even care, opening||KS|
|- One man - one vote and others||*)|
|- Aerobics in bondage||BS|
|- Alien orifice||BS|
|- What's new in Baltimore, opening||KS/WL278|
45) DOES HUMOR BELONG IN MUSIC, 1986
When in 1985 CDs were introduced as a new medium, expected to replace the vinyl records, Zappa decided to release one with material from the last 1984 tour. The CD capacity made it possible to play a half concert before or after the intermission as a whole. The larger part is known material in other versions, three new songs were included as well. Since the 1984 versions contain many alternative bars, especially "Tinsel town rebellion", as well as their own guitar solos, this CD can be considered as equivalent to a new vinyl album.
After the 1984 tour Zappa took a four years break from touring and turned to composing on synclavier and running through the huge tape collections of the tours of the past twenty years. He also completed and newly made several videotapes, going back for instance to the material of the "Uncle meat" and "200 Motels" projects. A video of a 1984 concert was also released with the title "Does humor belong in music", though its content is different from the CD. The CD is from various places, the video was shot at the The Pier concert in New York. The video/DVD collection is available via the official Zappa site.
|Does humor belong in music|
|- Zoot allures||See 22)|
|- Hot plate heaven at the Green hotel, opening||KS|
|- What's new in Baltimore||See 44)|
|- Let's move to Cleveland, opening||KS|
|- He's so gay (DVD), sections||KS/See 41)|
|- Bobby brown (DVD), sections||KS|
46) THE OLD MASTERS, VOL. II, 1986
Boxed reissue of albums 7)-12) and 14) together with a second mystery disc. The content of both mystery discs got released separately in 1998, except for some parts of the second disc, that were already included in "Ahead of their time". See these issues for transcriptions. "200 Motels" was a United Artists production and not included in this box. Zappa was still negotiating a transfer to Rykodisc. It would be the last vinyl album to be re-released on CD.
47) JAZZ FROM HELL, 1986
On this CD the synclavier has taken over. It opens with "Night school", a sort of typed in improvisation over a short vamp. The synclavier offered possibilities to execute pieces that would be too demanding for human players, as "While you were art II". It's reusing the melody of an earlier guitar solo and evolves into a complex mixture of so called hocketing, harmony and counterpoint. Hocketing is a term sometimes used for leading a melody over varying instruments, each hitting only one or two notes.
Further included are for instance the harmonically unpredictable "Damp ankles", a live guitar solo and the energetic "G-spot tornado". The album got a good deal of attention. It was new in all respects, sound, composition and above all how it was done using a computer instrument. Zappa's fashionable appearance on the cover, short cut hair, suit and tie, were surprising as well.
|Jazz from hell|
|- Night school||BS|
|- The Beltway bandits||BS|
|- While you were art II||*)|
|- G-spot tornado||See 62)|
|- Damp ankles, opening bars||KS|
|- Massagio Galore, opening bars||KS|
48) THE LSO, VOL. II, 1987
The release of the second volume with The London Symphony Orchestra was postponed till 1987 because Zappa was dissatisfied with the accuracy of these performances that were recorded at the end of the sessions. As usual Zappa complains, but you've got to take into account that vol. I had been demanding and that the time schedule was tight. To give some counterweight to the negativism on the sleeve and the Real Frank Zappa book, conductor Kent Nagano said that "[Zappa] demonstrated that he had impeccable ears and absolute command of the scores. That was one of the reasons the LSO respected him so much" (quoted from Zappa!)
"Bob in dracon" relates to vol. I, the other two pieces are the 200 Motels rewritings that appeared earlier on "Orchestral favorites". "Bogus pomp" got extensions, now including the "Overture", "Centerville" and an additional coda of its own. The job of re-orchestrating this piece from a small to a large orchestra was handed over to David Ocker.
|The London Symphony Orchestra, vol. II|
|- Bogus pomp||BS|
|- Bob in Dacron||BS|
|- Strictly genteel||BS|
49) THE OLD MASTERS, VOL. III, 1987
Boxed reissue of albums 15)-22). By this time Zappa's albums got one by one released on CD and a contract for releasing individual albums from the boxes had got into effect. This third box got more released because it was planned for than because of necessity. The three volumes were nicely designed silver boxes with paintings by Donald Wilson as on "The perfect stranger". Today they continue to exist as collectors items. The reason it took some time for the boxes to be completed after Zappa obtained the mastertapes is that he remixed several tracks on these albums. The CDs contain the same remixes, so original vinyl Zappa albums can become collectors' items as well.
50) GUITAR, 1988
After the success of "Shut up 'n play yer guitar", Zappa compiled a second set of guitar solos from the touring period 1979-1984. These solos belong to the rhythmically most versatile ones and are using more than before guitar effects as glissandos and distorted notes. Transcribing the late Zappa solos is plain terrible if you want to do it properly. I've done several bars of the ones mentioned below, as well as various sections like for instance fragments from "Yo' mama" and "Filthy habits" to complete the study. But other than Steve Vai I can only enjoy the result and not the work itself. All the more respect for the 300 pages by Vai.
Zappa kept being loyal to his style, mostly using one key, and playing over pedal notes, alternating chords and vamps. The guitar solo output, combined with the solos on regular albums, has with this issue become immense. Redundant for the critics not used to spending much time on listening to one album, still not enough for the fans. After this release Zappa found that he had said all he wanted to on the guitar, but couldn't refrain from playing again during the 1988 tour, because he knew the fans expected him to do so.
|- Sexual harassment in the workplace, intro||KS|
|- Republicans, opening||KS|
|- In-a-gadda-Stravinsky, sections||KS|
|- Were we ever really save in San Antonio?, opening||KS|
|- Sunrise redeemer, opening||KS|
|- Orrin hatch on skis, opening||KS|
|- GOA, section||KS|
|- Watermelon in Easter hay (1984), theme||KS/GB|
|- Canadian customs, opening||KS|
51) YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. I, 1988
After having toyed with the idea ealier, Zappa decided to issue a large amount of live material from the past concerts. It's more than playing in a different environment, because Zappa made changes upon his compositions from tour to tour and there was always room to improvise. Also several unreleased compositions were included. The series of six double CDs is meant as a unity, apart from vol. II, they are not restricted to one specific period or tour.
Vol. I sets off with material from 1971 (the "Groupie routine") to 1984, with the accent on the more recent tours, as in the whole series. Conditions were simply better in the eighties than in the sixties, financially and technically. Besides much original material from 1970 onwards was recorded live. Disc I ends with the poem reciting event during "Nanook rubs it". A new coda is added to this sequence from "Apostrophe (')". Disc II contains two examples from the MTV concert, some more to come on vol. III.
|You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. I|
|- Once upon a time, section||KS|
|- Sofa (1971), opening||KS|
|- Mammy anthem (mammy nuns)||See 41)|
|- You didn't try to call me||See 1)|
|- Let's make.../Harry,.../Lumber truck||See 3) and 10)|
|- The groupie routine, opening bars||KS|
|- Babette, opening||KS|
|- I'm the slime||See 16)|
|- Big swifty||See 14)|
|- Don't eat the yellow snow||See 18)|
|- The torture never stops||See 22)|
|- Fine girl||See 30)|
|- Zomby Woof||See 17)|
|- Oh no||See 10)|
|- Tell me you love me||See 11)|
52) YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. II, 1988
This second volume is the only CD of the series with a single subject, namely the 1974 Helsinki concert. It's performed by the "Roxy and elsewhere" band, who by now had been playing much of the material for over a year. So they were well accustomed to it and "Echidna's arf (of you)" and "Don't you ever wash that thing" get sharper executions than the year before.
George Duke commented that he still feels amazed when he listens back to these recording and wonders how the band has been able to do that. He also explained that at first Zappa scored out everything, but after a year the band would say "you don't need to write that down, we know what you want. After a year we started thinking like Zappa". (Frank Scheffer documentary, see the What's next section).
The concert is here presented in its entirety, so you also get to hear the whole 20 minutes improvisation block for the band members, introduced by the theme from "Dupree's paradise". These blocks were mostly a standard part of the program, as the bootlegs indicate, but normally didn't make it to the record.
|You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. II|
|- Tush-tush-tush, opening||KS|
|- Stinkfoot||See 18) and 71)|
|- Inca roads||See 20)|
|- RDNZL||See 23)|
|- Village of the sun||See 19)|
|- Echidna's arf (of you)||See 19)|
|- Don't you ever wash that thing||See 19)|
|- Pygmy twylyte (1974)||WL264/KS|
|- Room service, opening||KS|
|- The idiot bastard son||See 3)/KS|
|- Dupree's paradise (1974)||KS|
|- T'mershi duween (arr. Jon Nelson)||BS|
|- Dog breath variations (1974)||See 81)|
|- Uncle meat||See 7)|
|- Montana||See 17)|
|- Big swifty||See 15)|
53) BROADWAY THE HARD WAY, 1988
In 1988 Zappa went on the road again for what would become his last tour. The band received a huge program and rehearsed for four months. Most of the new songs appeared on "Broadway the hard way". Zappa, who considered himself a moderate Democrat, is pointing his arrows this time at the Republican Party, especially the conservative religious wing of it. Though in his songs he's not dealing with this subject, he neither felt sympathy for leftist movements. Other people who get hit are Jesse Jackson, in a funny cowboy song with vaudeville elements, and Michael Jackson.
Halfway the album we get to some covers, a guest appearance of Sting, and four earlier songs revisited. The albums rounds off with "Jesus thinks you're a jerk" with Zappa arguing for 9 minutes against the tv preachers. The material on this CD is relatively accessible, Zappa's musical modernities are left out.
|Broadway the hard way|
|- Any kind of pain, theme||KS|
|- Dickie's such an asshole||See 54)|
|- Rhymin' man, section||KS|
|- Promiscuous, opening||KS|
|- Why don't you like me (Tell me you love me)||See 11)|
|- Outside now, theme||KS|
|- Hot plate heaven at the Green hotel, opening||See 45)|
|- Jesus thinks you're a jerk||KS|
54) YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. III, 1989
Much attention is given to the 1984 tour, this CD being complementary to "Does humor belong in music". On disc I appears for instance a pretty different version of "Bamboozled by love", the "Owner of a lonely heart" addition only refers to the central theme of this song being used as a guitar solo vamp. The "Drowning witch" execution can compete with the 1982 album version.
Disc II opens with another Roxy theatre track from 1973, "Dickie's such an asshole", that premiered on CD just a few months ago in the political context of "Broadway the hard way". Terry Bozzio, also today doing drum solo concerts, performs an interesting drum solo effort in "Hands with a hammer". "Cocaine decisions" explains "The man from Utopia" cover. "King Kong" appears in a strange form, combining recent extravaganza with a charming 1971 guitar solo.
|You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. III|
|- Sharleena||See 11)|
|- Lucille has messed my mind up||See 28)|
|- Advance romance||See 21)|
|- Bobby Brown||See 26)|
|- Honey, don't you want a man like me?, opening (1984)||KS|
|- Drowning witch||See 35)|
|- Ride my face to Chicago, theme||KS|
|- Joe's garage||See 28)|
|- Dickie's such an asshole, sections||KS|
|- Zoot allures||See 22)|
|- Beauty knows no pain||See 34)|
|- King Kong (1971/82), sections||KS|
|- Cosmic debris||See 18)|
55) THE BEST BAND YOU NEVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE, 1991
As good as all other material from the 1988 tour would appear on the following two CDs. This one has the accent on the songs with lyrics. It opens with a strong version of "Heavy duty Judy", followed by the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of fire". Disc I ends with a "One size fits all" sequence, a fine live alternative for this 1975 album. On disc II much attention is given to the tv evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, being caught with a prostitute. A right wing republican gets parodied upon in a funny guest appearance of Brother A. West. Covers of a Hendrix and Led Zeppelin song are included, but a The Beatles cover adapted for the Swaggart event didn't make it to the record. It had the opening line of "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" changed to "picture yourself on a whore in a motel room".
The title of the album refers to the fact that the band didn't finish the tour schedule. It played in the east coast of the US and Europe but failed to complete the last part playing in the west coast of the US. The position of Scott Thunes, who Zappa had appointed as ringleader for the rehearsals when he wasn't there, wasn't acceptable no more for the other band members. Replacement with such a big repertoire wasn't possible.
|The best band you never heard in your life|
|- Heavy duty judy (1988), opening||KS|
|- Cosmic debris||See 18)|
|- Zomby woof (1988)||See 17)/KS|
|- Zoot allures||See 22)|
|- Mr. green genes||See 8)|
|- Florentine pogen||See 20)|
|- Andy||See 20)|
|- Inca roads||See 20)|
|- Sofa||See 23)|
|- Let's move to Cleveland||See 45)|
|- The torture never stops (1988), section||KS|
|- Eric Dolphy memorial party||See 10)|
56) MAKE A JAZZ NOISE HERE, 1991
Disc I is responsible for the title. Three lengthy pieces are included with bizarre combinations of solos, synthesizer music and funny sounds, like the "droppee" lizard. "When yuppies go to hell" has an intro of its own, the other two are using "Big swifty" and "King Kong" to launch off. Two guitar solos are presented separately, others are included in for instance "Dupree's paradise". Much of the CD is instrumental, showing the 1988 band playing at its best. Included is for instance the most difficult version of "The black page", here executed with tempo changes. Excerpts from the modern classics heroes Stravinsky and Bartok are followed by one of Zappa's own succesful modern efforts "Sinister footwear II".
The album circulates with two different covers. The original one has a nightclub with Zappa's name in neon lights, the other one has a drawing by Calvin Schenkel. The neon lights are advertising for the last chance for live music. Zappa knew that the 1988 tour would be his last, but he couldn't foretell that he would be conducting the Ensemble Modern once more live in 1993. Calvin did a whole series of drawings for album covers since 1970.
|Make a jazz noise here|
|- Stinkfoot||See 18) and 71)|
|- When yuppies go to hell, theme||KS|
|- Let's make the water turn black||See 3)|
|- Harry you're a beast||See 3)|
|- The Orange County lumber truck||See 10)|
|- Oh no||See 10)|
|- Eat that question||See 16)|
|- Big swifty||See 15)|
|- King Kong||See 7)|
|- The black page (new age version)||*)|
|- T'Mershi Duween||See 52)|
|- Dupree's paradise||See 39)|
|- Sinister footwear II||See 40)|
|- Alien orifice||See 44)|
|- Advance romance||See 21)|
|- Strictly genteel||See 48)|
57) YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. IV, 1991
In 1991 it became officially known that Zappa had incurable cancer. He now worked on releasing the remaining material in a feverish tempo. Six double CDs were issued in two years. On disc I some extra attention is given to band member solos, "The black page" appears in a reggae version. The original version of "The torture never stops" is Captain Beefheart reciting the lyrics over an endless riff. So the text was written earlier than the music from "Zoot allures". Two songs from the 1988 tour were also included with a brass version of "Filthy habits".
Disc II begins with one of the many attacks on the church, followed by a ten minutes version of "Stevie's spanking". Zappa often talked to the audience in such a way; another example from 1969 is included as well. The bootlegs also contain such episodes. This release is rounded off with six covers of vocal songs from the fifties.
|You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. IV|
|- My guitar wants to kill your mama||See 10)|
|- Willie the pimp||See 12)|
|- Montana||See 17)|
|- The evil prince (aria)||See 41)|
|- Approximate||See 52)|
|- Love of my life||See 34)|
|- The black page (1984)||*)|
|- Filthy habits, opening||KS|
|- Stevie's spanking, opening bars||See 81)|
|- Outside now, theme||See 53)|
|- Disco boy||See 22)|
|- Florentine pogen||See 20)|
e) BEAT THE BOOTS, VOL. I, 1991
The first set of officially released unaltered bootlegs in order to corrupt the bootleg market. The supply was limited and they are not available anymore. See the Beat the boots section of the left menu for more.
|Beat the boots, vol. I|
|- Call any vegetable solo opening from the "Freaks..." bootleg||KS|
|- Farther O'blivian, tango, section from the "Piquantique" bootleg||KS|
|- Conehead fragments from the "Saarbrücken" bootleg||KS|
|- No matter ... lick (Trad./(Arr.) Zappa) from the "'Tis the season ..." bootleg||KS|
f) BEAT THE BOOTS, VOL. II, 1992
The second volume of officially released bootlegs for counterattacking the bootleggers. This set was released as a box and is not available anymore. See the Beat the boots section of the left menu for more.
|Beat the boots, vol. II|
|- Brain police (1970) from the "Disconnected synapsis" bootleg||KS|
|- Holiday in Berlin solo (1971) from the "Tengo na minchia tanta" bootleg||KS|
58) YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. V, 1992
This volume consists of two unrelated CDs, each by themselves coherent with material recorded during one period. The first CD is mostly made up of unreleased curiosities and leftovers from the sixties. It opens with an early 1965 Mothers of Invention track, it includes dancing to a Mozart sonata, improvisations with Zappa on percussion, on tour conversations, etc. Nice to listen through once in a while, but not fit for frequent listening.
The second CD is made up of recordings from the 1982 tour. During this tour Zappa was more than usual conducting his band, with his back towards the audience, and playing lengthy solos. Part of the audience rather saw him singing and talking and started throwing things on stage. It takes guts to put something as the "Geneva farewell" on CD, admitting that not all concerts ended happily. With hindsight the audience behaviour becomes pretty embarrassing. The band played through a range of complicated compositions close to perfection.
|You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. V|
|- The downtown talent scout, opening||KS|
|- Piano/drum duet||*)|
|- Run home slow||See 64)|
|- The little march, opening||KS|
|- Right there, riff||See d)|
|- Trouble every day||See 1)|
|- Return of the Hunch-back duke (Little house ...)||See 9)|
|- Baked-bean boogie, fragment||KS|
|- Easy meat||See 30)|
|- Shall we take ourselves seriously, first half||KS|
|- What's new in Baltimore?||KS/WL278|
|- Moggio||See 36)|
|- Dancin' fool, theme||See 26)|
|- RDNZL||See 24)|
|- Advance romance||See 21)|
|- City of tiny lites, sections||See 26)/86)|
|- Pound for a brown||See 7)|
|- Doreen, opening||KS|
|- The black page #2||See 23)|
59) YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. VI, 1992
With two volumes released close after each other, Zappa rounded off the "You can't do that on stage anymore" cycle. This volume includes little of the virtuoso pieces, it's a comfortable though not exciting CD for Zappa standards. The accent lies on the songs with lyrics, often the ones that dealt with sex. It passes by in the unromantic down to earth way Zappa preferred for his texts, as in the "Poodle lecture", "Honey, don't you want a man like me" and commented upon in "Is that guy kidding or what?". Disc two allows some instrumentals with others than Zappa soloing, Shankar in "Thirteen" and Ralph Brecker in "Black napkins". Zappa's introduction to "Thirteen" is amusing, he's inviting the audience to clap to an odd 13/8 metre and starts counting through it for them. It sounds so natural this way, but nobody started clapping of course, us regular folks only do that to 4/4.
|You can't do that on stage anymore, vol. VI|
|- Dirty love||See 17)|
|- Magic fingers||See 13)|
|- Honey, don't you want a man like me?, opening (1988)||KS|
|- Dinah-moe Humm||See 17)|
|- Camarillo brillo||See 17)|
|- The Illinois enema bandit, theme||See 23)|
|- Thirteen, riff (Zappa/Shankar)||KS|
|- Alien orifice||See 44)|
|- Take your clothes off when you dance||See 64)|
|- Strictly genteel||See 48)|
60) PLAYGROUND PSYCHOTICS, 1992
During 1970-1971 Zappa walked around with a portable recorder to put the off stage life on tape, including things as a conversation on the airfield and the learning of "Penis dimension". They remained untouched in the closet till in 1992 he used them for a documentary like double CD. On it are also some stage events you wouldn't normally put on a CD, like a tuning up and the jam session with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It stresses the documentary without film character.
Musically this last but one live compilation adds the least to Zappa's oeuvre. Of the unreleased songs two little solos are nice, the others are curiosities. The "Introduction to music for a low budget orchestra" is worthwhile, played here in the original version as in the Songbook. The other pieces are much alike their first release and function better in their original environment.
About the tapes Zappa commented "I didn't realize the volume of releasable material from those tapings [...] I've got reels of tape in the vault that still have the original silver gaffer's tape from the night that they were stuck in the box at the end of a gig and haven't even been opened." (Zappa!, page 62). In a radio interview Mark Volman expressed that he felt touched by the intimacy of the CD.
|- Divan, section||KS|
|- Sleeping in a jar, section||See 7)|
|- Brixton still life, section||KS|
|- Sharleena, main themes||See 11)|
|- Scumbag, section (Lennon/Ono/Kaylan/Zappa)||KS|
|- Status back baby, theme||See 2)|
|- Mom & dad||See 3)|
|- Clarinet intro from music for low ...||SB|
|- Billy the mountain, atonal section||KS|
61) AHEAD OF THEIR TIME, 1993
The release of this CD had to be postponed because of litigational problems with some of the former Mothers of invention players claiming royalties. The CD inside cover refers to this. It's a 1968 London concert, a special event featuring members from the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing some of Zappa's modern chamber music, later included in "200 Motels". These were incorporated in a little play about the desirability of including modern music in the gigs, presented in songs 1 to 10 on the CD. The other ten songs are part of the regular concert program. On it returns the "Orange county lumber truck" guitar solo from "Weasels ripped my flesh", now in full length. The show was filmed as well for the "Uncle meat" movie. The recording was also done because of the idea of a possible live album. The "The ark" bootleg indicates that there more concerts recorded for this purpose, but nothing came of it at the time.
|Ahead of their time|
|- Like it or not and others||1)|
|- Holiday in Berlin||See 9)|
|- The rejected Mexican pope leaves the stage, section||2)|
|- Agency man, section||KS|
|- Epilogue, first half||KS|
|- King Kong||See 7)|
|- Help, I'm a rock, opening||See 1)|
|- Transylvania boogie, themes||KS|
|- Pound for a brown||See 7)|
|- Sleeping in a jar, section||See 7)|
|- Let's make the water turn black||See 3)|
|- Harry you're a beast||See 3)|
|- The Orange County lumber truck||See 10)|
|- Oh no||See 10)|
2) Combination of the original piano/celeste part and transcribed elements by KS.
62) THE YELLOW SHARK, 1993
In 1992 the German Ensemble Modern contacted Zappa to render them compositions at their own initiative. They were eager to play and Zappa could take the lead in compiling a program for three concerts. It was some deserved good look during the cancer struggle. The program was made up from many sources, much varied and unintentionally becoming a huge suite. There were new versions of earlier modern compositions, parts from the string quartet and wind quintet, composed in the second half of the eighties and first performed for instance by the Kronos Quartet. There were synclavier pieces, now orchestrated, and there were some compositions specifically composed for the event.
The concerts were a success. The efforts from the early eighties with the LSO and the Ensemble Intercontemporain had given their results in establishing Zappa's name as a modern composer. All the uneasiness of the Boulez project was now gone. Probably more would have come of the project, had Zappa lived longer. Pieces by Varèse were recorded, several other pieces that aren't on "The yellow shark" were rehearsed, there were ad hoc experiments... In 2000 the Ensemble Modern made a short tour with a second program, "Greggery Pecarry & Other Persuasions". Some more information on this program in the What's next and Ensemble Modern sections.
|The yellow shark|
|- Dog breath variations (chamber orchestra arrangement)||BS|
|- Uncle meat (chamber orchestra arrangement)||BS|
|- Outrage at Valdez||BS|
|- Times Beach||BS|
|- III Revised (string quartet/quintet)||BS|
|- The girl in the magnesium dress||BS|
|- Be-bop tango||BS|
|- Ruth is sleeping||BS|
|- None of the above||BS|
|- Pentagon afternoon||BS|
|- Questi cazzi di piccioni||1)|
|- Food gathering in post industrial America||1)|
|- Welcome to the United States||2)|
|- Pound for a brown||3)|
|- Exercise #4||1)|
|- Get whitey||BS|
|- G-spot tornado||BS|
2) Idem, sample page reproduced in the "Yellow shark" CD booklet.
Part of the intro is transcribed in my study.
3) Idem, see also 7) for its theme.
63) CIVILIZATION PHAZE III, 1994
Zappa started working on this sequel to "Jazz from hell" from 1987 onwards. He kept working on it for years, partially due to all the increasing possibilities of the synclavier, partially because this project interacted with "The yellow shark". These possibilities were for instance extended irregular groupings, combining scores with keyboard entrances and the sampling of regular acoustic instruments as well as a bizarre collection of industrial and sewer sounds. In Zappa!, page 49, he's mentioning "And there are a number of ways you can enter the data into the synclavier. One is to play it on the keyboard [...] or you can type it in in music notation, which allows you to see staves on a screen. [...] Since I only have minimal keyboard technique, anything that I play in on the keyboard, I have to do it with the speed knob turned way down. Then I do a lot of editing to it after it's been entered in. But all those piano parts on "N-lite", - you know, those cadenzas and stuff? I played them".
Disc I is the more normally composed part. "N-lite" is a large example of using all the samples of funny sounds. On disc II improvisations and through composed sequences have a bigger role. According to the album liner notes a part of it is played by the Ensemble modern. Speaking for myself, I can't hear who's doing what, the synclavier samples of the acoustic instruments are too good.
|Civilization phaze III|
|- Put a motor in yourself||BS|
|- Reagan at Bitburg||1)|
|- Xmas values, fragment||KS|
|- N-lite, section||KS|
|- I was in a drum||1)|
|- A pig with wings||2)|
|- Hot & putrid, opening||KS|
|- Beat the reaper, fragment||KS|
1) Performance scores have been constructed for the Ensemble Ascolta in 2007. A transcribed section from "Reagan at Bitburg" is included in this study.
2) The score of "A pig with wings" was used for the "Greggery Peccary and other pursuasions" CD by the Ensemble Modern.
64) THE LOST EPISODES, 1995
This was the last finished project Zappa worked on before his death. It contains a whole range of curiosities filling in the Zappa history, 30 tracks in total. "Lost in a whirlpool" is the oldest recorded piece of music, that has appeared on CD. It dates from 1958 with Zappa, his brother Bobby and Don van Vliet (the later Captain Beefheart) playing the blues. "The blackouts" from 1957 is a bit of surviving conversation.
Short but interesting are the three tracks from the early sixties movie "Run home slow", for which Zappa wrote the score. They are early examples of his interest in modern music and jazz. There's an excerpt from the Mount St. Mary concert from 1962, that also got broadcasted on radio (the original radio tape is lost, but a fan sent Zappa a copy). This event included the performance of "Opus 5", some other written material, improvisations, taped music and films being projected. Other pieces are for instance a "Sharleena" version from the "Hot rats" sessions with a violin solo by Sugarcane Harris, earlier 1972 versions of "Inca roads" and "RDNZL" and a 1978 synthesizer piece called "The basement music #1". The CD is accompanied by a 52 page booklet with detailed comments about the songs compiled by Rip Rense, based upon interview material with Zappa and band members.
|The lost episodes|
|- Lost in a whirlpool, fragment||KS|
|- Take your clothes off while you dance||KS|
|- Tiger roach, end||KS|
|- Run home slow, theme and variation||KS|
|- Run home cues #3, opening||KS|
|- Any way the wind blows||KS|
|- Kung fu, opening||KS|
|- RDNZL||See 24)|
|- Inca roads||See 20)|
|- Sharleena||See 11)|
65) LÄTHER, 1996
This three CD set shows Zappa's intentions for the last four Warner Bros. records in the shape of a four album box. It was meant as a huge integration project, featuring pop, jazz and different forms of orchestral music. Part of it live, part of it studio recordings from different years. The corresponding Warner Bros. albums are "Zappa in New York", "Studio tan", "Sleep dirt" and "Orchestral favorites". These issues don't completely overlap. "Läther" has some additional unreleased tracks and the Warner Bros. records contain more of the original tapes.
The "Läther" edition doesn't include the 200 Motels pieces "Bogus pomp" and "Strictly genteel", that are on "Orchestral favorites". The additional tracks comprehend two new guitar solos ("Down in the dew" and "Leather goods") and a handful of songs in an early state that would appear in other versions on records released between 1979 and 1981 ("A little green rosetta", "For the young sophisticate", "Trying to grow a chin", "Broken hearts are for assholes"). Included as well is an older experimental track, "Revenge of the knick knack people", and a collage called "Duck duck goose".
|- Green rosetta/Ship ahoy, section||KS|
|- Duck duck goose, section||KS|
|- Down in de dew, theme||KS|
66) ZFT: FRANK ZAPPA PLAYS THE MUSIC OF FRANK ZAPPA, 1996
This is the first of a series of CDs released by the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT), that are made up of material from the tape vault, but aren’t (finished) projects by Zappa himself. A large number of the included tracks are live or studio variants of the CDs mentioned above; the references to these earlier CDs for scores are left out. In 1993 Zappa stipulated that the three solos that he considered his signature solos should only be played by his son Dweezil. They were "Black napkins", "Zoot allures" and "Watermelon in Easter hay". Dweezil compiled this CD that has an early and the final version of each of these solos plus a blues improvisation from 1974. The earlier versions are "Black napkins" from 1975 (Ljubljana, Yugoslavia) , "Zoot allures" from 1976 (Tokyo, Japan) and "Watermelon in Easter hay" from 1978 (Eppelheim, Germany). The "Zoot allures" version includes "Ship ahoy", just like the version on FZ:OZ, recorded a month before in Australia. Together with the blues solo in A you get some 38 minutes of unreleased soloing next to the three known versions.
|FZ plays the music of FZ|
|- Black napkins (1975), section||KS|
67) HAVE I OFFENDED SOMEONE?, 1997
This is the second compilation CD that Zappa himself selected the songs for during his life. More by Rykodisc would follow. "Have I offended someone?" has half of the songs remixed or changed with different edits. It also includes unreleased live versions of "Tinsel town rebellion" and "Dumb all over". The first goes much like the one on "Does humor belong in music" from the same tour, but the "Dumb all over" version has its own characteristics.
68) THE MYSTERY DISC, 1998
This album stems from Zappa's idea to release the older albums as boxes when he had bought the mastertapes from MGM and Warner Bros., after years of proceedings. Three boxes have been available via mail order in the eighties, two of them containing a bonus mystery disc. These "The old masters" multirecord boxes soon got competition from the CD versions and a contract for vinyl releases of individual albums.
In 1998 the material from the two mystery discs was released on CD. It's sort of a collectors item, complementary to "The lost episodes", that was presented as vol. I by Zappa himself. It opens with the "Run home slow theme" in a different edit followed by the "Duke of prunes" theme, also part of the "Run home slow" movie scores. The majority is early sixties material, featuring for instance Captain Beefheart at Studio Z. It remains vague what would be vol. II of "The lost episodes", this CD or maybe he simply didn't have the chance to initiate vol. II. The Zappa Family Trust is feeding rumours about an upcoming vol. II however.
|The mystery disc|
|- Run home slow, theme||See 64)|
|- Original duke of prunes, opening||KS|
|- I was a teen-age maltshop, opening||KS|
|- Metal man has won his wings, section||KS|
|- Bossa Nova pervertamento, section||KS|
|- Speed-freak boogie, sections||KS|
|- Mondo Hollywood, opening||KS|
|- How could I be such a fool||See 1)|
|- Harry, you're a beast||See 3)|
|- Piece one||*)|
|- Piece two||*)|
|- Agency man||See 61)|
69) ZFT: EVERYTHING IS HEALING NICELY, 1999
A CD with rehearsal tracks and try outs with the Ensemble Modern from 1991. The recordings weren't meant for release, but various tracks are of interest nevertheless. Four examples are included in this study. Apart from rehearsing printed scores the ensemble would do various experiments. Sometimes Zappa would make up a composition on the spot by presenting a melody and then instruct everybody what to do with it. Various people get the chance to play a solo. Some texts are recited, that Zappa found amusing, like a letter in a magazine about the piercing of genitals.
|Everything is healing nicely|
|- This is a test||1)|
|- Roland's big event/Strat Vindaloo, section||KS|
|- T'Mershi Duween (1991)||2)|
|- 9/8 Objects||1)|
2) See 52) and transcribed bars from the 1991 version in this study.
70) ZFT: FZ:OZ, 2002
At the beginning of 1976 Zappa was touring with a five member band, the smallest number he would tour with. Relatively little had been released before with this band, being two songs on YCDTOSA and "Black napkins" on "Zoot allures". The band played in Australia for the second time and visited Japan just this one tour. "Black napkins" and the "Zoot allures" version from 69) are from Japan concerts. This CD is an entire two hours show from Sydney, Australia, and a welcome one. Because of the smaller band the sound changes and Zappa is doing a lot more of guitar playing than usual.
|- Kaiser rolls, theme||KS|
|- Keep it greasy (1976), section||KS|
71) ZFT: HALLOWEEN, 2003
In 1978 Zappa was without a record contract and couldn't release any material himself. This ZFT audio DVD fills in this year with a selection from the four concerts around Halloween, held at the New York Palladium. It's the third year in a row with a Halloween concert well documented, "Zappa in New York" and "Baby snakes" are its predecessors. This DVD contains for instance the solo "Ancient armaments", that was used as the B-side for the "I don't wanna get drafted" single, and a 17 minutes medley of "Black napkins" and "The deathless horsie". All composed music is known and not much different from previous releases, so it's mostly the solos that make this DVD worthwhile.
|- Ancient armaments, opening||KS|
|- Stinkfoot (1978), opening bars||KS|
g) ENSEMBLE MODERN: GREGGERY PECCARY & OTHER PERSUASIONS, 2003
This is the third CD with the Ensemble Modern playing Zappa's music. Most pieces are known compositions, arranged by Ali Askin and Todd Yvega for the Ensemble. "What will Rumi do?" is a nice unreleased piece from the 1991 sessions. The CD contains nine instrumentals followed by "Greggery Peccary". Two synclavier pieces from "Jazz from hell" are included, that are fit for "normal" human performance. The Ensemble however also had the audacity to bite into synclavier pieces, that Zappa never intended for human playing. So "Put a motor in yourself" and "A pig with wings" are on their repertoire as well.
|Greggery Peccary & other persuasions|
|- What will Rumi do?||BS|
72) ZFT: QUAUDIOPHILIAC, 2004
Various pieces from the seventies in surround audio on audio DVD (4 channel recordings by FZ). It's half known tracks mixed in surround sound, half unreleased music. The latter makes the DVD of interest also when you don't have four channel equipment. The oldest is a "Chunga's revenge" jam from 1970. The "basement music #2" is included, complementary to "#1" on "The lost episodes". Zappa used a section of it as background music in the "Baby snakes" film. The sound of these two synthesizer pieces is an oddity in Zappa's oeuvre. Quite interesting to hear Zappa taking such a side step.
|- Rollo (1975), opening||KS|
|- Chunga's basement, opening||KS|
|- Basement music #2, frame of the opening||KS|
73) ZFT: JOE'S CORSAGE, 2004
With the Joe-series the ZFT began a number of archive releases, that fill in the Zappa history rather than that they offer new musical angles. Their appearance as normal music CDs is somewhat misleading and has caused irritations among fans. But one can always look up what's on them and if you don't like it, then don't buy it. In this case "Joe's corsage" fills in the year 1965. Recordings with the Mothers prior to the "Freak out!" sessions are rare. 1965 was described by Zappa himself as a year of poverty. The band played his music on stage, but had to keep doing covers as well in order to survive. This 35 minutes CD contains seven demo songs from 1965, that were used for obtaining a record contract. They are played straight ahead without overdubs, and otherwise don't differ much from their first releases on "Freak out" and later albums. A few live recordings have remained (three cover songs are included), but they are of a very poor sound quality.
74) ZFT: JOE'S DOMAGE, 2004
A rehearsal session from 1972, taken over from an ordinary cassette tape. The sound is dim, but listenable. The band is here rehearsing the material that would land on "Waka/Jawaka" and "The grand wazoo" with Zappa instructing things with his guitar on his lap. At the time he wasn't specifically thinking about two individual albums and the songs would get extended along the way. "Big swifty" for instance wasn't big at all from the start, but a second theme for "New brown clouds". The solos and the outchorus would all be added later on. There is one unreleased theme on this CD, played as a demo on guitar, and "The grand wazoo" theme with lyrics is a novelty ("Think it over").
|- Frog song (One shot deal), fragment||KS|
|- Think it over, opening||KS|
|- Another whole melodic section, section||KS|
75) ZFT: JOE'S XMASAGE, 2005
After the raid into Studio Z, 1965, much of Zappa's tapes got confiscated. If he would have had the chance to release the takes he got busted for, he undoubtedly would have done that. The better parts from the Pal records-Studio Z period have appeared on "Cucamonga years", "The lost episodes" and "The mystery disc". The ZFT is here releasing some more from these tapes, depicting life at Studio Z. The music included in this CD is little: two studio jams, one of the singles and two short collages of the Mount St. Mary type. The remainder is mostly conversations.
|- Why dont'cha do me right (Cucamonga), section||KS|
|- GTR Trio, opening||KS|
76) ZFT: IMAGINARY DISEASES, 2006
Concert recordings by the 1972 "Petit Wazoo" band, that for some reason never got released during Zappa's lifetime. They are much enjoyable anyway. In 1972 all on this CD was unreleased music. Various material got released in different forms later on, but the jazz band versions here sound different. There is much soloing on this CD, specifically Zappa himself on guitar. He worked on the material himself in the mid-seventies. A second one with material from the preceding "Grand wazoo" band got released in 2007.
|- Farther O'blivion, Cucamonga and Greggery sections||KS|
|- D.C. boogie, section||KS|
|- Imaginary diseases, sections||KS|
77-78) ZFT: MOFO, 2006
Audio documentary about the making of "Freak out!", available as a two and a four CD set (not entirely overlapping). It's made up of alternative mixes and outtakes from the "Freak out!" sessions. This one includes the 1966 original album mix as CD 1 as opposed to the 1987 remix Zappa did for the CD release. The difference is notable, but not dramatic. It's mostly the degree the rhythm guitar is present. It has an old fashioned echo for today's standards, though it makes the sound sharper. More something for original Mothers worshippers. The outtakes on CD 2 are some leftover material and tracks split into basic tracks and overdub tracks. In the case of "I ain't got no heart" and "You didn't try to call me", these two stand as instrumentals as well. The four CD version is only available at www.zappa.com and offers more of the same plus interview excerpts. For have it all collectors the extras are: one unreleased song, some 1966 concert recordings (which are rare) and one edit from the Mothermania compilation (at that point unavailable in CD format).
79) TRANCE-FUSION, 2006
A third guitar solo CD, finished by Zappa himself in 1993 at the time he knew the end was near. Nine of the sixteen solos are from the last 1988 tour, the other seven were recorded between 1977 and 1984. The existence of this collection was known among fans from the beginning. Why its release got postponed for so long is unclear. Zappa still had his selective powers full at work. The CD offers another quality selection of his guitar playing on stage. Dweezil contributes again as he had done before on "Them or us".
|- Chunga's revenge, theme||See 11)|
|- Bowling at Charen, sections||KS|
|- Ask dr. Stupid, opening||KS|
|- Trance-fusion, opening||KS|
|- Diplodocus, intro||KS|
|- Soul polka, section||KS|
|- For Giuseppe Franco, section||KS|
|- Light is all that matters, opening||KS|
|- Bavarian sunrise, fragment||KS|
h) ZFT: AAAFNRAA, 2006
A collection of 11 songs by Zappa and his four children, downloadable via iTunes. Of the five tracks by Frank Zappa himself, four are live versions from various dates, one is a remix.
80) ZFT: BUFFALO, 2007
Double CD featuring the 1980 Buffalo concert. In 1980 Zappa was in doubt about how the release the material in stock and considered a triple album ("Warts and all") as well as a single album ("Crush all boxes"). It became albums 30) through 34) and with this release added you can sort of say that a multirecord quantity is available. The Buffalo concert is excellent in presenting the various live variants the band played in 1980, as for instance the "Honey, don't you want a man like me?" version presented in this study. The only disadvantage is the sound quality, that for some reason is behind Zappa's own production standard as on 30).
|- Honey, don't you want a man like me?, opening (1980)||KS|
|- Pick me, I'm clean, section||KS|
|- The torture never stops (1980), sections||KS|
81) THE DUB ROOM SPECIAL, 2007
Zappa compiled The dub room special as a video in 1982 from two TV specials. One was the 1974 KCET studios concert, that eventually went unbroadcasted. The other was the MTV "You are what you is" special featuring the 1981 Halloween concert in New York. He considered for a moment a soundtrack album as he had done for "Baby snakes" in 1983. The dub room special saw the light in 1987 on the video market, re-released in 2006 on DVD by the ZFT. A CD was announced, and now available. Since it's all officially released material from 1987 in another format, it can be seen as a CD by Zappa himself. On it are good alternative versions of 11 known songs, not entirely overlapping with the DVD, that presents more from the MTV concert.
|The dub room special|
|- Stevie's spanking, opening bars||KS|
|- Dog breath variations (1974)||See 62)/KS|
82) ZFT: WAZOO, 2007
In September 1972 Zappa went on the road with a 20-piece jazz band for eight concerts. The double CD "Wazoo" presents the last concert held in Boston. A circular with Zappa presenting and describing the setlist is included. On the 90 minutes CD are seven of the 10 pieces of the tour. The differences with earlier releases lie in the big band arrangements, changing the sound and harmonies for the written out sections and allowing all members to play solos in turns.
The circular has an image of the title page of the scores-set all players obtained. At his house the closets must be full of such mostly handwritten scores, that only rarely got published in that form. In the case of the Wazoo program, several scores are now available for orchestras, of the others sections can be found in Ludwig's and my study (see the albums of first release).
|- Greggery Peccary mvt. I interlude, fragment||KS|
|- Variant I processional march, opening||KS|
83) ZFT: ONE SHOT DEAL, 2008
A smaller 50 minutes cross section from the live archive, over 10 minutes already known in DVD format. The accent lies on soloing and an early Yellow snow suite. The better new tracks are the original full length live guitar solo, that was superimposed on a new background on Joe's garage, and a variant upon "Yo' mama" called "Heidelberg". The latter was first released by Zappa himself on a promotional cassette called "The guitar world according to Frank Zappa", of which all titles are now available on CD. Regarding its dramatic expression this "Heidelberg" solo is a true competitor for "Yo'mama".
|One shot deal|
|- Occam's razor, section||KS|
|- Heidelberg, section||KS|
84) ZFT: JOE'S MENAGE, 2008
The fourth release in a series of oddities. This one is a cassette tape recording of a 1975 concert, when Norma Jean Bell played sax with the Mothers for a while. The sound quality is less, though acceptable. Otherwise it's a fair concert recording, including the first versions of "Honey, don't you want a man like me" and "The Illinois enema bandit". Norma sings a little and plays a sax solo during "Chunga's revenge" with Zappa on rhythm guitar and taking up this kind of playing into his own solo.
|- Chunga's revenge, rhythm guitar solo, section||KS|
i) ZFT: AAAFNRAAA, 2008
The same idea as for h).
j) AMAZON.COM/I-TUNES: BEAT THE BOOTS, VOL. III, 2009
Around 2008 Gail Zappa talked about her idea of releasing a third volume of the Beat the boot series. From January 2009 onwards six new volumes can be downloaded as mp3 files at amazon.com and i-tunes. Though the ZFT spent not a single word on promoting its release, it is generally assumed that this is a collaboration between the ZFT and these internet distributors. Seen the status of these companies and the fact that they are reusing the same logo, it has to be. Regarding its content this set is of importance. It gives the earlier bootleg releases of the "I was a teenage maltshop" demo, "Twinkle tits" and the orchestral version of "Sinister footwear" a legal status. Though far from ideal, it's better than nothing.
|Beat the boots, vol. III|
|- Twinkle tits, section||KS|
|- Sinister footwear I-III, orchestra score||BS|
85) ZFT: LUMPY MONEY, 2009
An archive release with two different versions/mixes of both "Lumpy gravy" and "We're only in it for the money". Included is the earlier Capitol version of "Lumpy gravy" and some unused tracks from the corresponding sessions. Among them a 25 minutes collage of some written out material and various jazz improvisations. The 1984 version of "We're only in it for the money" gets a rebirth. Though most fans hate this one, it is official FZ material.
|- Foamy soaky, section||KS|
|- Unit 3a, sections||KS|
|- Unit 9, opening bars||KS|
|- Theme from Lumpy gravy/Duodenum, sections||KS|
86) ZFT: PHILLY '76, 2009
A complete concert from the fall tour of 1976, preceding the "Zappa in New York" gigs with an augmented band. In this specific line-up the band was mainly known via the "Conceptual continuity" bootleg. Distinctive for this release is the presence of Bianca Odin as a vocalist. The ZFT invited her to write the liner notes. She would stay in the band for some weeks. Her rendition of "You didn't try to call me" stresses that Zappa could write sentimental love songs if he wanted to.
|- City of tiny lights, opening||KS|
|- Rudy wants to buy yez a drink, section||KS|
87) GREASY LOVE SONGS, 2010
This is the original vinyl version of 5), re-released by the ZFT. 5) today has a newly recorded bass and drum part. When you're looking for "cretinous simplicity", as Zappa described it, the original version comes out more outspoken in line with its intentions. Especially the drum part from 1968 with its simple beat, ticking with a little echo, had a mechanical repetitiveness, achieved by a tape loop. A few extras are included, like a Cucamonga recording of "Love of my life" and a longer version of "Stuff up the cracks".
|Greasy love songs|
|- "No, no, no", opening (1968 version)||KS|
|- Stuff up the cracks, section (1968 version)||KS|
88) ZFT: CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW, 2010
Zappa's testimony before the Senate's committee from 1985 plus various interview excerpts and some snippets of synclavier music (two or three minutes in total).
89) ZFT: HAMMERSMITH ODEON, 2010
A three CD set taken from the concerts Zappa gave at the Hammersmith Odeon, February and March 1978. It gives you a chance to listen to many "Sheik Yerbouti" tracks without the overdubs. It's less edited but worth to have been released. The versions can be different and the idea of being present at a live concert comes out better. The packaging is cute, referring to what would have been Zappa's 70th birthday. With "Zappa in New York" still unreleased, the bulk of the repertoire was still new for the audience. Maybe for that reason Zappa kept relying upon the "Dinah-Moe Humm - Camarillo brillo - Muffin man" finale for so long.
|- I have been in you, opening bars||KS|
|- Flakes (1978), fragment||KS|
|- Dong work for Yuda, end||KS|
|- King Kong (1978), section||KS|
|- Watermelon in Easter hay (prequel), section||KS|
k) ZFT: AAAFNRAAAA, 2010
The same idea as for h).
l) ZFT: PENGUIN IN BONDAGE, 2011
A Penguin in bondage execution from 1974 plus interviews. Downloadable via i-tunes.
90) ZFT: FEEDING THE MONKEYS AT MA MAISON, 2011
A mastertape from 1986 with the title in Zappa's handwriting on it. It contains three larger synclavier works of the collage type. The title track is entirely new. The other two tracks would eventually be first released on "Civilization phaze III" in much shorter edits. As an extra to this mastertape, two more synclavier works from this period are included.
|Feeding the monkeys at ma maison|
|- Samba funk||BS/*)|
91) ZFT: CARNEGIE HALL, 2011
This CD does exactly what it says it will do: give you the opportunity to ear-witness most of the two concerts Zappa gave at Carnegie Hall in 1971. A 1971/2011 ticket is included for fun. Recording conditions weren't ideal in this period (this one is in mono), something you have to accept for lack of alternatives. The 1971 tour is now heavily documented since there were already Zappa's own three live releases available, a couple of tracks on YCDTOSA and the "Fire!/Montreux" bootleg from the "Beat the boots" series. Still this massive release offers enough to make its addition worthwhile.
|- Brain police (1971), theme||KS|
m) ZFT: AAAFNRAAAAAM, 2011
The same idea as for h).
92) ZFT: ROAD TAPES, VENUE #1, 2012
A live double CD with a 1968 concert, Vancouver, Canada, on it. This CD gets announced as venue #1 of an upcoming series of concerts where recording conditions were poor, semi-bootleg as Zappa himself wrote himself in the YCDTOSA booklets, and mostly excluded from his own releases.
|Road tapes, venue #1|
|- Oh, in the sky, themes||KS|
93) ZFT: UNDERSTANDING AMERICA, 2012
In 2012 the ZFT bought the rights back from Rykodisc, re-releasing Zappa's entire catalogue anew. Along with it the Rykodisc compilations CDs, like "Strictly commercial", are no longer available and the ZFT now includes this double CD compilation in their catalogue.
94) ZFT: FINER MOMENTS, 2012
A selection of solos from songs the Mothers of Invention used to play live in 1969 and 1971, combined with some experimental studio improvisations.
|- Uncle rhebus, sections||KS|
|- The subcutaneous peril, sections||KS|
95) BABY SNAKES: THE COMPLETE SOUNDTRACK, 2012.
See the DVD section. The soundtrack has been made downloadable via iTunes.
96) ZFT: ROAD TAPES, VENUE #2, 2014
The second release from a series of "guerilla recordings". The sound quality is indeed less, but acceptable. This one is from the Helsinki concerts from 1973, with Ian Underwood and Jean-Luc Ponty still in the "Roxy" band. We already knew this band from the "Piquantique" bootleg. Here the track list is much bigger, mape up from the three gigs the band played at the Finlandia hall during this leg of the 1973 tour. As usual there are a few unreleased songs, version differences and many differences in the way the improvised sections get dealt with.
|Road tapes, venue #2|
|- Pojama prelude, section||KS|
|- All skate, sections||KS|
|- Village of the sun (1973), opening||KS|
97) A TOKEN OF HIS EXTREME, 2014
This is the KCET TV special in full, first on released on DVD and next on CD as the soundtrack of the DVD. Half of it was used for the earlier Dub room special DVD/CD. Zappa got it broadcast in two European countries, thus this is official material by Zappa himself.
|A token of his extreme|
|- Pygmy twylyte, solo opening||KS|
98) ZFT: JOE'S CAMOUFLAGE, 2014.
The fourth archive release from the Joe's series. This is a rehearsals recording from 1975 with a 7-member band, that eventually never actually performed. It's interesting material, though only a demo. The two unreleased musical tracks are fine. The version differences between some other tracks in their very first stage and their actual releases on album are notable.
|- Phyniox (take 1), sections||KS|
|- Reeny ra, sections||KS|
|- Any downers, outro||KS|
|- Phyniox (take 2), fragment||KS|
99) ZFT: ROXY BY PROXY, 2014.
A CD with material from the three Roxy concerts from 1973, not released on Roxy and elsewhere. In the liner notes Ruth Underwood expresses what goes for most posthumous releases. They are not as good as original Zappa CDs, but they can be nice material to listen to nevertheless.
|Roxy by proxy|
|- Inca roads (1973), sections||KS|
100) DANCE ME THIS, 2015.
One of the last projects Zappa completed before his death. It looked for long that its release got postponed indefinitely, but when the number 100 got near in the official CD catalogue, the ZFT thought this might be a reason to bring it to the market in 2015. The album knows contributions by Tuvan throat singers and one cooperation with Todd Yvega. Next to synclavier music via note or keyboard entries, this CD contains a large collage piece, called Wolf Harbor, 28 minutes in total. Listening to it is made easier by splitting it up into five movements, so you can select the number of movements you would like to hear at once.
|Dance me this|
|- Dance me this, sections||KS|
|- Pachuco gavotte, section||KS|
|- Rykoniki, end||KS|
|- Calculus, opening||KS|
101) 200 MOTELS - THE SUITES, 2015.
This is the version of 200 Motels Zappa had in mind for the 1971 Albert Hall concert. It's the orchestral and choral material from the 1971 album with half an hour extra music that didn't make it to the album. It got premiered in 2000 during the Holland Festval. This is a live recording with the L.A. Philharmonic from 2013. The new music and the much better sound quality make this release a major contribution to the Zappa catalogue. The scores are listed above at the 1971 album, also the ones that you can only hear on The suites.
102) ZFT: ROXY, THE MOVIE, 2015.
The DVD release of Roxy, the movie, got accompanied by a soundtrack in CD format as well. See the DVDs section.
103) ZFT: ROAD TAPES, VENUE #3, 2016.
Two totally different seperate CDs at first carried the mark "release number 102", while Roxy, the movie, had no CD numbering at all. This situation has been resolved on the ZFT site with a re-numbering of these CDs, that I'm following here. Road tapes, venue #3, covers the 1970 tour, filling in a conspicuous gap.
104) ZFT: THE CRUX OF THE BISCUIT, 2016.
A series of alternative recordings for Apostrophe ('). See CD 18) for the scores.
|The crux of the biscuit|
|- Don't eat the yellow snow (live), opening||KS|
105) ZFT: FRANK ZAPPA FOR PRESIDENT, 2016.
An important release as it comes to new titles. The "Overture to Uncle Sam" sounds as a finished synclavier work for a CD that couldn't be completed anymore.
|Frank Zappa for president|
|- Overture to Uncle Sam||*)|
|- Amnerika, opening bars||KS|
106) ZFT: ZAPPATITE, 2016.
Following upon 93), a single CD compilation issue.
107) ZFT: MEAT LIGHT, 2016.
The 1969 vinyl mix of Uncle Meat, plus a series of different edits.
108) ZFT: CHICAGO '78, 2016.
A full concert from the fall tour of 1978, with Ike Willis in the band for the first time.
|- Paroxysmal splendor, sections||KS|
109) ZFT: LITTLE DOTS, 2016.
A sequel to 76), again with interesting material from the 1972 tour.
|- Little dots #1, fragment||KS/*)|
|- Little dots #2, fragment||KS|
Some music that Zappa scored out has not yet appeared on record in full. There are also a few examples of Zappa contributing a song to an album by somebody else, like "No more Mr. nice girl" for Shankar's "Touch me there".
|- String quartet/quintet (None of the above)||1)|
|- Wind quintet/sextet (Times Beach I-V)||2)|
|- Number 6||BS|
|- Number 7||BS|
|- Opus 5||3)|
|- Guitar waltz||4)|
|- Mo' mama||GB|
|- If only I could be your love again, section, from For Real!||KS|
|- No more Mr. nice girl (Shankar/Zappa), sections, from Touch me there||KS|
|- Improvisation in A, opening, from Adieu CA||KS|
|- The (unanswered) cluster, 1a||4)|
2) Score handed over to the Aspen Wind Quintet and the Ensemble Modern.
3) Played by the Pamona Symphony Orchestra in 1963. A transcribed section from the piano part is included in this study.
4) Printed in the Zappa! special issue of Guitar player.