Archive for the ‘obsession’ Category


a Zappadan Conceptual Continuity Cruise


Escher's "Relativity" in LEGO(R) by Andrew Lipson

Escher’s “Relativity” in LEGO(R) by Andrew Lipson


dedicated to the surrealistic memory of Dominique Jeunot (1959-2004)

Dominique Jeunot with Ben Watson at the International Conference of Esemplastic Zappology, on  January 16, 2004

Dominique Jeunot with Ben Watson at the International Conference of Esemplastic Zappology, on January 16, 2004


A classic start, first song, first album.
Hungry Freaks Daddy (Freak Out!)

Lyrics deals with some typical US amnesias, fact that brings straight to:
Amnerika (Civilization Phaze III)

This melody appeared for the first time in the background of:
That Evil Prince (Thing Fish)

Harry and Rhonda talk about the Evil Prince with Thing-Fish who remarks:
Next item de boy be inventin’ come under de headin’ o’ industrial pollutium!

It’s easy now to go trudging across:
Nine Types of Industrial Pollution (Uncle Meat)

Zappa talked about this piece with Bob Marshall, on October 22, 1988:

Bob Marshall: What are the ‘Nine Types of Industrial Pollution’? Because it seems these old institutions are running amuck with these old techniques, and they’re out of control. They clash with different media, different institutions, and different professions.
Frank Zappa: The funny thing about that song title is that, at the time that it was put on Uncle Meat, there was no such thing as a concern over industrial pollution. It hadn’t even been brought up as a topic. I put that on that song just as a joke after driving through New Jersey.
Bob Marshall: So, there were not nine, you had not categorized…
Frank Zappa: Here I could see nine on that one trip. There may be more.
Bob Marshall: The term was not in the regular media…
Frank Zappa: No.

And also, on the musical side, what follows is an interesting view from feetlightup for the forum.

I was listening to this on headphones the other day and heard some stuff for the first time. It seems that the basic rhythm track is a fairly simple slow blues track (bass, drums, organ), but with all of those percussion instruments dubbed on top, it sounds like it’s more freeform than it actually is! It’s also pretty clear to me now that Frank’s guitar is actually a fairly bluesy lead, but when sped up and superimposed over this background, it too sounds fairly “out there”. And GET THIS: Way in the background of one of the channels, the whole time you can hear (I think) Frank’s ORIGINAL guitar lead, played at normal speed! Just shows what you can do in the studio with some pretty basic ingredients and a hell of a lot of creativity.

An early move towards Xenochrony?
Friendly Little Finger (Zoot Allures)

From The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa cassette liner notes to this song:

[…] recorded in a dressing room at Hofstra University and over- dubbed at the Record Plant, Los Angeles, California; […] This is one of the earliest examples of a technique I developed called Xenochrony (strange synchronizations).

More about this subject in “WE ARE The Mothers… AND THIS IS WHAT WE SOUND LIKE!” (Mix, January 2003, Chris Michie):

Zappa dubbed the technique “xenochrony,” from the Greek words xeno (strange or alien) and chrono (time). As he explained, “In this technique, various tracks from unrelated sources are randomly synchronized with each other to make a final composition with rhythmic relationships unachievable by other means.” For example, in the case of the Zoot Allures track “Friendly Little Finger,” the solo guitar and bass were recorded in a dressing room on a 2-track Nagra and then later combined with an unrelated drum track for a piece called “The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution,” with additional instrumentation scored to complement the newly produced time signatures. Xenochrony proved to be a powerful new compositional tool for Zappa, and he returned to it many times over later albums.

Let’s move then to such drum track in his first environment:
The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution (Sleep Dirt)

And talking about the ocean:
Outrage At Valdez (Yellow Shark)

 Frank Zappa’s interest in the tank vessel accident on March 24, 1989, causing environmental disaster and worldwide protest came as a mild but not irrational surprise. His commitment lead to the friendship with Jacques Cousteau and to composing the soundtrack for a documentary, Alaska: Outrage At Valdez about the accident and its consequences in the Prince William Sound, Alaska (from the wiki jawaka article).

And from here, FNRAA, I would like to jump to the LSO, one of the most important, though controversial FZ orchestral projects, for a less known composition:
Sad Jane (London Symphony Orchestra Vols. I & II)

Is that a pun on Lou Reed’s Sweet Jane? Anyways, in the words of Frank Zappa (“Non-Foods: Not The Moody Blues“, Guitar Player, November 1983):

The last movement of “Sad Jane,” kind of a marching thing, is actually a transcription of a guitar solo from the Shrine Auditorium, 1968, that Ian Underwood wrote out back then, and I came across one day in a pile of papers. I played it on the piano and liked the tune, and proceeded to orchestrate it.

And for another example of this technique:
Big Swifty (Waka-Jawaka)

Again Zappa reports (from The Complete History Of The Few Last Weeks Of The Mothers Of Invention):

This piece (which comprises all of Side One of the HOT RATS Waka/Jawaka album) presents a theme in rapidly alternating time signatures, a few solos, and an out-chorus done up in a sort of Prom Night orchestration which suspends the opening rhythmic structure over a straight 4/4 accompaniment.
The restatement of the theme is actually derived from a guitar solo on the album which Sal Marquez took down on paper. After about an hour of wheeling the tape back and forth, Sal managed to transcribe this rhythmically deranged chorus (I don’t have the ability to do this kind of musical dictation, but, since Marquez had a full-bore education at North Texas University, he had it covered). After he’d written it out, we proceeded to over-dub three trumpets on it, and, presto! An organized conclusion for “Big Swifty.”

The title itself brings the cruiser straight into:
The Adventures of Greggery Peccary (Studio Tan)

Where “Big Swifty and Associates” is Greggery’s office. This adventurous piece includes the “Who is making those new brown clouds?” theme that occurs again in:
For Calvin and His Next Two Hitch-Hikers (The Grand Wazoo)

Zappa (from The Complete History Of The Few Last Weeks Of The Mothers Of Invention):

This is dedicated to Calvin Schenkel, a long-time friend who has been responsible to a large extent for anything graphic/visual associated with the M.O.I. (from album covers to billboards to the animated sequence in 200 Motels).
There are lyrics to this piece (which has already been recorded and is set for a fall release in the impending Grand Wazoo album), but we are performing an instrumental version for these concerts. The story depicted in the lyrics refers to a mysterious “Schenkel Mirage” which occurred while he was driving to work. The details are a bit deep, but perhaps you can use your imagination and extrapolate a situation from the text.

Also, Calvin steps in on Lumpy Gravy saying “That’s very distraughtening.”
Very Distraughtening (Lumpy Gravy)

Shortly thereafter, Spider says:
Everything in the universe is . . . is . . . is made of one element, which is a note, a single note. Atoms are really vibrations, you know, which are extensions of THE BIG NOTE, everything’s one note.

This is it, this is THE BIG NOTE, a central idea for the whole Zappa body of work. The composer was fascinated by unifying theories. Here is what he tells to the interviewer in The Frank Zappa Interview Picture Disk (pt.2, circa 1984):

Well … in physics they have this thing that they’ve been looking for – it’s the Unified Field Theory that explains the interrelationship between how gravity works and atomic energy and all this stuff – they’re looking for one equation that explains it all and makes it work because right now there’s contradictions. And … let’s just say that the book is like a Unified Field Theory that will hold together “Billy The Mountain”, “Greggery Peccary”, “Joe’s Garage” “Them Or Us”, “Thing-Fish” … all these different stories, it shows you how they work together to make one long, really complicated story. And the “Them Or Us” album is only one part of this major release that is coming out this year.

Them or Us (Them or Us)

That is a Black Page #2 guitar solo performed in Bolzano on July 3, 1982. Though edited as usual, a full version from a few days earlier show (June 26, Munich) is included in You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 5. YCDTOSA is a series of 6 double cds consisting of live recordings spanning Frank Zappa’s entire career. He started working on this project in 1988 and concluded Volumes 5 and 6 in 1992 (I’m particularly fond of this series and in the 90’s I used to maintain a special purpose document: “Cruising with YCDTOSA“, almost all infos are now conveniently available through the Information Is Not Knowledge web site).
In the liner notes he reports the “theoretical questions” he asked himself to compile the series. One of them is:

[6] will it give “conceptual continuity clues” to the hard core maniacs with a complete recording collection?

And there’s plenty of them of course. One of my favorite is in the FZ monstre piece “par excellence”:
King Kong (You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 3)

At 14:34, during the ’82 section, Denny Walley says “oh you want a kinder garden!”. Yes Denny Walley, in 1982! What really happen is that at 11:09 in Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow (YCDTOSA 1) Denny says: “oh you want a kinder garden” and this little fragment was inserted in King Kong (YCDTOSA 3).
Oh, talking about yellow snow, is the convenient moment to introduce the dogs topic, and the main carrier is:
Stink Foot (Apostrophe (‘))


But he (the Poodle!) also asks:
What is your Conceptual Continuity?

For more on the “Canine Continuity” subject I would suggest “The Secret Meaning of ‘Arf’: Canine Continuity in the Output Macrostructure” by Dominique Jeunot. A paper addressed to ICE-Z (International Conference of Esemplastic Zappology) on January 16, 2004. A reading which may also be considered an homage to Dominique, who abruptly left the building on December 2004. He was the President of France’s surrealistic Zappa fan club Les Fils de l’Invention.

Dogs of Zappaland unite, for the arf salute!

Evelyn, a Modified Dog (One Size Fits all)
Arf, she said

As Patricia would too. Patricia is a dog painted by Donald Roller Wilson that embellishes the Boulez conducts Zappa album cover.
Naval Aviation in Art? (The Perfect Stranger)

This short but dramatic piece would have been part of Läther, an album that could not happen in 1977 when it was conceived. Here is a 1977-1978 concert season press information:


Follow this Information Is Not Knowledge link for more.

And my pick is the title track:
Läther (Läther)

“A sensitive instrumental ballad for late-nite easy listening”, as described by Zappa for the I promise not to Come in Your Mouth incarnation included in Zappa in New York, a live album which also includes the anthem of the Zappaverse:
Sofa (Zappa in New York)

The piece was part of a larger number that The Mothers used to perform in the “Flo & Eddie Era”. A good take of the whole thing can be heard in the Rhino legalized boot Fire!”. It consists of: Once Upon a Time, Sofa #1 (as included in YCDTOSA 1), Once Upon A Time II (a short reprise of OUAT), Stick It Out and
Divan (Playground Psychotics)

Such era is very well known also for:
The Mud Shark (Fillmore East, June 1971)

This song is about the infamous Mud Shark incident at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle, WA (see also The Mudshark Interview on Playground Psychotics). Towards the end Zappa quotes on guitar:
The Little House I Used to Live in (Burnt Weeny Sandwich)

Just another monstre-song, that spans 1968-1978 and included a lot of episodes, here is one:
The Sheik Yerbouti Tango (Sheik Yerbouti)

A tango? What about it when it may bring funny smells?
Be-Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen’s Church) (Roxy & Elsewhere)

This piece was part of a larger 1972-1973 number too (Farther O’Blivion), which contains parts of Greggary Peccary and of:
Cucamonga (Bongo Fury)

Zappa recalls in “The Real Frank Zappa Book”:

At that time there was a place called the Pal Recording Studio in (don’t laugh) Cucamonga, California. It was established by an amazing gentleman named Paul Buff.
Cucamonga was a blotch on a map, represented by the intersection of Route 66 and Archibald Avenue. On those four corners we had an Italian restaurant, an Irish pub, a malt shop and a gas station.
FZ purchased the studio from Buff in 1964 and renamed as Studio Z, it was the place where he started recording, editing and also over-dubbing!

Metal Man Has Won His Wings (Mystery Disc)
was recorded at Studio Z and features Don Van Vliet, later to be known as Captain Beefheart, lead vocalist for:
Willie the Pimp (Hot Rats)

Hot Rats is duly considered one of the most important FZ album and we are lucky enough to have access to two significantly different version of it, the first one released on cd in 2012 (the vinyl mix), while the second have been heavily remixed, edited and issued by Zappa in 1987. It also includes a revised version of an Uncle Meat piece, here in its 1988 rendition:
Mr. Green Genes (The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life)
Eat your greens
Don’t forget your beans & celery
Don’t forget to bring
Your fake I.D.

And talking about Uncle Meat, fake I.D.s and the Best Band:
Cruisin’ For Burgers (Make a Jazz Noise Here)
I must be free
My fake I.D.
Freeeeeees me

You can make such kind of noise, but consider its devilish side!
While You Were Art II (Jazz from Hell)

The synclavier orchestration for While You Were Out from an album that I believe includes a lot of jazz from hell, such as:
Canard du Jour (Shut up ‘n Play Yer Guitar)

that have been also another title for:
Let’s Move to Cleveland (Does Humor Belong In Music?)

Yet another monstre dated 1976 (as Canard), performed in 1982 (sometimes as Young & Monde) and later in 1984 and 1988 as Cleveland. Here are couple of 1984 solos from two different guitar albums:
Light Is all that Matters (Trance-Fusion)
In-a-Gadda-Stravinsky (Guitar)

And here we are, at Igor’s place. Zappa quoted Le sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) by Igor Stravinsky also in:
Fountain of Love (Cruising with Ruben & the Jets)

The quote is concealed in the fantastic vocal closing.
Le Sacre appears also in:
Drowning Witch (Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch)
Amnesia Vivace (Absolutely Free)

This last piece is included in a three part suite (The Duke of Prunes, Amnesia Vivace and The Duke Regains His Chops) devoted to the:
Duke of Prunes (Orchestral Favorites)

And somewhere else (Plastic People) we have been told:
A prune is a vegetable . . . no, a prune is not a vegetable. Cabbage is a vegetable . . . makes it O.K.

So this is the time for:
Call any Vegetables (Just Another Band from L.A.)

Where a poodle question re-emerges!
Where can I go to get my poodle clipped in Burbank?

A matter of
Dirty Love (Over-Nite Sensation)
(Come on, Frenchie)

And Frenchie hits again in
Dinah-Moe Humm (Have I Offended Someone?)

however in its reconstructed & remixed version only! Patrick Neve (from the HIOS page at The Zappa Patio)):

Original version was 06:01. Extra 01:13. The extra lyrics are the following, starting right after the line “MMM … sounds like y’might be chokin’ on somethin'”:

Y’know, I’m gonna find me a horse,
Just about this big,
An’ ride him all along the borderline.
(Yess-s-s …)
(Do it, Frenchie!)
Hm, y’like horses?
(It’s coming … oh …)
(Oh, oh, oh, oh!)

Have I Offended Someone? Includes a lot of unique material (dig into it) and closes with a remixed version of:
Yo Cats (Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention)

that quotes:
Catholic Girl (Joe’s Garage)

Religion, yet another hot topic!
Dumb all Over (You Are What You Is)
Religious fanatics
On the air every night

When the Lie’s So Big (Broadway the Hard Way)
Religious fanatics
Around and about
The Court House, The State House,
The Congress, The White House

Meanwhile, on one of most famous lawns of the western phaze of civilazation:
I’d like to make her do a nasty
On the White House lawn
Brown Shoes Don’t Make It (Tinsel Town Rebellion)
Smile at every ugly
Shine on your shoes and cut your hair
Be a jerk—go to work

And talking about civilized jerks:
Let’s Make the Water Turn Black (We’re Only in it for the Money)
Early in the morning Daddy Dinky went to work
Selling lamps & chairs to San Ber’dino squares

This tiny episode deserves a deep insight, perk it up here:
Ronnie Sings? / Kenny’s Booger Story / Ronnie’s Booger Story (The Lost Episodes)

Let’s Make the Water Turn Black was a must in the 60’s and mid 70’s, then re-emerged in 1988. It was part of a larger number known also as The Orange County Lumber Truck Medley (Let’s Make the Water Turn Black + Harry, You’re A Beast + Oh No + The Orange County Lumber Truck). Parts are scattered all around the output macrostructure. Here are two takes:
Oh No (Weasels Ripped my Flesh)
The Orange County Lumber Truck (Part II) (Ahead of Their Time)

Ahead Of Their Time includes material later to be used for 200 Motels, such as The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves The Stage and Undaunted and The Band Plays on that later become:
Dance of the Just Plain Folks (Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels)

Stories connected to 200 Motels belongs to Chunga’s Revenge too, such as:
Road Ladies (Chunga’s Revenge)

And talking about great movies, just another classic story:
Titties and Beer (Baby Snakes)

vaguely inspired to L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) by Igor Stravinsky, a piece revisited here:
This Is a Test (Everything Is Healing Nicely)

Ali N. Askin in the album liner notes recalls:

On the night before the first day of rehearsals, he asked me to reorchestrate his Synclavier composition entitled Igor and arrange it for the Ensemble Modern.

Also, Christopher Ekman (via pointed out:

This is a theme from L’Histoire du Soldat which Zappa repeats, overlaps, transposes, twists, changes the backing for, and generally fiddles with any way he can think of. It’s nice and jaunty, and at a minute and a half, it can’t wear out its welcome.

EIHN is a hell of an album, full of less known gems, Román García Albertos has a very useful page to go deep into it (includes the original liner notes and the in-depth post by Christopher Ekman).

Back to the cruise, to complete the circle I still need to pass through The Man from Utopia and Francesco Zappa.
As far as the first one I would pick:
The Radio is Broken (The Man from Utopia)

I will not hook it to the previous EIHN piece, the criterion now is FNRAA, that is a free turn in drawing the Conceptual Continuity circle, to approach a bogus finale. The references to science fiction b-movies and his working title (Willing Suspension of Disbelief) have to be briefly mentioned. The first one as a typical recurring theme (like poodles or religion) that helps to keep the “output macrostructure” logically connected. The second as the classic state of mind necessary to enjoy fictitious stories or (in a broader sense) essential not to notice most of the disturbing effects of western society. If you understand such a mechanism you will have more chances to reach the truth that, as we already know, is not beauty! In dealing with the real world Zappa always want to SHOW us – the audience – what we have in front of our eyes but sometime have difficulties to recognize.

Closing titles with:
OPUS I, No. 1 1st Movement ANDANTE (Francesco Zappa)

This Circular Motion Cruise involves all Zappa albums, from Freak Out! to Everything Is Healing Nicely, and excludes most compilations, namely Mothermania and the three Old Masters Boxes, because they do not include significant unique material (the two Old Masters Mystery Discs have been later issued as a single cd). With the exception of Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa, a memorial tribute (also excluded), all these albums (those issued between 1966 and 1999) have been edited, sequenced and produced by FZ. Finally there is one more inclusion: Trance-Fusion, a guitar album issued in 2006, but still a full Zappa album to me. Almost full actually, being liner notes and cover out of his direct control (likewise some other late releases herein considered).

For every single album, I have chosen one song or composition, or “phonogram” (maybe better), using a (sometime straight, sometime loose) conceptual continuity criterion: the next song is always connected with the preceding for a musical theme, a topic or a tiny detail in the title or in the lyrics. Every album is represented by one single “phonogram” (with one exception), even if is a double or multiple disc set.

Of course lot more cruises such as this are to be conceived, try yours!

FNRAA: For No Reason At All

The first choice for a Conceptual Continuity reading:
Hey Hey Hey, Mister Snazzy Exec!
By Frank Zappa
Circular, September 20, 1971



For a very special quality Giclée Print of the Cal Schenkel acrylic on paper study of the Grand Wazoo cover artwork 13×13 (12½x12½ in image) a very special frame, hand made from recycled materials by Elisa Majnoni!

Giclée Print of Cal Schenkel acrylic on paper study of the Grand Wazoo cover artwork, frame by Elisa Majnoni

Giclée Print of Cal Schenkel acrylic on paper study of the Grand Wazoo cover artwork, frame by Elisa Majnoni


I think I should revamp this blog. Meanwhile, some sort of a Z Twilight Zone corner.

I was watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with my little daughter, and that’s what everyone can stare at

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 23:10 frame

at about 00:23:00 into the movie!

The Mystery Of Civilization

Posted: May 27, 2011 in obsession, zappa

The Mystery Of Civilization (Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Vol. 5, Vol. 6)
Guitar Prevention Episodes


Cruising With A Time Disc Ship, Yellow Jawaka Offended Burnt Bongo & Baby Wazoo
Shark Yerbouti Meets Thing-Fish From 200 Motels Phaze III
A Fillmore Witch & Uncle Tan Heard The Grand Jazz June 1971 Orchestra
Someone Belong In Music
All Of Them Drowning Over-Nite In East London Ripped Utopia
The Perfect Way Out From L.A. Roxy
Their Freak Snakes, Arriving Absolutely Free, Sheik The Best Hot Gravy You Never Make In Yer Studio


You Can’t Do That On Weasels Anymore
You Can’t Do That On Rats Anymore
You Can’t Do That On Francesco Anymore
You Can’t Do That On The Jets Anymore
You Can’t Do That On Chunga Anymore
You Can’t Do That On Frank Zappa


Ruben Lost Everything ‘N Fits The Orchestra
In The London Symphony’s Garage, Orchestral Joe Is Healing Too Late To Play Guitar
Does One Size Man Shut Your Symphony Favorites Up?


Stage, Stage, Stage, Stage, Stage, Stage Anymore


Money Sensation Is Elsewhere
Save The Weeny Meat Of The Broadway Sandwich
New York Tinsel Town Playground Ahead
Jazz, Rebellion, Fury, Humor, Stranger Psychotics
We’re The Mothers From Hell, Mothermania!
Apostrophe For Us
What’s My Only Revenge?
Dirt, Hard, Waka


You Are Lumpy Or Flesh
Just Another Life
You Have Noise Here
I Sleep It Nicely


Zappa Band
Zoot Allures
Zappa Band


Edition two of the International Conference of Esemplastic Zappology (ICE-Z) took place in June 2006 in Rome. Proceedings have never been published. What follows is my contribution to ICE-Z #2. It is a sort of science fiction positivistic view of post portem Zappa releases. Fictitious covers art were made by Ale Sordi. Here it is again.


Time is of Affliction

Views from both ZFT and BNT universes

[Francesco Gentile for ICE-Z #2, aka PIBKOAPSI for ICE-Z #5]

[ICE-Z #2, Rome, Italy, June 9-10, 2006, ZFT universe]

According to Multiverse science, more than one universe exists. Hugh Everett was one of the most important scientists involved in it, with his many-worlds interpretation. Putting aside quantum theory and math, a simplistic but effective way to describe it, is to consider reality at a certain configuration C (a certain universe in a certain state) and imagine that, starting from C, infinite other universes can follow as a consequence from C, according to different behaviours of the various elements that constitute C. However due to our limitation, all we can experience is one universe, one time-line, but somewhere else other universes are developing, and information could theoretically flow between these universes. To give an example, there could be a universe started on December 4, 1993 we experienced, in which Laurel Canyon decided differently as for the Frank Zappa legacy. This is not to assert that Zappa Family Trust universe may change, rather, that information may flow.

So if time is of affliction here, in some other universe it could be still of a lot of afflictions. But something went differently on what we are going to call the BNT universe for convenience (where BNT stands for Big Note Trust), opposed to the ZFT universe we all know. And we had a flow of information from a particular state of BNT universe placed in time in 2012, in space in Barcelona, and esemplasticly during the fifth edition of ICE-Z. What follows is this information from the BNT universe. As we will see there is a lot in common with the ZFT one, but as far as music issued, there is a lot of different fun there!

[ICE-Z #5, Barcelona, Spain, August 16, 2012, BNT universe]

While US and the world had been facing a perverse number of republican presidents in a row, in ten years from the dawning of the Vaulternative label on August 16, 2002, BNT has produced a catalogue worth of 20 titles, that includes also some DTS items. A great feat! FZ addicted around the globe can try to be satisfied (actually, they are never fully satisfied with the catalogue, that’s why they are addicted!), also considering that between 1994 and 2001 BNT issued the last FZ fully produced projects. Trance-fusion and Dance Me This, both published in 2001, closed the Zappa opus, i.e. the 69 albums and a bunch of old singles conceived, arranged, edited, mixed and produced by the composer. The other 22 titled issued (15 by Vaulternative and 5 by DTS, plus Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa, a Memorial Tribute and Everything is Healing Nicely) have to be considered differently, since they lack one or more of the phases that constitutes the creative process followed by Frank Zappa (special case of course for the 5.1 versions of OS and A(‘)). Though, they are precious to enjoy, reconstruct and study the career of the composer, and most of them are completely pleasurable even by a person not so addicted like me! Hopefully more is on his way!

Let’s cruise with the 20 albums released from 2002 on then, and try to briefly consider each and every one of them with the eye of History!

* * *


(VR 2002-1, August 16, 2002, 2 CDs)
June 25, 1973, Hordern Pavillion, Sydney, Australia.
Great show, great n.1 for Vaulternative, great delegate of the February – September 1973 line-up, barely known (only a few officially released bits) even though this very show has been heavily bootlegged. Mainly an instrumental project, the missing link between the wazoo ensembles and the well known October 1973 – December 1974 era with Napoleon Murphy Brock as front singing-blowing-dancing man. Jean-Luc Ponty and Ian Underwood were in the band for their last tour with FZ, and there was a lot of room for them to improvise. Furthermore, the program includes some items you can’t miss. First of all Farther Oblivion, an unreleased settlement consisting of parts of Greggery Peccary (Steno Pool / This is Big Swifty / Any Gimmick or Gizmo / Is your Wife Snoring? / We Have Got the Little Answers / Invention of the Calendar), Be-Bop Tango and Cucamonga, one of the most eloquent revelations of the Conceptual Continuity in the Project/Object (see also VR2010-2 below). Finally, you can’t also miss Yellow Snow Suite and a swank version of Inca Roads. A perfect starter to me!


Oh, Atlantis!

Oh, Atlantis!
(VR 2003-1, February 4, 2003, 2 CDs)
December 11, 1980, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California.
The fall 1980 tour is a special one: a few months of a link between the end of the seventies, represented by Colaiuta, and the beginning of eighties, represented by the youngest Vai. The music was tight and tense, the performances precise, the US audience remarkably enthusiastic. This is the end of a short tour, this is Zappa and Soup and Old Clothes at home, via The Illinois Enema Bandit. I need more fall 1980 music!


Spiffy Teenage Boogies

Spiffy Teenage Boogies
(VR 2003-2, November 8, 2003, 2 CDs)
May 24, 1969, Rockpile, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
We were longing for it, we had been hardly living without! The MOI at their best, right before the end of their too short trip in a fantastic show, quite famous between tape traders, now in the magnificence of the real sixties live Canadian stereo. This sonic object has an essential role to reveal what was the MOI live act like. FZ somehow concealed this all through his editing scissors. He used a lot of this ‘69 vintage material in his albums but never full length (see YCDTOSA 5 1969 recordingz). This is a perfect chance to discover the MOI live project listening to a few rare never before issued gems, like the opening number, aka Interlude between tape traders (FZ introduces it as Teenage Overture, saying that “probably won’t be out on record for another 5 o 6 months”!).


Time is of Affliction

Time is of Affliction
(VR 2004-1, April 6, 2004, 2 CDs)
September 15, 1972, Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany.
Eight dates of a wheelchaired sort of a tour, 20 musicians on stage, no official marks in the FZ opus, of course one of the best kept FZ secrets for us Zappa addicted. One should say “since this material never found his way through any album, there must be something wrong in these performances for the FZ standard”, another one (like me) says “never mind, I know the stuff, it’s gorgeous and jazzy, and it smells rightfully funny, also, I know your point is right, that’s why I won’t entirely consider it like a FZ album, but one must say the same of all the other Vaulternative titles, however I’m interested into them all, for one hundred reasons I don’t need to explain now”. Great highlight: the first appearance for The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, tough in a reduced arrangement if compared with the FZ approved one.


Raw Unbridledness

Raw Unbridledness
(DTS 1125, January 15, 2005, 2 DVDs)
December 8/9/10, 1973, The Roxy, Los Angeles, California.
If you had a time machine when and where would you spend a week? I for one only knew it would be on December, but I couldn’t decide if would be LA or NYC, ‘73 or ‘76. Thanks to this amazing audiovisual object, now I know I would decide for NYC! It would be a suffered decision, but at least as far as LA I may go in heavy video rotation! The Roxy performances, 4 hours uncut, mixed by FZ in 1987, or so they say.


Imaginary Diseases
(VR 2005-1, August 24, 2005, 1 CD)
October / December 1972, various US and Canada dates.
The wazoo world is back, here in his petit 10-musicians group incarnation. FZ addicted are hungry of this 1972 material after a long time of affliction, and this title is a second blessed relief. The program includes two of the most chased unreleased FZ compositions: Imaginary Deseases and Rollo (also to be revealed in QuAUDIPHILIAc in a very different 1975 settlement). There’s a lot of great band improvisation on these pieces, and the written themes are an absolute must! Also, we have the chance to listen to Further O’Blivion in the famous (to the tape traders) arrangement also performed by the Feb – Sep 1973 band but never released officially. This petit wazoo has a lot more to say, like the still unreleased Little Dots and a proto Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?, we do hope there will be more on the way.


(DTS 1205, February 26, 2006, 1 DVD-A)
Various studio and live quad documents 1970-1978, program and a few editing by Dweezil.
Beautiful, surprising and controversial, are three of the more recurrent adjectives that have been used by listeners everywhere for this first multi-channel FZ audio object. Zappa did some multi-channel mixes throughout his career, this works deserve to be published, the album contains thrilling material (Chunga Basement with a great Zappa-Underwood interplay), some interesting mix (Wild Love with his high reverberated vocal tracks that reminds the Doreen mix included in the never published Crush All Boxes), but a few questions arise: if the Royce Hall shows (September 1975) are in this shape, why don’t we listen to the entire unpublished set? Why did you use this risky Läther type segues (everybody feels it sounds like an high end bootleg)? Now that we are into a quad world, what ever happened to the multi-channel mix of N-Lite aired in the halls during the Yellow Shark shows?


Joe’s Corsage
(VR 2006-1, September 18, 2006, 1 CD)
Various studio and live ca. 1965, some of them mixed in 1989 by FZ and Bob Stone (for some kind of Lost Episodes project?).
BNT goes further with another nuggets project, and here is the MOI in his proto – but ready to go – aesthetic. This is 1965, when they used to go back and forth from rhythm & blues to their early original repertoire. Plus, we have a chance to hear some FZ interview excerpts from the era, and see how already clear was the FZ analysis of the music business. A very enjoyable album with a program never heard before even by the most obnoxious bootleggers! The liner notes inform us that Joe is a series.


FZ:OZ Some More

FZ:OZ Some More
(VR 2007-1, February 21, 2007, 2 CDs)
January 20, 1976, Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, Australia.
Upside down again for another tour that rarely found his way through the Zappa output macrostructure, with the enormous exceptions of landmarks like the Osaka captured Black Napkins and the Hands with a Hammer/Zoot Allures dynamic duo. Zappa enjoyed a lot to interplay with Skinny Ted, but he was not probably entirely satisfied with this group. So pros: explore for the first hi-Australian-fi time this obscure small band, and enjoy the Zappa – Bozzio discourse. Then cons: this music often lacks something, your belly won’t feel filled like after listening to FZ:OZ, the ‘73 take. Anyway it fully deserves to be heard at least to know what was going on live in the Zoot Allures era.


Joe’s DeXenoSynChronage (or The Ampex Solos)

Joe’s DeXenoSynChronage (or The Ampex Solos)
(VR 2007-2, September 1, 2007, 1 CD)
February and March 1979, various European dates.
This is the kind of anal retentive project that we have ever dreamed that BNT would design. A gigantic praise to the vaultmaister! The subtitle came from a nick, flourished during the Joe’s Garage sessions, given to the guitar solos used in the mix, all of them Feb / Mar 1979 live and xenosynchronized with the studio tracks. Here, in their full original splendour, we at last have the chance to listen to the songs that include all the Joe solos, with the one and only exception of Watermelon. An honoured mention to the March 31 Outside Now (Munich, Germany) that gave its guitar solo to Joe’s Outside Now, and that here includes also a brief bass solo and a long keyboard improvisation. Now we know better how creative was the xenochronization process.


Joe’s Checkage (or The Best Soundchecks you Never Heard in your Life)

Joe’s Checkage (or The Best Soundchecks you Never Heard in your Life)
(VR 2008-1, April 24, 2008, 1 CD)
Various 1988 dates.
Oh anal retentiveness! Joe decided to give maximum fulfilment to the most obsessed between us! This Philadelphia Sleep Dirt / Black Napkins rendition (in an arrangement that dates back in late 1975) deserved light, and it would be a real shame if episodes like this Girl of Ipanema (from Philadelphia again) would not reach the public, the arrangement moves puzzlingly between harmony and dissonance, a real gem. And the guitar loops (the Philly one includes Ipanema!) connecting all the songs in the program, would you miss them?


(DTS 1401, October 31, 2008, 1 DVD-A)
October 27-31, 1978, The Palladium, NYC, NY.
Includes the following video clips: Suicide Chump (October 13, 1978, Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ), Dancin’ Fool (October 21, 1978, Saturday Night Live, NYC, NY). 30 years anniversary for the 1978 Halloween monstro-week, and we have a second multi-channel project, mixed in 5.1 by Joe Chiccarelli. A must have, even if some “part-time theatrical criticizer” claimed that the program would have included different material from those two basses and a very noisy audience days. To me is a very good one, and Ancient Armaments was too scantily represented before in its old style 7 inches vinylic objectification.


A Zappa Affair

A Zappa Affair
(VR 2009-1, March 1, 2009, 1 CD)
June 16, 1984, Zellerbach Auditorium, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano. Even if FZ was not fully satisfied with this performance (to Society Pages USA #2, 1990: “they’re playing them better than the LSO, faster, more accurately, but all in all, there’s just not enough time or enough money to get everything nailed down to a really perfect”), these recordings are of great interest, not only because provide the only known performance of the orchestral Sinister Footwear, but also because this is one of the very few Zappa controlled orchestral project.


Overnite Sensation
(DTS 1487, November 21, 2009, 1 DVD-A)
Quadraphonic desperation! Would you prefer to buy any FZ official title in a deluxe 5.1 version, or a complete unreleased MOI/Mothers/FZ live show?


The Fillmore East Prequel

The Fillmore East Prequel
(VR2010-1, February 10, 2010, 2 CDs)
May 9, 1970, Fillmore East, NYC, NY.
This is a rare, short-lived ensemble, the missing link between the MOI disbanded the year before, and the so called vaudeville band to be formed shortly thereafter. FZ built up this group after the Hot Rats project that gave its best results in studio. To go on stage again, he probably wanted a band larger than the small hot rats band (February and March 1970). So this group, the same that six days later performed in LA with Zubin Mehta and the LA Philharmonic for a very important concert (the 200 Motels premiere), that survived only in bad audience recordings. In this live act past (Collins, Mundi, Motorhead, the Tiny Sick Tears medley) and future (Dumbar, Simmons, Wonderful Wino) coexist in a group that was going to bring in Flo & Eddie very soon. Also thanks to Ian Underwood and Don Preston, some highlights: King Kong that includes Igor’s Boogie, LHIUTI and Holiday in Berlin from the just printed BWS. One year later (Fillmore East, June 1971) they will be sounding differently.


Conceptual Moe vs Chromium-Plated Proto Sy

Conceptual Moe vs Chromium-Plated Proto Sy
(VR2010-2, July 29, 2010, 3 CDs)
September 17, 1978, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA.
Project/Object, Conceptual Continuity. Have you ever tried to explain that P/O “contains plans and nonplans”? Have you ever subsequently asked to “Imagine the head of a pin. On the head of this pin is an amazingly detailed illustration of some sort” and then to “imagine this pin is not a pin… it’s a musical note with a corresponding physical action”. It is not so easy. But these recordings here may help. Sy Borg and Moe’s Vacation reveal plans. Little House I Used to Live In and Pound for a Brown are “precisely calculated event-structures designed to accommodate the mechanics of fate” (“noplans”), and disclose details in term of “the conceptual continuity of the group’s output macrostructure”, if you think to where they came from. There “always has been, a conscious control of thematic and structural elements flowing through each album, live performance, and interview”. It’s almost 20 years now that the “output macrostructure” had an abrupt halt. September 1978 was right in the middle (1964-1993), from there you can see a lot: Joe’s Garage and its ikewillisness (Ike is here to stay for ten years), the writings of orchestral works (Moe), the MOI (Uncle Meat is here too), the dawning of Tinseltown Rebellion and YAWYI (Easy Meat, Bamboozled, The Meek, Suicide Chump, Conehead). Don’t see it like an anthology, it was work in progress connected back and forward, with 1978 eyebrows. “SOMEBODY IN THAT AUDIENCE OUT THERE KNOWS WHAT WE’RE DOING, AND THAT PERSON IS GETTING OFF ON IT BEYOND HIS/HER WILDEST COMPREHENSIONS.” [Quoted text from ’INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL’, Circular, vol. 3, number 29, September 20, 1971].


Joe’s XMASage
(VR 2010-3, December 21, 2010, 1 CD)
Joe is back for Xmas with a controversial release. The material is from the early sixties pre-mothers era (1962-1965), half spoken episodes, half musical numbers, more a documentary than a real album. The Xmas hook is given by the first spoken episode, where FZ makes a sarcastic report to his first wife Kay Sherman, of a Christmas dance at the Mormon Church Recreation Hall in Pomona. Xmas is also part of the title of track 10: Mousie’s First Xmas. This number and The Moon Will Never Be the Same constitute probably the most intriguing part of the album (2 minutes!): electronics on the left channel, an acustic chamber combo on the right. A trace of the laboratory that thirty years later will produce Civilization Phaze III. The FZ maniac is glad to listen to a few never released nuggets, but she/he will go through this more to investigate than for pure fun.


Apostrophe (‘)
(DTS 1523, August 2, 2011, 1 DVD-A)
A quad excentrifugal forz kept me, poor insignificant bi-dimensional kind of a putrid stereophonic insect (PIBKOAPSI), away from it.


Claremont Hardcore Fury

Claremont Hardcore Fury
(VR2011-2, October 20, 2011)
April 11, 1975, Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, Claremont, CA.
For those of us who think that we did not have enough bongo fury, here is a chance. This is the first date of the Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers spring 1975 tour. The Captain is back, and he and FZ are at home to start off a new thing, and you can feel the thrill. Also, this is the first date for Terry Bozzio, already at ease with FZ soloing, and playing Echidna/Wash That Thing for this 2 months tour only. The program includes a very rare live performance of Orange Claw Hammer (from Trout Mask Replica), and two unreleased Zappa songs: Velvet Sunrise and Portuguese Lunar Landing. The latter seems to be mysteriously reappeared during the 1981 rehearsals, but never faced a FZ produced album. However, it deserves a place somewhere to further go deep into the Frank Zappa aesthetic of monsters.


Joe’s Domage
(VR 2012-1, May 15, 2012, 1 CD)
Joe’s saga explores wazoo rehearsals, not that much music to enjoy, rather a chance to experience the rehearsal process. The voice of FZ closes the album: “I’ll tell you what the story is on the recording of this material. I don’t want to take it into the studio until you can play all that stuff from memory and it feels natural to do the stuff. That’s the reason I’m going about it this way, rather than just lay charts in front of everybody . . .”. And before this excerpt, one of the few almost complete music episodes of the album: Another Whole Melodic Section. That is the obscure Interlude that in 1969 Zappa presented as to be published soon (see Spiffy Teenage Boogies)! Quite weak, if you think at it as a FZ album, however, after 10 years of unleashed live acts and succulent nuggets, it may be worthwhile listening to rehearsals too (especially when you know that the real thing will be back soon!).


ZFT/BNT universes comparison chart

# Title Issued in ZFT universe Issued in BNT universe BNT cover
1 FZ:OZJune 25, 1973, Hordern Pavillion, Sydney, Australia. no VR 2002-1, August 16, 2002, 2 CDs Ale
2 Oh, Atlantis!December 11, 1980, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California. no VR 2003-1, February 4, 2003, 2 CDs Ale
3 Spiffy Teenage BoogiesMay 24, 1969, Rockpile, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. no VR 2003-2, November 8, 2003, 2 CDs Ale
4 Time is of AfflictionSeptember 15, 1972, Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany. no VR 2004-1, April 6, 2004, 2 CDs Ale
5 Raw UnbridlednessDecember 8/9/10, 1973, The Roxy, Los Angeles, California. no DTS 1125, January 15, 2005, 2 DVDs Ale
6 Imaginary DiseasesOctober / December 1972, various US and Canada dates. CD, Zappa Records ZR 20001, January 13, 2006 VR 2005-1, August 24, 2005, 1 CD Same as ZFT
7 QuAUDIOPHILIAc DVD-A, Barking Pumpkin/DTS 1125, September 14, 2004 DTS 1205, February 26, 2006, 1 DVD-A Same as ZFT
8 Joe’s Corsage CD, Vaulternative VR 20041, May 30, 2004 VR 2006-1, September 18, 2006, 1 CD Same as ZFT
9 FZ:OZ Some MoreJanuary 20, 1976, Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, Australia. As FZ:OZ2CDs, Vaulternative VR 2002-1, August 16, 2002 VR 2007-1, February 21, 2007, 2 CDs Ale
10 Joe’s DeXenoSynChronage(or The Ampex Solos)February and March 1979, various European dates. no VR 2007-2, September 1, 2007, 1 CD Ale
11 Joe’s Checkage(or The Best Soundchecks you Never Heard in your Life)Various 1988 dates. no VR 2008-1, April 24, 2008, 1 CD Ale
12 HalloweenOctober 27-31, 1978, The Palladium, NYC, NY. DVD-A, Vaulternative/DTS 1101, February 4, 2003 DTS 1401, October 31, 2008, 1 DVD-A Same as ZFT
13 A Zappa AffairJune 16, 1984, Zellerbach Auditorium, University of California, Berkeley, CA. no VR 2009-1, March 1, 2009, 1 CD Ale
14 Overnite Sensation no DTS 1487, November 21, 2009, 1 DVD-A Same as stereo issued
15 The Fillmore East PrequelMay 9, 1970, Fillmore East, NYC, NY. no VR2010-1, February 10, 2010, 2 CDs Ale
16 Conceptual Moe vs Chromium-Plated Proto SySeptember 17, 1978, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA. no VR2010-2, July 29, 2010, 3 CDs Ale
17 Joe’s XMASage CD, Vaulternative VR 20051, December 21, 2005 VR2010-3, December 21, 2010, 1CD Same as ZFT
18 Apostrophe (‘) no DTS 1523, August 2, 2011, 1 DVD-A Same as stereo issued
19 Claremont Hardcore FuryApril 11, 1975, Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, Claremont, CA. no VR2011-2, October 20, 2011 Ale
20 Joe’s Domage CD, Vaulternative VR 20042, October 1, 2004 VR 2012-1, May 15, 2012, 1 CD Same as ZFT