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.....

FZ, quoted by Diego A. Manrique, Metal Hurlant #15, Spain, 1983

Siempre me gustaron los viejos comics de la EC. Me encantaba Wallace Wood y Jack Davis. Y Jim Steranko, del que me dicen que ahora es un alcohólico internado en un hospital. Me sentí muy emocionado de que un día viniera a visitarme Jack Kirby, el de Forever People y The New Gods. Un personaje encantador. Creo que hay mucho solape entre el público del rock y del comics y lo demostré convenciendo a la compañía de discos para que anunciara mi LP We're Only In It For The Money en las publicaciones de Marvel, la primera vez que se anunciaba un disco en esas revistas. También estoy al tanto de los nuevos dibujantes europeos. De hecho, la portada de mi nuevo LP, The Man From Utopia, está hecha por Tanino Liberatorie, al que conocí leyendo Frigidaire, esa revista italiana. A través de unos amigos, le conocí y apenas pudimos entendernos, no sabe hablar inglés, pero resultó un tipo majo. La portada va a ser entendida en Europa mejor que en USA, Liberatore me ha retratado a partir de su personaje Rank Xerox.

Google Translate (with slight corrections):

I always liked the old EC comics. I loved Wallace Wood and Jack Davis. And Jim Steranko, who they tell me that is now an alcoholic hospitalized. I was very excited that one day Jack Kirby, from Forever People and The New Gods came to visit me. A lovely character. I think there is a lot of overlap between the rock and comic public and I proved it by convincing the record company to announce my LP We're Only In It For The Money in Marvel publications, the first time a record was announced In those magazines. I am also aware of the new European artists. In fact, the cover of my new LP, The Man From Utopia, is made by Tanino Liberatorie, whom I met reading Frigidaire, that Italian magazine. Through some friends, I met him and we could barely understand each other, he can't speak English, but he turned out to be a nice guy. The cover is going to be understood in Europe better than in the USA, Liberatore has portrayed me from his character Rank Xerox.


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

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


Track order

Biffy The Elephant Shrew,, 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


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

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

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

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

  00:39-00:53 00:39-00:53  

Do ya do or don't ya don't
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


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

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

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

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

  02:16-02:29 02:16-02:29  

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

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


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


  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.

Arthur Barrow, Of Course I Said Yes!, 2016, p. 118-119

I got another call from Zappa [...]. The call was to do another recording session up at Frank's house on March 10th. It was a nice fat double session, going from 9 pm to 3 am. I'm not sure, but I think that was when we recorded "Tink Walks Amok," the tune that features me on multiple bass tracks. It did not have that title at the time we recorded it. The first section was part of something he called "Atomic Paganini" and most of the rest of the bass part was from the version of "Thirteen" that we were working on in early 1980, just before Vinnie quit the band. [...]

Sitting in the control room, I was recording the bass to a click track with Frank sitting right next to me. The "Paganini" part is mainly just a repeating riff in 11/8 time. Frank started inventing the arrangement on the fly, as we were recording. We started off with me playing the riff in one position, then he would say, "Move up two frets—OK, now!" or "Move the whole thing over to the A string position—OK, now!" After we had done that for a while, he remembered the "Thirteen" arrangement we used to do, sohe had me do the bass part to that. I fully expected that he would overdub all the great keyboard and guitar parts that were part of it, but he never did.

[...] When I arrived at the house for one of the sessions during this time, Frank greeted me with a big smile and said, "Hi, Tink!" [...] One evening at some fancy restaurant in New York there was a meeting, a chance meeting of Frank and Chirstopher Cross. [...] They ended up hanging out for a while, whereupon Chris took the opportunity to inform Frank that my childhood name was the despised "Tink." I think it was Chris's way of getting his revenge on me for inciting Zappa to write "Teenage Wind."


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."

Arthur Barrow, Of Course I Said Yes!, 2016, p. 116

I am playing piano and guitar on "The Radio Is Broken," and I came up with the idea to use the chord progression from the Doors' "Love Street" in that song, too.


5. We Are Not Alone

Arthur Barrow, Of Course I Said Yes!, 2016, p. 116

I'm pretty sure that's me playing bass on "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

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.

8. Stick Together


9. The Jazz Discharge Party Hats


10. Luigi & The Wise Guys


11. Mōggio

FZ, interviewed by Charles Armakhanian, KPFA-FM, May 17, 1984

My daughter Diva, who is 4 years old, has a number of imaginary playmates—well, I think they are imaginary—she has one called Moggio who is her tiny father, the father that sleeps underneath of a pillow, and that's what this song is—

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
Original provocation by Vladimir Sovetov
This page updated: 2020-02-14