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Rock - Released March 3, 1978 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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Zappa in New York was recorded in December 1976 at the Palladium and originally intended for release in 1977. It was held up due to arguments between Frank Zappa and his then-record label, Warner Bros. When the two-LP set finally appeared in March 1978, Warner had deleted "Punky's Whips," a song about drummer Terry Bozzio's attraction to Punky Meadows of Angel. The Zappa band, which includes bassist Patrick O'Hearn, percussionist Ruth Underwood, and keyboard player Eddie Jobson, along with a horn section including the two Brecker brothers, was one of the bandleader's most accomplished, which it had to be to play songs like "Black Page," even in the "easy" version presented here. Zappa also was at the height of his comic stagecraft, notably on songs like "Titties & Beer," which is essentially a comedy routine between Zappa and Bozzio, and "The Illinois Enema Bandit," which features TV announcer Don Pardo. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 4, 1979 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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The material on this album originally was intended to be part of a four-record set called Läther, prepared for release in 1977. Then Frank Zappa got into a disagreement with his record company, Warner Bros., and Läther was split up into several different releases as part of a contractual agreement. The results were dumped on the market during 1978 and 1979, while Zappa moved on to his own record label. Orchestral Favorites consists of material recorded on September 17 and 18, 1975, with a 37-piece orchestra, and includes such familiar Zappa themes as "Duke of Prunes" (from Absolutely Free) and "Strictly Genteel" (from 200 Motels); "Bogus Pomp" also consisted largely of 200 Motels music. The themes are melodic and often majestic, with various startling juxtapositions and changes. This was the first release of Zappa orchestral material since Lumpy Gravy and a precursor of things to come. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 18, 2016 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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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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Rock - Released October 10, 1969 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Aside from the experimental side project Lumpy Gravy, Hot Rats was the first album Frank Zappa recorded as a solo artist sans the Mothers, though he continued to employ previous musical collaborators, most notably multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. Other than another side project -- the doo wop tribute Cruising With Ruben and the Jets -- Hot Rats was also the first time Zappa focused his efforts in one general area, namely jazz-rock. The result is a classic of the genre. Hot Rats' genius lies in the way it fuses the compositional sophistication of jazz with rock's down-and-dirty attitude -- there's a real looseness and grit to the three lengthy jams, and a surprising, wry elegance to the three shorter, tightly arranged numbers (particularly the sumptuous "Peaches en Regalia"). Perhaps the biggest revelation isn't the straightforward presentation, or the intricately shifting instrumental voices in Zappa's arrangements -- it's his own virtuosity on the electric guitar, recorded during extended improvisational workouts for the first time here. His wonderfully scuzzy, distorted tone is an especially good fit on "Willie the Pimp," with its greasy blues riffs and guest vocalist Captain Beefheart's Howlin' Wolf theatrics. Elsewhere, his skill as a melodist was in full flower, whether dominating an entire piece or providing a memorable theme as a jumping-off point. In addition to Underwood, the backing band featured contributions from Jean-Luc Ponty, Lowell George, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris, among others; still, Zappa is unquestionably the star of the show. Hot Rats still sizzles; few albums originating on the rock side of jazz-rock fusion flowed so freely between both sides of the equation, or achieved such unwavering excitement and energy. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 19, 1979 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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The material on this album was originally was intended to be part of a four-record set called Läther, prepared for release in 1977. Then Frank Zappa got into a disagreement with his record company, Warner Bros., and Läther was split up into several different releases as part of a contractual agreement. The results were dumped on the market in 1978 and 1979, while Zappa moved on to his own record label. Sleep Dirt consists of miscellaneous tracks recorded between 1974 and 1976, including "Flambay," "Spider of Destiny," and "Time Is Money," songs that wre apparently part of an unissued Zappa musical/rock opera from 1972 called Hunchentoot. They are sung by soprano Thana Harris. It's impossible to say what the entire work would have been like, but this album is little more than musical fragments. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 10, 1969 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Hi-Res Booklet
Aside from the experimental side project Lumpy Gravy, Hot Rats was the first album Frank Zappa recorded as a solo artist sans the Mothers, though he continued to employ previous musical collaborators, most notably multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. Other than another side project -- the doo wop tribute Cruising With Ruben and the Jets -- Hot Rats was also the first time Zappa focused his efforts in one general area, namely jazz-rock. The result is a classic of the genre. Hot Rats' genius lies in the way it fuses the compositional sophistication of jazz with rock's down-and-dirty attitude -- there's a real looseness and grit to the three lengthy jams, and a surprising, wry elegance to the three shorter, tightly arranged numbers (particularly the sumptuous "Peaches en Regalia"). Perhaps the biggest revelation isn't the straightforward presentation, or the intricately shifting instrumental voices in Zappa's arrangements -- it's his own virtuosity on the electric guitar, recorded during extended improvisational workouts for the first time here. His wonderfully scuzzy, distorted tone is an especially good fit on "Willie the Pimp," with its greasy blues riffs and guest vocalist Captain Beefheart's Howlin' Wolf theatrics. Elsewhere, his skill as a melodist was in full flower, whether dominating an entire piece or providing a memorable theme as a jumping-off point. In addition to Underwood, the backing band featured contributions from Jean-Luc Ponty, Lowell George, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris, among others; still, Zappa is unquestionably the star of the show. Hot Rats still sizzles; few albums originating on the rock side of jazz-rock fusion flowed so freely between both sides of the equation, or achieved such unwavering excitement and energy. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 15, 1978 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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Rock - Released June 25, 1975 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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Released soon after the live Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All contained more of the material premiered during the 1973-1974 tour, but this time largely re-recorded in the studio. The band remains the same: George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler, and Ruth Underwood. Johnny "Guitar" Watson overdubbed some vocals and Captain Beefheart (credited as Bloodshot Rollin' Red) played some harmonica ("when present," state the liner notes). The previous album focused on complex music suites. This one is more song-oriented, alternating goofy rock songs with more challenging numbers in an attempt to find a juste milieu between Over-Nite Sensation and Roxy & Elsewhere. "Inca Roads," "Florentine Pogen," "Andy," and "Sofa" all became classic tracks and live favorites. These are as close to progressive rock (a demented, clownish kind) Zappa ever got. The obscurity of their subjects, especially the flying saucer topic of "Inca Roads," seem to spoof prog rock clichés. The high-flying compositions are offset by "Can't Afford No Shoes," "Po-Jama People," and "San Ber'dino," more down-to-earth songs. Together with Zoot Allures, One Size Fits All can be considered as one of the easiest points of entry into Zappa's discography. The album artwork features a big maroon sofa, a conceptual continuity clue arching back to a then-undocumented live suite (from which "Sofa" was salvaged) and a sky map with dozens of bogus stars and constellations labeled with inside jokes in place of names. An essential third-period Zappa album. © François Couture /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 1, 1973 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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Love it or hate it, Over-Nite Sensation was a watershed album for Frank Zappa, the point where his post-'60s aesthetic was truly established; it became his second gold album, and most of these songs became staples of his live shows for years to come. Whereas the Flo and Eddie years were dominated by rambling, off-color comedy routines, Over-Nite Sensation tightened up the song structures and tucked sexual and social humor into melodic, technically accomplished heavy guitar rock with jazzy chord changes and funky rhythms; meanwhile, Zappa's growling new post-accident voice takes over the storytelling. While the music is some of Zappa's most accessible, the apparent callousness and/or stunning sexual explicitness of "Camarillo Brillo," "Dirty Love," and especially "Dinah-Moe Humm" leave him on shaky aesthetic ground. Zappa often protested that the charges of misogyny leveled at such material missed out on the implicit satire of male stupidity, and also confirmed intellectuals' self-conscious reticence about indulging in dumb fun; however, the glee in his voice as he spins his adolescent fantasies can undermine his point. Indeed, that enjoyment, also evident in the silly wordplay, suggests that Zappa is throwing his juvenile crassness in the face of critical expectation, asserting his right to follow his muse even if it leads him into blatant stupidity (ironic or otherwise). One can read this motif into the absurd shaggy-dog story of a dental floss rancher in "Montana," the album's indisputable highlight, which features amazing, uncredited vocal backing from Tina Turner and the Ikettes. As with much of Zappa's best '70s and '80s material, Over-Nite Sensation could be perceived as ideologically problematic (if you haven't got the constitution for FZ's humor), but musically, it's terrific. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 1, 1973 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Like its immediate predecessor, Waka/Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo was a largely instrumental jazz rock album recorded during Frank Zappa's convalescence from injuries sustained after being pushed off a concert stage. While Zappa contributes some guitar solos and occasional vocals, the focus is more on his skills as a composer and arranger. Most of the five selections supposedly form a musical representation of a story told in the liner notes about two warring musical factions, but the bottom line is that, overall, the compositions here are more memorably melodic and consistently engaging than Waka/Jawaka. The instrumentation is somewhat unique in the Zappa catalog as well, with the band more of a chamber jazz orchestra than a compact rock unit; over 20 musicians and vocalists contribute to the record. While Hot Rats is still the peak of Zappa's jazz-rock fusion efforts, The Grand Wazoo comes close, and it's essential for anyone interested in Zappa's instrumental works. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 3, 1978 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
Zappa in New York was recorded in December 1976 at the Palladium and originally intended for release in 1977. It was held up due to arguments between Frank Zappa and his then-record label, Warner Bros. When the two-LP set finally appeared in March 1978, Warner had deleted "Punky's Whips," a song about drummer Terry Bozzio's attraction to Punky Meadows of Angel. The Zappa band, which includes bassist Patrick O'Hearn, percussionist Ruth Underwood, and keyboard player Eddie Jobson, along with a horn section including the two Brecker brothers, was one of the bandleader's most accomplished, which it had to be to play songs like "Black Page," even in the "easy" version presented here. Zappa also was at the height of his comic stagecraft, notably on songs like "Titties & Beer," which is essentially a comedy routine between Zappa and Bozzio, and "The Illinois Enema Bandit," which features TV announcer Don Pardo. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 2, 1993 | Frank Zappa Catalog

During his last years, Frank Zappa concentrated on his "serious music," trying to impose himself as a composer and relegating the rock personality to the closet. His last two completed projects topped everything he had done before in this particular field. The Yellow Shark, an album of orchestral music, was released only a few weeks before he succumbed to cancer (the computer music/sound collage album Civilization Phaze III was released 14 months later). This CD, named for a plexiglas fish given to Zappa in 1988, culls live recordings from the Ensemble Modern's 1992 program of the composer's music. The range of pieces goes from string quartets ("None of the Above") to ensemble works, from very challenging contemporary classical to old Zappa favorites. The latter category includes a medley of "Dog Breath Variations" and "Uncle Meat," "Pound for a Brown," "Be-Bop Tango," and the Synclavier compositions "The Girl in the Magnesium Dress" and "G-Spot Tornado" transcribed for orchestra. Being more familiar, these bring a lighter touch, but the real interest of the CD resides in the premiere recordings. "Outrage at Valdez," the piano duet "Ruth Is Sleeping," and "Food Gathering in Post-Industrial America, 1992" are all the gripping works of a mature composer, strongly influenced by Varèse and Stravinsky but overwhelmed by them. But the crowning achievement is "Welcome to the United States," a more freeform piece based on the U.S. visa form. Zappa shined when ridiculing stupidity. The average fan of the man's rock music will most probably feel lost in The Yellow Shark, but for those with interests in his serious music it is an essential item, more so than the London Symphony Orchestra and Orchestral Favorites albums. © François Couture /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 25, 1975 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Released soon after the live Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All contained more of the material premiered during the 1973-1974 tour, but this time largely re-recorded in the studio. The band remains the same: George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler, and Ruth Underwood. Johnny "Guitar" Watson overdubbed some vocals and Captain Beefheart (credited as Bloodshot Rollin' Red) played some harmonica ("when present," state the liner notes). The previous album focused on complex music suites. This one is more song-oriented, alternating goofy rock songs with more challenging numbers in an attempt to find a juste milieu between Over-Nite Sensation and Roxy & Elsewhere. "Inca Roads," "Florentine Pogen," "Andy," and "Sofa" all became classic tracks and live favorites. These are as close to progressive rock (a demented, clownish kind) Zappa ever got. The obscurity of their subjects, especially the flying saucer topic of "Inca Roads," seem to spoof prog rock clichés. The high-flying compositions are offset by "Can't Afford No Shoes," "Po-Jama People," and "San Ber'dino," more down-to-earth songs. Together with Zoot Allures, One Size Fits All can be considered as one of the easiest points of entry into Zappa's discography. The album artwork features a big maroon sofa, a conceptual continuity clue arching back to a then-undocumented live suite (from which "Sofa" was salvaged) and a sky map with dozens of bogus stars and constellations labeled with inside jokes in place of names. An essential third-period Zappa album. © François Couture /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 17, 1981 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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An uneven, nearly all-live double-record set, Tinseltown Rebellion mixes new material and versions of Zappa oldies like "Love of My Life," "I Ain't Got No Heart," "Tell Me You Love Me," "Brown Shoes Don't Make It," and a reworked "Peaches en Regalia," titled "Peaches III." These songs, as well as the band's stellar instrumental work, provide the album's best moments. Elsewhere, the title track is an only partially accurate satire of punk; Zappa's intentionally smarmy crowd banter is featured on "Dance Contest" and "Panty Rap," the latter a bit involving the collection of female audience members' underwear. More problematic is the sometimes violent sexual juvenilia of songs like "Fine Girl," "Easy Meat," "Pick Me, I'm Clean," and "Bamboozled by Love"; if, as Zappa insisted, this part of his oeuvre simply mixes dumb fun and satire of both sexes' peccadillos, with no underlying misogyny, it's rather difficult to tell. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 1, 1973 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Love it or hate it, Over-Nite Sensation was a watershed album for Frank Zappa, the point where his post-'60s aesthetic was truly established; it became his second gold album, and most of these songs became staples of his live shows for years to come. Whereas the Flo and Eddie years were dominated by rambling, off-color comedy routines, Over-Nite Sensation tightened up the song structures and tucked sexual and social humor into melodic, technically accomplished heavy guitar rock with jazzy chord changes and funky rhythms; meanwhile, Zappa's growling new post-accident voice takes over the storytelling. While the music is some of Zappa's most accessible, the apparent callousness and/or stunning sexual explicitness of "Camarillo Brillo," "Dirty Love," and especially "Dinah-Moe Humm" leave him on shaky aesthetic ground. Zappa often protested that the charges of misogyny leveled at such material missed out on the implicit satire of male stupidity, and also confirmed intellectuals' self-conscious reticence about indulging in dumb fun; however, the glee in his voice as he spins his adolescent fantasies can undermine his point. Indeed, that enjoyment, also evident in the silly wordplay, suggests that Zappa is throwing his juvenile crassness in the face of critical expectation, asserting his right to follow his muse even if it leads him into blatant stupidity (ironic or otherwise). One can read this motif into the absurd shaggy-dog story of a dental floss rancher in "Montana," the album's indisputable highlight, which features amazing, uncredited vocal backing from Tina Turner and the Ikettes. As with much of Zappa's best '70s and '80s material, Over-Nite Sensation could be perceived as ideologically problematic (if you haven't got the constitution for FZ's humor), but musically, it's terrific. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 10, 1969 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Hi-Res Booklet
Aside from the experimental side project Lumpy Gravy, Hot Rats was the first album Frank Zappa recorded as a solo artist sans the Mothers, though he continued to employ previous musical collaborators, most notably multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. Other than another side project -- the doo wop tribute Cruising With Ruben and the Jets -- Hot Rats was also the first time Zappa focused his efforts in one general area, namely jazz-rock. The result is a classic of the genre. Hot Rats' genius lies in the way it fuses the compositional sophistication of jazz with rock's down-and-dirty attitude -- there's a real looseness and grit to the three lengthy jams, and a surprising, wry elegance to the three shorter, tightly arranged numbers (particularly the sumptuous "Peaches en Regalia"). Perhaps the biggest revelation isn't the straightforward presentation, or the intricately shifting instrumental voices in Zappa's arrangements -- it's his own virtuosity on the electric guitar, recorded during extended improvisational workouts for the first time here. His wonderfully scuzzy, distorted tone is an especially good fit on "Willie the Pimp," with its greasy blues riffs and guest vocalist Captain Beefheart's Howlin' Wolf theatrics. Elsewhere, his skill as a melodist was in full flower, whether dominating an entire piece or providing a memorable theme as a jumping-off point. In addition to Underwood, the backing band featured contributions from Jean-Luc Ponty, Lowell George, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris, among others; still, Zappa is unquestionably the star of the show. Hot Rats still sizzles; few albums originating on the rock side of jazz-rock fusion flowed so freely between both sides of the equation, or achieved such unwavering excitement and energy. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 26, 1967 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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In the "libretto" accompanying the second effort from the Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa offers an unusual introduction to his endeavor: "The music of the MOTHERS speaks of the feelings of what might be described as THE VAST MINORITY. The feelings of the people on the fringe of everything," he writes. It's a gonzo mission statement that doubles as a canny counter-culture marketing ploy, and it goes on to describe that minority as people who "don't care if they're IN or OUT … don't care if they're HIP, HEP, SWINGIN' or ZORCH." Presumably the Zorch contingent resonated with the frantic, random-seeming musical juxtapositions and word-salad art that Zappa was slinging here. Absolutely Free touches on subjects that became integral to subsequent Zappa rants—the rise of clueless consumer culture, the worship of status—but often in diffuse, narrative-free fashion. Where later Zappa commentaries register as multi-level satire, tunes like "Plastic People" hardly make cultural arguments at all—they're closer to the delighted ravings of those hearing their voices on tape for the first time. The chaos within the wordplay amounts to adolescent lampoonery when compared with the rigorous delirium that prevails within the music. Zappa and his exceedingly talented collaborators understood and could evoke the allure of Motown hits (see "The Duke of Prunes") and the mesmeric qualities of the blues ("Why Don'tcha Do Me Right?"). But they were also at home quoting Holst and Stravinsky, or executing whiplash-inducing transitions between free-form jamming and intricate ensemble writing. Their cohesion is riveting, particularly on the standout "Brown Shoes Don't Make It." Though not as fully realized as the music that followed, Absolutely Free is not simply a scattered jumble of seeds but more like a series of roadmaps and ideas that sometimes lead to exalted states, and sometimes detour down sketchy dead-end streets, where there are no vegetables. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 1, 1973 | Frank Zappa Catalog

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Love it or hate it, Over-Nite Sensation was a watershed album for Frank Zappa, the point where his post-'60s aesthetic was truly established; it became his second gold album, and most of these songs became staples of his live shows for years to come. Whereas the Flo and Eddie years were dominated by rambling, off-color comedy routines, Over-Nite Sensation tightened up the song structures and tucked sexual and social humor into melodic, technically accomplished heavy guitar rock with jazzy chord changes and funky rhythms; meanwhile, Zappa's growling new post-accident voice takes over the storytelling. While the music is some of Zappa's most accessible, the apparent callousness and/or stunning sexual explicitness of "Camarillo Brillo," "Dirty Love," and especially "Dinah-Moe Humm" leave him on shaky aesthetic ground. Zappa often protested that the charges of misogyny leveled at such material missed out on the implicit satire of male stupidity, and also confirmed intellectuals' self-conscious reticence about indulging in dumb fun; however, the glee in his voice as he spins his adolescent fantasies can undermine his point. Indeed, that enjoyment, also evident in the silly wordplay, suggests that Zappa is throwing his juvenile crassness in the face of critical expectation, asserting his right to follow his muse even if it leads him into blatant stupidity (ironic or otherwise). One can read this motif into the absurd shaggy-dog story of a dental floss rancher in "Montana," the album's indisputable highlight, which features amazing, uncredited vocal backing from Tina Turner and the Ikettes. As with much of Zappa's best '70s and '80s material, Over-Nite Sensation could be perceived as ideologically problematic (if you haven't got the constitution for FZ's humor), but musically, it's terrific. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released December 20, 2019 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
For fans only! This colossal 7 hours and 18 minutes gathers all of the sessions Frank Zappa did for his Hot Rats album and offers a fascinating insight into every nook and cranny of the extraordinary musician’s brain, who sadly left us in 1993. Recorded in 1969 in Los Angeles, these sessions signalled the (temporary) end of The Mothers of Invention, even if Ian Underwood is still present here. Far from the stylistic patchwork of that strange group, the Hot Rats Zappa magnifies the fusion between rock and jazz, with five in six tracks being instrumental: there’s not much room for unnecessary noise. Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart takes to the mic alone on Willie the Pimp. Zappa allows all of his invited solo artists to fully express themselves, including violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, guitarist Lowell George and bassist Shuggie Otis (only 15 years old at the time!). This jazzy fusion keeps a certain narrative frame across the six volumes; extra-long jam sessions, endless solos, complicit dialogues between musicians, everything's in place to allow the listener to be transported to the Californian studio as a fly on the wall witnessing the conception of an album which would influence an entire generation. In the original album notes, Frank Zappa described this as a “film for your ears”. Interestingly, at the exact moment Hot Rats was being produced, another jazz-fusion album saw the light of day on the other side of the country, in New York: Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released June 1, 1968 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
From the beginning, Frank Zappa cultivated a role as voice of the freaks -- imaginative outsiders who didn't fit comfortably into any group. We're Only in It for the Money is the ultimate expression of that sensibility, a satirical masterpiece that simultaneously skewered the hippies and the straights as prisoners of the same narrow-minded, superficial phoniness. Zappa's barbs were vicious and perceptive, and not just humorously so: his seemingly paranoid vision of authoritarian violence against the counterculture was borne out two years later by the Kent State killings. Like Freak Out, We're Only in It for the Money essentially devotes its first half to satire, and its second half to presenting alternatives. Despite some specific references, the first-half suite is still wickedly funny, since its targets remain immediately recognizable. The second half shows where his sympathies lie, with character sketches of Zappa's real-life freak acquaintances, a carefree utopia in "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance," and the strident, unironic protest "Mother People." Regardless of how dark the subject matter, there's a pervasively surreal, whimsical flavor to the music, sort of like Sgt. Pepper as a creepy nightmare. Some of the instruments and most of the vocals have been manipulated to produce odd textures and cartoonish voices; most songs are abbreviated, segue into others through edited snippets of music and dialogue, or are broken into fragments by more snippets, consistently interrupting the album's continuity. Compositionally, though, the music reveals itself as exceptionally strong, and Zappa's politics and satirical instinct have rarely been so focused and relevant, making We're Only in It for the Money quite probably his greatest achievement. © Steve Huey /TiVo

Composer

Frank Zappa in the magazine
  • From rock to jazz with Frank Zappa
    From rock to jazz with Frank Zappa This new 67-track compilation retraces the making of "Hot Rats" by Frank Zappa, which would turn out to be a crucial album in the history of the jazz-rock fusion.