Official Release #106. In his trailblazing and incredibly prolific career, artist, composer and all-around musical pioneer Frank Zappa released more than 60 albums in his lifetime, as a solo artist and with his bands the Mothers of Invention and the Mothers. Coupled with more than 40 posthumous releases since his death in 1993 at 52, figuring out where to start in Zappa’s vast, genre-leaping catalog can be daunting. ZAPPAtite – Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks, out now on Zappa Records/UMe, collects some of Zappa’s best known and beloved compositions, from his early psychedelic rock beginnings to his avant-garde experimentation, jazz-rock explorations, symphonic suites and satirical send-ups, compiling them into one easily digestible collection and offering key entryways into the many musical worlds of the visionary musician.
Official Release #107. Uncle Meat gets the deluxe treatment in this three CD Project/Object Audio Documentary. Included is the original 1969 vinyl mix (restored, remastered and available digitally for the first time), an original sequence that includes unique source material and bonus vault tracks mostly compiled from the recording sessions at Apostolic Studios in NYC between 1967 and 1969.
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.
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.
A deluxe 4cd set and a 2cd set. The annoying thing is that the 2cd set has a few songs that arent on the mega 4 disc version, so if you're a completist, you will need both and you end up with a lot of duplicate material. That is my only real problem with mofo, pretty much everything else about this box is fantastic. For me, the best part is the beautiul remaster of the original 1966 Stereo mix of "Freak Out!". The Freak Out cd that frank released in the 80's and is currently in print through rykodisc was a re-mix which sounds pretty good, but this original mix is much warmer and full of life. There is no contest as which mix I prefer, the original 1966 version is far superior in my opinion. The rest of the sets contains various alternate mixes, backing tracks, interviews, studio improvisations (all lead by Frank) and some early live recordings. There is one bonafide outtake "Groupie Bang Bang" which is as good as anything elese on the album. A great Bo Diddley type rhythm with hilarious lyrics (sung by Ray Collins) about, you guessed it, a groupie!
Official Release #94. Finer Moments is a curious but mostly excellent compilation of (mostly) instrumental odds and ends put together by FZ in 1972 that went (mostly) unreleased until 2012. Disc one concentrates on the 1968-1969 Mothers. The first four tracks are from a 1969 Royal Albert Hall show that was partially documented in the film Uncle Meat. "Sleazette" is a great guitar solo, but the Mozart piece loses quite a bit without the "ballet" visuals. "The Wailing Zombie Music" sounds part-composed/part-conducted improvisation. "The Old Curiosity Shoppe" is a nice jam from 1971 featuring some nice wah-wah alto sax from Ian Underwood and wicked soloing from FZ.