The Man From Utopia

The Cover Art

Francisco Gentile, "The Six Sides Of Frank Xerox," The Resentment Listener, March 15, 2014

In another interview given to the Italian Magazine XL (n.80, October 2012), also documented in video on the XL blog, Tanino [Liberatorie] explains that it was a young woman who showed a copy of RanXerox to Zappa after the 1982 Rome concert.

She said she was a Frigidaire (the Italian magazine that first published the adventures of the cyborg-punk hero) journalist and showed the freshly published album fully devoted to RanXerox. Zappa was so amused by the comic album that asked his friend Massimo Bassoli to put him in touch with the authors. And here they are in 1982, with a copy of RanXerox.

Tamburini, Zappa & Liberatorie

[...] Here is an excerpt of a 2012 interview given by Tanino Liberatore to Pubblico (November 20, 2012, clippings available here) :

The cover of The Man from Utopia is Zappa as RanXerox!
It was him who wanted it, he liked the idea of Frank Xerox.

It was him who told you about the stories depicted or did you witness all those scenes?
I was at the Naples and Rome concerts where nothing special happened. After the Naples concert we went dining together to discuss the cover. In the beginning it should have been a six pages comic strip, but the project was later reduced. Since I don't like covers with a lot of details or messages, and I prefer a strong drawing to leave a powerful impact, I proposed to draw the front cover according to my approach, leaving to him any decision concerning the back cover. Frank accepted. So in the back I drew the promoters who worry only about sniffing cocaine, The Pope, the gal who let Zappa know about RanXerox. Also, the famous "3-1 Vaffanculo" banner (referred to the 1982 FIFA World Cup Final, editor's note), the infamous Palermo tear gas riot and the sun with the face, because he loved an Italian olive oil with a similar logo.

giancarlo (GTC), quoted by elviszappa, Zappateers, February 17, 2010

An italian artist, Tanino Liberatore, was introduced to Frank from Massimo and he was so impressed by his character, Rank Xerox, to ask him to draw an entire book with all the stories happened to him and the band during the tour. What remained from that project had been the simple studio album Man from Utopia and the only thing Tanino sold to zappa was the cover of the album and that's why you see the android Zappa/Rank playing with the Milano mosquitos and the arrows indicating the italian tour dates. In the back of the cover of that album, you can see in the bottom part of it, a girl with curly hair and white shirt, that's Valentina, my previous girlfriend who helped Tanino speaking with Zappa; you can even see Smothers crashing the head of an italian journalist (Red Ronnie) who had been caught taping the show after the interview.....

 

The Six Sided Original Project

Francisco Gentile, "The Six Sides Of Frank Xerox," The Resentment Listener, March 15, 2014

The Man From Utopia—back cover sketch
Tanino Liberatore, Frank Zappa, The Man from Utopia, back cover sketch, posted by Gil Chaya at comicartfans.com

On the left side of the sketch above, note the placeholder for a six sides tracklist!

 

Track order

Biffy The Elephant Shrew, alt.fan.frank-zappa, December 2, 2000

Zappa did switch the sides of the LP itself at the last minute, which caused a delay in the album's release. This was not an error, just an eleventh-hour decision (not to be confused with a cocaine decision).

 

1. Cocaine Decisions

FZ, interviewed by Bill Templeton, Music, January 25-February 6, 1985

OK, you're a teenager and you want to have a good time, you go out and you get high. No, no, that doesn't bother me so much. What bothers me is, you're a brain surgeon, and you're using cocaine, and you may operate on somebody one day and they'll die. Or you're a Supreme Court justice, and you're going to pass a law that is going to affect life in the United States for the next 200 years, and you're doing it under the influence of drugs. Or you're working in Congress and you're working on a law that will affect everybody's life. Or you're the President of the United States, or whoever you are, drugs are all over the place. It's not just kids who are using the stuff, its people who are involved in life and death decisions for large numbers of people in this country. Whether it's a corporate executive, or whatever, their decision to do something, if it's chemically based, is going to affect the quality of everybody else's life and that's what "Cocaine Decisions" is all about.

 

2. SEX

FZ, interviewed by John Swenson, Guitar World, March, 1982

We did a bunch of recording before we left LA [in September, 1981]. [...] Another song called "Sex," which is a very nice song.

The Different Edits

Lyrics TMFU (LP) TMFU (CD) HIOS? PWD (UA)

What's the thing that they's talkin' about everywhere?
SEX
When they wanna be suave 'n debonair
SEX

What's poppin' up the most from coast to coast
SEX
At yer bongo party an' yer weenie roast
SEX

00:00-00:39 00:00-00:39 00:00-00:39 18:21-19:01

Even them Christians who is born again
SEX
Go out 'n get pooched every now 'n' then
SEX

  00:39-00:53 00:39-00:53  

Do ya do or don't ya don't
SEX
Bet yer lyin' if ya say ya won't

Some girls try it 'n go on a diet
Then they worry 'cause they's too fat
Who wants t'ride on an ironin' board?
That ain't no fun . . . I tried me one

Grow that meat all over yer bones
Work the wall with the local jones
'N while you do it, remember this line
The Sniffer says it all the time

"THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION . . . "

Makes no difference if yer young or old
SEX
Don't you act like it's made of gold
SEX

Ladies they need it just like the guys
SEX
Maybe you could use a protein surprise
SEX

00:39-02:02 00:53-02:16 00:53-02:16 19:01-20:24

Layin' down or standin' up
SEX
If it feels good, just keep it up
SEX

  02:16-02:29 02:16-02:29  

Any time, anywhere
SEX
Why d'ya think it's growin' there?
SEX

Some girls try it 'n they don't like it
They complain 'cause it don't last
Who wants to ride on a debutante?
They talks too much . . . they moves too fast

Watch the scenery while you ride
You can be very warm inside
'N when the train goes 'round the bend
Check the shrub'ry on the other end

"THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION . . . "

02:02-02:58 02:29-03:25 02:29-03:25 20:24-21:21

"THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION, THE BETTER THE PUSHIN'
THE BIGGER THE CUSHION . . . "

  03:25-03:43 03:25-03:43  
  02:58-02:59   03:43-03:44 21:21-21:22

 

3. Tink Walks Amok

FZ, interviewed by Pauline Butcher, 1988

"Tink Walks Amok" is a tribute to Arthur Barrow, who was the bass player in the band for quite some time. "Tink" is his nickname, although he wouldn't like people to know that, but that's what they used to call him when he was in school in San Antonio, Texas. And "walking amok" is not like "running amok." Bass players walk.

 

4. The Radio Is Broken

FZ interviewed by John Swenson, Guitar World, March, 1982

We did a bunch of recording before we left LA [in September, 1981]. [...] Another song called "Willing Suspension of Disbelief" which is a science fiction extravaganza. It has everything in it about cheap monster movies that wasn't included in the song "Cheepnis."

 

5. We Are Not Alone

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977) ad poster

We Are Not Alone. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

Stevie's Spanking?

Frank Zappa Sessions Information, compiled by Greg Russo, August, 2003

04/13/81 (2-5PM and 6-9PM) Studio Z (soon to be known as UMRK), Los Angeles, CA—Mo & Herb's Vacation; Stevie's Spanking
MUSICIANS: FZ (leader), Arthur William Barrow, David Ocker (6-9PM), John Steinmetz (6-9PM)

Charles Ulrich, August 8, 2003

What version of Stevie's Spanking is this??? It can't be overdubs on a live version, because the song wasn't performed in concert until September '81.

Patrick Buzby, August 11, 2003

Possibly relevant: the 8/?/81 90-minute rehearsal tape with Lisa Popeil includes We Are Not Alone with lyrics about the spanking incident.

6. The Dangerous Kitchen 2:51

FZ, KUNM, Albuquerque, NM, October 11, 1980

Some of the new songs were written within the last few days. We have a song called "The Dangerous Kitchen," that I think you will enjoy. It's a tragic tale of what happens when you come home late at night to your house and you go in the kitchen and get something to eat and find out that somebody has left this total mess all over the place. It talks about the soft things that you step on on the floor that you don't know what they are, and the meat, you know, wrapped up in paper that's sitting out on the counter and the cats get to it and they have torn a hole in it and there's this stuff hanging out. And the stuff in the strainer that has a mind of its own.

 

7. The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou

He was a funny little fella with feet just like I showed ya

Charles Ulrich, April 25, 2010

The lyric sheet of FZ's MFU has "He was a funny little fella with feet just like I showed ya". But to me it doesn't sound like that's what Donald Woods sang in the original.

I think it's:

He was a funny little fella
And people I'm not shuckin' ya

Shuck 'to deceive', as in shuck & jive.

11. Mōggio

Diva Zappa, on correspondence with Michael Brenna, August 1, 2016

I had an imaginary friend when I was little named Chana. She lived in my pocket with her entire family and Moggio was her dad.

Patrick Buzby, November 21, 2014

Reviewing this song recently I have found most of the basic track is from 1981 12 11 (E) Santa Monica (including the "wrong" notes from Scott Thunes someone on Zappateers mentioned, heard at 0:48 on the 1992 Barking Pumpkin CD version). Only the ending (starting around 2:09) is from 1981 11 27 (L) Chicago.

 

 

Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/
This page updated: 2017-10-03