Frank Zappa

Band members                             Related acts

  supporting musicians (1967) The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

- Arnold Belnick -- strings

- Harold Benko -- strings

- Chuck Berghofer -- bass

- Jimmy Carl Black -- chorus

- Jimmy Bond -- bass

- Moinica Boscia -- chorus

- Dannis Dudimir -- guitar

- Frank Capp -- drums

- Donald Christlieb -- woodwinds

- Gene Ciporano -- woodwinds

- Louie Cueno -- chorus

- Victor DeRosa -- french horn

- Joseph DeFiore -- strings

- Jesse Ehrlich -- strings

- Alan Estes -- drums percussion

- Gene Estes -- percussion

- Roy Estrada -  bass, chorus

- Larry Fanoga (Euclid James Sherwood) -- vocals, chorus

- Victor Feldman -- drums, percussion

- Bank Gardner -- woodwinds

- James Getzoff -- strings

- Philip Goldberg -- strings

- John Guerin -- drums

- Bruce Hamption -- chorus

- Jimmy Haynes -- guitar

- Harry Hyams -- strings

- Jules Jacob -- woodwinds

- Pete Jolly -- keyboards

- Harold Kelling -- vocals

- Ray Kelly -- strings

- Jerome Kessler -- strings

- Alexander Koltun -- strings

- Bernard Kindell -- strings

- William Kurasch -- strings

- Michael Lang -- keyboards

- Arthur Maebe -- french horn

- Leonard Malarksy -- strings

- Shelly Manne -- drums

- Lincoln Maygirga -- ksybaords

- Ted nash -- woodiwnds

- Richard Parissi -- french horn

- Glenn Phillips -- vocals

- Jerome Reisler -- strings

- Emil Richards -- percussion

- Tony Rizzi -- guitar

- John Rotella -- percussion, woodwinds

- Joseph Saxon -- strings

- Ralph Schaeffer -- strings

- Leonard Selic -- strings

- Kenny Shroyer -- trombone

- Paul Smith -- keyboards

- Tommy Tedesco -- guitar

- Al Viola -- guitar

- Bib West -- bass

- Tibor Zelig -- strings

- Jimmy Zito -- trumpet



Terry Bozio -- drums (1975)

- Napoleon Murphy Brock -- flute, sax, vocals (1975)

- Captain Beefheart (aka Bloodshot Rollin' Red, aka 

  Don Van Vliet) -- vocals,

  harp, harmonica (1975)

- George Duke -- keyboards (1973 and 75)

- Ansley Dunbar -- drums (-71)

- Bruce Fowler -- trombone (1975)

- Tom Fowler -- bass (175)

- Ralph Humphrey -- drums, percussion

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals (1970-71)

- Ricky Lancelotti -- vocals

- Sal Marquez - - trumpet, violin

- Jim Pons -- bass, backing vocals (-71)

- Jean-Luc Ponty -- violin

- Don Preston -- keyboards (-71)

- Chester Thompson -- drums, sound effects (1975)

- Ian Underwood -- sax, woodwinds (-71)

- Ruth Underwood -- percussion, marimba

- Kin Vassy -- narration

- Mark Volman -- vocals (1970-71)

- Denny Wally -- slide guitar (1975)

- Johnny Guitar Watson -- guitar (1975)

- James Youman -- bass (1975)

- Frank Zappa (RIP 1993) -- vocals, guitar


  line up xx (1970)

- Jimmy Carl Black -- percussion, drums
- Roy Estrada -- bass, vocals
- Gabby Furggy -- vocals
- Bunk Gardner -- horn, wind
- Lowell George -- guitar
- Don Sugarcane Harris -- violin, vocals
- Don Preston -- bass, piano, keyboards
- Jim Sherwood -- guitar, vocals, wind
- Art Tripp -- drums
- Ian Underwood -- guitar, piano, keyboards, wind

- Frank Zappa -- organ, guitar, keyboards, vocals


  line up xx (1970)

- Max Bennett -- bass

- George Duke -- keyboards, trombone, vocal drum imitations

- Aynsley Dunbar -- drums, tambourine

- John Guerin -- drums, percussion

- Don Sugarcane Harris -- violin, organ

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals

- Jeff Simmons -- guitar, bass, vocals

- Ian Underwood -- keyboards, sax,, rhythm guitar

- Mark Volman -- vocals

- Frank Zappa -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, sax, drums, percussion


- Captain Beefheart

- Flo and Eddie Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman)

- Fraternity of Man 

- Don Preston (solo efforts)

- Bob Smith (Don Preston) 

- The Turtles (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman)


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  We're Only In It for the Money

Company: Verve

Catalog: V6 5045X 

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1967

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5281

Price: $30.00


A couple of years ago I bought a stack of Zappa and Mothers of Invention LPs at a yard sale.  The person selling them must have owned everything Zappa ever recorded and it was all on sale for $2.00 a pop.  Even though I wasn’t a major Zappa fan, I’ve always been curious so I ended up buying quite a bit of stuff though over the ensuing years I’ve only managed to actually listen to a handful of the LPs.  Zappa can be difficult and starting off with one of his live sets may not have been the ideal introduction – I’m still scarred.  Anyhow, this was one of the first ones I played.

Self-produced, 1967’s “We’re Only In It For the Money” showcased Zappa at his most barbed – this time the target of his wrath being hippies and the entire flower power movement.  It also underscored Zappa’s then unheard of anti-drug stance.  A mixture of experimental sound collages (‘The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny’), snippets of interpersonal and phone conversation interspersed with actual songs, tracks like ‘Who Needs the Peace Corps’ and ‘Flower Punk’ made it perfectly clear that Zappa saw hippies as nothing more than lame and completely pathetic posers.  ‘Flower Punk’ was particularly funny –  imagine the melody for ‘Hey Joe’ sped up and sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks after they’d OD’d on amphetamines.  Interesting how in hindsight Zappa’s instincts were right on the mark.  While the summer of love may have taken the brunt of his wrath, there was plenty of venom left for police, women, and pretty much the entire spectrum of American society.  Exemplified by tracks like ‘Concentration Moon’, the pretty ballad ‘Mom and Dad’, the doo-wopesque ‘What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body’ and ‘The Idiot Bastard Son’ subtlety wasn’t exactly Zappa’s strong point, but then it would have been wasted on an audience that was self absorbed, and permanently stoned.  Elsewhere Verve actually tapped the album for a single in the form of ‘Mother People’ b/w ‘Lonely Little Girl’ (Verve catalog number 10570).  Easy to see why the 45 never had a chance at garnering airplay.  Elsewhere deciding to market the album with a cover featuring Zappa and company posing in dresses made for one of the year’s more disturbing marketing plans, though the inner sleeve “Sgt Pepper” parody was absolutely hysterical.  Somehow it worked the album peaking at # 30, providing the band with their biggest commercial success.  .  While the themes may have aged over the years (I can imagine lots of aging hippies blanching at the thought of hearing this album again), the album’s a treat to hear with a good pair of headphones.

"We're Only In It For the Money" track listing: 

(side 1)

1.) Are You Hung Up   (Frank Zappa) – 1:23

2.) Who Needs the Peace Corps   (Frank Zappa) – 2:34

3.) Concentration Moon   (Frank Zappa) – 2:32

4.) Mom and Dad   (Frank Zappa) – 2:16

5.) Bow Tie Daddy   (Frank Zappa) –1:22

6.) Harry You’re a Beast   (Frank Zappa) –1:22

     What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body   (Frank Zappa) - 1:00

      Absolutely Free   (Frank Zappa) –3:26

     Flower Punk   (Frank Zappa) – 3:57

      Hot Poop   (Frank Zappa) – 0:16


(side 2)

1.) Nasal Intentive Calliope Music   (Frank Zappa) – 2:00

2.) Let’s Make the Water Turn Black   (Frank Zappa) – 1:54

3.) The Idiot Bastard Son   (Frank Zappa) – 3:57

4.) Lonely Little Girl   (Frank Zappa) – 1:20

5.) Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance   (Frank Zappa) – 1:33

6.) What’s Ugliest Part of Your Body (reprise)   (Frank Zappa) – 1:03

7.) Mother People   (Frank Zappa) – 2:30

8.) The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny   (Frank Zappa) – 6:30



Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Absolutely Free

Company: Verve

Catalog: V6-5013 

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1967

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5282

Price: $30.00



Recorded after a major upheaval within the Mothers of Invention ranks that saw the departure of guitarist Elliot Ingber (aka Wing Eel Fingerling) and the addition of horn player Don Gardner, drummer Billy Mundi, keyboardist Don Preston, and saxophonist Jim Sherwood, the band relocated to New York City where they spent the next six months honing their skills as house band at The Garrick Theater.  The shows were apparently quite entertaining, on occasion incorporating rotten vegetables and a shaving cream spurting giraffe.  Would have loved to have been in the audience …  Written and produced by Zappa, 1967’s “Absolutely Free” was an entertaining, if challenging mixture of classical structures, rock, experimentation, goofy humor, and Zappa’s biting social and political commentary (‘Plastic People’ and ‘Uncle Bernie’s Farm’).  Exemplified by tracks like ‘America Drinks’, ‘Status Back Baby‘ and ‘Brown Shoes Don’t Make It’  American social mores seemed to be Zappa’s primary target, though at times it was hard to figure out what the hell was going on – any thoughts on ‘The Duke Regains His Chops’, ‘Call Any Vegetables’, or ‘Soft Sell Conclusion & Ending of Side # 1’?  Nothing here was particularly commercial, or even memorable which made it even more surprising that the collection sold well, eventually peaking # 41.


"Absolutely Free" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Plastic People    (Frank Zappa)  – 3:40

2.) The Duke of Prunes    (Frank Zappa)  – 2:12

3.) Amnesia Vivace    (Frank Zappa)  – 1:01

4.) The Duke Regains His Chops    (Frank Zappa)  – 1:45

5.) Call Any Vegetable    (Frank Zappa)  – 2:19

6.) Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin (instrumental)    (Frank Zappa)  – 6:57

7.) Soft Sell Conclusion & Ending of Side # 1    (Frank Zappa)  – 1:40


(side 2)

1.) America Drinks    (Frank Zappa)  – 1:52

2.) Status Back Baby     (Frank Zappa) – 2:52

3.) Uncle Bernie’s Farm    (Frank Zappa)  – 2:09

4.) Son of Suzy Creamcheese    (Frank Zappa)  – 1:33

5.) Brown Shoes Don’t Make It    (Frank Zappa) – 7:26

6.) America Drinks & Goes Home    (Frank Zappa)  – 2:43


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Cruising with Ruben & the Jets

Company: Verve

Catalog: V8 6065

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1968

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; 4" seam split along top; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID:

Price: $30.00


Here's Zappa's description of 1968's "Cruising with Ruben & the Jets" - "This is an album of greasy love songs & cretin simplicity. We made it because we really like this kind of music (just a bunch of old men with rock & roll clothes on sitting around the studio. mumbling about the good old days). Ten years from now you'll be sitting around with your friends someplace doing the same thing if there's anything left to sit on." Musically the set features a series of '50s doo wop-styled parodies. Sure, Zappa and company were trying to make some type of social/cultural statement, but on material such as "Love of My Life", "I'm Not Satisfied" and "Jelly Roll Gum Drop" their affection for the genre overshadowed their built-in cynicism. Elsewhere, Ray Collins' "Anything" was probably one of the most straight forward and prettiest melodies the band ever recorded. It's certainly quirky (of course what Zappa album isn't?), and stands as one of out favorite Zappa releases. A modest seller, the album peaked at # 110. (The collection was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.) 

"Ruben & the Jets" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Cheap Thrills (Frank Zappa) - 2:20
2.) Love of My Life (Frank Zappa) - 3:17
3.) How Could I Be Such a Fool (Frank Zappa) - 3:33
4.) Deseri (Ray Collins - Paul Bluff) - 2:04
5.) I'm Not Satisfied (Frank Zappa) - 3:59
6.) Jelly Roll Gum Drop (Frank Zappa) - 2:17
7.) Anything (Ray Collins) - 3:00

(side 2)

1.) Later That Night (Frank Zappa) - 3:04
2.) You Didn't Try To Call Me (Frank Zappa) - 3:53
3.) Fountain of Love (Ray Collins - Frank Zappa) - 2:57
4.) "No, No, No" (Frank Zappa) - 2:27
5.) Anyway the Wind Blows (Frank Zappa) - 2:56
6.) Stuff Up the Cracks (Frank Zappa) - 4:39

Reissued by Rykodisc in the mid-1980s, Zappa rerecorded much of the material, adding enhanced rhythm sections. In the face of a wave of criticism, Zappa claimed the original master tapes were unusable, forcing the postproduction additions. Serious fans will tell you to stick with the original LP, though its getting harder to find.


Genre: rock

Rating: *** ( stars)

Title:  Lumpy Gravy

Company: Verve/Bizarre

Catalog: 6317 046

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1968

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3272

Price: $50.00


.Zappa goes solo (well, if you ignore the  57 musicians who show up on the performance credits billed as the Abnuceals Emuukja Electric Symphony Orchestra and Chous).  

So, "Lumpy Gravy" has an interesting history.  1967 found Zappa signed to MGM's Verve subsidiary, but the contract was for Zappa's services as a performing artist.  In spite of Zappa's ties to MGM/Verve, Capitol Records A&M representative Nick Venet commissioned Zappa to compose an album of orchestral music.  Given he'd been signed as a performing artist, Zappa and Capitol saw a loophole in the MGM contract whereby Zappa could write and conduct material.  He just couldn't play on any of the resulting tracks.  Accordingly Capitol spent a then-staggering $40,000 on the sessions which saw Zappa conducting a collection of professional musicians, friends, and hanger-ons (including some members of The Mothers of Invention), under the name The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra and Chous.  MGM's legal department didn't see it the same way and immediately sued.  Having released the album in 8-Track format, Capitol quickly withdrew the set.  During the ensuing litigation Zappa went back into the studio, editing the material (at the same time he was working on three other albums - "We're Only In It for the Money", "Cruising with Ruben and the Jets", and "Hard Meat"), he added in dialog segments, sound collages, and even some surf music ('Take Your Clothes Off').  In 1968 Verve released the revamped album.

Anyone expecting to hear a collection of Mothers of Invention styled experimentation was in for a rude awakening.  Written and conducted by Zappa and reportedly completed in eleven days, these two side-long pieces offered up an odd mixture of surf rock, jazz, random dialog clips, oddball sounds, and musique concrete experimentation.  Given Zappa's musicians initially wanted little to do with the project; some reportedly refusing to participate, the fact he managed to get an album completed stands as a minor miracle.   That's not to imply you're going to enjoy it. I'm giving it a third star strictly for the weirdness factor.  Ironically Zappa subsequently claimed it was one of his favorite releases, but I'll reiterate this is heavy slogging; especially for the uninitiated, or the unprepared.  


"Ruben & the Jets" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lumpy Gravy -Part 1 (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 15:50  rating: *** stars

'Lumpy Gravy -Part 1' started out with a six second spoken word clip, followed by the instrumental 'Duedernum' that sounded like a cross between a high school surf band and something from The Adams Family television show soundtrack.  'On No' reflected a surprisingly enjoyable jazzy vibe (Steely Dan anyone).  With 'Bit of Nostalgia'  the sound collages kicked in.  Various spoken word segments sounded like someone listening in on a counseling session.  It was rather disconcerting.  There was also sped up Dixieland jazz, following by musique concrete madness.  And on and on ...   It's not shown in the liner notes, but the suite was broken out into twelve short segments:


1.) The Way I See It, Barry   (Frank Zappa) - 0:06

2.) Duodenum   (Frank Zappa) - 1:32 

3.) Oh No   (Frank Zappa) - 2:03

4.) Bit of Nostalgia   (Frank Zappa) -1:35

5.) It's from Kansas   (Frank Zappa) - 0:30

6.) Bored Out 90 Over   (Frank Zappa) - 0:31

7.) Almost Chinese   (Frank Zappa) - 0:25

8.) Switching Girls   (Frank Zappa) - 0:29

9.) Oh No Again   (Frank Zappa) - 1:13

10.) At the Gas Station    (Frank Zappa) - 2:31

11.) Another Pickup   (Frank Zappa) - 0:54

12.)  I Don't Know If I Can Go Through This Again   (Frank Zappa) - 3:49


(side 2)

1.) Lumpy Gravy -Part 2 (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 15:58   rating: *** stars

Featuring ten segments, side two wasn't much different.  The first two segments were dialog heavy, though trying to understand what these guys were going on about was an exercise in frustration.  Louie Cueno was responsible for the laugh that sounded like a drunk turkey. 'King Kong' and 'Take Your Clothes Off' at least had memorable melodies.


1.) Very Distraughtening   (Frank Zappa) - 1:33

2.) White Ugliness   (Frank Zappa) - 2:22

3.) Amen    (Frank Zappa) -1:33

4.) Just One More Time   (Frank Zappa) - 0:58

5.) A Vicious Circle   (Frank Zappa) - 1:12

6.) King Kong   (Frank Zappa) -

7.) Drums Are Too Noisy   (Frank Zappa) - 0:43

8.) Kangaroos   (Frank Zappa) - 0:57

9.) Envelops the Bath Tub    (Frank Zappa) - 3:42

10.) Take Your Clothes Off   (Frank Zappa) - 1:53





Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Hot Rats 

Company: Bizarre 

Catalog: RS-6356

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1969

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring wear; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5022

Price: $25.00


As you've probably already figured out I own quite a bit of Zappa's catalog, but I'm not a hardcore Zappa fan. That's one of the reason's Zappa's first true (aka non-Mothers of Invention) solo effort, 1969's "Hot Rats" was such a surprise to me. Having disbanded The Mothers (reportedly due to the costs associated with the such a large touring band), musically it stands as one of the closest things he ever did to making a convention rock album. A largely instrumental affair. with assistance from long-time friend Captain Beefheart (who contributed guest vocals to the lone non-instrumental 'Willie the Pimp'), Little Feat guitarist Lowell George, Jean-Luc Ponty and multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood, material such as 'Peaches en Regale' and 'Son of Mr. Green Genes' offered up a nifty mix of straightforward rock (with some great Zappa guitar) and more adventuresome, extended jazz-rock outings. Still, compared to most of his catalog, the results were highly commercial which may be why many critics considered it one of Zappa's best effort. In terms of sales, it also did okay hitting # 173. (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve featuring the late Christine Frka of GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) fame and then Alice Coopers steady) posing for the cover shot.

"Hot Rats" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Peaches En Regalia (instrumental) (Frank Zappa) - 3:58
2.) Willie the Pimp (Frank Zappa) - 9:25
3.) Son of Mr. Green Genes (instrumental) (Frank Zappa) - 8:58

(side 2)

1.) Little Umbrellas (instrumental) (Frank Zappa) - 3:09
2.) The Gumbo Variations (instrumental) (Frank Zappa) - 12:55
3.) It Must Be a Camel (instrumental) (Frank Zappa) - 5:15


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Burnt Weeny Sandwich 

Company: Reprise 

Catalog: RS-6370

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; gatefold sleeve; German pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6091

Price: $30.00


Wow, as you probably gathered from the album title and disturbing cover art, 1970's "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" was one bizarre collection.  Released after a tired and frustrated Frank Zappa had decided to disband the Mothers of Invention (though the album was still credited to them), the set offered up a posthumous mixture of studio and live material.  Apparently compiled from a mixture of 1967-69 era studio and concert outtakes and miscellaneous shelved efforts, the results found Zappa himself strangely subdued throughout the collection.  This time out there was literally a little bit of everything to be found including '50s doo-wop ('WPLJ'), classical moves ('Igor's Boogie'), straight ahead experimentation, and even a sea shanty ('Abye Sea').  Zappa fans tend to fawn over this one, which leaves me at somewhat of a loss.  I'll give him credit for the opening and closing doo-wop numbers (perhaps the inspiration for the 'Sandwich' album title), but going ga-ga over numbers like the classically inspired 'Igor's Boogie', or Sugar Cane Harris' extended violin solo on 'Little House I Used To Love In' simply leaves me scratching my head in puzzlement. Technically it was all pretty impressive, but to call it enjoyable was kind of a stretch.  Personally I'd rather hear 'Hot Rats'.  To each his own ... 


- Originally recorded by The Four Deuces, 'WPLJ' served to underscore Zappa's long standing affection for doo-wop.  The lyric about making your own wine out of port and lemon juice (the title didn't refer to a radio station call sign rather White Port and Lemon Juice), always made me laugh as did Roy Estrada's Spanish commentary.  No idea what he was saying, but I suspect it was colorful.   rating: *** stars

- Apparently inspired by long-standing Zappa hero Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, 'Igor's Boogie Phase One' was a brief and suitably discordant blast of musique-Concrete styled experimentation.   You can just see the Mothers of Invention going "what the hell ..."  Yech.   rating: ** stars  

- Opening up with what sounded like Ian Underwood on a kid's piano and some out of tune sax, ''Overture To a Holiday In Berlin' was another strange instrumental.  Imagine The Mothers hanging out with Brian Eno and the Portsmouth SInfonia and you'd have a feel for the sound.  The song was apparently inspired by a Zappa trip to Berlin where folks tried to get him to join an anti-establishment riot.  There's another version of the song with lyrics.   rating: ** stars

- Apparently a live-in-the-studio performance, the instrumental 'Theme from a Burnt Weeny Sandwich' served as a showcase for an extended and surprisingly commercial Zappa solo ...   Folks forget what an accomplished player Zappa was an on this track he turned in a very West Cost CS&N-flavored vibe (if you could overlook the oddball and jarring percussion sounds slapped on top of the mix).    rating: *** stars

- Picking up where the first snippet ended, 'Igor's Boogie, Phase Two' was no less experimental and irritating though anyone into the sound squawking ducks (I think the sounds were actually bike horns), should enjoy the track.  Luckily it was equally brief.   rating: ** stars

- As you can tell from the title, this segment of 'Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown' benefited from a filler arrangement.  Complete with martial drumming and supper club sax solo, the results were still pretty goofy, though Zappa's blazing end-of-song guitar solo almost salvaged the track.   rating: *** stars

- Showcasing Underwood on harpsichord and Zappa on acoustic guitar, the instrumental 'Abye Sea' (think A-B-C) came off like and 1800s sea shanty.  Surprisingly, the tune was quite infectious.   rating: *** stars    

- Long considered one of Zappa's classic compositions, 'Little House I Used To Love In' was an extended, multi-part suite.  Zappa certainly deserved credit for seamlessly editing the track together from various studio sessions and some live tapes, though I'd still question the 'holy grail' status fans have given the track. Opened up with Ian Underwood playing some stark and discordant chords on a piano, just as a melody began to emerge from his efforts the song abruptly shifted gears into an up tempo big band arrangement than sounded like some sort of late night television theme.  That extended into a series of extended solos; one of the highlights being a furious Zappa guitar solo.  Apparently marking one of Zappa's edits, the song then detoured into a bluesier segment featuring an extended Sugar Cane Harris electric violin solo.  Harris was certainly a talented performer, but to my ears his screeching violin quickly wore out its welcome.  Another edit found the song briefly shifting gears into smoother territory, followed by some outright experimentation (think about attending a circus on speed) which featured Zappa on organ - there's something strange in hearing Zappa say 'thank you and goodnight and then humorously take out an English heckler'.     rating: *** stars

- Yeah it may have been meant as a parody, but who knew Zappa was capable of penning something as pretty as 'Valarie'?   I'm not a big doo-wop fan, but this was simply one of Zappa's sweetest compositions and hearing Roy Estrada on falsetto was worth the price of admission.  Only complaint on this one was that it faded out too early.     rating: **** stars


Hardly Zappa's most consistent, or accessible release (of course accessibility isn't something true Zappa fans are looking for), but it had some interesting moments that will appeal to casual fans.  Hard to imagine an album like this charting in this day and age, though back in 1970 it managed to hit #  94.


"Burnt Weeny Sandwich" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) WPLJ   (The Four Deuces) - 3:02

2.) Igor's Boogie Phase One (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 0:40

3.) Overture To a Holiday In Berlin (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 1;29

4.) Theme from a Burnt Weeny Sandwich (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 4:35

5.) Igor's Boogie, Phase Two (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 0:35

6.) Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 6:27

7.) Abye Sea  (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 2:45

(side 2)

1.) Little House I Used To Love In   (Frank Zappa) - 19:52

2.) Valarie   (Frank Zappa) - 3:15






Genre: progressive

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Chunga's Revenge

Company: Reprise 

Catalog: MS-2030

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor ring wear on front and back covers

Available: 2

Catalog ID:6234

Price: $20.00


A couple of years ago I started re-listening to a bunch of my Zappa/Mothers of Invention albums and was struck by how many of them were essentially haphazard collections of studio oddities, experiments gone astray, live segments, etc.   I also remember  thinking how impressive it was that Zappa had so much stuff available to actually release - not just so much of it, but the fact that many of his 'cast off'' projects were actually worth hearing.    Add to that list 1970's "Chunga's Revenge".   So, let me tell you this one's a pretty hodge-podge set and anyone looking for a thematically tight and consistent collection was likely to be disappointed by this one.  On the other hand, at least to my ears that diversified and occasionally fragmented feel provided some of the album's charms.  Bouncing across a broad spectrum of genres, there was literally something for everyone to be found on this album - comedy ('Would You Go All the Way'), experimentation ('The Nancy and Mary Music'), heavy metal ('Tell Me You Love Me'), jazz ('Twenty Small Cigars'), conventional rock ('Transylvanian Boogie'), and even soul ('Sharleena').  Yeah, it's one of those Zappa albums I'm at a loss to accurate describe, eclectic beyond belief, but it's also one I've come to enjoy tremendously.     


"Chunga's Revenge" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Transylvania Blues (instrumental)  (Frank Zappa) - 5:01   rating; **** stars 

Listening to the opener 'Transylvanian Boogie' reminded me of what an impressive guitarist Zappa was.  Given the breadth of Zappa's talents, that was simply one of his skills that frequently got lost in the mix ...   The song's rather conventional jazz-rock structure also served to make it kind of strange in the Zappa catalog - backed by drummer Anysley Dunbar, bass player Max Bennett, and keyboardist Ian Underwood, this one found Zappa aptly displayed his ability to write and performer a rather commercial rock tune.  

2.) Road Ladies   (Frank Zappa) - 4:11     rating: *** stars

With some autobiographical life's-tough-as-a-touring-musician lyrics ("You've got nothing but groupies and promoters to love you and a pile of laundry by the hotel door ...", the blues-rocker 'Road Ladies' was mildly entertaining.  Musically a standard blues-rock number, Zappa's mock blues vocals were actually pretty good, though guitarist Jeff Simmons' vocals were far more soulful.  The song also served to introduce Flo and Eddie (former Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) on backing vocals to the extended Zappa fraternity.  

3.) Twenty Small Cigars (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 2:17   rating; **** stars 

Reportedly written back in the early 1960s, the weirdly-titled 'Twenty Small Cigars' offered up a pretty jazz-tinged instrumental, showcasing some nice harpsichord and guitar interplay (both provided by Zappa).  Easily one of the prettiest things Zappa ever wrote.   

4.) The Nancy and Mary Music     rating: ** stars

    i.) Part 1 (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 2:42

    ii.) Part 2 (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa)- 4:11

    iii.) Part 3 (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 2:37

Recorded live at the Minneapolis Tyrone Guthrie Theater, 'The Nancy and Mary Music' was a  three part, 10 minute suite.  'Part 1' was basically showcased some Underwood freak-out sax and a seemingly endless Dunbar drum solo.   'Part 2' initially shifted the focus to a tuneful extended Zappa guitar solo, but then morphed into more improvisational freak-out moves while Dunbar continued to make lots of percussion noise.  Thankfully this last part of 'Part 2' turned the spotlight back of Zappa's guitar.  'Part 3' shifted the focus to keyboardist George Duke and Flo and Eddie shouting nonsensical noises.  Easily one of the less impressive efforts on the album.    


(side 2)

1.) Tell Me You Love Me  (Frank Zappa) - 2:43  rating; **** stars 

I remember the first time I heard 'Tell Me You Love Me' I simply couldn't believe it was Frank Zappa.  The heavy metal sound and dumbsh*t lyrics were just so hair band/AOR  ...   Even more of a surprise this one got tapped as a single !!!  

- 1970's 'Tell Me You Love' b/w '"Would You Go All the Way' (Reprise/Bizarre catalog number 0967)

2.) Would You Go All the Way  (Frank Zappa) - 2:30      rating: ** stars

'Would You Go All the Way' was a good example of the comedic leanings Flo and Eddie brought into the Zappa fold - the song's premise apparently questioning how far female USO volunteers were willing to go in pursuit of their patriotism.   Frankly it wasn't all that funny.    

3.) Chunga's Revenge (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 6:16   rating; **** stars 

Supposedly a Zappa favorite, the extended instrumental 'Chunga's Revenge' served as a nice platform for an extended Zappa guitar solo.  Full of fuzz guitar and Underwood trying out wha-wha effects on a sax (imagine the sound of a duck in severe pain).   Zappa's playing was seldom as tuneful, or impressive.  

4.) The Clap (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 1:24      rating: ** stars

Horay for truth in advertising and 'The Clap' is about as truthful as you can get - one and a half minutes of drums and percussion noises.  The interesting thing about this one - Zappa played everything on the track.   Was the title a reflection on a certain disease known to commonly afflict touring musicians ?  Beats me.    

5.) Rudy Wants To Buy Yer a Drink   (Frank Zappa) - 2:45      rating: ** stars

I've always wondered what 'Rudy Wants To Buy Yer a Drink' was about ...  something to do with paying musician union membership dues ?   Beats me.   I guess the highlight hear was hearing Flo and Eddie actually handling the lead vocals, or maybe George Duke on trombone ?   Another strange one ...   .

6.) Sharleena   (Frank Zappa) - 4:07    rating; **** stars 

With its mix of '50s doowop and '60s soul flavors, an instantly attractive melody, and some fantastic vocals (courtesy of Zappa, Flo, and Eddie), 'Sharleena' remains one of my favorite Zappa compositions.  Surprising this one wasn't tapped as a single since it was highly commercial.



As mentioned, on a song-by-song basis this is hardly prime Zappa, but there's something rather endearing about this collection - can't explain it, but I like it.  I must not be alone since the album actually hit # 119 on the charts.







Genre: progressive

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Mothers Live at the Fillmore East June '71 

Company: Bizarre 

Catalog: MS-2042

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $15.00

Having put together a new Mothers od Invntionline up, including former Turtles singers Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, drummer Ansley Dunsbar, keyboardist George Duke and bassist Jim Pons, Zappa decided to resume touring. The result was the Mothers of Invention's first live collection; "Mothers Fillmore East, June 1971".  Capturing Zappa and company at their funniest ('The Mud Shark' and 'What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?'), the collection's highlight stood as Kaylan and Volman's cover of The Turtles' 'Happy Together' Peaking at # 38, up to that point the collection stood as Zappa's biggest commercial success. (Ironically, while playing a London date, a fan became enraged with what he saw as Zappa's undue attentions towards his girlfriend. The fan rushed the stage, knocking Zappa into the orchestra pit, fracturing his skull and leg. Zappa spent the next year recuperating from his injuries. 

"Mothers Fillmore East, June 1971" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Little House I Used To Live In (Frank Zappa)
2.) The Mud Shark (Frank Zappa)
3.) What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are? (Frank Zappa)
4.) Brand DIK (Frank Zappa)
5.) Latex Solar Beef (Frank Zappa)
6.) Willie the PImp (Part 1) (Frank Zappa)

(side 2)

1.) Willie the Pimp (Part 2) (Frank Zappa)
2.) Do You Like My New Car? (Frank Zappa)
3.) Happy Together (Gary Bonner - Alan Gordon)
4.) Lonesome Electric Turkey (Frank Zappa)
5.) Peaches en Regalia (Frank Zappa)
6.) Tears Began To Fall (Frank Zappa)




Genre: progressive

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Soundtrack "200 Motels" 

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UALA-996 G

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double LP, gatefold sleeve, includes insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID:

Price: $50.00


Spread over four sides, the 34 track soundtrack to "200 Motels" was at best uneven. Released by United Artists (Warner Brothers apparently fearing financial disaster), the film and accompanying soundtrack boasted one of the year's less obvious plot lines - something to do with the strain touring had on the poor rock star. The film featured an all-star cast including George Duke, Flo and Eddie (along with the rest of The Mothers of Invention), Keith Moon (as a nun) members of Motorhead and Ringo Starr (who narrates and is briefly cast as a dwarf Zappa). A mix of Mothers studio material (some of it recorded with the London Philharmonic) and live numbers, it was too bizarre for the average listener - probably too weird for anyone other than hardcore Zappanites. For whatever reason, the album sold respectably, eventually going top-60. (The collection was originally released with a gatefold sleeve and accompanying multi-page insert and poster.)

"200 Motels" track listing:
1.) Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture (Frank Zappa) - 1:59
2.) Mystery Roach (Frank Zappa) - 2:33
3.) Dance of the Rock & Roll Interviewers (Frank Zappa) - 0:48
4.) This Town Is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich (prologue) (Frank Zappa) - 0:56
5.) Tune Fish Promenade (Frank Zappa) - 2:30
6.) Dance of the Just Plain Folks (Frank Zappa) - 4:39
7.) This Town Is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich (reprise) (Frank Zappa) - 0:59
8.) The Seal Tuna Bolero (Frank Zappa) - 1:40
9.) Lonesome Cowboy Flirt (Frank Zappa) - 3:51
10.) Touring Can Make You Crazy (Frank Zappa) - 2:53
11.) Would You Like a Snack? (Frank Zappa) - 1:23
12.) Redneck Eats (Frank Zappa) - 3:03
13.) Centerville (Frank Zappa) - 2:31
14.) She Painted Up Her Face (Frank Zappa) - 1:42
15.) Janet's Big Dance Number (Frank Zappa)r - 1:18
16.) Half a Dozen Provocative Squats (Frank Zappa) - 1:57
17.) Mysterioso (Frank Zappa) - 0:48
18.) Show It Right In (Frank Zappa) 2:32
19.) Lucy's Seduction of a Board Violinist & Postlude (Frank Zappa) - 4:00
20.) I'm Stealing the Towels (Frank Zappa) - 2:14
21.) Dental Hygiene Dilemma (Frank Zappa)- 5:12
22.) Does That Kind of Life Look Interesting To You? (Frank Zappa) - 3:00
23.) Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (Frank Zappa) - 4:35
24.) Penis Dimension (Frank Zappa)- 4:35
25.) What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning (Frank Zappa) - 3:27
26.) A Nun Painted On Some Old Boxes (Frank Zappa) - 1:09
27.) Magic Fingers (Frank Zappa) - 3:55
28.) Motorhead's Midnight Ranch (Frank Zappa) - 1:30
29.) Dew on the Newts We Got (Frank Zappa) - 1:10
30.) The Lad Searches the Night for His Newts (Frank Zappa) - 0:41
31.) The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth (Frank Zappa) - 1:10
32.) The Girl's Dream (Frank Zappa) - 0:55
33.) Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Corduroy Ponce (Frank Zappa) - 1:01
34.) Strictly Genteel (the finale) (Frank Zappa) - 11:09





Genre: progressive

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Just Another Band from L.A.

Company: Bizarre

Catalog: 2075

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1972

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5029

Price: $15.00


Recorded at an August 1971 performance at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, 1972's  "Just Another Band from L.A." was Zappa and The Mothers' second live album in a year.  It also served as a farewell for this version of The Mothers of Invention.  On the other hand, other than the fact it was a concert set, the album had little in common with the earlier "Mothers Live at the Fillmore East June '71".  Opening up with the 24 minute, side long 'Billy the Mountain', how you respond to the album depended in large measure on your feelings towards Flo and Eddie (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman), their unique (if somewhat dated) sense of humor, and Zappa at his most surreal (or pretentious).  To be perfectly honest, the plotline was lost on me (assuming there was one).  I've never put much effort into trying to figure it out, but if you take it literally, the story seems to have something to do with a mountain and his wife Ethel the tree going to New York where the mountain is threatened with a draft notice.  The occasional digs at popular songs (Stephen Stills takes one to the forehead) and the fact these guys could actually remember the lyrics to this 24 minute epic were pretty amazing.  Elsewhere side two's funky (!!!) 'Call Any Vegetables' and 'Dog Breath' bore little resemblance to their earlier studio versions, while the two new tracks 'Eddie, Are You Kidding?' (a stab at a Southern California clothing retailer) and 'Magdalena' (the latter apparently having a plotline to do with incest) were only of marginal interest.  Simply too obscure for most folks ....

"Just Another Band From L.A." track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Billy the Mountain  (Frank Zappa) - 24:42

(side 2)

1.) Call Any Vegetable  (Frank Zappa) - 7:22

2.) Eddie, Are You Kidding? (Seiter - Mark Volman - Howard Kaylan - Frank Zappa) - 3:10

3.) Magdalena   (Howard Kaylan - Frank Zappa) - 6:25

4.) Dog Breath  (Frank Zappa) - 3:41





Genre: progressive

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Waka/Jawaka

Company: Bizarre

Catalog: BS-2094

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1972

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5184

Price: $20.00


Though it included support from a wide array of Mothers of Invention alumnist, 1972's self-produced "Waka/Jawaka" was billed as a Zappa solo outing.  Written and recorded while recuperating from his earlier on-stage accident (a jealous British fan having pushed Zappa off the stage at London's Rainbow Theatre), the results were quite a bit different from his last couple of releases.  The side long instrumental 'Big Switfy' found Zappa taking a stab at straight forward jazz.  Technically the composition was rather elaborate, offering up a series of solo spots for the likes of keyboardist George Duke and and horn player Sal Marques.  Unfortunately, stretched out over 17 minutes the studio version just kind of plodded along ...  not something for the casual fan.  Though it clocked in at 11 plus minutes and also featured a jazzy feel, the title track instrumental was actually far stronger.  Unlike 'Big Swifty' 'Waka/Jawaka' featured a strong melody which served as a baseline between extended Don Preston, Sal Marquez and Zappa solos.  Elsewhere, 'Your Mouth' and 'It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal' were slightly more conventional vocal performances; the first featuring singer Chris Peterson, the latter sporting a pseudo country flavor.  Modestly entertaining, but not a 'must own' set ...  (Always wondered what the name tag on the back cover pot plant was.)


"Waka/Jawaka" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Big Swifty (instrumental)  (Frank Zappa) - 17:26


(side 2)
1.) Your Mouth
  (Frank Zappa) - 3;11

2.) It Just Might Be a One-Shot Deal  (Frank Zappa) - 4:17

3.) Waka/Jawaka (instrumental)  (Frank Zappa) - 11:18



Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Over-Nite Sensation

Company: Discreet

Catalog: MS-2148

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1973

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4183

Price: $10.00

Cost: $1.00


Zappa's always been a hit or miss proposition for me - most of the time far too clever and experimental for my rather pedestrian tastes.  1973's "Over-Nite Sensation" doesn't exactly dispel such concerns since much of it finds Zappa (with backing from the likes of George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty and Ian Underwood), turning his interests to an odd rock-cum-jazz hybrid.  At the same time, it's the first Zappa album in a long time boasting song structures and melodies ("Camarillo Brillo" and "Montana" (geez, anyone understand the dental floss rancher lyric?)) that had at least a snowball's chance in hell of being played on radio (admittedly we're talking about those 2 kHz stations that seem to cluster around small colleges).  Pure speculation on my part, but Zappa's sudden penchant for scatological humor and sexually-oriented lyrics ("Camarillo Brillo", "Dirty Love" (I think this one has a bestiality theme) and his non-too-subtle paean to oral sex "Dinah-Moe Humm") may have had a large role in the fact this became his first gold seller.  (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.)


"Over-Nite Sensation" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Camarillo Brillo   (Frank Zappa) - 4:02

2.) I'm the Slime   (Frank Zappa) - 3:35

3.) Dirty Love   (Frank Zappa) - 3:00

4.) Fifty Fifty   (Frank Zappa) - 6:08


(side 2)
1.) Zomby Woof   (Frank Zappa) - 5:11

2.) Dinah-Moe Humm   (Frank Zappa) - 6:05

3.) Montana   (Frank Zappa) - 6:37





Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  One Size Fits All

Company: Discreet

Catalog: DS-2216

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1975

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4353

Price: $10.00

Cost: $1.00


Zappa's catalog can be so frustrating and in many respects this is the perfect album to display those conflicts.  This one divides the Zappa fan base into those who think it's one of his top-10 releases, and those who simply can't stand it.  I'm not sure where I stand, though I'll readily agree it's probably one of the places the curious, or casual fans should start..


Momentarily abandoning his interest in complex musical structure, 1975's "One Size Fits All" found Zappa and the Mothers returning to shorter, more commercial (I use the word loosely) song structures.  Produced and written by Zappa, the set's literally overflowing with great guitar and catchy, highly commercial material.  It's just hard to focus on those segments in the midst of all the hyperactivity.  The leadoff track 'Inca Roads' is a perfect example of what's great and what sucks here.  Clocking in at over eight minutes, parts of the song sport a wonderful melody, along with an interesting lyric (apparently having something to do with UFOs in South America) and a first rate, extended Zappa guitar solo.  Unfortunately, the sudden tempo shifts (what's with the jazz segment towards the end), George Duke's cheesy synthesizers and Zappa's Mickey Mouse vocals drive me crazy.  In spite of the typically weird lyrics 'Can't Afford New Shoes' is actually a fairly conventional rock song (with another great guitar solo).  'Po Jama People' is cute, though the biggest surprise to my ears is the instrumental 'Sofa No. 1'.  With its German lyrics, 'Sofa No. 2' is a little bit odder.  Apparently salvaged from a planned concept album, it's hard to believe something as pretty as this came from Zappa and the Mothers.  (Check out the back cover with Zappa's typically demented view of the night sky.)


"One Size Fits All" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Inca Roads   (Frank Zappa) - 8:45

2.) Can't Afford No Shoes   (Frank Zappa) - 2:38

3.) Sofa No.1 (instrumental)   (Frank Zappa) - 2:39

4.) Po Jama People   (Frank Zappa) - 7:39


(side 2)
1.) Florentine Pogen   (Frank Zappa) - 5:27

2.) Evelyn a Modified Dog   (Frank Zappa) - 1:04

3.) San Der'dino   (Frank Zappa) - 5:57

4.) Andy   (Frank Zappa) - 6:04

5.) Sofa No. 2   (Frank Zappa) - 2:42



Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Bongo Fury

Company: Discreet

Catalog: DS-2216

Country/State: Baltimore, Maryland

Year: 1975

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5029

Price: $20.00


1975's "Bongo Fury" served to document a brief reunion between Zappa, high school buddy Captain Beefheart and a reunited Mothers of Invention.  Musically the set featured a mixture of six concert tracks recorded at a pair of May 1975 performances at Austin, Texas' Armadillo World Headquarters and two previously recorded but unreleased studio selections.  Always willing to take on personal, political or social causes, this time around Zappa found a willing target in the forthcoming bicentennial - check out the cynically damning 'Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead' and the blues work out '200 Years Old'.  Elsewhere Beefheart's two improvised spoken word numbers 'Sam With the Showing Scalp Flat Top' (with it's 'Louie, Louie' fade out) and freeform backed 'Man With the Woman Head' were fittingly bizarre, but thankfully relatively brief.  His collaboration with Zappa 'Debra Kadabra' was equally quixotic.  Anyone have a clue as to what it's about?  Highlights included 'Napoleon Murphy Brock' (with an insane vocal from Napoleon Murphy Brock) and the autobiographical 'Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy'.  Showcasing a killer Zappa guitar solo, with a little work to hide the S&M theme the song could have provided Zappa with a radio hit.  Commercially the set did surprising well, peaking at # 66.  (Incidentally the tour was apparently a mixed success.  Zappa and Beefheart's musical styles weren't particularly well suited for one another and Beefheart reportedly spend most of the concerts sitting on the sidelines drawing pictures.)


"Bongo Fury" track listing:

(side 1)
Debra Kadabra   (Frank Zappa) - 3:54

2.) Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy   (Frank Zappa) -  5:59

3.) Sam With the Showing Scalp Flat Top   (Don Van Vliet) - 2:51

4.) Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead   (Frank Zappa) - 3:03

5.) 200 Years Old   (Frank Zappa) - 4:32


(side 2)
Cucamonga   (Frank Zappa) - 2:24

2.) Advance Romance    (Frank Zappa) - 11:17

3.) Man With the Woman Head   (Don Van Vliet) - 1:28

4.) Muffin Man   (Frank Zappa) -  5:34