Frank Zappa: QuAUDIOPHILIAc

A real surprise this one, but as with the Halloween DVDaudio, the success really depends on if you have a 5:1 system….which I don’t. So…what’s in it for the Luddite who doesn’t really fancy positioning a multitude of speakers around his already crowded living space? Well, actually many tasty treats – and perhaps one track that could even make it into a Zappa top 10 songs list.

The premise for this cumbersomely titled album was the notion that Frank was interested in multi-channel mixing as early as 1970, as demonstrated by a “quad” recording of Chunga’s Revenge made in the Zappa basement that has a wonderfully intimate and loose feel to it that feels as though you are sat in the corner of the room next to the bass amp – and this is¬†just the stereo mix. Of course, Frank did release quadraphonic mixes of albums in the 70’s, such as Overnite Sensation, and there are other examples of previously released Zappa tracks (Wild Love, Naval Aviation In Art?) in the surround sound mode, and of course for “boring” stereo dwellers such as myself it’s these moments that hold little interest. Although, as any Hardcore Zappa fan knows, it’s always fun to hear familiar songs in a different context which is of course a major Zappa speciality.

But what of the gold buried within the album? Look no further than Rollo. It’s strange to consider the poor results of many rock/orchestra collaborations in the light of the joyously successful noise that Frank manages to produce here. It just seems so natural to have these seemingly opposing musical forces wailing away together live on stage in 1975. But of course, it’s the composition that is king – previously released as the coda to the 1979 live version of Yellow Snow (You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol: 1) and actually dating much further back to the 1972 “Petit Wazoo” tour, Rollo really is Frank at his best. Comically heroic brass fanfares, funky clavinet driven grooves, a biting guitar solo and a remarkable sense of orchestration (listen to when everyone starts folding in after the brief cor anglais solo near the end) all show Frank to be at the top of his game.¬†Dweezil sums it up in the liner notes: Bitchen!

The best of the rest is an unoverdubbed Waka-Jawaka, which is perhaps less interesting to listen to but more thought provoking as to the level of further composition that was to come in order to provide the piece’s conclusion. Then there is the wonderful Basement Music #2, a further example of Frank enjoying messing around with early electronics that was a precursor to his later obsession with the Synclavier. And in a similar spirit there is a hitherto unheard version of the vamps from Easter Hay and Deathless Horsie overlaid with a stinging yet poignant Zappa interview about the state of the music industry.

So, with the caveat about 5:1 taken into account, this was certainly a fun and interesting release.


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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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