Rooster_Ties

*** Frank Zappa ***

419 posts in this topic

I saw Project/Object here in Kansas City about 6 months ago, with Nappy Brock and Ike Willis.

Well worth going to hear, especially since the tickets were only like $12, and the venue was like a mile from my house.

Ike was real nice to talk to before the show, as was Brock. It's clear they really love Zappa's music, and they seem to get quite a lot out of keeping his music alive, so to speak.

I'm sure they (Project/Object) has a web-site, with tour dates and such...

Gosh, golly - how easy is that: http://www.projectobject.com/

And here's the dates for their spring tour...

3/06 Northampton, MA Iron Horse

3/07 Trenton, NJ The Conduit

3/08 Falls Church, VA State Theatre

3/09 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe

3/10 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe

3/11 Ferndale, MI Magic Bag

3/12 Louisville, KY A1A

3/13 Bloomington, IN Bluebird Theater

3/14 Chicago, IL Martyr's

3/15 Chicago, IL Martyr's

3/17 St. Louis, MO Cicero's

3/19 Asheville, NC Stella Blue

3/20 Savannah, GA The Music Grill

3/21 Atlanta, GA Variety Theatre

3/22 Charlotte, NC Visulite Theatre

3/23 Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle

3/28 Buffalo, NY Tralf Music Hall

3/29 Philadelphia, PA Trocadero Theatre

4/04 Cambridge, MA Middle-East Club (downstairs)

4/05 New York, NY B.B. King's Blues Club

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The first time Zappa hit my ears was not too long ago in my friend's station wagon. He popped in Just Another Band From L.A. and "Billy The Mountain" was the introduction of Fank Zappa to me. Before I even knew what this man created I always thought there had to be some kind of music out there that is totally out-of-this-world amazing and when I heard FZ I knew I had found it. Now I'm a Zappa fanatic (mostly his stufff with the mothers, I love Howie and Mark). I cannot, for the life of me, stop listening to the live Filmore cd. I also have Just Another Band From L.A., Over-nite Sensation, Ahead of Their Time, Waka/Jawaka, Lumpy Gravy, and Son of cheap thrills. Any Zappa gurus out there got a reccomendation for my next purchase? I'm only 18 so I never got a chance to experience his albums as they were released or see him live (very unfortunate) so if anyone has videos of Zappa or know where to find some, let me hear some Dynamo-hum.

Edited by R00tBeerSex

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Just listened to the "200 Motels" soundtrack for the first time in probably 3 years. (The first time I ever heard it is when it came out on CD in about 1998 or so.) I had forgotten what a huge trip it was.

I've still never seen the movie, but the soundtrack is such a mix of amazing, and amazingly weird music - it's hard for even a one and former Zappa nut (and I'm still somewhat of a Zappa nut) like me, to even know where to begin.

For instance, I had forgotten about all the wacky lyrics set to such incredibly modern (and often complex) melodies. I'd forgotten that there was a version of Strickly Genteel that even had lyrics at all!! I'd forgotten about the various choral numbers on the soundtrack (here and there), with orchestra.

For those who have seen the movie, how is it?? (I know - that's a question that's probably impossible to answer.)

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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The first time Zappa hit my ears was not too long ago in my friend's station wagon. He popped in Just Another Band From L.A. and "Billy The Mountain" was the introduction of Fank Zappa to me. Before I even knew what this man created I always thought there had to be some kind of music out there that is totally out-of-this-world amazing and when I heard FZ I knew I had found it. Now I'm a Zappa fanatic (mostly his stufff with the mothers, I love Howie and Mark). I cannot, for the life of me, stop listening to the live Filmore cd. I also have Just Another Band From L.A., Over-nite Sensation, Ahead of Their Time, Waka/Jawaka, Lumpy Gravy, and Son of cheap thrills. Any Zappa gurus out there got a reccomendation for my next purchase? I'm only 18 so I never got a chance to experience his albums as they were released or see him live (very unfortunate) so if anyone has videos of Zappa or know where to find some, let me hear some Dynamo-hum.

You should definitely pick up "The Grand Wazoo", "One Size Fits All" and "Roxy & Elsewhere". Pretty much anything up until "Joe's Garage" is worth having. After that, it's hit and miss - but some good "hits" if you get the 'right' ones.

I was actually at the "Another Band From LA" show. I've mentioned it elsewhere, but I didn't enjoy it that much at the time. It was a combination of lousy seats and my friend not liking the show at all. I do remember "Call Any Vegetable" as being the highlight of the show. It certainly ROCKS on the album, which I've grown to like quite a bit since.

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Just picked up "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore - Vol. 2 The Helsinki Concert".

This is a GREAT set. For anyone who loves the George Duke/Napolean Murphy Brock years, this is a 2 CD set of an entire concert by this band. It's got all the great tunes, too. "Inca Roads", "Pygmy Twylyte", "Cheepnis" and many others.

Check it OUT!

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Uncle Meat!

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Just picked up "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore - Vol. 2 The Helsinki Concert".

This is a GREAT set. For anyone who loves the George Duke/Napolean Murphy Brock years, this is a 2 CD set of an entire concert by this band. It's got all the great tunes, too. "Inca Roads", "Pygmy Twylyte", "Cheepnis" and many others.

Check it OUT!

Is this set easily available?

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I dunno. I picked it up used at Amoeba.

Upon further listening........it's only the first disk that's really great. The second one seems to be a lot of rambling with not much going on - for the most part.

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That sounds like something FZ would do.He was really great but he could really get into that monologue mode.

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Ironically it's George Duke doing most of the rambling dialouges. I DO however LOVE the opening of Montana on disc two, where someone from the audience requests Whipping Post, and it takes the band three false starts to nail the intro to the song. FZ inserts several Whipping Post refrences into the song...

Raising my lonely, Whipping Post!

Good good stuff, and of course FZ rarely played as many completely brilliant guitar solos as he does on this set.

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Uncle Meat is the album that made me want to play music, to make me realize there was more than just reading notes in the school band.

The guitar solo on Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown from Burnt Weeny Sandwich is maybe my favorite guitar solo ever, at least in the "rock" category.

I think the original MOI were very important to Zappa's music. They were a mix of schooled and un-schooled musicians and I think they brought a lot of (for want of better words) soul & personality into the mix that tended to offset Zappa's increasing penchant for the precise and mechanical. The later bands could be amazing technically, but they didn't have that grounding in basic 50s rock & doo-wop that made the original Mothers interesting, and actually kind of charming.

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I play trombone and arrange for the horn section of a Zappa repertoire band called Bogus Pomp based in Florida. We have been together now for 8 years and have performed with the Florida Ochestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic in addition to our yearly Zappaween (Halloween) concerts and assorted other performances. We often perform with Napolean Murphy Brock who is a great musician and a great guy to work with. Cal Schenkel generously gave us our group logo.

Anyway - our next concert is with a 14-piece chamber orchestra on August 21 at the Tampa Theatre in Tampa, Florida. Tom Trapp has arranged the chamber music. If you are traveling through Florida - check it out.

For further info about the band, check this web site: Bogus Pomp.

David

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Cool, David! If I lived anywhere FLA, I would try and catch your show. Unfortunately ...

I recently heard the "Zappatistas" Live in Leeds album featuring John Ethridge of the Soft Machine. An interesting collection of FZ instrumental material, including "Eat That Question", "Big Swifty" and "Grand Wazoo".

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Just picked up "Jazz Noise".

Looking forward to hearing this whole thing. Have heard a lot of great things about it.

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Just picked up "Jazz Noise".

Looking forward to hearing this whole thing. Have heard a lot of great things about it.

Jazz Noise is great...THE 1988 band live album to get, though it does not even scratch the surface of what this band could do. Unfortunatly, FZ did not relaese some of the best things he ever recorded or performed. This is a shame and I have (or had) a lot of hope that the ZFT would take advantage of what is in the vaults and put out some of the REAL good stuff this particular ensemble played. Or any ensemble really. Still waiting on the Petit and Grand Wazoo recordings!

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Unfortunatly, FZ did not relaese some of the best things he ever recorded or performed.

How true, but who does or ever did?

For example, when I saw Jimi Hendrix at the Forum in 1970, that was definitely the best I ever heard Hendrix play, before or since, but all that came from that evening was a very lousy bootleg. Zappa's "Roxy and Elsewhere" does not hold a candle to the performance that I saw at the Santa Monica Civic at around the same time. Don Pullen played at the local university during what would turn out to be his final tour. He and his band played magical and intense; the live recording released after that was from the year before and barely hints at the majesty, intensity, and urgency that was such a transforming experience for all who attended the performance that I witnessed... So I usually assume that even the live recordings that I treasure are inferior to other performances that were not recorded during the same period.

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Just picked up "You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore - Vol. 2 The Helsinki Concert".

This is a GREAT set. For anyone who loves the George Duke/Napolean Murphy Brock years, this is a 2 CD set of an entire concert by this band. It's got all the great tunes, too. "Inca Roads", "Pygmy Twylyte", "Cheepnis" and many others.

Check it OUT!

Thanks for the tip. I've pretty much steered clear of the YCDTOSA albums so far, because the first one I heard was a later incarnation and the music wasnt very interesting at all, I went for just the pure history in his studio recordings.

However, The George Duke/Napoleon Murphy Brock band would definitely be worth checking into. This was Zappa at his best IMO. Looking forward to hearing a live Inca Roads for sure!

B)

Other personal faves:

Weasels, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Roxy & Elsewhere, Uncle Meat, Grand Wazoo, Chunga's Revenge, One Size Fits All, Apostrophe, Lumpy Gravy, Civilization Phaze III (I'm into ambient/experimental music, so I dig on this one), Bongo Fury has its moments of greatness, as does Over-Nite Sensation.

Studio Tan and Sleep Dirt are also two of my faves, seemingly the lesser talked about of his works. I love 'em both.

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Just got the re-mastered version of Jefferson Airplane's "Crown of Creation" and was floored to see a tune that Grace did with FZ included in the bonus tracks. It's called "Would You Like a Snack" and includes Arthur Tripp III, Ian Underwood as well as Don Preston.

It's very "whack" ..........but that's to be expected. :wacko:

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I picked up the DVD of Baby Snakes last week, it really brings back some memories!

B0000JML7G.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

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from Downbeat.com

Frank Zappa: The Mother of Us All

An Exclusive Online Extra

by Larry Kart —  10/03/1969

A sage whom I invented once said: "The only event which might merit the term ‘progress’ would be an increase in the percentage of intelligent human beings." And he added: "Those who work toward this goal are know, variously, as fools, clowns, and prophets."

*****

For purposes of economic gain and protective coloration, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention have promoted themselves as a group of truly weird people. Well, the Mothers may have their eccentricities, but no more than other musicians I have met, and Zappa himself is a man of striking sobriety. Sometimes, he even made me feel frivolous.

*****

Zappa is standing onstage in front of 10,000 or so people, most of them under 21, at an open-air concert last summer. He says to the audience, "We’ve just had a request for ‘Caravan’ with a drum solo" (the fruit of their routine on America Drinks & Goes Home). Laughter. Shouts of "yeah!" "Now we may play ‘Caravan’ with a drum solo, or we might refuse to play ‘Caravan’ with a drum solo. Which will it be? We think we’ll let you decide." (All of this is delivered in a light, mocking tone of voice.) An applause-meter type test indicates that the crowd does not want "Caravan" with a drum solo. "All right, we’ll play ‘Wipeout’" (the nadir of early-‘60s schlock). Which they proceed to do, in three tempos at once. The mindless riff of "Wipeout" melts like plastic.

*****

Consider this scenario. A bright young boy is attending a Southern California high school. It is 1955. We’ve just "won" the Korean War. The boy is prey to all the adolescent agonies—acne, young love, cars, dumb teachers, the rigid status system of the American high school, et al. He doesn’t particularly want to grow up and be a successful anything. There is a music called rock ‘n’ roll that expresses his condition. He like the music, maybe loves it. Since he is musically talented, he begins to play it.

But soon several things disturb him. First, he is musically curious, so he begins to explore other kinds of music—jazz perhaps, certainly the 20th century classical avant-garde. After this, the musical limitations of rock ‘n’ roll seem obvious. Second, he sees that popular music, and rock in particular, serves its consumers in ways they would never recognize. It diverts their anxious energy into rhythmic response and lulls their sorrows with romantic fantasy. It helps to render them harmless, or at least controllable. And behind all this there is a chain of promoters, D.J.’s, record company executives, and on up who are making a living on the music. This makes the boy angry. He resents being used and manipulated. And his intelligence tells him that this is an insidious form of propaganda (definition: propaganda is not designed to change opinions, but to move men to action, or inaction). Perhaps he eventually resolves to do something about it.

*****

On every Mothers’ album aside from Ruben And The Jets this statement is printed on the sleeve: "The present-day composer refuses to die! Edgar Varese, July 1921" (on Ruben it reads: "The present-day Pachuco refuses to die! Ruben Sano, June 1955").

Varese was born in Paris in 1885 and settled in New York in 1916. His distinction as a composer lies in his acceptance of the harsh sonic environment of the modern city as his musical material. Out of this "noise," with a scientist’s precision, he created a musical order. Although Varese’s music can be violent, it is never programmatic or sentimental. He masters his environment on its own terms.

*****

Zappa begins the second half of the concert by saying, "Ian Underwood will now play for you the Mozart Piano Sonata in B flat." Underwood begins to play the first movement of a Mozart piano sonata (K. 281, I think). He plays it very well.

*****

I asked Zappa about his run-in at the London School of Economics, and he said, "I was invited to speak at the London School of Economics. So I went over there and asked, ‘What do you want me to say?’ So here’s a bunch of youthful British leftists who take the same youthful leftist view that is popular the world over. It’s like belonging to a car club. The whole leftist mentality—‘we want to burn the…world down and start all over and go back to nature.’ Basing their principles on Marxist doctrine this and Mao Tse Tung that and all these clichés that they’ve read in their classes. And they think that’s the basis for conducting a revolution that’s going to liberate the common man. Meanwhile, they don’t even know an common men. With their mod clothes, either that or their Che Guevara khakis. It’s a…game.

"I do not think they will acquire the power to do what they want to do, because I’m positive that most of them don’t really believe what they’re saying. I told them that what they were into was just the equivalent of this year’s flower power. A couple of years before those same schmucks were wandering around with incense and bells in the park…because they heard that that was what was happening in San Francisco. The first thing they asked me was what was going on at Berkeley. I was thinking to myself, ‘What, you guys want to copy that, too?’…It’s really depressing to sit in front of a large number of people and have them all be that stupid, all at once. And they’re in college."

*****

Zappa introduces the first piece on the concert as "a chamber piece for electric piano and drums." The title, I believe, was "Moderato." A chamber piece is exactly what it is.

The drum part takes typical rock rhythms and stretches the space between beats. The result is a series of percussive timbres suspended over a void.

The music verges on the Hollywood-sinister (background for some awful, invisible monster) but the close interaction between the two players (at times each seems to be imitating the other’s part) gives the piece an extravagant formal vigor.

*****

Zappa, like most moralists, is pessimistic about people in the mass. Perhaps he even wants to punish them. The rest of the group seems considerably more optimistic, and occasionally there are good-natured clashes of will.

Zappa: All those mediocre groups reap a huge profit, because people really like what they do. The more mediocre your music is, the more accessible it is to a larger number of people in the United States. That’s where the market is. You’re not selling to a bunch of jazz aesthetes in Europe. You’re selling to Americans, who really hate music and love entertainment, so the closer your product is to mindless entertainment material, escapist material, the better off you’re going to be. People will dump a lot of money into a bunch of young pretty boys who are ready to make music of limited artistic merit so long as they can sell a lot of it.

Kart: What about your gestures of contempt towards your audience?

Zappa: I don’t think the typical rock fan is smart enough to know he’s been dumped on, so it doesn’t make any difference…Those kids wouldn’t know music if it came up and bit ‘em on the ass. Especially in terms of a live concert where the main element is visual. Kids go to see their favorite acts, not to hear them…We work on the premise that nobody really hears what we do anyway, so it doesn’t make any difference if we play a place that’s got ugly acoustics. The best responses we get from an audience are when we do our worst material.

Don Preston: Oh, how can you say that?

Zappa: It’s true, man. "Louie, Louie" brings down the house every time.

Preston: People were booing the last time you played that. One guy wanted "Louie, Louie," so you said, "OK, we’ll play ‘Louie, Louie’…Booo!"

Zappa: Maybe they were booing because we didn’t play "Midnight Hour" instead.

Kart: Isn’t it difficult to function as a musician when you feel that no one is listening?

Preston: I don’t feel that way.

Zappa: I think most of the members of the group are very optimistic that everybody hears and adores what they do on stage. I can’t take that point of view. I get really bummed out about it. Because I’ve talked to (the audiences) and I know how dumb they are. It’s pathetic.

Preston: But they do scream for more when we do a good show.

Zappa: They scream for more and more because they paid X amount of dollars to get in, and they want the maximum amount of entertainment for their money. It’s got nothing to do with what you play. Stick any group on there and let them play to the end of the show.

Kart: Do you have a solution to this situation?

Zappa: Yeah. I’m not going to tour anymore.

Then I asked some questions which amounted to, "Will rock survive?"

Zappa: Rock won’t die. It will go through some changes, but it ain’t going to die. They predicted it too many times in the past. Remember—"the limbo is coming in, rock and roll is dead." There’ve even been some concerted efforts to kill it…but it will survive because there’ll always be several very smart producers and record companies who are interested in giving people what they want instead of what they need.

*****

During the concert the Mothers play several long numbers where everybody gets a chance to blow. Since several of the players have extensive jazz backgrounds, their playing in this context clarifies the differences between jazz and rock improvisation.

An essential quality of the jazz solo is the sense it conveys of forward movement through time, which is the result, I think, of the jazz soloist’s role in even the simplest contexts—establishing and revealing his identity. In the typical rock solo this kind of forward movement rarely occurs. Instead there is an amount of space to be decorated, with the emotional curve (excitement to ecstasy) a foregone conclusion. That’s why many jazz listeners find rock solos boring, no matter how well played. They’re like someone brought up on Beethoven who listens to a raga and says, "I dig the rhythm, but we’re going around in circles. Where’s the development?"

In many rock solos, guitar solos especially, there is a theatrical relation between the player and what he’s playing, and the most "exciting" parts occur when it sounds as if what he’s playing has got the upper hand. The drama is that he’s conjured up a screaming musical monster, supposedly, and now the beast threatens to overcome him. The "excitement" comes from watching him master the "beast," surrender to it, or get even altogether and smash or burn the instrument. When someone like Jimi Hendrix presents this sexual fantasy, it can be Wagnerian.

The Mothers undercut this setup quite neatly. The soloists go through the outward motions of getting hot, but their precision of accent and the care they give the motivic development prevent any "loss of control" effect.

The reaction of the audience to this was curious. Zappa would stomp off a number that had "Watch Out! Explosion Ahead!" written all over it, and the people around me would murmur "yeah," and a blank look of anticipated ecstasy would settle on their faces. By the end of the piece, no explosion had occurred, and they looked vaguely bewildered, although they applauded, of course.

*****

The Mothers have made six albums, and Absolutely Free, We’re Only In It For The Money, and Uncle Meat are worthy of anyone’s attention. Their first album, Freak Out!, is interesting but unformed compared to the others; Mothermania is an anthology, and Ruben And The Jets, an extreme parody of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, doesn’t mean much to me, since I never got to that music the first time around.

Listening to all the albums in one sitting reveals an interesting facet of Zappa’s musical procedure—in the pieces with lyrics, the often elaborate rhythmic and melodic patterns are tied directly to the words (one beat and one note to each syllable, with few large melodic intervals). This effect carries over into the instrumental pieces, where the tight rhythmic-melodic motifs expand and contract as if they had a life of their own. It’s an airy, bracing music, and the play of intelligence in it is so prominent that one must respond in kind.

Zappa thinks that Uncle Meat is "the best album in terms of overall quality," but his favorite music is on Lumpy Gravy, the album where he directs a large orchestra. It’s hard for me to tell why he thinks so, since what comes through is a collage of rock and classical parodies that are disconnected by any standards. Perhaps he has in mind the album Lumpy Gravy might have been, since both he and Bunk Gardner mentioned that the Los Angeles studio men on the date were unable to cope with some of the music and played without much spirit on what they did manage to record.

*****

Frank Zappa might be described as a cultural guerilla. He sees that the popular arts are propagandistic in the broad sense—even when they masquerade as rebellion they lull us into fantasy and homogenize our responses. So he infiltrates the machine and attempts to make the popular forms defeat their traditional ends—his music doesn’t lull, it tries to make you think.

Obviously, he’s balanced on a narrow edge. On the one hand, he’s faced with an audience whose need for homogeneous response is so great that they can make his creations fit their desires. On the other, he must in some way reach a mass audience or his efforts are useless. And, of course, there’s money, too. He’s only human.

But, whatever the outcome, there is still the music, and if any of us are around in 20 years, I think we’ll be listening to it.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Thanks, Tom! That's a thought provoking article, Larry. And written in '69? It holds up well.

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Interesting. I got a kick out of this observation:

An essential quality of the jazz solo is the sense it conveys of forward movement through time, which is the result, I think, of the jazz soloist’s role in even the simplest contexts—establishing and revealing his identity. In the typical rock solo this kind of forward movement rarely occurs. Instead there is an amount of space to be decorated, with the emotional curve (excitement to ecstasy) a foregone conclusion. That’s why many jazz listeners find rock solos boring, no matter how well played. They’re like someone brought up on Beethoven who listens to a raga and says, "I dig the rhythm, but we’re going around in circles. Where’s the development?"

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How's that Airplane remastering? I was thinking of picking up After Bathing At Baxter's, which is my favorite album of theirs.

From what I read in the Airplane bio, this tune called 'Would You Like A Snack' is *completely different* from the one on the 200 Motels soundtrack. The latter tune is a variation on 'Holiday In Berlin'.

Bertrand.

Edited by bertrand

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How's that Airplane remastering? I was thinking of picking up After Bathing At Baxter's, which is my favorite album of theirs.

From what I read in the Airplane bio, this tune called 'Would You Like A Snack' is *completely different* from the one on the 200 Motels soundtrack. The latter tune is a variation on 'Holiday In Berlin'.

Bertrand.

I think they finally got it right with the new Airplane remasters. They sound very good and they all have extra tracks (of course). "Baxters" is one of my all-time favorite albums, period.

I'm afraid I didn't even realize that 'Would You Like A Snack' was from "200 Motels". For some reason I never got that album.

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I'm afraid I didn't even realize that 'Would You Like A Snack' was from "200 Motels". For some reason I never got that album.

200 Motels was an album that I have never been able to enjoy. The sound is not up to usual FZ standards and the music isn't anything to write home about either. One of the 2 Zappas that I've ever sold back and not felt bad about or wanted to replace. See if you can guess which concept album was the other one!

Hint: It was NOT Joe's Garage. :)

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