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.
On his deathbed Carmine Vespucci's father tells him to "get Proclo". With "the hit" on, Gaetano tells a cab driver to take him where Carmine can't find him. He arrives at the Ritz, a gay bathhouse where he is pursued amorously by "chubby chaser" Paul B. Price and by entertainer Googie Gomez who believes him to be a broadway producer. His guides through the Ritz are gatekeeper Abe, habitue Chris, and bellhop/go-go-boys Tiger and Duff. Squeaky-voiced detective Michael Brick and his employer Carmine do locate Gateano at the Ritz, as does his wife Vivian.
Like the echo of a grand landscape, Metheny and Mays create an atmospheric meditation on traveling across the great open expanse of America As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. By turns introspective and hymn-like, soaring and transcendent, the music resonates with a rural spirit, to which the Brazilian percussion of Nana Vasconcelos brings a more universal feel. Both "It's For You" and the epic title track evoke sonic vistas that touch a nerve with their layered keyboards and guitars. "Ozark" is a dynamic track featuring piano propelled by gentle percussion, while "September Fifteenth" is a quiet and deeply moving dedication to pianist Bill Evans. "Estupenda Graca" is like a gentle prayer sung both as closure, and in anticipation of the travels to come.
"This heady blend of instrumental pop covers, fuzzed-up guitars and sitar is a kitsch blast from start to finish. Featuring the cream of LA's session players alongside sitar virtuoso Harihar Rao (Ravi Shankar's senior disciple), it was originally released in 1966 and makes its long-overdue CD debut here, showing itself to be the first and best ‘sitarsploitation’ album ever recorded."