Frank Zappa: Joe’s Domage

Part 2 of Joe Travers’ archaeological exploration of the Zappa vault resulted in probably the most controversial ZFT release thus far: an old cassette containing a rehearsal from FZ’s preliminary explorations with the repertoire for the albums that would soon come to be known as Waka/Jawaka and the Grand Wazoo. So, what’s wrong with it? Well, the sound is somewhat “roomy”, with the room in question being a wretched sounding rehearsal space in Hollywood. A boomy, nasty tone that will be tragically familiar to anyone who has rented a second rate rehearsal space anywhere in the world, only to hear their music being sonically destroyed by rooms that were not meant to have notes played in them! So, the sound sucks….but actually, that is for me the only real issue to complain about. What you have here is the chance to be a fly on the wall at the turning point of one of Frank’s most fascinating projects – and the fact that the music is some considerable distance away from the finished result only adds to the intrigue. Blessed Relief and bits of Greggery Peccary all appear in radically different forms, plus The Grand Wazoo itself with lyrics!!

You also get to hear FZ painstakingly teaching parts to the musicians by rote with guitar in hand (probably still confined to his wheelchair too)….and despite all of the “magic” that we know and love from the finished recordings, there is a matter of fact, almost perfunctory nature to these rehearsals that reminds the listener that behind every FZ masterpiece was a shit load of hard graft. The end of the cassette is quite revealing as Frank and Aynsley Dunbar play a new section, that in the end wasn’t incorporated into the finished work (although the Mothers had played it on stage previously) and Frank says that he hopes that he’ll have time to copy out parts before the next rehearsal. There is some chat about what day is best for the next meeting and who can make it, and as the recording abruptly cuts of, you are left with a real sense of the normality of Frank’s day to day existence in 1972.

Or you are bored to tears and regretting splashing out the full CD price (plus shipping) for a hard to listen to bootleg with lots of talking and songs you already own in better versions! Well, either opinion is fair. I’m not sure how many times I listen to this one, but I am glad I own it.


Welcome to the Troopers For Sound blog, a place for our general thoughts on music and its related industries. Here you will find our monthly playlists and information on records which are expanding our musical minds. Essays on musicians and composers such as Frank Zappa and musings on what we have come to call Stomach Ulcer Music!

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