Official Release #93. Conceived, Composed & Produced by Frank Zappa. The two-disc compilation of alternative takes titled Understanding America is intended for devoted fans only. It's scattershot material, tied together loosely by one theme: Zappa's acerbic mistrust of American culture. Throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s, social satire made up a huge amount of his catalog, so Big Brother, media outlets, organized religion, and recreational drugs are all subject to attack here. The gold nugget is the unreleased 25-minute "Porn Wars Deluxe," a Negativland-esque collage that pairs together samples of music with clips from the 1985 PMRC Senate hearings, for which Zappa played an integral role defending against censorship.
By the closing months of 1981 Frank Zappa had already released five albums during that productive year. Three of these records were his instrumental guitar collections - Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More, and The Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar - initially sold via mail order but later released through CBS. There was also the live double Tinseltown Rebellion and the 2-LP studio set You Are What You Is, released in September. Zappa also hit the road in September 81, performing a largely domestic tour that criss-crossed the US and took in a couple of shows in Canada between September and Christmas. On board for the tour were Frank s latest touring band, comprising Chad Wackerman on drums, Ed Mann on percussion, Tommy Mars on keyboards, Scott Thunes on bass, with Steve Vai and Ray White on guitar.
Official Release #85. This triple volume package contains an audio documentary tracing the conception and construction of Frank Zappa's We're Only in It for the Money (1968) and Lumpy Gravy (1968) masterworks. As the second entry in the Project/Object series (the first being the MoFo Project/Object in 2006 that gathered four CDs worth of goodies from the Freak Out! era), the modus operandi for Lumpy Money (2009) remains much the same as its predecessor. Presented within are primary components from both works in several unique – and formerly unissued – incarnations and configurations. It should also be noted that neither of Zappa's mid-'90s approved masters for We're Only in It for the Money or Lumpy Gravy are found here. Instead of retreading those – which (as of this 2009 writing) remain in print on the Rykodisc label – the nearly three-and-a-half hours served up here offer an embarrassment of insight into the development of the music, as well as the modular recording style that Zappa was evermore frequently incorporating into his craft.
Official Release #103. Performed/Arranged/Conducted by Frank Zappa. Road Tapes, Venue #3 features two complete shows from Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. The July '70 Mothers line-up featured Flo & Eddie, George Duke, Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar & Jeff Simmons. FZ's vast Vault does not contain many full shows from this time period, so that alone makes this release a special one. The tapes were recorded to stereo reel-to-reel, but not without problems. Due to their historical relevance, we felt it was worth it, warts 'n all! Venue #3 does not disappoint.