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FRANK ZAPPA/Apostrophe: Ah, one of those moments that Zappa hit the mass market, with a song about not eating snow where dogs let their bladders go. So with jazz/rock laid out by an incredible band that included everyone whether in the band or dropping by, tales of screwy Eskimos and a sound that just won't quit, this was Zappa coming back from a jealous boyfriend almost killing him on the bandstand one night. You don't think of Zappa as being commercial, and he really didn't want to be a pop star, but this was FZ hitting the target without feeling like he was selling out. Wild, wonderful stuff that shows how the early 70s was still gleefully the wild west. Check it out.

FRANK ZAPPA/Zappa in New York: And for anyone that thought Zappa left the dada behind, here we have Don Pardo giving the announcements that have Bones Malone, Blue Lou Maneri, the Breckers and more playing tunes about depraved rising rock stars, Illinois enema bandits (a story that really happened), and more lunacy. Released at a time when live albums were fillers and place holders, Zappa hadn't forsaken his audiences, core and tourist, and delivered the goods in high style across this double cd. Wild stuff that just didn't know when to quit.

FRANK ZAPPA/Roxy & Elsewhere: It's hard to find someone that disagrees but this is one of the best live albums ever. Loaded with killer playing and stuff that was loaded with first impression freshness, the Arab oil crisis hadn't hit, the Vietnam was over and the good times were on the way (even if we didn't know they were about to get detailed). Zappa was feeling it, Hollywood was flying high in a nu decadence and the goodtime were rolling. And Zappa saw through it all as usual. A killer set that anyone that's really alternative will love.

FRANK ZAPPA/Over-nite Sensation: When Ike kicks you out of the car without a dime, you bring the girls and back up Zappa on jazz/rocked tales of depravity that somehow were as commercial as can be. Zappa, jazz/rock, Tina and the Ikettes, stuff radio wouldn't play and it's all commercial? Yep, just don't ask how. One of Zappa's mightiest 70s releases in terms of reaching the masses, with just a little more oomph in the marketing muscle, this could have obliterated top 40 and FM radio hegemony all in one nuclear blast. Meaty, wild, crazy stuff for muso ears that don't want to weird for the sake of weird but don't want it any where near the safety zone. Over the top goodness throughout.

FRANK ZAPPA/Studio Tan: It's kind of a gray market Zappa album that divides the audience, but can you really hate an album where Eddie Jobson plays his heart out? Released in 1978 when Zappa was at war with his label, it is made up of four instrumental set pieces that were recorded between 1974-76 and written as far back as 1972. Perhaps it was unfinished stuff purloined by the label to meet release schedules, we find Zappa indulging in all his jazz and classical outré impulses in a set that either shows him a futuristic composer from Mars or a guy being screwed by his label because his royalty account had the profits and losses crossed and they wanted to hold him back to keep him in his place. Well, what's done is done and if you have any instincts to make you hipper than the room, this is a set to wear on your sleeve.

FRANK ZAPPA/Sleep Dirt: A companion set to "Studio Tan" although not released contemporaneously, the original release wasn't authorized by Zappa and was publicly castigated by Zappa, but once he reclaimed the rights, he did some twisting and tweaking and put out his own authorized version. It's still pretty outré, authorized or not. A subterranean vision of what Zappa wanted to put out as "Lather", this is a lost a journey through the dark side of his back pages. Nothing is rare in the age of the Internet, but this was once the province of the hard core cognoscenti.

FRANK ZAPPA/Waka Jawaka: Actually, my first WTF Zappa album. He had done other instrumental albums before this, but with limited time and limited funds, I stuck to the tried and true comedy stuff since that's what I really showed up for. Little big band jazz rock country fusion from outer space, this was crazy stuff that I played once and didn't go back to until many years later when he controlled his own stuff and made changes to modernize things. Recorded while he was convalescing from the on stage attack that almost killed him, this is a pure case of wild music for wild people.

FRANK ZAPPA/Bongo Fury: A live album where Zappa and his old pal Captain Beefheart mix it up with amazingly satisfying results. Beefheart, and old pal of Zappa's was more than acquired taste. Zappa was the anti-mass guy for the masses. Together, something magical clicked and it was more just editing it the right way later. As out there as you can get and still be released by a major label, even in the 70s, this isn't just a set for those that are too hip for the room. A dead solid perfect live album that might just leave you speechless, if you've got wild rock tastes, this is the thing that's sure to fill your wild rock sweet tooth.

Volume 35/Number 352
October 17, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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