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Frank Zappa|Chicago '78 (Live In Chicago, 1978)

Chicago '78 (Live In Chicago, 1978)

Frank Zappa

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Though it offers virtuoso curiosities in all shapes and sizes, the Frank Zappa discography is strangely lacking in one area—releases containing full beginning-to-end live performances. Roxy & Elsewhere, arguably one of Zappa's most thrilling live albums, contains tracks from other shows as well as material that was later augmented with studio overdubs; in 2018, the Zappa Estate released the live recordings of the entire 1974 run at LA's Roxy Theatre, sans the appended embellishments, as The Roxy Performances. The six-volume series You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore finds Zappa cherry-picking highlight-reel live material without respect to chronology—essentially assembling dream setlists across years and lineup changes. (Culled from an extensive database of live shows, these reveal Zappa as a discerning editor/curator of his own work, and at the same time, show how his bands maintained a remarkable level of precision—and spontaneous invention—across decades of touring.) Still, there's something nice about hearing a full show, as it happened, in an acoustically balanced hall in front of an engaged crowd. Chicago '78, which captures the late show on September 29, 1978, at the Uptown Theatre, offers that exact experience. It's got a few warts, and some less-than-perfect transitions (particularly during the delightfully unhinged and orchestrally intricate suites "Little House I Used to Live In" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow").

Zappa was concerned with developments in popular culture in 1978; among the highlights is a radioplay-style satire of disco culture, "Dancin' Fool," he premiered the year before, and the prescient commentary on religious fundamentalism, "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing." Alongside those broadsides are intense, mind-bendingly unified moments of ensemble interplay, as well as disarmingly lyrical Zappa guitar improvisations. These alone are reason enough to immerse in this performance: The next time you need to win an argument about Zappa's contribution to the rock-guitar-solo canon, cue up the instrumental "Twenty-One" that opens the show. It's a journey into oddly shaped melodies and the ways a master uses motific development to make them sing. If that doesn't work, try "Black Napkins," the closer. It's whiplash via six strings and propulsive polyrhythm from ever-energetic drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, a guns-blazing "thank you good night" assault that travels to blinding technical extremes yet is never merely technical. Zappa had to end here: After it, there is literally nothing left to say. © Tom Moon/Qobuz

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Chicago '78 (Live In Chicago, 1978)

Frank Zappa

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1
Chicago Walk-On (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:01:19

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

2
Twenty-One (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:08:26

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

3
Dancin' Fool (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:03:29

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

4
Easy Meat (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:05:41

Frank Zappa, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

5
Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me? (Live In Chicago, 1978) Explicit
00:04:21

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

6
Keep It Greasy (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:03:41

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

7
Village Of The Sun (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:09:15

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

8
The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing (Live In Chicago, 1978) Explicit
00:03:29

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

9
Bamboozled By Love (Live In Chicago, 1978) Explicit
00:08:32

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

10
Sy Borg (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:04:27

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

11
Little House I Used To Live In (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:09:37

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

12
Paroxysmal Splendor (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:07:14

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

13
Yo Mama (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:12:27

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

14
Magic Fingers (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:02:37

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

15
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:18:36

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

16
Strictly Genteel (Live In Chicago, 1978) Explicit
00:08:25

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

17
Black Napkins (Live In Chicago, 1978)
00:08:00

Frank Zappa, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Joe Travers, Producer - Gail Zappa, Producer

℗ 2016 Zappa Family Trust

Album Description

Though it offers virtuoso curiosities in all shapes and sizes, the Frank Zappa discography is strangely lacking in one area—releases containing full beginning-to-end live performances. Roxy & Elsewhere, arguably one of Zappa's most thrilling live albums, contains tracks from other shows as well as material that was later augmented with studio overdubs; in 2018, the Zappa Estate released the live recordings of the entire 1974 run at LA's Roxy Theatre, sans the appended embellishments, as The Roxy Performances. The six-volume series You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore finds Zappa cherry-picking highlight-reel live material without respect to chronology—essentially assembling dream setlists across years and lineup changes. (Culled from an extensive database of live shows, these reveal Zappa as a discerning editor/curator of his own work, and at the same time, show how his bands maintained a remarkable level of precision—and spontaneous invention—across decades of touring.) Still, there's something nice about hearing a full show, as it happened, in an acoustically balanced hall in front of an engaged crowd. Chicago '78, which captures the late show on September 29, 1978, at the Uptown Theatre, offers that exact experience. It's got a few warts, and some less-than-perfect transitions (particularly during the delightfully unhinged and orchestrally intricate suites "Little House I Used to Live In" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow").

Zappa was concerned with developments in popular culture in 1978; among the highlights is a radioplay-style satire of disco culture, "Dancin' Fool," he premiered the year before, and the prescient commentary on religious fundamentalism, "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing." Alongside those broadsides are intense, mind-bendingly unified moments of ensemble interplay, as well as disarmingly lyrical Zappa guitar improvisations. These alone are reason enough to immerse in this performance: The next time you need to win an argument about Zappa's contribution to the rock-guitar-solo canon, cue up the instrumental "Twenty-One" that opens the show. It's a journey into oddly shaped melodies and the ways a master uses motific development to make them sing. If that doesn't work, try "Black Napkins," the closer. It's whiplash via six strings and propulsive polyrhythm from ever-energetic drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, a guns-blazing "thank you good night" assault that travels to blinding technical extremes yet is never merely technical. Zappa had to end here: After it, there is literally nothing left to say. © Tom Moon/Qobuz

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