The Crux Of The Biscuit Frank Zappa For President CDs

The Crux Of The Biscuit
Frank Zappa For President
CDs

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Out of the blue, on June 9, while many had been pondering about trustees and beneficiaries of the Zappa integrity and of his overwhelming and strangely managed output, ZFT trustees announced the world, including beneficiaries of any sort, two new releases due to July 15.

Frank Zappa for President? You betcha! We know at various times he wanted to run for office. In the spirit of the dramatic 2016 presidential election adventures comes a release that gives us a glimpse into what could have been. This album is comprised of unreleased compositions realized on the Synclavier, along with other relevant tracks mined from the Vault, with a political thread tying it all together. Don’t forget to register and vote!

The Crux of the Biscuit was created in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Frank Zappa’s 1974 album Apostrophe(‘). As part of Zappa Records’ ongoing Frank Zappa Project/Object Audio Documentary Series, it contains rare alternate mixes, live performances, and studio session outtakes. This release celebrates Zappa’s iconic, Gold-certified album, which landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart.
source: zappa.com

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Unreleased synclavier compositions, never heard before mixes of ’60s and ’70s classics, nuggets that shed new light on the studio compositional process, live episodes relevant to two basic themes: the President of the USA and 42 years of trudging across the tundra.

In summary: succulent!

However from the outer FZ space perspective, I can’t help feeling still scary of the future, and I do hope the Zappas will be able to continue digging the vault, and I also hope the “cease and desist” nightmare will not happen as it does in the darkest canyons of my mind.

But forget about this mess for a couple of hours, take a deep breath and immerse in these two albums.

–       ;- {=      –

The Crux Of The Biscuit (Zappa Records/UMe ZR 20020, July 15, 2016)

The Crux Of The Biscuit
(Zappa Records/UMe ZR 20020, July 15, 2016)

The Crux Of The Biscuit

1 Cosmik Debris 4:21
2 Uncle Remus (Mix Outtake) 3:59
3 Down In De Dew (Alternate Mix) 3:16
4 Apostrophe’ (Mix Outtake) 9:07
5 The Story Of “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast” 2:25
6 Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast (Live) 19:26
7 Excentrifugal Forz (Mix Outtake) 1:34
8 Energy Frontier (Take 4) 3:04
9 Energy Frontier (Take 6 With Overdubs) 4:15
10 Energy Frontier (Bridge) 8:23
11 Cosmik Debris (Basic Tracks-Take 3) 5:11
12 Don’t Eat The Yellow (Basic Tracks-Alternate Take) 2:12
13 Nanook Rubs It (Basic Tracks-Outtake) 0:42
14 Nanook Rubs It (Session Outtake) 0:48
15 Frank’s Last Words . . . 0:16

Produced by Gail Zappa and Joe Travers
Vaultmeisterment and audio transfers by Joe Travers
Mastering: Bob Ludwig
New mixes: Craig Parker Adams, 2014

Cover photograph: Yoram Kahana (probably) [uncredited]
Other photography: Emerson/Loew, Mark Aalyson, Jeffrey Mayer, Michael Mesker
Illustration: David Calcano/Christian Garcia
Art direction: Ahmet Zappa
Package design: Michael Mesker
Liner notes: Simon Prentis
Production Manager: Melanie Starks

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For most listeners, Apostrophe(‘) is mainly the place where snow is yellow and feet stink. Also, the Bromhidrosis epic is where THE question arises: “What is your Conceptual Continuity?” Since the easy to be seen answer is “The crux of the biscuit is the Apostrophe(‘)”, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the best known FZ albums without Stink-foot – hence without Fido who will eternally bring those stink-fated slippers and gives THE answer – is like giving praise to Don Quixote not mentioning Sancho.

Let’s commemorate such conspicuous absence with the commercial that inspired a distinguished dog-man relationship (relevant scene at 0:17):

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That said, The Crux Of The Biscuit is a must for hard-core fanatics due to plenty exquisite episodes, and may have a lot of interest for the rest of the world, for instance for the main Yellow Snow celebration, almost 20 minutes live from Hordern Pavillon, Sydney, June 1973, a tape that should become road, if you know what I mean.

The album, possibly the last produced by Gail and Joe, starts with a proto Apostrophe(‘) side A (tracks 1-4) whose main interest is the dynamic duo Down in the Dew/Apostrophe’, new to mankind as a dual system. Simon Prentis, who delivered a truly relevant piece of zappology as liner notes, gives information and his own view about Energy Frontier, the original title of such a double jam sessions. Simon quotes a well-known Zappa statement:

Q: What about playing with (bass guitarist) Jack Bruce on Apostrophe?

FZ: Well, that was just a jam thing that happened because he was a friend of (drummer) Jim Gordon. I found it very difficult to play with him; he’s too busy. He doesn’t really want to play the bass in terms of root functions; I think he has other things on his mind. But that’s the way jam sessions go.

Frank Zappa
By Steve Rosen
Guitar Player, January, 1977

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Then he reports (via joe Travers) that those Dew/Apostrophe’ jams were all recorded on November 8, 1972, also with an unknown flute player on tracks 8 and 9. As effectively remarked by Prentis, the subsequent work has been an editing matter, that night after night shortened Jack Bruce contribution and brought Down in the Dew out (later to emerge for Läther without Jack Bruce in a version near to track 3). What is presented here (proto tracks 3 and 4, and jam tracks 8-10) is the evidence of a process that started with a jam session, continued with a proto dual system (with Bruce in Apostrophe’ only) and ended as we know it simply as Apostrophe’. Thanks to this album, now we know better why Zappa said that Bruce was “busy”, it seems that such a one-day encounter didn’t give what could be theoretical expected in terms of interplay, but the way the bass guitar of Jack Bruce sounds in these unreleased jams is gorgeous (a FZ post-production?) and some of his lines are truly remarkable (like those delivered into the first minute of the original Apostrophe’ – and of track 4 – that give a clear mark to that jam).

So editing as a major Zappa craft and practice, and “omission” as a keyword to guide the transition from the on-field recorded matter to the edited recorded object to be released. That is one the main subjects of the liner notes, fully available through simonprentis.net, a must read!

And omission is at work within lyrics too, significance is often hidden or lies on a metaphoric level, or may be even almost faint in cases when information is delivered for conceptual continuity purpose only.

The Crux Of The Biscuit, and its liner notes, brought this blog to closely consider the mysterious and elliptic lyrics for Excentrifugal Forz (a Mix Outtake belongs to this album too) and hopefully get nearer to some of the omitted points. See what you think:

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The clouds are really cheap
[Reality is not so interesting]
The way I seen ’em thru the ports
[That’s how it looks to me]
Of which there is a half-a-dozen
[A little part of it]
On the base of my resorz
[Is what I have been doing]
You wouldn’t think I’d have too many
[From everyone point of view, a very little part]
Since I never cared for sports
[Because I’m an outsider]
But I’m never really lonely
[But I don’t care to be seen/understood]
In my Excentrifugal Forz
[My nature is to escape from what is accepted by most people]

There’s always Korla Plankton
[And if I feel too much out of reality (as Korla Pandit do!)]
Him ‘n me can play the blues
[I can always play the blues]
An’ then I’ll watch him buff that
[And I will enjoy shining every single blues canon]
Tiny ruby that he use
[… canon …]
He’ll straighten up his turban
[… canon …]
An’ eject a little ooze
[… canon …]
Along a one-celled Hammond Organism
[The blues is an archetypal culture, as one-celled organisms are archaic forms of life]
Underneath my shoes
[And it is part of me, deeply]
An’ then I’ll call PUP TENTACLE
[I can also get inspiration from cheap monsters]
[The monster in Cheepnis, a “pup tent affair”, seems to be recalled here, as noted elsewhere by Simon Prentis, it may represent one of those “clouds”, or reality as constructed/perceived by most people]
I’ll ask him how’s his chin
[I can image further mutations]
I’ll find out
[And doing so]
How the future is
[Time as everyone knows it]
Because that’s where he’s been
[Loses in significance]
His little feet got long ‘n flexible
[And I found myself on a spherical time constant]
An’ suckers fell right in
[Far from what is accepted by most people]
The time he crossed the line
[That’s where my mutations live]
From LATER ON to WAY BACK WHEN
[Because when I deal with my favorite mutations, before and after do not make sense anymore]

–       ;- {=      –

A few more remarks are needed to close the not yellow side of this album, discussion is open at zappateers and other FZ loci. Cosmik Debris (track 1) opens with an unheard before brass intro. This version of Uncle Remus includes new and not to be missed Ikettes embroideries, but also further gorgeous George keyboard treatments. Apostrophe’ (mix outtake) shares the drum intro with Stink-foot (the only link discovered so far with the Fido song). The two Energy Frontier takes are two different Down in Dew versions with Jack Bruce, Energy Frontier (Bridge) is actually an early version of Apostrophe’. Cosmik Debris (Basic Tracks-Take 3) includes a new bluesy FZ solo and is a no vocals version to be sang to!

The Crux Of The Biscuit starts dealing with Yellow Snow with the words of FZ introducing this new piece in 1973. He tells how he was also inspired by an Imperial Margarine commercial, “Good morning, your highness!” comes from it. Unfortunately only a bad quality recording of such a promotional feature survives into the Internet, but it is worth watching anyway (the “black gentleman” commercial starts at 01:02).

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Margarine inspired also the 1973 Mar-Juh-Rene routine, well-known but officially released only in 2008 in One Shot Deal as part of Australian Yellow Snow. This routine is also included here in track 6 which is an extended version of the Yellow Snow suite, also including Rollo and part of the Steno Pool section of Greggery Peccary. Both versions derive from the June 24-26, 1973 Sydney concerts, once again, road one please!

In his Zappa dissertation, Tomasz Michalak digs into significance and symbols related to the apostrophe and hyphen (“something that might be used for erotic gratification by a very desperate stenographer”) signs. He also quotes FZ who recalls a linguistic inspiration for Yellow Snow in two different interviews:

I had a conversation in approximately 1972 with a schoolteacher in Kansas. She taught English. And she was talking about the way language works. And her point was that any language develops for a culture based on the things that the culture needs to talk about. And as an example she said in Eskimo language they have, you know, a whole number of different words for snow because snow is their life. And she was the one who said maybe they even have something for yellow snow, which you wouldnít want to eat it. And thatís what gave me the idea. (FZ, interviewed by Jim Ladd, August 1, 1989)

And:

as an example she talked about the Eskimo language, which she said had twenty words for snow because it was so important to them. And she actually made the comment that probably in the Eskimo language there was some sort of warning for children not to eat yellow snow. And thatís where the idea came from. (FZ, interviewed by Allan Handelman, East Coast Live, June 6, 1993)

Quoted (P.293) into
“THE MEGAPHONE OF DESTINY-” COMPOSITION, VOICE, AND MULTITUDE IN THE AUDITORY AVANT-GARDE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: GERTRUDE STEIN, SAMUEL BECKETT, JOHN CAGE, AND FRANK ZAPPA
Tomasz Zbigniew Michalak
A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (English Literature) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)
December 2013

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The album closes with three early snippets from the Yellow Snow suite and a last brief track with Frank stopping the tape. Very hard-core maniac type stuff with no commercial potential at all, enjoyable for a limited audience such as Rne who noticed in his “rudimentary notes” that “the marimba figure and the laughs that were inserted at the very end of “Father O’Blivion” in the Apostrophe (‘) album” are included in Frank’s Last Words… .

For the full story of the Yellow Snow suite I would recommend a brief article by Charles Ulrich hosted on the ARF web site: “Some notes on the Yellow Snow suites permutations

Finally the original artwork for the back of the CD inlay deserve to be mentioned. It’s a Zappa cereal box probably illustrated by David Calcano of Fantoons Animation Studio in Los Angeles. Here it is with some details (click the images to enlarge them).

The Crux Of The Biscuit, CD inlay image Zappa cereal box

The Crux Of The Biscuit, CD inlay image
Zappa cereal box

The Crux Of The Biscuit, CD inlay image detail Nutrition Zappa Facts 1

The Crux Of The Biscuit, CD inlay image detail
Nutrition Zappa Facts 1

The Crux Of The Biscuit, CD inlay image detail Nutrition Zappa Facts 2

The Crux Of The Biscuit, CD inlay image detail
Nutrition Zappa Facts 2

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For further notes on the cover of the album refer to the Information Is Not Knowledge (IINK) web site, at the beginning of the Apostrophe (‘) notes page.

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Frank Zappa For President (Zappa Records/UMe ZR 20021, July 15, 2016)

Frank Zappa For President
(Zappa Records/UMe ZR 20021, July 15, 2016)

Frank Zappa For President

1 Overture To “Uncle Sam” 15:16
2 Brown Shoes Don’t Make It (Remix) 7:27
3 Amnerika (Vocal Version) 3:10
4 “If I Was President” 3:43
5 When The Lie’s So Big 3:38
6 Medieval Ensemble 6:31
7 America The Beautiful (Bates/Ward; Traditional) 3:36

Produced for release by Ahmet Zappa & Joe Travers
Vaultmeisterment, transfers and compilation by Joe Travers
Mastering: Gavin Lurssen & Reuben Cohen
Art direction: Ahmet Zappa
Art, layout: Keith Lawler
Production management: Melanie Starks

Cover art details available at the proper IINK web page.

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If The Crux of the Biscuit objective as an Audio Documentary is very well stated and accomplished (including omissions), with the support of informative and in-depth liner notes, Frank Zappa for President appears like an unglued sequence of nuggets and lush unreleased pieces joined together by a political thread that ends up to be too weak in absentia.

Also, from a hard-core fanatic perspective the album is full of interest beside the basic theme, but such material would have deserved more informative liner notes.

Take Overture To “Uncle Sam” for instance, since this piece is in the repertoire of Ensemble Ascolta for the never released project Ascolta Plays Zappa, it would have been very interesting to hear their point of view about this composition dated 1993. And why not take them for a note to the other synclavier material included?

Part of Overture To “Uncle Sam” has been premiered by the Ascolta ensemble at Radialsystem, Berlin, July 14, 2007 (the 0:00 – 4:49 section). An excerpt (2:35 – 4:49) is available through their web site.

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The version included here is ten minutes longer than the Ascolta one and features the sonic palette typical of the late FZ synclavier works that can be heard in Civilazion Phase III and Dance Me This. Also, Overture To “Uncle Sam” should have a close relationship with the Wolf Harbor suite. No link instead with Dio Fa (the abandoned FZ opera project) as elsewhere stated in this blog (the notes to the Berlin, July 14, 2007 Ascolta ensemble concert program led to this probably false conjecture: “planned as an overture to an opera for La Scala in Milan, world premiere”).

To focus on the right Uncle Sam / Wolf Harbor setting you should go back to the liner notes to Dance Me This:

Over the years I had seen Frank jump from project to project often shelving one indefinitely to focus on another. There was an elaborate stage piece titled Dio Fa; An opera titled Uncle Sam (about a dystopian future America with a ludicrously polluted New York Harbour); A music notation book with accompanying audio disc titled The Rhythmic Sadist’s Guide to Drum Patterns for the 21st Century.
Todd Yvega–

In his vision for a staged presentation for modern dance [FZ] described how he wanted to represent Wolf Harbor (do the research on this place which really does exist): Groups of dancers side by side would hold long rolled out lengths of black trash bags (think Hefty) and “wave” them at waist (waste) height to signify the dark and murky polluted waters of sludgy Wolf Harbor.
Gail Zappa–

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A sort of unresolved melancholy in a suspended time environment is a feeling common to both compositions. The difference resides in how the tension ends up to be unresolved. In Wolf Harbor tension is low and everywhere, time is suspended, no resolution allowed.

Overture To “Uncle Sam” features a main melodic (and melancholic) material used as opening and with some variations at 02:02, 05:58 and 11:08. Right after every variation tension grows and its resolution seems to happen when the listener recognizes the melodic material, but relief is denied when he realizes that melancholy is still there. The finale is true Zappa: tension grows again and closes with a sort of brief broadway hoopla!

The illusion of a resolution results to be more effective than no resolution at all!

Hoopla! back to 1966/1969, Frank Zappa for President brings the listener to a never heard before remixed version of Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, a pleasure for everyone, especially for those who spent countless time with this 1966 sonic movie and will recognize all details changed in this remix. Acoustic ensemble is often clearer and the overall sound image results spatially enriched. In this case also it would have been much interesting to know what was the purpose of such a 1969 remix. Rejected for the 1969 Mothermania (which included the 1966 mix)?

No particular questions to ask for Amnerika (Vocal Version), a well-known (for FZ tape traders) and beautiful unreleased Thing-Fish outtake that needed to be released. Maybe one: why it has been rejected?

“If I Was President” is Zappa explaining in 1990 why he “wouldn’t campaign” but “file as a candidate of no party” with a 1985 synclavier background (for the full text transcript please refer to the relevant IINK web page). Was it a Zappa produced audio object?

An unreleased 1988 When The Lie’s So Big take follows, politics is of course the rationale for the inclusion, however the hard-core fanatic (the main audience for this album) attention declines, this version does not add zappology elements (except for some slight changes in the lyrics) and it does not give particular help to the flow of the program.

For the next Medieval Ensemble, an unreleased 1985 synclavier composition, attention is back. It sounds like a Jazz From Hell outtake, a long march with no resolution with a medieval flavor, could be used for the eternally postponed Terry Gilliam Don Quixote!

The album closes with another 1988 episode. The America The Beautiful version digitally (mp3 only) released in The Frank Zappa AAA·FNR·AAA Birthday Bundle 21.Dec.2008 Nice to have it in a good audio quality (but strangely different from the official 1988 releases), relevant to the main theme, but in an album of unreleased material and with a surprising 1969 mix of a classic, the role of this song is simply to close the curtain.

Now I’m wondering, in an album like this, where politics in America is a theme sometimes loose (Medieval Ensemble?!?), why do not take advantage of the lines:

Could result in the end
To a worrisome trend
In which every American
Not “born again”
Could be punished in cruel and unusual ways
By this treacherous cretin
Who tells everyone
That he’s Jesus’ best friend

to include another bundle nugget that unethically still remains unreleased in a lossless audio standard? I’m thinking to Treacherous Cretins from The Frank Zappa AAA·FNRAA·AA Birthday Bundle 21.Dec.2010, a killer version that needs to expand its audience.

Moreover, can you spot any treacherous cretins somewhere in this 2016 USA campaign?

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Frank Zappa, Road Tapes, Venue #3 | Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN | 5 July 1970, Vaulternative Records, May 27, 2016

Frank Zappa, Road Tapes, Venue #3 | Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN | 5 July 1970, Vaulternative Records, May 27, 2016

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In today’s rapidly changing world, ziblings appear almost every day with some new promotional device.
Some of these devices have been known to leave irreparable scars on the minds of foolish old consumers.
One such case is seated behind this pages, yes, The Resentment Listener.

There is only one possible relief for scars such that: music. And I do hope there will be a lot of music from now on, before that Jabberwocky day when some sordid lawyer will suggest a cease and desist whatchamacallit that will silence the Big Note.

In the hope of a truly different outcome, let us get some blessed relief with a little known live period: Flo & Eddie, the 1970 embodiment.

Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan by Michael Hodsdon

Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan by Michael Hodsdon

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The Flo & Eddie Band, the so called FZ’s Vaudeville Band, is mainly known for two early 70’s releases (Fillmore East – June 1971, and Just Another Band From L.A.). For those who are familiar with the whole official discography, the body of such works grows with Playground Psychotics (a 1992 release). Also, you may want (and you should) consider posthumous releases, hence Carnegie Hall (a 2011 release). To complete the picture some tracks from YCDTOSA Vol.6 should be mentioned. However, with some very little exceptions (one of them strictly related to this release, later on this), all official recordings are from the 1971 Flo & Eddie Band, that was slightly different from that of the previous year: in 1971 Jim Pons and Don Preston replaced Jeff Simmons and George Duke.

The Mothers 1970, photo by Barrie Wentzell

The Mothers 1970, photo by Barrie Wentzell

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Charles Ulrich’s “FZ’s Vaudeville Band” pages are a good place to focus on differences between 1970 and 1971 in terms of repertoire. As it can be seen in the “repertoire by tour” chart, in 1971 vocal numbers increased (Magdalena, the Sofa suite, Billy The Mountain, etc.) while listening to concert tapes you will realize that in 1970 instrumental material had larger room and included one grand instrumental more: Chunga’s Revenge (originally known as The Clap). Mudshark is an example of a piece of music that in 1970 was an instrumental section of Little House, while in 1971 become a Vaudeville number (Fillmore East – June 1971). Flo & Eddie 1970 should be seen as a transition period, the missing link between the 60’s Mothers and Billy the Mountain, with echoes of the short lived Hot Rats Band (Feb-Apr 1970).

Until the release of Road Tapes, Venue #3, the only way to appreciate such 1970 live shows were the zappateers archive (sing praise to them) or the following titles from the Beat the Boots series (all of them with fair to good audio quality):

Freaks & Motherfuckers (BTB I, Fillmore East, NYC, November 13, 1970)
Tengo na Minchia Tanta (BTB II, Fillmore East, NYC, November 13, 1970)
Disconnected Synapses (BTB II, Palais Gaumont, Paris, France, December 15 1970, featuring Jean-Luc Ponty)

As for concert tapes, go for instance for 18-Jun 1970, Uddel, Netherlands (Live at the “Piknik” show, VPRO, Dutch Television, good audio quality).

So this Tyrone Guthrie Theater, 5 July 1970, set is highly welcome to fill such a gap.

The Mothers, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, 5 July 1970

The Mothers, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, 5 July 1970

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Road Tapes, Venue No. 3

Disc One

Show 1
1 Tyrone Start The Tape… (1:59)
2 King Kong (3:37)
3 Wonderful Wino (Zappa/Simmons) (4:47)
4 Concentration Moon (2:34)
5 Mom & Dad (3:25)
6 The Air (3:46)
7 Dog Breath (2:01)
8 Mother People (2:06)
9 You Didn’t Try To Call Me (4:10)
10 Agon – Interlude (Stravinsky) (0:36)
11 Call Any Vegetable (7:59)
12 King Kong / Igor’s Boogie (20:25)
13 It Can’t Happen Here (3:05)
14 Sharleena (4:59)

Show 2
15. The 23rd “Mondellos” (3:13)
16. Justine (Harris/Terry) (1:46)

Disc Two

Show 2, continued
1 Pound For A Brown (5:07)
2 Sleeping In A Jar (3:37)
3 Sharleena (5:49)
4 “A Piece Of Contemporary Music” (7:03)
5 The Return Of The Hunchback Duke (incl. Little House I Used To Live In, Holiday In Berlin) (10:00)
6 Cruising For Burgers (3:44)
7 Let’s Make The Water Turn Black (1:42)
8 Harry, You’re A Beast (1:29)
9 Oh No / Orange County Lumber Truck (11:01)
10 Call Any Vegetable (11:29)
11 Mondello’s Revenge (1:46)
12 The Clap (Chunga’s Revenge) (13:01)

Frank Zappa: guitar
George Duke: electric piano, vocal drum imitations
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan): vocals
Jeff Simmons: bass, vocal
Ian Underwood: alto sax, electric piano

The Mothers at Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, June 1970

The Mothers at Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, June 1970

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The perfect instrumental trailer for this Vaulternative Records release is The Nancy and Mary Music from Chunga’s Revenge: a patchwork from show 2 recordings. Thanks to zappateer Ed Organmax, here is the deconstruction (RT3 timings):

King Kong 8:12-9:51 (sax + drum solos)
The Clap (Chunga’s Revenge):
7:20-8:21 (guitar solo)
King Kong:
10:06 – 13:09 (more drums, slightly more sax, second guitar solo)
15.19-19.04 (electric piano solo, vocal-drum and assorted screams)

Reasoning about King Kong, one more from Ed Organmax:

The two minutes in King Kong/Igor’s edited off “The N&M” between Guitar Solo 2 and the Electric Piano Solo (13:09-15.18 or so) are really driven by Aynsley who swings like a bad motherfucker! Stick in some horns and it would have sounded like The Grand Wazoo! So Dunbar had the chops from the outset!

Aynsley Dumbar drumming is in fact one the most remarkable elements of this recordings, also because drums are often clearer than other instruments and quite in front of the mix (especially in show 2). The overall audio quality is fair as the other Road Tapes releases. The Nancy and Mary Music is a good reference, even though show 1 (most of cd 1) audio quality is not as good as show 2, because of tape quality. Liner notes states that the first 35 minutes have been recorded over a previous used tape. During some songs (The Air and Call Any Vegetable) some other sounds can be heard far back in the mix.

As stated by zappateer pbuzby:

I can only guess that FZ may have thought of the first half hour of the first show as time to check the mix and perform material from the albums, before using better tape for the rest.

A huge thanks should be given to the persons at the control knobs, audio source often changes, there should had been a lot of mixing work behind this release.

Audio quality apart, this double set has a lot of appeal of course for the Vaudeville era fans, but also for those who are not in the mood of groupies entertainment.

(Almost) full instrumental numbers as King Kong (3:27+20:26), Pound for a Brown (4:57), Sleeping in a Jar (3:37), The Return of the Hunchback Duke (10:00), Oh No/Orange County Lumber Truck (11:01), Chunga’s Revenge (13:01) amount to about half the program (about 1h:12min of 2h:26min) and include fiery solos by Zappa, Underwood (especially on woodwinds), Duke and Dumbar.

In the rest of the program there still room for further Zappa solos (Wondeful Wino, Call any Vegetables (2 takes), Sharleena (a short solo in both takes)).

As for Sharleena, interesting to note that in his intro to the song Zappa explains (at about 1:05 into It Can’t Happen Here): “a song that we recorded in London a couple of weeks ago […] it will probably be released under the pseudo-name of Bognor Regis”. It should be a reference to the Chunga’s Revenge recording sessions. On the other hand Bognor Regis became the b-side of the unreleased Sharleena single.

Bognor Regis, from the Hot Rats sessions, August-September, 1969)

Back to the instrumental side of Road Tapes, Venue #3, “A Piece Of Contemporary Music” is a conducted improvisation episode that sounds like the 60’s Mothers of Invention (with a funny quote of Duke Ellington’s Caravan).

Moreover, Agon – interlude and Igor’s Boogie are brief nuggets also reminiscent of the MOI.

All the other Zappa songs feature great vocal performances of the Flo & Eddie duo, namely:

Concentration Moon
Mom & Dad
The Air
Dog Breath
Mother People
You Didn’t Try To Call Me
Cruising For Burgers
Let’s Make The Water Turn Black
Harry, You’re A Beast

They all are from the 60’s catalog, no groupies on the scene!

The surf/rockabilly number Justine, and the Mondello routines are that bit of previously unreleased folklore that gives further interest to the set.

Adrian Lloyd & the Sunsets, Justine (Harris/Terry)

Zappa told about the Mondello folklore in an “interview happened in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 5, 1970. The Mothers had gigs in Indianapolis in July 3 and 4, and then two shows in Minneapolis in July 5 at the Guthrie Theater”

HF: Didn’t one of them used to be on “Leave it to Beaver?”

Z: That’s the ‘Larry Mondello case.’ [2] They’ve been both mistaken for Larry Mondello for six years. It used to be Corky, the fat little kid that took care of Lassie between Jeff and Timmy. [3] At every concert for six years one of them has been mistaken for that kid on Beaver. Their real names are Mark Volman and Howie Kaylan.

“Frank Zappa Speaks” by Hundred Flowers, Hundred Flowers, July 10, 1970

Finally, tough posthumous, this album includes the first official release (not counting Beat the Boots) of Holiday in Berlin with lyrics, here as a section of The Return of the Hunchback Duke.

Live long and prosper, Road Tapes!

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We’ve been recording our shows here, at Tyrone Power Theater, and put them in a time capsule.
Frank Zappa, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN, 5 July 1970 (The 23rd “Mondellos”)

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I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia - Franz Albanese (director) Napoleon Murphy Brock Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia – Franz Albanese (director)
Napoleon Murphy Brock
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

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On April 23, 2016 an orchestral/electric, Napoleon driven Zappa tribute took place at Teatro Studio Borgna, at the Rome Auditorium. A remarkable event if you consider the effort needed to blend an all flutes orchestra (50 elements) with and electric big band (11 elements), although with the great help of Napoleon Murphy Brock (on his real birthday! more about this later).

However in this case it seems that size didn’t matter and such a large band performed in one of the rehearsal rooms of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and very little promotion preceded the concert.

Nonetheless the performance was effective, some flutes arrangements were particularly colorful, the electric band was tight and Napoleon body and soul on stage were exactly what such a large ensemble needed to complete the picture, mainly focused on the Roxy era.

Here are the main credits:

Tribute to Frank Zappa

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Ugo Maccari: keyboards, minimoog
Carlo Amberti: guitar
Gianluca Marchetti: hammond organ, lead vocals
Francesco Pititto: bass
Pier Paolo Ferroni: drums
Matteo Flori: vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, percussion
Massimo Muratori: trumpet
Francesca Menchini: flauto
Monika Wolf: alto sax
Damiano Fabbrini: tenor sax
Giorgio Parri: baritone sax
Angelo Adamo: harmonica

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
(Flutes Orchestra of the Santa Cecilia Music Conservatory)
with
Deborah Kruzansky, Francesco Baldi, Eugenio Colombo, Catia Longo, Francesco Leonardi, Monica Limongelli
(for the full flute players list, see the concert program here)

Franz Albanese: director

special guest
Napoleon Murphy Brock: vocals, tenor sax, flute

Program
Penguin in Bondage
Pygmy Twylyte
Peaches en Regalia
Son of Orange County
More Trouble Every Day
Village of the Sun
Echidna’s Arf (of You) (with drum solo)
Sofa
Strictly Genteel
Uncle Meat Suite (Uncle Meat/Dog Breath/Pound for a Brown)
Florentine Pogen
Andy
Inca Roads (includes Bolero)

Encores
Montana

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento brass section Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
brass section
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

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Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Flutes Galore Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Flutes Galore
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

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Franz Albanese Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Franz Albanese
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

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Napoleon Murphy Brock Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

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Two videos are available via YouTube, outstandingly low-fi, flutes galore is too far into the wall of sound, but with good headphones and some imagination, you’ll be able to get the picture. Here they are, Echidna’s Arf (of You) and Inca Roads, featuring a nicely transplanted Bolero.

Flutes Galore – Echidna’s Arf (of You) / drum solo

Flutes Galore – Inca Roads / Bolero

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It would have been nice to hear their rendition of Strictly Genteel again, the flutes arrangement was rich, especially for “the majestic section towards the end”, as Steve Vai paraphrased the composer in the Frank Zappa: 200 Motels – The Suites booklet, referring about the answer of the composer to what was his favorite thing he ever wrote.

The right night to honour Napoleon Murphy Brock on his birthday!

In fact Napoleon wrote a moving facebook post for the occasion reported by Zappateer TPS (thank you!). Here is his zappateers post.

TPS
Napi wrote this last night and posted it on his facebook page. I thought i would share it here for those that wouldn’t see it. (The ‘real’ birthday reference I presume come from the wiki/google ‘fact’ that he was born June 7, 1945 (age 70). Actually it’s April 23, 1943.)

NMB
TO ALL OF YOU ANGELS OUT THERE, WHO HAVE WRITTEN ME TODAY, AND YESTERDAY, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, PLEASE LET ME TRY, AND THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE JUST DONE FOR ME.

Those of you who took the time out of your busy lives, to write and send me such heart felt greetings on this day, my real birthday, I want to say thank you, and to say that I love you more than what the words were meant to express.

Your timing was such that I know you all had to be touched by the spiritual gods that surround us all. This last year for me has probably been the most difficult, and trying that I can ever remembering experiencing in all of my lives combined. And your reaching out to me, probably without even knowing that I was having such difficult times right now, causes me to view you all as angels that have come to my rescue.

Within the last year, I have lost seven close blood family members, Aunt Bertha Brock Nelson, Bernadine McCoy, Milton Brock, Aunt Ruth Murphy Harper, Uncle James Murphy, Gary Murphy Harper, and maybe one of my most beloved family member to whom I owe my present physical life, Richard Lewis. And two years ago three extended family members, George Duke, Corine Duke, and Ricky Lawson. Seven very close musician friends from when I was a teenager, Bobby Ingram, Billy Ingram, Douglas Ingram, Art Chavez, Ray Guzman, Vic Beam last week, and the beloved George Pezzolo. I don’t mean to make this seem too heavy, but it has been deeply disturbing to me, and I consider myself a very ultra positive, and happy human being. But this many, in this short span of time?

So for the Mariani’s Resturant Dancers who threw me two surprise birthday parties for the last two weeks that I performed there, because they knew that I would be performing in Europe on April 23rd, and I don’t know how they found out, because I didn’t tell them. Let me say Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, and I love you very much.

And for the organizers of last nights performance, with the Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio “Santa Cecilia”, who created last nights performance a TRIBUTE TO FRANK ZAPPA, with also Ugo Maccari, and “I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento”, Deborah Kruzansky, Direttore Franz Albanese, and 70 of the finest musicians that I have ever had the pleasure to create love through music, with at least 50 of them all playing every type of flute that exist, with me as the featured artist. Your presence last night in my life, and those lives to follow, will never be forgotten. And to top it off, when they scheduled the concert for last night almost a year ago, Saturday April 23rd, 2016, had no idea the it was my birthday, until I had to submit my passport to them so that they cold pay me for the performance.

And last by not least, to all my friends, that I have not kept in contact with over the past year, I ask you to please understand my situation, and forgive me for my not contacting you. But this has brought me back, and you will soon be hearing from me, I promise. Blessings to all of you. And may the love of God and life shine on you forever. And remember what Frank said, “MUSIC IS THE BEST”, AND SO ARE YOU!!!

 –       ;- {=      –

Also, at spaziofermo photo-blog: Napoleon. My personal tribute to Napoleon Murphy Brock on his birthday!

–       ;- {=      –

And for the whole ensemble, more photos follow (click to enlarge):

Ugo Maccari - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Ugo Maccari – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Gianluca Marchetti - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Gianluca Marchetti – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Carlo Amberti - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Carlo Amberti – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Francesco Pititto - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Francesco Pititto – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Pier Paolo Ferroni - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Pier Paolo Ferroni – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Matteo Flori - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Matteo Flori – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Angelo Adamo Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Angelo Adamo
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Flutes Galore Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Flutes Galore
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Flutes Galore Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Flutes Galore
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Eugenio Colombo Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Eugenio Colombo
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Franz Albanese Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Franz Albanese
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Franz Albanese Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Franz Albanese
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Napoleon Murphy Brock
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Franz Albanese Napoleon Murphy Brock Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Orchestra di Flauti del Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia
Franz Albanese
Napoleon Murphy Brock
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento blurred brass section Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
blurred brass section
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

Carlo Amberti - I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016 (photo: spaziofermo)

Carlo Amberti – I Virtuosi dal Pianeta Talento
Teatro Studio Borgna, Auditorium, Rome, April 23, 2016
(photo: spaziofermo)

–       ;- {=      –

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Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa? by Alex Winter

Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa? by Alex Winter

On March 8, 2016 Alex Winter has launched a 30 days kickstarter campaign for his hopefully soon to come documentary Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa? (all details available here, I for one pledged for 200$).

On March 9, 2016 Ahmet Zappa has posted the following on facebook:

People have been asking so I just wanted to clarify that the family is proud to give Alex Winter and his project our complete support, as well as unrestricted access to the Vault. This is the first time we’ve ever opened the Vault to someone outside of our family, but Alex is an exceptional filmmaker and storyteller, and we are excited to see him tell Frank’s story.

While we appreciate that the Kickstarter will help us with the larger project of preserving the Vault, I want to make sure everyone knows that this is NOT our project but we absolutely SUPPORT the project and Alex, and that the Zappa Family Trust will not receive any of the funds Alex raises during the Kickstarter (though if someone makes the $9 million pledge, which would obviously be awesome, a portion of that pledge will be used to purchase the house from the family at its market value).

Alongside the rest of you, we’re excited to see what Alex & his team will find.

These are some photographs of Zappa family house available through the Alex Winter kickstarter page as well as through the eBay Zf house page.

Zappa family house: Alex Winter at the courtyard

Zappa family house: Alex Winter at the courtyard

Zappa family house: Tape Library and desk

Zappa family house: Tape Library and desk

Zappa family house: living room

Zappa family house: living room

Zappa family house: library

Zappa family house: library

Zappa family house: library view from the corridor

Zappa family house: library view from the corridor

Zappa family house: Tape Library and living room

Zappa family house: Tape Library and living room

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Back to the kickstarter documentary page, it is for sure worth watching the campaign launch video. Here it is too:

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As far as visual art is considered the following frames are particularly intriguing.

Frank Zappa actual artwork (circa 2:16 frame)

Frank Zappa actual artwork (circa 2:16 frame)

Frank Zappa actual artwork (circa 2:16 frame)

Frank Zappa actual artwork (circa 2:16 frame)

Frank Zappa actual artwork (circa 2:17 frame)

Frank Zappa actual artwork (circa 2:17 frame)

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Finally, pay attention to the Drowning Witch on the background (spot the Z roof)!

Zappa family house: Alex Winter at the pool (circa 3:07 frame)

Zappa family house: Alex Winter at the pool (circa 3:07 frame)

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Go Ahead Alex!

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Motels keys, 200 Motels vinyl (1971), 200 Motels scores

Motels keys, 200 Motels vinyl (1971), 200 Motels scores

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Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducts Los Angeles Philharmonic & Los Angeles Master Chorale, Frank Zappa: 200 Motels—The Suites (Universal/Zappa Records, 2CD, November 2015)

Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducts Los Angeles Philharmonic & Los Angeles Master Chorale, Frank Zappa: 200 Motels—The Suites (Universal/Zappa Records, 2CD, November 2015)

 

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The orchestral music used in 200 MOTELS was composed over a five-year period. Some of it originated with this performance in 1968.

The piece heard here in its premiere performance by members of the BBC Orchestra eventually became “THIS TOWN IS A SEALED TUNA SANDWICH”.

Most of the orchestral sketches were done in motel and hotel rooms around the world during early MOTHERS Tours, hence the movie title “200 MOTELS” (based on an estimate of the actual number).

The True Story of 200 Motels (honker home video, 1988)
overlay text for Like it or Not
(London, October 25, 1968, audio released in 1993 in Ahead Of Their Time)

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The True Story of 200 Motels, Barfko-Swill/MPI, 1989 (VHS PAL and NTSC)

The True Story of 200 Motels, Barfko-Swill/MPI, 1989 (VHS PAL and NTSC)

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Like it or Not later become part of Bogus Pomp, included both in the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra performance (available through Orchestral Favorites) and in the extended London Symphony Orchestra version (from LSO Vol.2).

Zappa: The fact of the matter is, 200 Motels is a stack of music about like this, (opposing palms 2 ft. apart). In order for it ever to be played again, anyplace other than on a record, it had to be boiled down to a concert piece that could be used for live performance. “Bogus Pomp” is a compilation of main themes from 200 Motels which was a concert piece, for a forty-piece orchestra. It was just played again in the 120-piece version at the University of Wisconsin, along with “Strictly Genteel”. It’s nice that some of the things are actually getting played. But unless somebody takes the time, mainly me, to sit down and put it together to one book that thick instead of a pile of scores for movie background music, nobody’ll ever hear it.
Robert Cassella, Z=AP2, Gold Coast Free Press, January 5, 1984
[This interview is from the end of December, 1983 and was first published in the Gold Coast Free Press, later in the same year in Mother People #22.]

The music named under the large 200 Motels “trademark”, slowly took shape in the late sixties, a little part was performed live by the original Mothers of Invention and in 1970 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta, most part was then played by the movie cast, later some portions were performed live by the Flo & Eddie band, and finally concentrated as Bogus Pomp, a “symphony in one movement”, a fitting definition by David Ocker who worked for Frank Zappa from 1977 to 1984 as clarinet player.

The composer told the whole story in 1988 in The True Story of 200 Motels: he cared for such “orchestral sketches” for more than 20 years!

Early in the nineties also there were signs of how much he cared for 200 Motels and particularly for Strictly Genteel: Make A Jazz Noise Here (1991) the last live recording of his last rock band closes with this piece as well as the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore series (last track of Vol. 6, 1992).

Moreover, Steve Vai recalls:

I once asked him what was his favorite thing he ever wrote. I never expected such a choice could be made but he said, and I need to paraphrase a little bit here, “The majestic section towards the end of “Strictly Genteel””.
From the Frank Zappa: 200 Motels-The Suites booklet (more about this 2015 release later)

Mid eighties/early nineties were the years he was working with the Synclavier. Then he met The Ensemble Modern, two new crossed paths were developing, such circumstances eventually brought him far from those old seminal works.

The 200 Motels timeline then jumps to the year 2000 when Ali N. Askin adapted the old stack of scores in the form of The Suites for the Holland Festival.

Holland Festival Program, Amsterdam, June 23-24, 2000

Holland Festival Program, Amsterdam, June 23-24, 2000

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Here are the main credits:

Holland Festival
Amsterdam, June 23-24, 2000
Adaptation: Ali N. Askin
Company: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest and Cappella Amsterdam
Conductor: Jurjen Hempel
Soloists:
Claron McFadden: vocals (Rock & Roll Interviewer, Girl, Jeff’s Good Conscience)
Lieuwe Visser: vocals (Rance Muhammitz, Jeff’s Bad Conscience)
Tommy Dunbar & Jon Rubin: vocals (Flo & Eddie)
Mats Öberg: keyboards, vocals (Jeff)
Morgan Ågren: drums
Stage-Manager: Johan Simons

An audience recording is available through zappateers.

Kasper Sloots gives and effective summary of this 2000 project in his FRANK ZAPPA’S MUSICAL LANGUAGE study/web site.

200 Motels, The Suites, was reassembled by Zappa’s earlier assistant Ali N. Askin at the request of Gail Zappa. It could be made up from the archives with the pieces meant for a live performance by The London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1971. About 80% coincides with the 1971 album version of 200 Motels. The other 20% is unreleased. The set up of 200 Motels, the suites, is:

Overture
Went On The Road
Centerville
Tuna Sandwich Suite
The Restaurant Scene
Touring Can Make You Crazy
What’s The Name Of Your Group?
Can I Help You With This Dummy?
The Pleated Gazelle
I’m Stealing The Room
Shove It Right In
Penis Dimension
Strictly Genteel

The unreleased material deals with a groupie, addressing herself to the audience. She’s asking if she can take a polaroid picture and then continues confessing that she likes masturbating with the aid of a dummy. “Can I help you with this dummy?” is about the girl being sexually excited by the dummy, while a certain Rance first asks if he can help. Later on Rance gets disgraced as he understands what the girl was doing, while she’s trying to apologize. The score was first published in the The Frank Zappa Songbook from 1973. Zappa comments: “Can I help you…” was originally scheduled for use in 200 Motels but was excluded due to technical difficulties beyond…”. 200 Motels, the suites, was premiered on June 23 in the Carré theatre, with a second concert on June 24 (flyer above, there’s no information about the image designer on it). It was performed by the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra and the Amsterdam Capella choir with Jurjen Hempel conducting.

If you need to go in detail about the differences between the movie soundtrack and The Suites you should go for “Information Is Not Knowledge” web site as usual: at the end of the “Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels” page you’ll find the proper comparison table.

In 2000 a small part of the Holland Festival performance, an extract from I’m Stealing the Room named Dental Hygiene Dilemma, was already in the last Ensemble Modern Zappa program: Greggery Peccary and Other Persuasions, also presented at the 2000 Holland Festival.

This powerful vocal number, featuring David Moss and Homar Ebrahim, has been partially released as an hidden track in the third (the fourth, if you count CPIII in also) Ensemble Modern Zappa album that includes further arrangements by Ali N. Askin. (Greggery Peccary and Other Persuasions, RCA Red Seal, 2003). Here is the Dental Hygiene Dilemma animated (by Calvin Schenkel) sequence from Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels.

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After a 13 years hiatus, The Suites were back again for two big events:

Green Umbrella: Zappa’s 200 Motels
Los Angeles, October 23, 2013
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic & Los Angeles Master Chorale

Main performers:
Jeff Taylor: Larry the Dwarf
Michael Des Barres: Rance
Matt Marks: Mark
Zach Villa: Howard
Rich Fulcher: Cowboy Burt
Hila Plitmann: Soprano Solo
Morris Robinson: Bass Solo
Joel David Moore: Frank
Joe Fria: Jeff
Ann Cusack: Donovan/Good Conscience
Alan Ruck: Ginger/Bad Conscience
Diva Zappa: Janet
Sheila Vand: Lucy
Ian Underwood: keyboard 1/electric alto sax
Randy Kerber: keyboard 2/Hammond organ
Joe Travers: drum set
Scott Carter Thunes: electric bass
Jamie Kime: electric guitar

Jeff Taylor as Larry the Dwarf (Photograph: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging), Green Umbrella: Zappa's 200 Motels, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, October 23, 2013

Jeff Taylor as Larry the Dwarf (Photograph: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging), Green Umbrella: Zappa’s 200 Motels, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, October 23, 2013

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The Rest Is Noise
London, October 29, 2013
Royal Albert Hall
Jurjen Hempel conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia & London Voices (Terry Edwards: chorus master)

Main performers:
Claron McFadden: soprano
Tony Guilfoyle: Frank
Richard Strange: narrator, Rance
Ian Shaw: Mark
Brendan Reilly: Howard, Cowboy Burt
Sophia Brous: Groupie 1 (Janet), Larry the Dwarf
Diva Zappa: Groupie 2 (Lucy)
Jessica Hynes: Good Conscience, Donovan
Jay Rayner: Bad Conscience, Ginger
Scott Thunes: Jeff

Tony Guilfoyle as Frank Zappa (Photograph: Chris Christodoulou), 200 Motels-The Suites, The Rest Is Noise, Royal Albert Hall, London, October 29, 2013

Tony Guilfoyle as Frank Zappa (Photograph: Chris Christodoulou), 200 Motels-The Suites, The Rest Is Noise, Royal Albert Hall, London, October 29, 2013

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The London concert is available from the bigO audio archive as a BBC Radio 3 broadcast.

(BTW, also available through the bigO audio archive is Frank Zappa Live at the Civic Center, Santa Monica, August 21, 1970 that features some 200 Motels related material)

The Los Angeles concert has been released on November 2015 as a double Zappa Records CD: Frank Zappa: 200 Motels-The Suites. Here is the trailer:

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As reported in the press release linked above:

“I would say that the outrageous aspects of Zappa are perhaps less important for today’s audience,” Salonen told Variety in an interview before the 2013 performance. “We’re witnessing an historical moment where we can actually hear the other aspects of his music better because we are no longer stunned by the outrageousness. Reading this score now, there is a sheer richness of fantasy. He had such a vivid imagination in every way.”

And in fact the music sounds overwhelming, however the script does not give back that deviant climate the way it did in 1971. Salonen should be right, 43 years later the audience is different: maybe also thanks to Frank Zappa “the fringe of audience comprehension” has gone a little bit ahead. Furthermore these Orchestras seems happy to execute such a composer, while in 1971:

The jolly lads of the R.P.O. cavort with depraved abandon, shredding their rented tuxedos in an act of revenge.

Gary pretends to be dismayed.

The movie is over. Now they can go home.

R.P.O. stands for The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the text above is the overlay text around 50:00 into The True Story of 200 Motels, Zappa recalls how the musicians seemed to be offended to be part of the production of the movie.

Later, Zappa wrote this note for Strictly Genteel into the London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II booklet (the story dates 1983).

This was written for the finale of ‘200 MOTELS.’ It has lyrics and was sung by Theodore Bikel, Mark Volman, and Howard Kaylan on the original United Artists soundtrack album released in 1971.

The performance included here was recorded in the last hour of the last session of the last night . . . with no possibility of overtime (at any price) to correct mistakes. During the final ‘rest period’ just before the big push to get a good take, the entire trumpet section decided to visit a pub across the street. They returned 15 minutes late. No recording could be done without them. The orchestra refused to spend another 15 minutes at the end of the session to make up for their glowing brass section neighbors. I have done as much as possible to enhance this fine British ‘craftmanship’ (at least 50 edits in 6:53), but, to no avail . . . the ‘human element’ remains intact.

The Real Frank Zappa Book includes some more accounts of the his life-long difficulties with Orchestras and musical Institutions. One of the most infamous is the long lawsuit he had in London where he claimed over the cancellation of the 200 Motels Albert Hall concert. It was 1971 and the program could have had something in common with The Suites, as above speculated by Kasper Sloots.

Here are some old and recent articles about the controversy:
From the Guardian archives:
Frank Zappa’s lyrics outrage Royal Albert Hall management
Originally published on 9 February 1971

A Mother goes a-courting
NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, April 26, 1975

Sanchez Manning
Frank Zappa settles an old score after 42 years: Banned in 1971, ‘200 Motels’ will finally be played in the UK
The Independent, August 11, 2013

The composer gave a detailed account of such lawsuit in The Real Frank Zappa Book, Chapter 7 Drool, Britannia.

Drool, Britannia has been dramatized during the pre-concert talk (right before the 2013 Los Angeles, October 23 performance) hosted by Chad Smith. He introduces performers RICH FULCHER (Frank Zappa), MICHAEL DES BARRES (Mr. Ogden), JOE FRIA (Mr. Campbell), and SCOTT THUNES (Justice Mocatta) reading Drool, Britannia. The pre-talk closes with Chad Smith chatting with GAIL ZAPPA. The audio is available at the end of the show credits page at laphil.com.

Here it is too:

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The Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall show visuals and comedy has been produced by James Darrah, who has a 200 Motels page on his web site.

Darrah contributes to the Frank Zappa: 200 Motels-The Suites liner notes as well as Frank Filippetti, Gail Zappa, Scott Thunes, Steve Vai, Joe Travers, Michael Des Barres, Diva Zappa, Peter Asher, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kurt Morgan.

The latter being credited on the album as “Scrutinization & Remediation by Kurt Morgan, Scoremeister”. From his contribution to the album liner notes:

“Every idiosyncrasy of FZ’s way of notating music would be reproduced, right down to the beaming of notes and the layouts of the pages themselves. The job took almost two years for me to complete”

One might wonder what is the difference between the Askin Holland Festival version and the 2013 L.A./London Morgan scores.

It could be a matter of orchestration, the program should be almost the same, also according to the above mentioned comparison table.

As a final remark concerning the 2015 album, I would recommend the in-depth review of the Los Angeles concert by David Ocker, available through his Mixed Meters.

But let’s go back again to the late sixties to start a 200 Motels timeline (mainly a London/Los Angeles affair). There a few more facts that is worth to point out to fully appreciate and frame these new brilliant recordings.

1966-1970 The Orchestral Sketchbook
1968 October 25
London, Royal Festival Hall
The Mothers of Invention
assisted by members of The BBC Symphony Orchestra
Prologue, Like It Or Not (Redneck Eats), The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage / Undaunted, The Band Plays On (Dance Of The Just Plain Folks); included in Ahead of Their Time (1993); parts on The True Story of 200 Motels (1988)
c. 1968-69 The Mothers of Invention
opening for Holiday In Berlin, Full-Blown (Ouverture)
included in Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970)
1969 date unknown
KPFK Radio Panel
: current state of popular and classical music in the U.S.
with Frank Zappa, Zubin Mehta (L.A. Philharmonic Music director), Ernest Fleischmann (L.A. Music Center and L.A. Phil. Manager), David Raksin (film-music composer); hosted by station Classical Music Director William Strother
1970 May 15
Los Angeles, UCLA, Pauley Pavilion
CONTEMPO 70
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Zubin Mehta (conductor)
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
Excerpts from 200 Motels for Mothers & Orchestra
Bootleg recording available through the bigO audio archive
Chunga’s Revenge (October 1970)
Zappa liner notes: “All the vocals in this album are a preview of the story from 200 Motels. Coming. Soon. Near you.” However these songs didn’t make it to the final shoot.
1971 January 28-February 5
Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels shooting/recording
Produced at Pinewood Studios, Iverheath, England
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Elgar Howarth (Conductor)
February 8
London, Royal Albert Hall cancelled
Frank Zappa’s lyrics outrage Royal Albert Hall management
Originally published on The Guardian on February 9, 1971
October 4
Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels (2LP, Bizarre/United Artists UAS 9956)
October 10
Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels movie premiere
1975 April 14
At 10.30 in the morning Bizarre Productions began to sue the Royal Albert Hall in front of Mr. Justice Mocatta. Bizzare lost.
A Mother goes a-courting
NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, April 26, 1975
September 17-19
Los Angeles, Royce Hall, UCLA
Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra
Michael Zearott (conductor)
Strictly Genteel
Bogus Pomp
included in Orchestral Favorites (1979)
September 17 zappateers audience recording available
September 18 zappateers audience recording available
1983 January 12-14
London, Twickenham Film Studio
London Symphony Orchestra
Kent Nagano (Conductor)
Strictly Genteel
Bogus Pomp
included in London Symphony Orchestra Vol. II (1987)
1988 The True Story of 200 Motels (Honker Home Video, May 15, 1988)
2000 June 6 – November 29
The Ensemble Modern Greggery Peccary & Other Persuasions concerts
Peter Eötvös (conductor), Ali N. Askin (arrangements and transcriptions), Todd Yvega ( synclavier transcriptions)
The album released in 2003 includes en excerpt of
Dental Hygiene Dilemma (partially unreleased, from I’m Stealing The Room)
June 23-24
Holland Festival
Amsterdam, Koninklijk Theater Carré
200 Motels, The Suites
Adaptation: Ali N. Askin
Company: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest and Cappella Amsterdam
Conductor: Jurjen Hempel
zappateers audience recording available
2013 October 23
Green Umbrella: Zappa’s 200 Motels
Los Angeles, Walt Disney Concert Hall
200 Motels, The Suites
Scruitinization & Remedials by Kurt Morgan: scoremeister
Company: Los Angeles Philharmonic & Los Angeles Master Chorale
Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Chorus Master: Grant Gershon
October 29
The Rest Is Noise
London, Royal Albert Hall
200 Motels, The Suites
Scruitinization & Remedials by Kurt Morgan: scoremeister
Company: BBC Concert Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia, London Voices
Conductor: Jurjen Hempel
Chorus Master: Terry Edwards
BBC Radio 3 broadcast available through the bigO audio archive
2015 November 20
Frank Zappa: 200 Motels – The Suites (Universal/Zappa Records, 2CD)
spotify link

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The CONTEMPO 70 concert was the first orchestral performance of 200 Motels scores. Unfortunately, due to the usual difficulties with unions regulations, he could not record the concert performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. Frank Zappa recalls the story in The Real Frank Zappa Book.

Sometime in 1970, I had an offer for a major concert performance of the orchestral music accumulating in my closet. During the M.O.I.’s first five years, I had carried with me, on the road, masses of manuscript paper, and, whenever there was an opportunity, scribbled stuff on it. This material eventually became the score for 200 Motels (based on an estimate of the number of gigs we played in the first five years—forty jobs per year?).

The performance was to be held at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion (a basketball arena seating about fourteen thousand people), with Zubin Mehta conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. A pretty big deal.

There was a ‘catch,’ though—the orchestra didn’t really want to play the stuff—they wanted AN EVENT; something ‘unique’—like—uhh, maybe a ROCK GROUP and—uhhhhh—a REAL ORCHESTRA sort of—uhhh—well you know—‘rocking out together.’ It didn’t matter what the music was.

This eventually led to a few problems. First of all, I didn’t have a ‘ROCK GROUP’—the M.O.I had been disbanded for about a year. Second, there were no parts copied for the scores, and I was being asked to pay for this enormous job (seven thousand 1970 dollars). The third problem was that I wanted some kind of tape of the show, and the Musicians’ Union wouldn’t allow it. (They didn’t do anything when some asshole in the audience ran a cassette and made a bootleg album out of it, but they were promising stern action if I made one for my own use—just to find out what my pieces sounded like . . . but let me slow down here.)

We solved problem number one by putting together an interim one-shot ‘Mothers-Of-Invention-Sort-Of-Group.’ It did a short tour to warm up, maybe half a dozen dates, and returned to L.A. for the show.

The second problem was solved by me spending the seven thousand bucks on a team of copyists.

The third problem never got solved, and I never got a tape of the show.

It was the most successful indoor concert of the L.A. Phil’s season that year—sold out. Somewhere in the mass of spectators were Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, a.k.a. Flo & Eddie.

They came backstage after the show, said they liked it, and told me that the Turtles had split up and they were looking for something to do. The rest is history.

In spite of all those issues, the show was a success and gave a chance for the first encounter with Volman and Kaylan (Flo & Eddie), a crucial duo for the future of 200 Motels. Luckily enough bootleg recordings exist, one of them is available through the bigO audio archive.

Right before the “hit it Zubin!” (FZ during the intro) Pauley Pavilion concert, KPFK Radio organized a panel called “current state of popular and classical music in the U.S.” with Frank Zappa, Zubin Mehta (L.A. Philharmonic Music director), Ernest Fleischmann (L.A. Music Center and L.A. Phil. Manager), David Raksin (film-music composer) and hosted by station Classical Music Director William Strother. Here is a recording:

From left: Frank Zappa, Zubin Mehta and Ernest Fleischmann at a 1970 news conference (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

From left: Frank Zappa, Zubin Mehta and Ernest Fleischmann at a 1970 news conference (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

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Considering how emerging was rock culture in 1969 and what FZ wrote about CONTEMPO 70 in The Real Frank Zappa Book (“the orchestra didn’t really want to play the stuff—they wanted AN EVENT”), the background of the discussion appears clear. Metha asks “Once and for all: what is rock music?” or “rock is an instinctive idiom, how an Orchestra can play rock?”. Zappa answers (a paraphrase here): “Whatever merchandized in a rock packaging” and “I don’t want the Orchestra to play rock but I do think the Orchestra should sound instinctive”. Metha was looking for the secret recipe of the rock popularity, Zappa answered his way trying to put the issue differently: it is not a matter of Rock/Classical (low culture/high culture) it is a matter of proper content in the right frame.

Zappa:
I wanted to have a performance of the Rite of Spring in a dance environment where you could actually get kids to dance to it. I wanted to get the LA Philharmonic down there and have them taking up the whole back of the place, amplified, so it can really ride across your chest by the Rite of Spring, put on a light show and let everybody dance to it!
[…]
I would be more than happy, if I had a group, to carry on from The Rite of Spring and keep on pumping after the tune was over, because I never did like the end of The Rite of Spring.
[…]
As soon as the Orchestra quit, like a tape edit downbeat, then the other band starts up with a fuzz-tone!
[…]
You want people to appreciate beauty, give it to them!

I would run for such a thing!

Anyway, in 1969 in the U.S. the so called classical world was hardly trying to understand how to design musical events as successful as rock ‘n’ roll shows, and this circumstance brought an interest on Frank Zappa, probably more as a rock-star than as a composer. FZ was smart enough to understand and catch it.

If you bear in mind such a background the panel flows with a sort of underlying text behind.

The last jump across the timeline is to 1975 for the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra concert (Michael Zearott: conductor). There is not much information available on the web about these performances, later partially released on Orchestral Favorites (1979), with some other remnants on posthumous releases (QuAUDIOPHILIAc (2004) and One Shot Deal (2008)). On a 1976 article Frank Zappa gave a particularly zany comment: “I had a few laughs.” (Rip Rense, A Unique Musical Force or Blasphemous Freak: Which Is Frank Zappa?, The Valley News, Van Nuys, CA, June 27, 1976).

Zappa/Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra/Micheal Zearott, Los Angeles, Royce Hall, UCLA, September 1975 - Ad

Zappa/Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra/Micheal Zearott, Los Angeles, Royce Hall, UCLA, September 1975 – Ad

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The overall feeling is that the composer was happy enough with the project also because he was able to insert some kind of “instinctive” elements, the “eyebrows” he probably was trying to explain to Zubin Metha during that 1969 panel. One of them concerns Bogus Pomp.

Micheal Zearott conducting the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles, Royce Hall, UCLA, September 1975

Micheal Zearott conducting the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles, Royce Hall, UCLA, September 1975

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Early in Bogus Pomp there is an electric, wah-wah viola solo. Zappa explained before the piece that the rest of the orchestra would musically attack the viola player later in the piece because the viola got the first solo and because the soloist was a woman.
L. Roy Goldberg, Zappa Gives UCLA Audience The Bird, Daily Trojan, September 25, 1975

The episode is at 6:15 into Bogus Pomp (and there’s another at 9:21), Orchestral Favorites version, and the viola player is Pamela Goldsmith:

It was Jerry Kessler who asked me to join him in a string quartet (electrified) to play with Frank in a giant Royce Hall Concert. It was the first time I had dealt with a pickup (Barcus Berry in those days) and amp (giant Benson amp), so in combination with dealing with Frank I remember being extremely pressurized. I had feedback all the time, as I remember. I used a combination volume control and wah-wah pedal, and once I was fooling around with it during rehearsal and tried using it to produce ‘vibrato’. Frank came running out wild-eyed saying ‘that’s it-you have to use that’. So I did. I played barefoot because that was the only way I could feel the pedal underneath my foot (you must realize violists don’t use their feet to play and this was all new to me. I was fresh from Stanford University, having received my doctorate in eighteenth century performance practice). In the performance, Frank had the string quartet right in front at the edge of the stage, dressed in formal orchestral attire. Except for my bare feet. He definitely wrote for individual players, writing more and more difficult passages until you would hit your ‘wall’. I remember finally saying to him, “Frank, I can’t play that any faster”. Then he said, ‘okay’, and that was that. Everyone was apparently relieved that I was not intimidated by him (only by the electronics). I think I was the only woman around in that group (does anyone remember? this was a long time ago). Yes the music was highly complex and difficult, but challenging and fun to play. Michael Zearott conducted (the meter changes were so difficult and frequent)quite wonderfully as I recall. In fact, everyone was in top form, rising to the occasion of this incredible collection of players. more to follow later. pg

Here’s more: Frank definitely wrote personal music for his musicians. Someone must have told him I was involved with a trombone player at the time, so he wrote duets (in unison) for viola and trombone. I remember the marking was ‘grotesque’. The great trombone player, Bruce was a pleasure to try to imitate–he really had the satirical style down. The only two titles I remember were Bogus Pomp and Gregory Peccary. Somewhere in the Concert Frank came to the mike and announced to the audience, “you think I am a wonderful composer, but the truth is these musicians could improvise their own piece and it would be just as interesting, so let’s have them do it now. Let’s start with Pam”. Then he turned around and gestured to me. Can you imagine the terror that sprung into me at that moment. I picked up my viola and began to improvise, in a very avant-garde, all over the place style. (they tell me it sounded a little like Ornette Coleman) Then he gestured to others to join in, waved people in and out, indicated dynamic changes and so forth. When he cut off the music (noise, whatever), the audience cheered wildly. I could only think: “thank god that’s over–I hope no one ever asks me to improvise in public ever again”!
From the “Frank Zappa and The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Orchestra” Bill Lantz web pages

To close this erratic trip back and forth the 200 Motels timeline, a final question arises (paraphrasing Zubin Metha): Once and for all: what’s the 200 Motels message?

We have an answer, it was given by Howard Kaylan at the end of The True Story of 200 Motels (0:51:13):

His intention is to create a, a piece of film so bizarre and, parts of it so full of bullshit and other parts of it so technically perfect, that the people are gonna leave the theater going, “I didn’t understand it at all! What’s he doing? What’s, what’s the message? What’s he trying to say?” Well, that’s the message, that he’s not trying to say it.

Or: “I had a few laughs.”

200 Motels collage by Dave McMacken

200 Motels collage by Dave McMacken

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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Terry Bozzio is been celebrating the release of his Terry Bozzio Composer Series CD Box Set (out on December 18, 4CD+DVD/Blu-ray, Ward Records) with a long Japan/European solo tour. Rome Planet Live Club November 20 was the last date of the European leg of “An Evening with Terry Bozzio”: melodic drumming at its best on “the world’s largest tuned drum and percussion set”. A fine musician behind an impressive monster-instrument delivers one hour and half of fine art, a wisely controlled blend of tuned toms fury and cymbals lyricism.

Terry Bozzio Composer Series CD Box Set (4CD+DVD/Blu-ray), Ward Records, 2015

Terry Bozzio
Composer Series
CD Box Set (4CD+DVD/Blu-ray), Ward Records, 2015

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Terry Bozzio 2015 European Tour flyer

Terry Bozzio 2015 European Tour flyer

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You must be a real sound/percussion expert to master all technical details (goto the kit set-up page at bozzio dot com even if you are not one of those techies, and you’ll get the picture), but also from the naïve listener point of you, it is a sound and vision terrific experience.

The Rome audience was packed of techies/drummers (Terry called for them in a chat between two pieces), but everyone has been highly focused on the music all over the set. A level of concentration and respect rarely found elsewhere, but this is the case of the jazz-fusion-chamber-pop-metal unique young-old kind of a Bozzio (heavily Zappa-shirted) audience.

Terry Bozzio is been playing melodic drumming since ages, but his research continues, on the sound matter too. The following video captures how Bozzio sounds like today, it is Pat’s Changes at Sweetwater’s “Gearfest” 2013.

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On the YouTube notes to the piece he gives an idea of how the sound design is relevant to the final melodic outcome:

I am using pintech midi triggers on each tuned drum. That goes into 6 Roland TMC-6 units, then into m-Audio midi-usb routers and into my mac using Reason for a sign-wave pure tone of the note each drum is tuned to. That helps the melodies come out more clearly. I apologize for the slap back echo (that came from a live mix room mice I guess!).

There’s a lot of work and fine tuning to do behind “the world’s largest tuned drum and percussion set”, Terry needs professional support, and the man behind the drums in the photographs below – taken right before the Rome performance – is Trommelduwer Michel Weekhout.

I had my camera with me at the show but they told me Terry Bozzio asked not to take any picture during the set, so I took some before and after. And I must say I was impressed from the audience who once again were truly respectful of Terry: we were told not to shoot during the show (there were plenty of cameras), and with just one exception, nobody even tried to.

Here they are, Master Trommelduwer behind the kit, and some close views of the kit itself.

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

Michel Weekhout fine tuning the Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

The Terry Bozzio drum and percussion set, Planet Live Club, Rome, November 20, 2015

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For a black and white take of the kit, go to spaziofermo: Terry’s furniture.

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Panty Quilt, Emily Alana James, circa 1982, commissioned by Zappa and constructed of ladies' undergarments thrown on stage during the Tinseltown Rebellion tour

Panty Quilt, Emily Alana James, circa 1982, commissioned by Zappa and constructed of ladies’ undergarments thrown on stage during the Tinseltown Rebellion tour

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Mark Pinske was a recording engineer for Frank Zappa from 1980 until 1987. Mark is also one of the featured voices on Drafted Again from from You Are What You Is.

On January 2003 Chris Michie interviewed Mark Pinske for Mix magazine: an extensive account on Mark career with a lot of Zappa insights. It is divided in 4 sections and available on line:
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day One
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Two
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – part 1
The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – part 2

In these very days Mike has been really kind to share through his web site two Zappa songs and a Panty Rap from the November 18, 1980 St Paul Civic Arena Bowl concert. A nice treat for Zappadan 2015!

City of Tiny Lights – 10:38

Love of my Life – 2:16

Panty Rap/Band intro – 4:33

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He have informed Zappateers of such good news, giving some comments on the two songs.

City of Tiny Lights
A song taken from an FZ show off of my board that has some very interesting live effects like the Ursa Major Space Station and octave divider on Franks Guitar.

Later around 6 minutes Steve Vai and Frank play together and some other thrills like Frank changing to a reggae tempo at around 9 minutes.

The line up was. FZ, Steve Vai, Tommy Mars, Arthur Barrow, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bob Harris, Ray White, Ike Willis. Isn’t that enough?

Love of my Life
Here is the live version of Love of my Life (short song) from the same show that features my dear friend Bob Harris using his wonderful falsetto that he used on the audition for the Tinsel Town Rebellion album and got him a place in Franks music.

I have a whole story that goes with that. (one little feedback screech near the end from the onstage monitor, my apology).

 

THANK YOU MARK!

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December 30, 2015 update
On December 26 Mark uploaded yet another number from the fall ’80 Colaiuta-drummed tour. Judging fron the file name, it should be from the December 11, 1980 show in Santa Monica, the last date of the fall ’80 tour, actually a two shows deal.

Outside Now!


During the intro rap FZ mentions Sand Diego as a two days ago panty bonanza experience, then at 1:15, after a quite abrupt cut towards the song, Joe starts to sing and lay the foundation for a great Zappa solo!

Again, thank you Mark, I do hope it will be a monthly thing!

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February 5, 2016 update
On February 4 Mark uploaded another 1980 file, this time from the Logeman-drummed tour:

Here is a little mix off my board from London Wembley Arena on 06-17-1980 just for fun.

It’s Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, and features “Ray – Night of the Living Dead – White”!


Thank you Mark, it’s really monthly!

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