Author Topic: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #39 - 'The Perfect Stranger'  (Read 40738 times)

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Offline Podaar

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #595 on: March 21, 2017, 08:24:39 AM »
I've only listened to this a few times and only in recent years. The Duke of Prunes (I really like the addition of Bozzio, Frank and the electric bass to the arrangement) and Bogus Pomp are what I recall enjoying the most.

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #596 on: March 21, 2017, 09:19:06 AM »
There's an entire chapter in his 'The Real Frank Zappa Book' about what his experiences with recording the LSO were. Worth checking out!  ;D

Of course, that's where I read that. Will check it out again this week.
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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #597 on: March 21, 2017, 09:44:22 AM »
I do prefer the albums as they were released to Lather. They are easier to digest and make more sense as separate albums. Lather is way too long and just seems like a collection of unrelated material without much thought given to the sequencing or overall concept (which Frank was usually more conscious of). Context is important too. This was Frank trying to quickly get out of a bad contract with Warner. An overblown compilation delivered with a middle finger to the label rather than a grand artistic vision.
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #598 on: March 25, 2017, 08:41:37 AM »
Orchestral Favorites is an interesting one. First off, we have to remember this was recorded in 1975, and to me, is the least related to Lather, as only two songs here are on Lather, the rest are older tunes rearranged for this ensemble. If you like orchestral Zappa, you'll like this. I find this album is the 'easiest' of Frank's orchestral/ensemble albums to get into. There's some moments with guitar, keyboard synths, clavinet, and rock drums. These moments are short and fleeting, don't expect it the whole time; in fact, it's mostly in the final tune, Bogus Pomp, which is always a fun one, the highlight of the album for me. I don't remember a lot of 20th Century Classical music with synths flying around here and there. There are better versions of Strictly Genteel, but this one is nice. Duke of Prunes pops up here, and is always good in an orchestral setting. The Lather tunes are dark, dense, and bring you into another world, as much of Frank's orchestral work does. Other than that, I don't know how to describe the music here, it is beyond any of Frank's rock/jazz stuff.

Also, I always forget how short this album is. I feel like I just put it on 10 minutes ago. I think it's like 33 minutes long, that's like an EP length.

I do prefer the albums as they were released to Lather. They are easier to digest and make more sense as separate albums. Lather is way too long and just seems like a collection of unrelated material without much thought given to the sequencing or overall concept (which Frank was usually more conscious of). Context is important too. This was Frank trying to quickly get out of a bad contract with Warner. An overblown compilation delivered with a middle finger to the label rather than a grand artistic vision.

I find Lather is like jumping into the head of Frank, and if it had been released as it was meant to be it would have gone down as one of the great masterpieces of the 1970s, right around the time of art music losing popularity it might have been seen as pretentious but history would have been kind to it, look at Tales From Topographic Oceans, or The Wall. Since that's not what happened, Lather is seen as a 'posthumous' box-set/compilation album. I see Lather as "the album" that should have been released as the follow up to Zoot Allures in 1977, with Zappa in New York released in 1978 (ZNY was always going to have an official release) and maybe some album would have been made featuring all the songs between the other 3 albums that didn't make it to Lather. However, you could say, that due to the frustration I'm sure Frank felt in dealing with Warner, court dates, delaying the release of his music, that his music would have been different from here on out.

I usually listen to Lather one disc at a time, though. All 5 albums contain original music unique to it, so it's worth having all 5 and it's nice having different choices.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 08:52:49 AM by darkshade »

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #599 on: March 25, 2017, 10:32:32 AM »
I think 'Lather' as it was at the time (a Multi-dubble vinyl album set) would have been commercially VERY hard to sell to a non-Zappa-phile. Prince was to have the same problems at exactly the same recordlabel a few years down the line.  As was George Clinton having at the same time period with Funkadelic at Warner Brothers.

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Offline Mosh

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #600 on: March 25, 2017, 02:55:05 PM »
I think 'Lather' as it was at the time (a Multi-dubble vinyl album set) would have been commercially VERY hard to sell to a non-Zappa-phile. Prince was to have the same problems at exactly the same recordlabel a few years down the line.  As was George Clinton having at the same time period with Funkadelic at Warner Brothers.



And just last year the band Avenged Sevenfold had similar issues with WB, who (unsuccessfully) attempted to undermine their new release on a different label with an unauthorized album. Sound familiar? Some things never change.

I dunno, I'll listen to it again when we get there but my recollection of Lather was that it wasn't assembled that well. A huge bulk of it is material from Zappa In New York, but with edits I'm not fond of. Better to just listen to ZINY. As for everything else: you've got some more edits of Sleep Dirt material, very little from Orchestral Favorites, some stuff that would appear on future albums, and a couple tunes exclusive to that collection. The sequencing didn't really make me hear the material differently and I wasn't convinced that it had a purpose other than getting out of a bad contract.

That's the officially released version at least, is the one he played on the radio in the 70s any different?

Also, I don't think the music on the three Lather albums is all that great. This was a transitional period for Frank. The strengths of his newest band hadn't quite been revealed yet.

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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #27 'Orchestral Favorites'
« Reply #601 on: March 27, 2017, 03:57:34 AM »
To my knowledge the one that ZFT released in the 90's is the same thing that Zappa played on the radio in the 70's.
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Official Release #28&29 - 'Joe's Garage - Acts I, II & III'
(Released 09/1979 + 11/1979)



Background Information:
Perhaps not unsurprisingly all three acts will be discussed here as a single album. Though Act I was released first, and Acts II and III were released as a double album 2 months later (Zappa realised that releasing a triple album financially  ‘might be hard on people the way the world is today’) this album has afterwards (1987 and onwards) always been rereleased as a set (either triple vinyl or double cd).
While Zappa was busy with handling off the Warner/Läther feud, he wrote Sheik Yerbouti, but even before that came out he started writing the follow-up to that record. (Orchestral Favorites was released in between, but not by Zappa, see above)
Originally ‘Catholic Girls’ and the title track were supposed to be stand-alone singles, but while working on that, and in between long jams by Zappa’s then band, he noticed the songs connected, and he wrote a story to make it a coherent rock-opera.
At the end of the recording cycle of this album the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, Zappa’s home studio, was completed, making this the last album he recorded in a commercial studio.
Although this album received mixed reviews (because of the profanities again, because, you know, you can’t enjoy the music if the song is about ‘mammalian protuberances’), it is viewed by Zappa fans as one of his greatest works. Both band/guitar-wise and lyrics/humour-wise.
This album also debuted Ike Willis, a versatile singer, with a taste for the bizarre, a love of wordplay as well as a strong political view on everything that’s stupid (we’ll get to Confinement Loaf later on).

The Album Itself:
 A rock opera told by The Central Scrutinizer (a government employee) about Joe, a young man who forms a band just as the government prepares to criminalise music. Joe has his first confrontation with the law as his neighbour calls the police. The police are nice on him, and tell him to stick closer to Church Oriented Social Activities. When he comes back from earning an honest living, he finds his girlfriend Mary sucking off crew members backstage. She goes on tour with them, gets dumped off in Miami, and needs to participate in a wet t-shirt contest to win money to get back home. While standing on stage Mary gets recognised by an old friend of Joe, he decides to send him a letter about Mary exploits, Joe responds by picking up a cheap girl (Lucille) and getting an ‘unpronounceable disease’ from her. The Central Scrutinizer ends Act I by asking whether it was the girl or the music messing up Joe’s mind.

Now in Act II and III it gets messy. Joe starts off by going to L. Ron Hoover’s First Church of Appliantology, where he learns how to be sexually attracted to machines, and how to speak German, because that’s what gets those machines hot. When his eye falls on some sort of industrial vacuum cleaner (get the 200 Motel reference?), he bursts into song. Eventually Sy Borg (the machine) short circuits when Joe keeps ‘plooking’ too hard. Joe gets arrested by The Central Scrutiziner, and ends up in a special musicians-prison, where Joe, wearing a housewife costume because that’s what Sy Borg liked, gets jumped on by every other prisoner. Joe gets through his time by dreaming up guitar solo’s like ‘Reent-toont-teent-toont-teenooneenoonee’.
At the start of Act III Joe gets out of prison, seeing the world without music, and starts seeing visions of his old neighbour and his old girlfriend. Finally he goes back to his room and dreams up his last guitar solo.
The album ends with A Little Green Rosetta, which apparently has no meaning at all. Or, as the lyrics say: ‘Because anybody who would buy this record doesn’t give a fuck if there’s good musicians on it, because this is a stupid song AND THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE IT’. The song might be included on this album because it was intended to go on Läther, but was cut by Warner.

Musically the album’s all over the place. Tracks like Joe’s Garage and Why Does It Hurt… are little rockers, Catholic Girls a a lot more complicated than it at first may sound (the same goes for Keep It Greasy, that’s 19/16 for ya), Sy Borg and Outside Now are actually very beautiful tracks but both can’t hold a candle to the beauty that Watermelon In Easter Hay is.

Although it’s easy to see that the album is full of inside jokes (the white zone…), has a story that could belong to a ‘Cheap high-school play’ (Zappa’s own words) and is a product that obviously ‘gives way at the seems’ (dixit Ben Watson, referring to Zappa himself cracking up during the Central Scrutinizer monologues), it is extremely well produced (a tad more lively, or less clean, than for instance Sheik Yerbouti, but still overflowing with the weird world that is Xenochrony), it is incredibly diverse, extremely musical and above all very enjoyable.

Essential Tracks:
Joe's Garage
Catholic Girls
Sy Borg
Keep It Greasy
Outside Now
Watermelon In Easter Hay

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As I mentioned earlier, Sheik Yerbouti is where I really started digging into Zappa/Mothers, and as it was the latest release at the time, I had nowhere to go but backwards, in terms of finding more to check out.  When Joe's Garage Act I came out, I was intrigued, of course.  Frank going for the full-blown concept album.  As with most concept albums, some of the songs were already written before the idea to make them part of a larger work came about, and it showed.  The lengths to which Frank had to go in terms of story just to have some of these songs make sense is pretty extreme.  Joe learns to speak German, for example, because the song "Stick It Out" already existed and much of it was in German (it was originally part of a "German suite" of sorts).

Act I is solid, and even after Acts II & III came out, I still tended to just play Act I unless I specifically wanted to check them out.  The story gets a bit crazy for me and frankly much less interesting.  It's the music and the concept which keep me going, but things like "A Token of My Extreme" and "Dong Work for Yuda" are just skippable as far as I'm concerned.

I thought that according to the story, Joe actually ends up with a job at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, not Frank's studio, but a bakery in the story, where his job is to poot forth little green rosettas on top of muffins, thus the song "A Little Green Rosetta".  Now that I think about it, that would make more sense for cupcakes, but it's been a while, and my records are stashed right now so I can't look it up.

Offline Mosh

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I consider Sheik Yerbouti the end of Zappa's golden age and Joe's Garage the beginning of a more inconsistent period. A lot of things I dislike about his music in the 80s start to appear here. Lyrics/message overpowering the music, heavy handed lyrics that lack the cleverness of his earlier work, and somewhat dull music with production that's almost too polished and perfect. I'm also not too fond of Ike Willis, who makes his first appearance here. I'm not sure if it's because he was the mouthpiece for some of Zappa's worst material, but I've come to dislike the sound of his voice and the way he delivers Frank's lyrics.

This album is extremely bloated. A lot of songs overstay their welcome (Lucille, A Token of My Extreme, Sy Borg). They're enjoyable tunes at first, but then after 2 or 3 minutes it becomes grating. It's usually the same musical idea repeated seemingly endlessly. I'm a music guy first, so hearing the music serve pretty much as a background while Frank exhibits this really half baked story isn't much fun for me. My favorite songs on the album are the ones that have some interesting music (Catholic Girls, Keep It Greasy).

Now this isn't to say I only like Zappa instrumental. I love a lot of Zappa's lyrics. Absolutely Free is an example of the album that is elevated by its lyrics and vocals. Or a more recent (relative to this album) example is Sheik Yerbouti, which is also very vocal driven, but the lyrics and vocal melodies are so much better. There's also better music to latch on to. I just don't think the story or lyrics on Joe's Garage are very clever. There's a really interesting story in there, but it's sidelined by songs about various forms of plooking. There are some funny parts and moments of brilliance, but those are fleeting and not up to the standard that Frank has set for himself by this point.

OK that's all the negative stuff. There's still a lot of good things here. First of all, the guitar solos.  :metal Frank delivers some of his best guitar playing on this album. The use of xenochrony is genius. Sometimes the solos fit in so perfectly that it's hard to tell that they were part of a different song. Other times it's disjointed in such a way that it actually works. The xenochrony also actually fits the theme of the album toward the end. I like that the guitar solos are a character on the album as much as Joe or L. Ron Hoover are. However, the best guitar solo is the only one that was recorded in the studio. Watermelon In Easter Hay is one of Frank's crowning achievements. Not my #1 Zappa guitar solo (that goes to Inca Roads), but it's in the top 3. Watermelon also shows a rarely shown melancholy side to Zappa's music. You also hear this in Outside Now. It's an interesting dimension to his music and one of the things that actually puts Joe's Garage in its own class.

Also, despite my earlier criticisms of the album's lyrics, some of the most memorable Zappa lines are on here. Mostly on the first disc. Lots of hilarious stuff there. I always loved the "Here comes the ice pick in the forehead!" bit.

A few other good songs too. Catholic Girls is awesome, Why Does It Hurt When I Pee is funny and extremely catchy. A Little Green Rosetta is the perfect finale. The album does start and end well, but there's a lot of fat in the middle. Overall a mixed bag of an album that I don't go for too often mostly due to its length. Act I by itself is very strong though and I'll often listen to just that + the last two tracks.




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Offline Cyclopssss

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Pretty much agree with all of the above post, Act I was perfect. The melodic guitarpart-harmony  in the title track towards the end is godly. I for one LOVE Ike Willis' s vocals. But then, I was a big fan of Ray White and Napoleon Murphy Brock. Catholic Girls, Crew Slut, all pretty ruthless. Why does it hurt when I pee was a long time favourite of mine.

But Acts II and III is where the album goes awry for me as well. Some standout tracks Outside Now, Dong Work for Yuda, Keep it greasy and Packard Goose. And Lucille has messed my mind up. But others are wayyyyy overlong and repetitive. Too much plookin'  and Uher 57 Telefunken in-jokes.

As a parody Joe's Garage worked as a great, but far from perfect view on showbizz and the 'American way of life.' Musically there is a lot to enjoy and some of the vocal harmonies are resplended, indeed!  Act I got lots of spins, act II and III, eh, not so much.
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Funny thing is that I like act one the best too, I think, but act three has gotten the most plays over the years. The third disc is one of the only Zappa albums that has so many good ballads on it. Whenever I'm in a sentimental mood and want to listen to Zappa anyway, Joe Act III is the way to go. Oh and Watermelon is my favourite 'slow song' by Zappa, no question.
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Offline Podaar

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Okay, it's official. I'm a total musical idiot and completely backward. I know you folks are talking about Joe's Garage, but I don't recognize most of what you're saying. A Token of My Extreme and Dong Work for Yuda skippable? I don't even understand. Terry's vocal performance on DWfY alone is worth the price of the entire album, "I need a dozen taows, so the boys can take a shaow." Not to mention the songs are quite bouncy, fun and keep the story going.

Speaking of the story, I may be totally out on a limb here, but it's supposed to be cobbled together and stupid. That's the parody. My understanding was that Frank was completely making fun of the entire idea of concept albums. By taking a bunch of unrelated songs and barely stitching them together with the central scrutinizer and conceptual continuity. Yet, he couldn't help himself and still had something to say about oppression, modernity and the beauty of music...which wound up making it the perfect concept album. Until this thread, I've never met a Zappa fan who thought otherwise.

This record is not perfect, but to me it is damned close. I can't possibly imagine how anyone who enjoys Sheik Yerbouti could have anything negative to say about Joe's Garage. The second seems to be a natural extension of the first. But to each there own, I guess. Today, I am truly grateful for my ignorance.

[edit] Okay, I had a shower and another cup of coffee. I thought about it some more and decided I behaved poorly above. That's way too passive-aggressive so allow me to restate it:

I love this album, it's not perfect but it's so close that I wouldn't change a thing! Y'all are poo-poo heads for saying naughty things about it. ;) [/edit]
« Last Edit: March 28, 2017, 07:13:39 AM by Podaar »

Offline Nihil-Morari

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 :lol No need to excuse yourself, a difference in taste can never be ignorance  :) Love your enthusiasm!
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I too have met folks who love all three acts, the whole dang thang.  That's fine.  I've come to appreciate Acts II & III more over the years, but they're down the list a bit for me.

I can tell you exactly why.  For me, Act II starts off on the wrong foot with not one, but two songs about male gay sex.  Call me a homophobe, but that just grosses me the fuck out.  Don't want to think about it, sure as hell don't want to listen to songs about it.  I always skip "Dong Work" and "Keep It Greasy".  After that, I think there are a bunch of guitar solos, mostly very good, loosely strung together with some kind of narrative, but by then I'm not even paying attention anymore, and then it's over.

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It was clear that once Frank had aquired the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen,  he just didn't care what the f*ck people thought about his lyrics. He just went all out.
It was like 'hey, so gay sex grosses you out? Here you go! Bam! Keep it Greasy. Dong Work, Sy Borg. 'So Anti-Religion lyrics pisses you off? Here!' Bam! Catholic Girls.  I think he was so pissed off at WB, he enjoyed releasing the HELL out of this.
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A story, that only some of you may enjoy. Dale Bozzio's mother babysat my wife when she was a kid. The day I met her (2012), I had no clue who she was. We were picking up old furniture from her mother's house. She mentioned her son was listening to Zappa and I commented that I'm obsessed with Zappa. She then said, "well I'm Mary". I replied "FROM THE BUS?" My wife, to this day, says she never saw me so shocked and excited in a moment. It's a bizarre thing, but I still can't believe my wife never mentioned it before I actually met her.

Anyway, I love this album. Nihil-Morari, I love your anecdotes and information about all of FZ's albums. One day, I'm going to read them all.

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Okay, I have to ask.  Is Dale still hot?  Back in the day, she was smokin'.  Pretty cool that you met "Mary".


As most of you know, I was in a rock band in the 80's which actually managed to pay the bills for nearly two years.  We traveled around the Midwest in a converted school bus, painted blue and named Phydeaux III.  The Bus!  I just remembered that.

Offline Podaar

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I almost forgot to relate a story about this album. Not Orbert caliber but ya'll might enjoy it.

Many years ago, I was waiting inline at the drive through teller at my Credit Union and listening to Joe's Garage. It was payday and I was a young divorced father and was thinking that my ex would probably be waiting at my house for the child-support check. I was also daydreaming about a woman I was dating and wondering if I'd have any money to take her out this week. It was summer, I had things to do, bills to pay. Anyway, I had a lot on my mind and wasn't really listening to the stereo even though it was at normal listening levels.

My turn arrived and I pulled up to the window. The little drawer slide out. I leaned out the window to place my paycheck in and just then it registers that from the stereo I'm hearing, "Really? High little guy." In a panic I dropped the check and started reaching for the volume knob as I hear Joe say, "Think I could interest you in a tiny..." My fingers fumbled for the knob and I think the teller is mumbling something to me through the speaker, probably asking if I want cash or deposit. Crap, I hit the knob wrong and it turns clockwise to blast, "but exciting, BLOOOOOOOOOOOOW JOB. Gimme that, gimme that, BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOW JOB." I punched the eject button and the cassette shoots out.

Just cash please.  :blush

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Awesome!!   :rollin  :lol :rollin

Offline Nihil-Morari

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 :lol :lol Great stuff guys! Meeting Mary 'From the bus?' must've been awesome too. Usually when stuff out of a Zappa lyric comes up in a conversation with friends, I finish the quote. Most of the time the stuff doesn't make any sense to outsides. Nowadays the usual response is: 'Zappa?'

Oh and Tofee, not to get ahead of myself, but when I'm finished doing this (or maybe at the halfway point after his death) I'm thinking of adding all write-ups in a document to download. So you won't have to search for the thread. Might need some grammar corrections, but we'll get to that.

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Offline darkshade

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"...and here comes the ice pick, in the forehead!"

Joe's Garage, as mentioned earlier in this thread, was not an album I was into in my early Zappa years, but it's one that has grown on me immensely over the years. Act I is perfect Zappa, one of his best albums. Act I has classic songs, great flow, and is one of Frank's funniest albums. The humor never gets old, as with all the great Zappa albums. But most importantly, the music. Jumping from funk, to rock, to blues, to jazz-fusion, to comedy-rock, to avant-garde classical, it's all there. This is basically Frank's "The Wall" in the sense that it has that 'important' feeling when you listen, especially when you know the context of Frank's music; it's like his farewell album as society ushered in the 1980s.

Acts II and III is good but not as good as Act I. As one big album it's great, but flawed, so I tend to treat them as 2 albums (like System of a Down's Mesmerize/Hypnotize albums.) Act II and II feels bloated, there's great stuff there, but bloated. Who said they skip Keep It Greasy? You're insane, that's some of the best playing by a rock/jazz/progressive band I've ever heard, and is even crazier live on the "Buffalo" album. Watermelon in Easter Hay is also on Act III, and I'm surprised by the low key discussion on this one. It is a classic, pretty composition. This is the only Zappa tune I get emotional when listening. It was played at Frank's funeral. It is definitely top 3 Zappa solos for me.

My favorite solo, though, is the On the Bus. Great solo (the original is on the album "One Shot Deal") and a great funky groove underneath.

It was clear that once Frank had aquired the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen,  he just didn't care what the f*ck people thought about his lyrics. He just went all out.
It was like 'hey, so gay sex grosses you out? Here you go! Bam! Keep it Greasy. Dong Work, Sy Borg. 'So Anti-Religion lyrics pisses you off? Here!' Bam! Catholic Girls.  I think he was so pissed off at WB, he enjoyed releasing the HELL out of this.

No doubt about that. Check out the original Lather cover art.

Offline Mosh

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Speaking of the story, I may be totally out on a limb here, but it's supposed to be cobbled together and stupid. That's the parody. My understanding was that Frank was completely making fun of the entire idea of concept albums. By taking a bunch of unrelated songs and barely stitching them together with the central scrutinizer and conceptual continuity. Yet, he couldn't help himself and still had something to say about oppression, modernity and the beauty of music...which wound up making it the perfect concept album. Until this thread, I've never met a Zappa fan who thought otherwise.
The problem with this is that Frank ended up falling into a lot of the same traps that other bands have fallen into when making concept albums. The storyline loses focus, all the best songs seem piled on to the first disc, etc. Add to that the fact that, yes, there is a serious message in the lyrics, I think he was taking the concept pretty seriously. After all, he helped create the concept album. The first three Mothers albums were concept album, even his live albums sometimes had a theme (see Filmore East).

I too have met folks who love all three acts, the whole dang thang.  That's fine.  I've come to appreciate Acts II & III more over the years, but they're down the list a bit for me.

I can tell you exactly why.  For me, Act II starts off on the wrong foot with not one, but two songs about male gay sex.  Call me a homophobe, but that just grosses me the fuck out.  Don't want to think about it, sure as hell don't want to listen to songs about it.  I always skip "Dong Work" and "Keep It Greasy".  After that, I think there are a bunch of guitar solos, mostly very good, loosely strung together with some kind of narrative, but by then I'm not even paying attention anymore, and then it's over.
This is yet another thing that I find off-putting about a lot of his material from now pretty much until he died. He had a tendency during this time to take a joke and beat it to death until it wasn't funny anymore. It feels like more than half of Acts II & III are based around plooking jokes. I guess it was kinda funny in Cyborg, but 2 or 3 songs later it feels like Frank is repeating himself. Especially since he isn't adding anything new to the topic. Another example of this is on Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life. Awesome live album, but the Jimmy Swaggert stuff is dragged out and not very funny.

Compare this again to Sheik Yerbouti, which is shorter than the entirety of Joe's Garage, yet he has a ton of different topics and doesn't dwell on one thing for too long.

Even Act I is far superior in this regard. Variety of topics and great humor. Yet it is all pieced together coherently.

It was clear that once Frank had aquired the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen,  he just didn't care what the f*ck people thought about his lyrics. He just went all out.
It was like 'hey, so gay sex grosses you out? Here you go! Bam! Keep it Greasy. Dong Work, Sy Borg. 'So Anti-Religion lyrics pisses you off? Here!' Bam! Catholic Girls.  I think he was so pissed off at WB, he enjoyed releasing the HELL out of this.
I got this impression too. Sheik Yerbouti and Joe's Garage are like Zappa unleashed. When people describe Zappa as a master satirist who wasn't afraid to go after anyone, this is the period I'm thinking of. Also the sheer length of these albums and Zappa being able to release Joe's Garage at his own pace.
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Offline Cyclopssss

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Prime example of overlong concepts and losing focus is off course, 'Thing Fish' which I find almost impossible to listen all the way through.

I think you're right. When Frank found a horse to beat, he'd flog it to death. ('Porn Wars' anyone?) One album I think is an excellent example of the opposite, by which I mean a very diverse and focussed album, would be 'You Are What You Is'. 'Them or Us' to a lesser extent. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
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Offline Podaar

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The problem with this is that Frank ended up falling into a lot of the same traps that other bands have fallen into when making concept albums. The storyline loses focus,

No it doesn't.  The focus is just fine for the story being told.

all the best songs seem piled on to the first disc,

No, no they're not. The best songs are all in act III where we get a plethora of melancholy guitar solos.

Add to that the fact that, yes, there is a serious message in the lyrics, I think he was taking the concept pretty seriously. After all, he helped create the concept album. The first three Mothers albums were concept album, even his live albums sometimes had a theme (see Filmore East).

That all seems okay with me. Although, I don't typically like to form an opinion on people's motivations, I'd agree that Frank appeared to take his opinions seriously.

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:lol :lol Great stuff guys! Meeting Mary 'From the bus?' must've been awesome too. Usually when stuff out of a Zappa lyric comes up in a conversation with friends, I finish the quote. Most of the time the stuff doesn't make any sense to outsides. Nowadays the usual response is: 'Zappa?'

Oh and Tofee, not to get ahead of myself, but when I'm finished doing this (or maybe at the halfway point after his death) I'm thinking of adding all write-ups in a document to download. So you won't have to search for the thread. Might need some grammar corrections, but we'll get to that.

I wish I followed up with "...with leather?". That'd be great to have it all in one place. That's so much time dedication to the love of Zappa! Thank you.

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Anyone know where Act II ends and Act III begins?

Is it after Outside Now?

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I assumed side 1 and 2 are act II and 3 and 4 are act III (of the original release).
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^^ I've always viewed it as such. Isn't it on the label info? (you know, label as in the cd surface?)  :lol
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Just checked my copy, it's on the back of the jacket.
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #626 on: April 03, 2017, 06:18:16 AM »
Official Release #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
(Released 05/1981)



Background Information:
After Joe’s Garage Zappa pushed onward. He planned to release two albums full of live recordings. After the first one ‘Crush all boxes’ was bootlegged (Zappa played it in its entirety on the radio, but there seemed to be test pressings floating around too), he scrapped both that album and the second album (a three record set called ‘Warts and all’), remixed and rearranged the songs to release them on Tinseltown Rebellion, You Are What You Is and Shut Up & Play Yer Guitar amongst others.
When playing ‘Crush all boxes’ on the radio, Zappa stated that the original title for that album was You Are What You Is, but that he had changed his mind. But more on that later.
After reviewing the mixes and edits, Zappa decided he had a lot of work to do. There are unofficial versions of ‘Crush all boxes’ floating around on the internet, and it’s amazing stuff to check out. For some reason Zappa made a lot of changes to the mix when he turned the album into Tinseltown Rebellion. While Tinseltown sounds dark, dense and busy, ‘Crush all Boxes’ sounds crisp and fresh (and with a different, yet amazing solo on Easy Meat).

The Album Itself:
Tinseltown Rebellion is Zappa’s first 80’s album. A path he had set off on on Sheik Yerbouti, and continued on Joe’s Garage was nearing completion. Zappa’s 80’s band records would remain to be full of sexual themed lyrics, short songs, enormous band, big arrangements and a very busy rhythm section.
There are a couple of old, but immensely reworked tracks on this album, a lot of new songs, a couple of standalone guitar solo’s, and with Panty Rap and Dance Contest two audience participation tracks.
The album is all over the place in terms of style. The reggae bits on Joe’s Garage got their follow-up in Panty Rap and Now You See It - Now You Don’t. There’s fast doo-wop kind of stuff (Love Of My Life), energetic rockers (I Ain’t Got No Heart, and the title track) and the one of a kind thing that The Blue Light is.
In terms of band arrangements there are a lot of people contributing to this album. Ed Mann has a big role on percussion, Tommy Mars on keyboard, and Bob Harris’ incredibly high pitched vocals are featured frequently.
A remarkable thing is the way guitar solo’s are presented on this album. Vinnie Colaiuta and Arthur Barrow and a dynamic duo within band arrangements, but when accompanying a solo they are just as busy. It distracts from the solo, making it more of a xenochronic (but live) piece, where there appear to be at least two solo’s at the same time. There are three big guitar solo’s: the ending of Easy Meat, the solo in Pick Me I’m Clean, and Now You See It - Now You Don’t. Of these three Easy Meat is all over the place, and Now You See It… is the most traditional guitar solo. 
Zappa’s first 80’s record set the tone for the rest of his pop/rock albums in this decade.

Essential Tracks:
Easy Meat
Tell Me You Love Me
Now You See It - Now You Don't
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Offline Nihil-Morari

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #627 on: April 04, 2017, 01:22:22 PM »
I'm guessing this is a less popular album  :lol

Let me be the first to give his opinion. I've never really liked the album. I don't really like this band, don't really like the setlist, don't really like the compositions. But listening to this album three times in a row sort of opened my eyes. Especially after listening to Crush All Boxes, I've gained respect for this lineup. Crush All Boxes sounds much better, and although I have yet to buy that one, I'm looking forward to listening to the 'actual' live album from 1981. It's just that the album is a weird combination of a certain type of songs. Even older songs sound stylistically identical to others. And since it's quite a long album it gets a boring record. I just get tired of the sound of it. I think it could have been a pretty nifty single album, and could've sounded better. Well, like Crush all Boxes, really.

Having said that, I think it's still in my bottom 10 Zappa albums.
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Offline darkshade

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #628 on: April 04, 2017, 03:08:33 PM »
FZ - "What's your name?"

"Butch... [echo]"

"..."

FZ - "Alright, the dynamic... BUTCH!"

I have a soft spot for Tinseltown Rebellion. First off, I'm a big fan of Arthur Barrow so anything he is on is great for me. Vinnie is also great on drums (though I prefer Bozzio because his playing is more raw.) Also to note, this is Steve Vai's debut on a Zappa album, but I've never been a big fan of his playing. Second, this was not an album I checked out in my "first wave" of Zappa listening, I think I bought this album a couple of years after discovering Zappa. It was a time when I "thought" I had heard all the essential Zappa out there, when I wasn't necessarily listening to Frank too much, and was pleasantly surprised to hear new tunes when I bought it, and fun updated versions of some older tunes. I kept this album in my car for a good year or so, back when I used CDs in my car. It was generally the only Frank Zappa album I listened to during this time. At the time, I definitely thought this album was better than it is, and it's not bad or even average (for Frank), and I find it to be one his most fun records to listen to, but it does seem to be one of his least popular albums. Lyrically, this album continues Frank's cynical observations of social life, race, and sex in America.

"No problem"

Even though this is a live album, it starts off with a studio track, Fine Girl, a nice funky reggae-ish tune, nice tom-tom work.
Easy Meat is next. This is a Zappa classic, some great prog rock only Frank could make, if a bit overplayed in the 80s, but it originated during the Flo n' Eddie era, was played here and there throughout the 70s, but this is the tune's debut on a Frank Zappa album. Its mostly live, with lots of overdubs, and edits, and even cuts to some studio insanity (or is it a cut from a live Petite Wazoo segment, I don't remember...) The rest of the album is supposedly live without overdubs and edits (besides segues to the next track)

Maybe you're tired of talking about it, but Lather references are on this album, and For the Young Sophisticate (which was originally on Lather) makes it's official debut on this album instead, with updated early 80s power guitars and heavier drums. A few older Mothers/Zappa doo-wop tunes show up, too, but way more rockin', and with 6 guitarists and 3 keyboardists on stage, the sound is huge. Brown Shoes also pops up towards the end, and is a bit strange for me.

"No problem"

I get a big kick out of the Dance Contest track. IMO it's one of Frank's most hilarious moments on an album, his interaction with audience members was always funny, but he got some real nutballs, likely drunk, on stage for this one.

The Blue Light is the most unique tune on this album, and is a weird mix of soaring chorus, with verses that use a type of sing-speaking (I forget the official term for this) Zappa used this kind of 'singing' on much of his output in the 80s. This song was my favorite for a while when this album was new for me. Tinseltown Rebellion, the song, is cool. It's Frank's take on punk rock, while mocking the scene. Frank actually had a punk-ish tune on Shiek Yer Bouti (Broken Hearts Are For Assholes) but this one is more upbeat and heavier on the keyboard synths, with a little weird jazzy middle section.

I never cared much for Pick Me I'm Clean, even though the solo is good. Bamboozled By Love debuts here as the slow funky version. Later versions saw Frank's band play it at a double time, sped up rocker (as we'll hear later on YCDTOSA vol 4, with some references from a particularly famous 70s prog rock band...) The reworked version of Peaches en Regalia (Peaches III) is cool, and I enjoy it a lot, but it doesn't even touch the original on Hot Rats. Let's hear it for another great Italian... Al Di Meola ladies and gentlemen.

So yea, it's a good album, just not the most essential Zappa album out there. There are lots of jazz-fusion moments spread throughout the album, just not as obvious, which you could say about all of Frank's albums from 79-85. Considering half the album contains brand new songs, and pretty solid versions of some older tunes, it's definitely not an album to skip if you're a Zappa novice; but you might want to check out roughly 20 other Zappa albums or so, before considering this one; unless you absolutely love Joe's Garage and crave more from this era (In that case, check out the posthumous album "Buffalo" as well, it's a hot album recorded during the same time period as Tinseltown Rebellion, I actually like it more than TR.)

"No problem"

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Re: The Frank Zappa Discography Thread - #30 - 'Tinseltown Rebellion'
« Reply #629 on: April 04, 2017, 03:47:34 PM »
The one and only time I saw Frank, it was on the Crush All Boxes tour.  I still have the T-shirt somewhere.

I gotta be honest; I was somewhat disappointed.  Yeah, there's a story.  But it's really long and doesn't really make sense if I shorten it because of all the details that kinduv interrelate.

Should I?