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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | 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 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
One of the most ambitious debuts in rock history, Freak Out! was a seminal concept album that somehow foreshadowed both art rock and punk at the same time. Its four LP sides deconstruct rock conventions right and left, eventually pushing into territory inspired by avant-garde classical composers. Yet the album is sequenced in an accessibly logical progression; the first half is dedicated to catchy, satirical pop/rock songs that question assumptions about pop music, setting the tone for the radical new directions of the second half. Opening with the nonconformist call to arms "Hungry Freaks, Daddy," Freak Out! quickly posits the Mothers of Invention as the antithesis of teen-idol bands, often with sneering mockeries of the teen-romance songs that had long been rock's commercial stock-in-trade. Despite his genuine emotional alienation and dissatisfaction with pop conventions, though, Frank Zappa was actually a skilled pop composer; even with the raw performances and his stinging guitar work, there's a subtle sophistication apparent in his unorthodox arrangements and tight, unpredictable melodicism. After returning to social criticism on the first song of the second half, the perceptive Watts riot protest "Trouble Every Day," Zappa exchanges pop song structure for experiments with musique concrète, amelodic dissonance, shifting time signatures, and studio effects. It's the first salvo in his career-long project of synthesizing popular and art music, high and low culture; while these pieces can meander, they virtually explode the limits of what can appear on a rock album, and effectively illustrate Freak Out!'s underlying principles: acceptance of differences and free individual expression. Zappa would spend much of his career developing and exploring ideas -- both musical and conceptual -- first put forth here; while his myriad directions often produced more sophisticated work, Freak Out! contains at least the rudiments of almost everything that followed, and few of Zappa's records can match its excitement over its own sense of possibility. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
In his contract with Ryko, Frank Zappa had to put together 12 CDs worth of live material for the series You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore. The fact that he decided to devote two of them (all of Vol. 2) to a Helsinki concert from 1974 illustrates how good and representative he thought it was -- and he was right. This two-CD set features the 1973-1974 band (Napoleon Murphy Brock, George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, Chester Thompson) near the end of their tour, in a concert in faraway Finland on September 22, 1974 (there were actually two concerts performed that day and, as usual, Zappa edited the best moments together). The set list comes mostly from the Roxy & Elsewhere repertoire, except that here the songs are taken at a faster tempo and free of the overdubs found on the original album. "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" and "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" are very exciting, but without the vocal overdubs "Cheepnis" feels empty. But the treats lie elsewhere, as in the playful "Inca Roads" (Zappa used the guitar solo from this concert for the One Size Fits All version); "RDNZL," still a work-in-progress at the time; the unreleased "Approximate" (including hilarious stage craziness); and "T'Mershi Duween." The band is in great shape, Zappa being particularly witty and good-humored. When a member of the audience requests the Allman Brothers song "Whipping Post," he spontaneously rewrites the lyrics to "Montana" -- and backup vocalists Brock and Duke have to adapt! For fans of the man's complex, progressive rock-tinged music of the mid-'70s, this is a must-have, even though it also contains very average moments ("Dupree's Paradise," for instance). Sound quality is very good, superior to any bootleg from this period. © François Couture /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 October 29, 1977 | 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 October 25, 2019 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
The band who became known as "The Roxy Band" for their performances on the Roxy and Elsewhere album is nearly universally loved by Zappa fans. This set captures them at the very beginning with a pair of shows recorded in Chicago, just the second stop on the tour for this new group, who had started rehearsing just over a month earlier. As you'd expect, the band is tight and George Duke and Ruth Underwood shine throughout. Highlights include Duke's Moog freak-out intro to "Dupree's Paradise" and FZ's guitar solo on "Big Swifty." It's interesting to compare the set list to the Roxy shows, recorded about a month and a half later. Both "The Eric Dolphy Memorial BBQ" and the "Farther O'Blivion" extended jazz suite were dropped from the set by the Roxy shows, and here we hear the intro and outro to "Village of the Sun" that were later cut from the tune. The rehearsal material features "Magic Fingers," which never actually made it to the live set list, and there are additional musical elements used in the "Penguin in Bondage" rehearsal that were not used later. While the shorter tunes from the rehearsal material are full, uninterrupted performances, there are a number of false starts on "Inca Roads" and "Farther O'Blivion." Those are really fun because we hear the rapport between Frank, George, and Ruth as they crack each other up. Ruth's laugh is particularly wonderful. It's so obvious that they're enjoying themselves. Sound quality is excellent even though this is just a three-track recording. The mix is not always perfect, but that's a small gripe and fans will just be happy to have more high-quality material from this amazingly talented band. Halloween 73 is another excellent treat from the Zappa vaults. © Sean Westergaard /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

In order to finance his artier excursions, which increasingly required more expensive technology, Frank Zappa recorded several collections of guitar- and song-oriented material in the late '70s and early '80s, which generally concentrated on the bawdy lyrical themes many fans had come to expect and enjoy in concert. Sheik Yerbouti (two LPs, one CD) was one of the first and most successful of these albums, garnering attention for such tracks as the Grammy-nominated disco satire "Dancin' Fool," the controversial "Jewish Princess," and the equally controversial "Bobby Brown Goes Down," a song about gay S&M that became a substantial hit in European clubs. While Zappa's attitude on the latter two tracks was even more politically incorrect than usual for him, it didn't stop the album from becoming his second-highest charting ever. Social satire, leering sexual preoccupations, and tight, melodic songs dominated the rest of the record as well, as Zappa stuck to what had been commercially successful for him in the past. The "dumb entertainment" (as Zappa liked to describe this style) on Sheik Yerbouti was some of his dumbest, for better or worse, and the music was undeniably good -- easily some of his best since Apostrophe, and certainly the most accessible. Even if it sometimes drifts a bit, fans of Zappa's '70s work will find Sheik Yerbouti on nearly an equal level with Apostrophe and Over-Nite Sensation, both in terms of humor and musical quality. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Joe's Garage was originally released in 1979 in two separate parts; Act I came first, followed by a two-record set containing Acts II & III. Joe's Garage is generally regarded as one of Zappa's finest post-'60s conceptual works, a sprawling, satirical rock opera about a totalitarian future in which music is outlawed to control the population. The narrative is long, winding, and occasionally loses focus; it was improvised in a weekend, some of it around previously existing songs, but Zappa manages to make most of it hang together. Acts II & III give off much the same feel, as Zappa relies heavily on what he termed "xenochrony" -- previously recorded guitar solos transferred onto new, rhythmically different backing tracks to produce random musical coincidences. Such an approach is guaranteed to produce some slow moments as well, but critics latched onto the work more for its conceptual substance. Joe's Garage satirizes social control mechanisms, consumerism, corporate abuses, gender politics, religion, and the rock & roll lifestyle; all these forces conspire against the title protagonist, an average young man who simply wants to play guitar and enjoy himself. Even though Zappa himself hated punk rock and even says so on the album, his ideas seemed to support punk's do-it-yourself challenge to the record industry and to social norms in general. Since this is 1979-era Zappa, there are liberal applications of his trademark scatological humor (the titles of "Catholic Girls," "Crew Slut," "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?," and "Keep It Greasey" are self-explanatory). Still, in spite of its flaws, Joe's Garage has enough substance to make it one of Zappa's most important '70s works and overall political statements, even if it's not focused enough to rank with his earliest Mothers of Invention masterpieces. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

The musically similar follow-up to the commercial breakthrough of Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe (') became Frank Zappa's second gold and only Top Ten album with the help of the "doggy wee-wee" jokes of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," Zappa's first chart single (a longer, edited version that used portions of other songs on the LP). The first half of the album is full of nonsensical shaggy-dog story songs that segue into one another without seeming to finish themselves first; their dirty jokes are generally more subtle and veiled than the more notorious cuts on Over-Nite Sensation. The second half contains the instrumental title cut, featuring Jack Bruce on bass; "Uncle Remus," an update of Zappa's critique of racial discord on "Trouble Every Day"; and a return to the album's earlier silliness in "Stink-Foot." Apostrophe (') has the narrative feel of a concept album, but aside from its willful absurdity, the concept is difficult to decipher; even so, that doesn't detract from its entertainment value. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 2, 2018 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
In forty-four years, this isn’t the first time that the recordings from December 8, 9 and 10, 1973 at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood have been released one some form or another. First, there was the double album Roxy & Elsewhere in 1974, then Roxy by Proxy in 2014, Roxy the Soundtrack in 2015, and finally this The Roxy Performances which covers the entirety of the four concerts, as well as the filmed rehearsals from December 8 and 10, not forgetting a preparatory session of the Apostrophe (') album in Ike Turner’s Bolic Studios, on December 12th. Is it really useful to remind you that Roxy & Elsewhere is one of the finest in history, all genres included? Consequently, we were entitled to wonder if bringing back what was sidelined by Zappa himself was worth it. Aside from Zappa’s biggest fans, would the average person appreciate for what it’s worth five versions of Pygmy Twylyte, of which one lasts almost 25 minutes (split into two parts), or four variations of Penguin in Bondage or Uncle Meat? More than ever, we’ll remind you one of the golden rules to apply to Zappa more than to any other form of music: you have to have your mind open as much as your ears and let yourself get carried away. You’ll surprise yourself by starting listening to this copious compilation of 84 tracks (Zappa’s monologues included)—that is to say almost eight hours—telling yourself that you’ll only do three or four extracts before moving on to something else, to finally discover that Zappa’s magic is such that you’ll have the greatest difficulty letting go of it. The master’s excellence and one of the best Mothers formations reach such heights that you’ll have difficulties finding any redundancies here. If we had to keep only one significant example, it would probably be Don't You Ever Wash that Thing?, whose different versions wonderfully demonstrate the perfect blend of high skills and collectedness which keep the music from ever getting dull or monotonous. At most, you might switch off a bit during Be-bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen’s Church), where the interaction with the audience lasts a bit too long, even if the many musical gags are worth the detour. But you’ll be tempted more than once to take on more lessons with Professor Zappa, especially in the studio section, in which he leads his Mothers with as much firmness as dexterity. Finally, it wouldn’t be superfluous to insist on the exceptional sound take of these “performances”. Planned at first for a quadriphonic version, these recordings have been particularly polished, just like their transition to digital. ©JPS/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | 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 January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

While most of the discussions of Frank Zappa have to do with his satirical and off-color lyrics, the fact remains that he was one of the finest and most underappreciated guitarists around. This collection places the spotlight squarely on Zappa's mastery of the guitar. Recorded for the most part in 1979 and 1980 (with a few tracks dating as far back as 1977), Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar is simply a collection of guitar solos. Even though most of the tracks were just edited out of their original song context, they fare well as stand-alone pieces, as Zappa was an ever-inventive player. Take, for example, the three versions of "Shut Up." These tracks were simply the guitar solos from "Inca Roads," but thanks to Zappa's ability for "instant composition," each version has its own complete story to tell, without ever being redundant. Other highlights are the reggae-tinged "Treacherous Cretins" and the beautiful "Pink Napkins." In addition to the electric guitar mangling contained on Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, there are a couple of rare tracks that feature Zappa on acoustic guitar in a trio with Warren Cuccurullo on acoustic rhythm guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. In fact, special mention goes to Colaiuta for his polyrhythmic daring all over this album. All bandmembers play great throughout, but Colaiuta's playing is mind blowing. The album closes with another oddity: a gorgeous duet between Zappa on electric bouzouki and Jean-Luc Ponty on baritone violin. This is an album that should be heard by anyone who's into guitar playing. Highly recommended. © Sean Westergaard /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Zoot Allures, released in October 1976, is mostly a studio album (there are some basic live tracks, as in the title track and "Black Napkins") featuring a revolving cast of musicians who, oddly, do not correspond to the ones pictured on the album cover (for instance, Patrick O'Hearn and Eddie Jobson did not contribute). Compared to previous releases like One Size Fits All, Roxy & Elsewhere, or even Over-Nite Sensation, and to upcoming ones such as Zappa in New York, Studio Tan, or Sheik Yerbouti, Zoot Allures sounds very stripped down to bare essentials. Zappa focused on limited instrumentation, lots of bass, and whispered vocals to create a masterpiece of dark, slow, sleazy rock. Except for the opening and closing numbers ("Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station" and "Disco Boy"), all the material is slow to medium tempo with Zappa delivering the closest he'll ever get to a crooner vocal performance. "The Torture Never Stops" is the highlight, ten minutes of suggestive lyrics, crawling riffs, searing solos, and female screams of pain. That song and "Disco Boy" became classic tracks; "Black Napkins" and "Zoot Allures" rate among the man's best guitar solos. Historical note: The album was first devised as a two-LP set and would have included "Sleep Dirt," "Filthy Habits," and "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution," which all also fit the mood. Although humor has not been completely evacuated, Zoot Allures comes through as a much more serious rock record. Yet, it is more than a transitional album; it represents one of Zappa's strongest accomplishments. © François Couture /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | 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
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Rock - Released October 31, 1994 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
Civilization Phaze III is the last album of new music Frank Zappa completed before his death in December 1993. It belongs to his corpus of "serious music." The composer has revisited the recordings he made in 1967 of various people talking with their heads inside a grand piano (with the sustain pedal depressed, it made quite a resonating room). These conversations were used in part in the 1968 LP Lumpy Gravy, but here Zappa (with the help of less limiting technology) restructured the comments of the "people living inside the piano" into a quasi-coherent plot. Basically, they are either outcasts or in self-exile from the outer world. They hide from a menacing reality. These spoken bits serve to tie together computer and orchestra music. Compared to his cruder attempts from the mid-'80s (like Jazz from Hell), these pieces sound lush, rich, natural. They still make for a challenging listen but are much more rewarding in the end. "Amnerika," the 18-minute "N-Lite," and the closer "Waffenspiel" stand among the man's best scored music. Disc one is 100 percent Synclavier (a keyboard computer) and 1967 dialogues. Disc two introduces a few orchestral pieces performed by Ensemble Modern and new piano voices recorded in 1991. The whole project was conceptualized as an "opera-pantomime." Zappa's indications put more flesh around the music and provide conceptual continuity clues for the die-hard fans (the booklet also contains transcriptions of all the dialogues). The original artwork and packaging are stunning and luxurious, a match for the music, some of the most compelling Zappa wrote outside of the rock realm. © François Couture /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | 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 January 1, 2012 | 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 a few 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. © TiVo
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Rock - Released May 4, 1979 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
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 January 1, 2012 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
After his affair with jazz fusion (Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, both released in 1972), Frank Zappa came back in late 1973 with an album of simple rock songs, Over-Nite Sensation. But the temptation for more challenging material was not long to resurface and, after a transitional LP (Apostrophe, early 1974), he unleashed a double LP (reissued on one CD) of his most complex music, creating a bridge between his comedy rock stylings and Canterbury-style progressive rock. Three-quarters of the album was recorded live at the Roxy in Hollywood and extensively overdubbed in the studio later. Only three tracks ("Dummy Up," "Son of Orange County," and "More Trouble Every Day"), taken from other concerts, are 100 percent live. The band is comprised of George Duke (keyboards), Tom Fowler (bass), Ruth Underwood (percussion), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Walt Fowler (trumpet), Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals), and Chester Thompson (drums) -- drummer Ralph Humphrey, keyboardist Don Preston, and guitarist Jeff Simmons appear on the non-Roxy material. The sequence "Echidna's Arf (Of You)"/"Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" stands as Zappa's most difficult rock music and provides quite a showcase for Underwood. Other highlights include "Penguin in Bondage" and "Cheepnis," a horror movie tribute. All the pieces were premiere recordings, except for "More Trouble Every Day" and "Son of Orange County," a revamped, slowed down "Orange County Lumber Truck"/"Oh No." Compared to the man's previous live recordings (Fillmore East: June 1971, Just Another Band from L.A.), this one sounds fantastic, finally providing an accurate image of the musicians' virtuosity. For fans of Zappa's intricate material like "RDNZL," "The Black Page," or "Inca Roads," this album is a must-have. © François Couture /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 14, 2016 | Frank Zappa Catalog

Booklet
If you were paying close attention to the UMG-released Zappa titles, you may have noticed that Uncle Meat was one of the few pre-1982 albums that wasn't reissued using the original master tapes for the first time (all the Ryko masters were altered by Zappa). Meat Light remedies that by finally releasing the Uncle Meat original vinyl mix, remastered from the original master tapes for the very first time on CD. The results are stunning. The album literally sounds better than it ever has, with a crisp clarity to all the instruments, even on the most dense tracks. This alone would justify purchase for most Zappa fanatics...but wait! There's more! Who knew there was ANOTHER Uncle Meat?!? Yes, disc two and part of disc three present "Uncle Meat: Original Sequence." Many of the tracks are exactly the same, but with different sequencing and some completely unreleased material, all segued together with some additional contributions from the Apostolic Vlorch Injector (responsible for the blasts of noise on Uncle Meat and We're Only in It for the Money). "Whiskey Wah" and "The Whip" are previously unreleased guitar solos. "King Kong" doesn't end the set; it's the end of "Side 2" (of four), and it doesn't include the part that was recorded on a flatbed diesel at a Miami Pop Festival. "Cops & Buns" was included on The Lost Episodes, but in an edited form. Some of the other spoken bits ("Our Bizarre Relationship," "If We'd Been Living in California...") have just a little bit of extra material on them, providing a bit of further insight. "Mr. Green Genes" has a slightly different mix with some additional organ and vocals. The "Original Sequence" closes with "Cruisin' for Burgers"...but that's not the end of Meat Light! "A Bunch of Stuff" seems to be a spoken intro to the film Uncle Meat. Tracks like "Tango" and "More Beer" are just short cues. The single version of "Dog Breath" is a gas: no main vocals/lyrics -- just prominent (and awesome!) backing vocals with extra guitar and saxophone mixed in. "The String Quartet" is a medley of Uncle Meat tunes that was often performed live by the Mothers, but this sounds like a studio version. "Electric Aunt Jemima" is a different, more modern-sounding mix, while "Exercise 4" is an unused further elaboration of the "Uncle Meat Variations." The alternate mix of "Mr. Green Genes" has a different vocal mix and cool keyboards added. "Echo Pie" takes Jimmy Carl Black's displeasure in "If We'd Been Living in California" and kicks it up a notch or five. "1/4 Tone Unit" is a short, pretty chamber ensemble piece, "Sakuji's March" is a short percussion piece, and "No. 4" is a scored piece with some amazing double piano followed by double marimba. The extended version of "Prelude to Uncle Meat" adds about a minute and a half to the standard version, along with some interesting extra guitar at the end. "My Guitar (Proto 1)" is a ripping instrumental with FZ jamming on the "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" riff. Hearing the guitar from "Nine Types of Industrial Pollution" played at the original speed is extremely interesting. You can hear Frank playing acoustic guitar over a faint, slowed-down drum track. It's rare to hear Zappa play acoustic guitar at all, and his playing here is quite different than what he's normally known for. The live version of "Uncle Meat" sounds great. The instrumental version of "Dog Breath" is a bit more refined and not quite as raucous as the single version...until the guitar solo! Meat Light closes with an alternate mix of "The Dog Breath Variations." This is a set fans have been waiting for for years. The sound is a huge improvement over all previous Uncle Meat CDs and the additional material is all excellent. Uncle Meat is arguably Zappa's most avant-garde, most dense, most wide-ranging, and one of his most difficult albums for some. It's also one of his very best and Meat Light really does justice to this masterpiece. © Sean Westergaard /TiVo

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