"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the Mothers and the Royal Symphony Orchestra, is a tale of life on the road. The band members' main concerns are the search for groupies and the desire to get paid.
The soundtrack to Frank Zappa's strange early-'70s film 200 Motels was always doomed to be a peripheral entry in his discography. The movie's story was not easy to follow, and neither is the record (not that plot was ever a big focus of the production). It's typically wacky Zappa of the era, with unpredictable sharp turns between crunchy rock bombast, orchestration, and jazz/classical influences, as well as interjections of wacky spoken dialogue. Those who like his late-'60s/early-'70s work – not as song-oriented as his first albums, in other words, but not as "serious" or as silly as his later records – will probably like this fine, although it's not up to the level of Uncle Meat.
Yes!! Finally, here it is: "200 Motels" in all its glory. We've all seen this movie as it got released on VHS video years and years ago. And now, here's the high quality DVD version. "200 Motels" got shot in 1971 and featured Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention plus Ringo Starr and Keith Moon, to drop just two names. Now that I think of it, Zappa always had this thing for drummers… Anyway, "200 Motels" is a milestone in Zappa's career. I'm not too big a fan of the vaudeville aspect and the on-the-road stories, as you cannot keep on laughing with it, but the music is fabulous. It's Zappa at his best.
This live record was recorded with the Flo & Eddie incarnation of the ever-changing Mothers line-up. The vocal duo, which had considerable chart success as the Turtles, parodied their success as "rock stars" here, and Zappa utilized their soul and doo-wop-style vocals for maximum comedic effect. The set works as a comedy record as much as anything else. They perform their huge hit "Happy Together," but it's done as a goof. Zappa and Flo & Eddie talk over the backbeat like standup comics.
Official Release #101. On the evening of October 23, 2013, Walt Disney Concert Hall was the place to be in Los Angeles, as Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale in a spectacular, sold-out orchestral performance of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (The Suites). Recorded for posterity, the acclaimed, one-night-only 13-suite performance of Zappa's 1971 masterwork will be released worldwide on November 20 by Zappa Records/UMe. This 2CD release's expertly recorded audio brings the listener back to Walt Disney Concert Hall to experience the exciting 200 Motels (The Suites) spectacle, complemented by photos from the evening and essays by the show and recording's producers, Gail Zappa and Frank Filipetti, the evening's director James Darrah, 'Scoremeister' Kurt Morgan, and performers including Diva Zappa, Michael Des Barres, special guest 'Rock' rhythm section drummer Joe Travers, and former Zappa band member Scott Thunes. Essays by some notable members of the audience, including Steve Vai and Peter Asher, are also included.
Official Release #51. While most of the other volumes in the You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore series would be compiled around loose themes (whether topical or historical), this first volume contained a little of everything for everyone. The material spans most of Frank Zappa's career, from 1969 live recordings by the original Mothers of Invention (the medley "Let's Make the Water Turn Black/Harry, You're a Beast/The Orange County Lumber Truck" constitutes a highlight) up to the 1984 tour, with about every incarnation of his group in-between.
Official Release #50. Released in 1988, Guitar may be the most important and ironically one of the least-known entries in Frank Zappa's voluminous discography – which spans over seven-dozen LPs as of this writing. His proficiencies as a composer and instrumentalist have long been lauded. However, anthologies of this nature provide an outlet for the remarkable breadth and depth of Zappa's manual dexterity and improvisational scope, which can now be enjoyed on a myriad of levels. The casual enthusiast can revel in the seemingly endless personas and sounds summoned from the soloist and band alike.
Released in October 1984, Them or Us is Frank Zappa's last studio rock album (unless one counts Thing-Fish). It contains a little of everything for everyone, but most of all it has that cold and dry early-'80s feel that made this and other albums like The Man From Utopia and Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention sound dated pretty quickly. The record begins and ends with covers. "The Closer You Are" is one of those '50s R&B tunes the man loved so much.
Zappa and Beefheart were birds of a feather. Though each was fiercely individualistic, idiosyncratic and uncompromising, they both followed their own path of sophisticated wierdness so far that each was probably the only artist the other could relate to in terms of peerage. The pair had collaborated here and there many times, but BONGO FURY is their only album-length effort. Recorded at a 1975 Austin concert, this is essentially a Zappa program, with Beefheart sitting in (Zappa's monstrously talented mid-'70s band featuring Terry Bozzio and George Duke provides accompaniment).