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Variety, Wednesday, December 15, 1971
Montreux Casino Fire Destroys Zappa's Gear, Cancels Purple Taping
London, Dec. 14.
Fire swept the Casino at Montreux, Switzerland, Dec. 4, reportedly costing Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention much of their musical gear. They had been [...]edded for a concert at the spot.
The blaze also erased plans of the Deep Purple popsters to record there. They were to move in for three weeks of taping, leasing the Rolling Stones' mobile recording van.
The Casino is also the site for the annual Golde Rose tv program competition sponsored by the European Broadcasting Union. Not immediately known whether the big hall could be back in shape in time for the next fest in April.
The rock group called the Mothers of Invention has confronted some harsh necessities in its current European tour. Replacing the instruments and equipment that were incinerated by a fire in France was bad enough. But replacing Lead Guitarist, Singer and Sogsmith Frank Zappa is something else again. He will be out for three or four months with a compound leg fracture and other injuries received when an unappreciative music lover in London jumped up and threw him off the stage.
Frank Zappa, 31, leader of the Mothers of Invention, likes to call himself a "creep," and says his upbringing made him that way. "I always felt my parents had a boring life," he explains. "They spent most of it watching TV. I wanted to entertain myself, so I steered myself in the other direction." As a consequence, between ages 18 and 21 Frank was alternately kicked out of the house and kept in "protective custody," as he puts it. "My father was afraid the neighbors would see me, but afraid if I moved out I might do something worse."
Francis Zappa worked hard as a college history teacher, a government meteorologist and a mathematician to secure his family's place in the middle class. He is now retired and seems eager to identify with his son's success. When asked to be photographed with Frank, the senior Zappas chose his Los Angeles living room instead of their own. "I played guitar," his father explains, "and I think that inclined Frank to music. I had hoped he would follow something like what I had done, but later I realized that this was not his bag."
"My father has ambitions to be an actor," Frank confides. "He secretly wants to be on TV."
Mrs. Rosemarie Zappa has an off-hand approach to her famous son. "The thing that makes me mad about Frank," she says, "is that his hair is curlier than mine—and blacker."
Frank Zappa receives the Establishment Seal of Approval as mystery guest on What's My Line? Soupy Sales finally guess his identity, but the dazed half-smiles of Arlene Francis & Co. clearly betray the question on their minds: "Who the fuck is Frank Zappa?"
June 21, 1971
Above the usual din of a rock concert at New York's Fillmore East, the message tore through the audience: "John Lennon's onstage! John Lennon's onstage!" So he was, and so was his wife, Yoko Ono. With no fanfare, they had turned up at 4 a.m. as impromptu guests of Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention. "It's nice to be here," said Lennon as he plugged in his guitar. The crowd went into such a screaming frenzy that the former Beatle and Yoko managed to sing their way through a mere two numbers in 30 minutes.
JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM L.A. (The Mothers). Produced by Frank Zappa. Bizarre/Reprise MS-2075
* * * * *
If there is still anyonw left who thinks Frank Zappa and the Mothers are just a bunch of no-talent freaks, this album should put an end to that nonsense once and for all. "Billy the Mountain," Frank's magnum opus which occupies all of Side One, is a stunningly brilliant tour de force of music, lyrics and right-on performances that must be heard again and again to be appreciated for its keen satirical and just-plain-outrageous-commentary on our times. "Billy the Mountain" is very simply the best thing Frank Zappa and his resident crazies have ever done.
"Billy" is the story of a mountain and his wife Ethel (a tree) who use their money from post card royalties to take a trip acroos country. After destroying such great landmarks as Las Vegas (consider the allegoristic possibilities), Billy is finally [...] in Ohio. But it is agent Stude[...] Hawk to the rescue. [...] And the moral of the story is, of course: "Don't fuck with a mountain."
And that's just a very basic plotline. I have heard this twenty-five minute cut about six times now, and it is funnier every time I listen; because each time I discover something new.
Side Two is equally brilliant. It includes such things as "Call Any Vegetable," a paean to Zachary All's ace salesman called "Eddie, Are You Kidding?" a lavicious, little ditty about fatherly incest ("Magdalena") and a musical maelstrom called "Dog Breath," which features an incredible guitar solo by Zappa.
The album, like the Mothers' last and most successful disc, was recorded live. I have maintained for some time that Zappa had to be recorded live in order to make the group accessable to a general audience and prevent Frank from getting too carried away with studio experimentation. The energy level of the group here is high, the group is tight; and as a result, Just Another Band From L.A. is not only the best Mothers album ever, it is the most completely entertaining.
Although I could easily lavish complements on all the members of the group (Frank's guitar playing is exceptional, and Aynsley Dunbar's drumming is superbly strong), but I really have to single out the two people who [...].
Zappa Genius on Horn
By Richard Harrington
Special to The Star-News
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: Zappa, guitar and vocals; Dave Parlato, bass; Jim Gordon, drums; Tony Durand, guitar; Glenn Ferris and Bruce Fowler, trombone; Gary Barone and Macolm McNab, trumpet, Bruce Fowler, bass trombone, tuba, tenor sax, trumpet, picolo; Earl Dumler, English horn, oboe, bass saxaphone. Also Tim Buckley, at Constitution Hall, no formal program.
Many people feel it will probably be at least 1983 before the world realizes what a genius Zappa is, because by that time it will probably be too late for both us and for Zappa. It probably serves as little consolation that while most people love him for his apparent madness, musicians and critics have long loved him for his far sighted concepts and ambitions.
Representatives of both camps came out in force Saturday night, to witness one of Zappa's infrequent East Coast concerts (at Constitution Hall). What they found was the master, the leader fronting one of the most dazzling, powerful and talented horn sections this reviewerhas seen in a long time. They are mostly respected Los Angeles studio musicians, and their dexterity was not at all hampered by having at times to work closely with charts. When was the last time you saw a poular, ostensibly "rock" band working from charts? More than anything, Zappa's section reminds me of what's left of the big bands, with emphasis on a more energetic and creative kind of music. Much of the shows were taken up not by Zappa's zany songs, but by stinging ensemble work and masterful solo after masterful solo.
Particularly impressive in solo sessions were Bruce Fowler with a simmering tuba solo (a true-to-life jazzy tuba solo) and Dave Parlatto with a driving bass that started off in virtual seclusion and ended up driving the band to a fabulous finish. Also worth noting was a drum solo by Jim Gordon that was both the funniest and most furious version of "Caravan" heard in some time.
As for Zappa, he seemed much more laid back than usual. He is still very much in charge, leading the entire group, shaping its ultimate sound. His guitar breaks reflect the general attitude of his music—jams built around a concrete concept, the development of a statement as opposed to mere technique. Zappa is a firm guitarist, and his breaks much more in a jazz tradition than rock, obviously dictated by the by the shape and force of the band. While enough of his legendary zaniness came through, it was the excellence of the music that saturated the audience with joyful exhaustion. Zappa played long and well, and like a magician, left everyone filled, not with questions of how or why, but the knowledge of wonder.
. . . that bizarre rock musician-cum-satirist, will probably have to wear a full leg brace for his performance with his new band, Grand Wazoo, today. Last time he played in Britain Frank was pushed from the stage by a member of the audience. He fell twelve feet and broke a leg.
by Noë Goldwasser
There he sits, perched atop his Olympian toadstool, dropping farts and thunderbolts into a tape recorder. Few have escaped his world unscathed by his grungy sensibility, fewer still have approached the level of his visionary complexity. With this album, Zappa seems to have come to terms with his peculiar position as the only guy smart enough to understand what he was doing. He has made a few trips down from his mountain, relaxing his Stravinskian hauteur long enough to mingle with the hordes who (in his own words) "wouldn't know good music if it came up and bit them on the ass."
Well, ass beats class, you know, and Frank was always the first to tell you that. He is the king of the avant bozos, the original hungry freak and the missing link between John Cage and Ooga Booga. And now, from the same lunatic fringe that brought you Alice Cooper, groupies, Rubin and the Jets and Zubin and the Mets, Suzie Creamcheese and The Duke of Prunes, we have a totally enjoyable album that's fun for the whole family—if you happen to live with a bunch of oversexed geeks.
Overnight Sensation is more than just another stanza in the life work of a mad genius. It is an earthy preface to a whole new volume. It is his most relaxed piece to date, though that doesn't mean Zappa's going in for any pedal steel cowboyisms. It's just that all those grunting, squealing and often shrill elements have been incorporated into a much more natural, yet essentially groiny delivery, Zappa's voice is less cynical, though still sarcastic; less a commentator on the action and more a funnel for his utopian vision of dildoes and enemas for everyone. It's as if he's finished having to proselytize and everybody's already been converted so there's nothing left to do but gird the loins, enter the breach and massage the musical clit.
The latest version of the Mothers is stripped for action. They're all smiling lasciviously on the album's inside cover—even Frank looks sincerely pleasant. Jean-Luc Ponty, the French jazz violinist is there, playing his ass off and so rapt in that he doesn't even seem to mind the glob of come some nut has drawn onto his shoulder. George Duke, the keyboardist holdover from Zappa's last grouping is there, as are old regulars Ruth and Ian Underwood, whose presence is appreciated for the tightness of the lp. Then there are the brothers Fowler, Tim and Bruce on bass and trombone respectively; Ralph Humphrey on drums (played quite melodically), and trumpeter Sal Marquez, who combines with Kin Vassy to become this incarnation's Flo & Eddie and spice up the lp's most salacious and mood-setting cut, "Dinah-Moe Humm."
Of course, the lp is a concept—what Zappa album has not been, and have you ever heard a single bit of news about the man that did not seem to be designed, a logically edited detail from a highly ordered and meticulously ingenious life-collage? Zappa's music is unclassifiable, a jazz instinct harnessed by the Varesian logic of a power-crazed madman who inhabits the seedy depths of youth culture because it's the only one that would accept him.
Having made his social comments on topics like plastic people, status at the high school, brain police and road ladies, Zappa returns to an elaborate celebration of the most pervasive element in his warped personality: the joys of a wet crotch. To put his point across, Zappa has laid out his arguments in a convincing order. Side one's foreplay opens with three short, rhythmic statements (two "love ballads" and an editorial comment on media fascism) and builds, with a six-minute, jazz-riffing bridge, to side two's heavier breathing: "Zombie Woof" invoking the God of Dirty Old Men, "Dinah-Moe Humm" the come-drenched climax, and "Montana" riding into the sunset.
This cerebral aspect—as seen through the lp's incredibly literary lyrics and the funky voicings of Zappa, Ricky Lancelotti, Kin Vassy and Sal Marquez, and sexy back-up vocals by some soulful Zappettes—is mixed into the lp along with a whole lot of really good jazz.
The production mix is superb, too. This is one of the few recent lp's that seems designed for earphone listening. Fowler's bass and Ralph Humphrey's drums ride the melody lines set by Duke, Underwood and Zappa, while Jean-Luc's violin and baritone violin prance all over the place, demonstrating Zappa's influence on this European virtuoso who first gained fame in higher-brow jazz circles (check out Violin Summit, on which Ponty faces off with Stefan Grapelli).
Zappa invokes his muse with "Camarillo Brillo," a raunchy paean to "a magic mama/And she could throw a mean Tarot":
She stripped away her rancid poncho
An' laid out naked by the door
We did it til we were unconcho
And it was useless anymore
and then the song closes out with the patented Zappa aside, "is that a real poncho . . . I mean is that a Mexican poncho or a Sears poncho? hmmm . . . no fooling!"
"Dirty Love," after the Message song "I'm the Slime," is a refreshing waft of tuna scent. It reitaretes the theme of grungy but urgent animal sexuality that has come to typify this no-bullshit stance. Step aside, Marvin Gaye. "I'll ignore your cheap aroma/ and your little bo peep diploma/ I'll just put you in a coma/ with some dirty love." It withdraws into fade-out (which Zappa uses often on this lp, still managing to make it seem apt), a chorus with some doowoppized nonsense about chewing poodles, a perfect seguè into that bridge number, "Fifty-Fifty."
Here the band really wails. Ricky Lancelotti has the lead vocal and it sounds like beefheart squeezed through a meatmincer, perfect substance for the tapefreak audio effects that follow. A roll on the tom-toms, the bass line jumps in and Duke moves out with airy organ chords. Then you hear what sounds like an electric guitar but ends up being Ponty stating the leitmotif and getting very lyrical. Zappa jumps in, running around the fingerboard with speed and nervous energy, and Lancelotti returns with "An' that's awright people, I'm just crazy enough to sing to you-ou-ou/ Any old way."
If they ever make a movie of this soundtrack, the love scene will never get past the censors. Maybe it's better that way—the scenario is much more graphic on vinyl, "Dinah-Moe Humm" is that love scene, as well as being the album's signal piece. It is the story of
a lady named Dinah-Moe Humm
She stroll on over say look here, bum
I got a forty dollar bill say you can't make me cum
(Y'jes can't do it)
What follows is a seemingly mysoginist work which, upon deeper inspection is just a funny, horny song behing which all the members of the band, male and female, get down. It is above (or below) feminist reproach; its comic tensions embody the textural psychosis of the supermusical vision, as it were.
"Dina-Moe Humm" is the raunchiest lecher ballad I've heard in a long time, with lines like
I whipped off her bloomers 'n stiffened my thumb
An applied rotation to her sugar plum
The soul chorus, too, is quite effective: "I got a spot that gets me hot (oooh) but you ain't been to it," I'll leave you with that thought. Get this record and find your spot.
Crawdaddy December 1973
Rolling Stone, December 20, 1973
The Mothers of Invention
Disc Reet MS 2149
By ARTHUR SCHMIDT
A year has passed since Just Another Band From L.A., and I awaited this one under the impression that Zappa's output, though becoming predictable, was being perfected. But this LP is shorn of those references which would have made Band incomprehensible to those not having logged time in the city of L.A. Also missing (and missed) are former Turtles Kaylan and Volman, whose Flo and Eddie albums in turn need Zappa.
The formula is wearing thin—or perhaps this Brucean music of disgust suffers in the current buyers' market for outrage. Only one song, "Montana," approaches parody, and that of an indefinite genre. Nothing here is as ear-licking good as Band's send-ups of the Rascals and CSN&Y. One of Zappa's most persistent themes and/or subjects, silly hippies, though it provides the best cut ("Camarillo Brillo") seems, well, dated.
Except that this is close to a good record, one would be tempted to compare Zappa to Henry Miller, with whom the former shares a vision of sex as rancid, dumb and funny: Like Miller getting older, he is less shocking, tapeworming himself, and overwriting.
Even if the lyrics are jokes, this is machismo rock in the Miller style. The composite love-object wears a "rancid poncho," has bug-ridden hair, "Bovine perspiration on her upper lip area" and "cheap aroma." "Dinah Moe Humm" is a song about a man trying to win $40 from a girl who bets he can't get her to come. Insistent, almost depressingly professional backing accompanies recitation of deggerel-porn: "I pulled on her hair/Got her legs in the air/And asked if she had/Any cooties in there."
Well, if that doesn't shock you, there is a nice Zappa touch, the characteristic hilarious detail. After winning (but of course), having got the girl off by making it with her sister, he suggests "discipline" with "a pair of zircon-encrusted tweezers," sterilized with her lighter.
The LP's opener is by far its highlight. If not Zappa at the top of his form, he is at least within it, rhyming "poncho" with "We did till we were unconcho/And it was useless anymore." "Camarillo Brillo" is (rare, on Sensation) a good tune, and the arrangement shows Zappa's splendidly organized band to advantage; Zappa's guitar, Ruth Underwood (marimba), George Duke (piano) and Sal Marquez (trumpet) deserve a better album.
"I'm The Slime" lashes out—hold on to your social consciences—at television.
"Montana" concerns a dental-floss rancher—and could have been a great Mothers' ditty.
"Fifty-Fifty" gives the game away. "I'm just crazy enough to sing to you," sings Ricky Lancelotti in a fine vocal, as the band tries working itself into a frenzy that might belie the lyrics. A jazz interlude, accomplished and pleasant in a soundtrack sort of way, degenerates into what must now be for Zappa a rote exercise in feedback. Lancelotti continues: "I figure the odds be fifty-fifty/I just might have something to say."
That, unlike the bet with Dinah, Zappa doesn't take.
Mid-'73 . . . Mothers chapter/organism III tours internationally again, pumping hot notes concurrently with release of DISC-REET's first issue: OVER-NITE SENSATION. World vinyl purchasers develop drool-glands for Zappa/Mothers discs, and the release of APOSTROPHE' earlier this year created a whole new realm of commercial potential when it hit the nether regions of the Top Ten in Billboard.
Soon we get a double live set: ZAPPA, MOTHERS, ROXY & ELSEWHERE . . . and later, maybe, just maybe if all goes well, the glorious, mythic 10 disc pancake stack commermorating the first steaming decade.
"Listen, nobody puts together a pop group, simultaneously planning years of absurdly complicated events, lives out those events, then writes about it in a press kit and expects somebody to believe it. You're nuts."
(VOICE OF YOUR THOUGHTS)
"The basic blueprints were executed in 1962-63. Preliminary experimentation in early and mid '64. Construction of the PROJECT/OBJECT began late '64. Work is still in progress." F.Z.
Los Angeles Times
Tuesday Morning, December 11, 1973
ZAPPA AND MOTHERS PERFORM AT ROXY
The content of any show starring Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention is unpredictable. But the quality of the show is predictable. I have seen this satirical rock group many times and every show has been excellent. True to form, the group performed sensationally at the Roxy on Sunday night.
The show, which also included comical country and western singer John Kaye, was only scheduled for Sunday and Monday. A club engagement is unusual for Zappa and the Mothers, who primarily play concerts. But it was an ideal setting for them because the lyrics of their uproarious songs were easily audible, which is not often true in concert halls.
Zappa, who is a singer, guitarist and composer, and his band are noted for their loony tunes about improbable subjects. "Montana" is about raising dental floss. "A Little More Cheapness Please" is a zany homage to low-budget monster movies. "Pygmy Twilight" and "Penguin in Bondage" are resplendently bizarre.
The highlight was a slashingly satirical audience participation song about the President they did for an encore.
The crazy lyrics and uninhibited clowning were fun, but the most impressive aspect of the show was, as usual, the backup music. These eight musicians are imposingly fluent in several genres—rock, jazz and rhythm and blues. They could be stars if they only played instrumentals.
A few of the numbers had long instrumental breaks that allowed them to display their exquisite musicianship.
The band includes Ruth Underwood, a deft vibes and marimba player, and George Duke, a fantastic keyboard player who has played with Cannonball Adderley.
The intelligent use of the two drummers and the two horn players deserves commendation. It is rare to see an extra drummer in such a small group. But the added percussion was shrewdly used and specially welcome on the rhythm and blues numbers.
Horns are generally employed ignorantly in rock groups; reckless, ill-timed intrusions are confused with artful integration. But the tenor sax and the trombone fit smoothly into this group's music and embellish it grandly.
Rolling Stone, June 6, 1974
Discrete DS 2175
Having proven his stellar musicianship on a series of instrumental-based solo albums, Frank Zappa is now returning to the musical satire on which his formidable reputation was built. Apostrophe turns out to be so brilliantly successful, though, that it seems as though he's never left this field. Songs like "Stinkfoot" and "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" again attest to Zappa's abilities at contorting song forms to serve his distorted purposes: They're a welcome reminder that comic lunacy is still alive and well. "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" spotlights Zappa's public-spiritedness, and just in case anyone might still have doubts about his guitar virtuosity, Zappa dispels such thoughts quite convincingly on the title cut—and outrageous jam with Jim Gordon's thundering drums and Jack Bruce's bumblebee bass. Truly a mother of an album.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Tuesday, December 11, 1973
ZAPPA'S ROCK FOR 'TRUE FREAKS'
By ROBERT A. KEMNITZ
Herald-Examiner Staff Writer
Mad genius Frank Zappa, and his latest batch of Mothers, wound up a short run at the Roxy last night and proved once again that they are not "just another band from L.A."
This time around Zappa, the counter-culture's John Cage, has assembled a remarkable group of musicians. Tim Fowler on bass, his brother Bruce on trombone, Ralph Humphrey on drums, and George Duke, whose keyboard skills almost upstaged the leader himself. Percussionist Ruth Underwood kept up with the band's frenetic pace without missing a single swat of the gong, and she was incredible.
Zappa's music is almost impossible to classify. He seems to have successfully invented his own, a mixture of Edgar Varese and Spike Jones tempered by a sharp instict for progressive jazz and individualized through his own zany Lenny Bruce-type commentary.
The true freak will usually consider Zappa his primary musical spokesman. Witness a sampling of his song titles. "A Little More Cheapness, Please," "Penguin in Bondage," and "Pygmy Twilight," a song Zappa explained to be about "chemical alterations and the corruptions of youth." One song, "Montana," was about a dental floss rancher. Only Zappa, with his deep "concern" for the abstract, could make something concrete out of that. Another song, "Camarillo Brillo," deserves a place in the repertory of any musical theater of the absurd.
The above goings-on were being recorded on film Sunday night. A cameraman roamed freely about the stage and although it was a bit distracting to the audience, the musicians weren't bothered. They aren't as much fun as the original Mothers of Invention, those madcap innovators of the sixties, but they are Zappa's tightest group to date.
Comic country and western singer Johnny Kay was the opening act. One of the sloppiest guitar players ever to hit the stage of a major L.A. nightclub, he should hide out for a couple of years and practice. But he gets 10 points for sheer courage, just by being on the same bill with Frank Zappa.
Variety, Tues., December 11, 1973
The Roxy was packed with an impatient crowd waiting anxiously as sound-recording personnel and film crew synchronized their equipment for a filming of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, which Zappa wanted for his personal use. As the curtain went up so did one the mike stands which hooked onto it, surprising everyone including Zappa.
Silverfoiled drapery lined the back and sides of the stage surrounding two full sets of drums, at least three vibe sets, kettle drums and gogs, several keyboards and a synthesizer. Zappa introduced his sidemen and woman as Tom Fowler, bass; Bruce Fowler, trombone; Napolean Brock, lead vocals and tenor sax; George Duke, keyboards, synthesizer and vocal supports; Ralph Humphery, drums; Chester Thompson, drums; Ruth Underwood, percussion; Zappa, lead guitar, vibes and some vocals.
The group led off with a rocking jazz/blues shuffle led by Brock's strong sax and vocals. With combinations of jazz, rock and blues, together with Broadway flourishes in abstract compositions, Zappa's music is in a class by itself.
His lyric content is sarcastic, but touched with humor in such songs as "Pigmy Twilight," "Idiot Bastard Son," and "A Little More Cheapness, Please" about the grade-B late-late monster movie films.
Brock's performance was outstanding as he dramatically acted out the lyrics. All the musicians used body gyrations, dancing or playacting to enhance their performances. Sometimes the music seemed loud and arrangements a rehash of a previous number, but these moments were overshadowed by a well put together show, tight and timely musicianship and original compositions that were suggestive of Gershwin interpreted with heavy rock.
Highlight of the evening was the Ruth Underwood, Frank Zappa duo on vibes with double drum sets beating perfect rhythms while the other musicians supported. Underwood's striking performance was pehenomenal as she rushed about the percussion section playing the various instruments.
After a standing ovation Zappa and crew returned for an encore with "Dicky And San Clemente," an obvious tune about the country's problems with a light touch of humor. An all-out entertaining evening of stop-motion theatrics, comedy and music.
June 8, 1974
for the record
Congratulations to Frank and Gail Zappa on the recent birth of their son, Ahmet Rodin Zappa. Frank is reportedly looking for a girl "with a strong voice and acting ability" to play the role of the Queen of Cosmic Greed in an upcoming film project. The girl must also be "adaptable to the Mothers' act" and we wish her lots of luck.
Mon., July 22, 1974 · San Francisco Chronicle
Frank Zappa at The Circle Star
By Joel Selvin
The Mothers of Invention, "rocking and rotating" as maestro Frank Zappa put it, dosed the customarily more staid Circle Star Theater with two hours of his brilliant electric rock compositions three nights this weekend.
Chief freak and bull goose looney of the rock world, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention followed the Jackson Five, Harry Belafonte and Andy Williams into the San Carlos theater-in-the-round. It's something like the Who playing the Venetian Room.
Indeed, the sextet looked almost crammed into place amidst the seven-plus tons of equipment covering more than half the stage.
Though the house sound system was barely up to it ("it eats," Zappa noted to the audience), the decibel level undoubtedly reached an alltime high for the Circle Star.
The broad ranging performance covered material from both recent Mothers and Zappa solo albums, in addition to an upcoming Mothers release. "Trouble Coming Every Day," from the first Mothers album nine years ago (written about the Watts riot), was the encore selection.
Zappa indulged in a good deal of solo guitar work and gave plenty of space to the other first-rate soloists in the current Mothers lineup.
Saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock is the latest acquisition. He joins relative veterans George Duke (Marin City's Mother) on keyboards, Ruth Underwood on marimba, xylophone and assorted percussion, bassist Bruce Fowler and drummer Chester Thompson.
"Poodle" was Friday evening's running joke. "Frenchy," a giant poodle monster, figured as a character in a song about monster movies, "A Little More Cheapness, Please." "The poodle bites," Zappa warned the audience at several points. Numerous "bow-wows" flavored the background vocals.
Zappa is one of the most complex artists working in rock music (or popular music of any kind). He integrates thematic statements and restatements—musica., artistic, social—on many levels, juxtaposing them for special effect.
His technical command of electrical music—as a composer, player, arranger, bandleader and record producer—is awesome. On top of all that, Zappa has established himself as a successful recording artist, all the time devoted to distinctly anti-commercial artistic sentiments.
In today's recording industry—where uncommon talent is common—that's rare.
When Zappa's lates album, "Apostrophe," nipped the bottom slot of the top ten last month, he hired a group of people to parade in front of Warner Brothers Records headquarters.
"Anyone who can get Frank Zappa even to the bottom of the top ten," one sign read, "is all right in my booklet—F.Z."
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