The successive Overnight Sensation and Apostrophe did well commercially, the latter reaching number 10 in the billboards charts. Perhaps because, unlike the previous two, and with exception of one track, they are albums of songs, rather than instrumentals. But also, they seem to me to possess an undeniably, uplifting and and positive mood. Despite containing songs about zoophilia (Dirty Love), the dark forces of television advertisement (Im the slime) and of course growing Dental floss in Montana, the lasting impression is of a of a comfortable, cohesive and excited band (inlay photos will testify to that), the tightest and slickest production yet and a jubilant, slightly-less-sardonic-than-usual Zappa. There are bizarre cameos by Tina Turner and the Ikettes on Montana and Jack Bruce on Apostrophe’s title track but most of the songs from both albums were recorded concurrently, with pretty much the same personel…. So lets have ermm Camarillo Brillo
Fuck it, heres some more
The tradition of playing cheesy love songs prevailed throughout Zappa’s career, executed with varying degrees of sneer and filth. This is pretty much clean if a little tongue n cheek. It comes from Cruising with Ruben and the Jets, the fourth album from the Mother’s of Invention.Its a concept album emulating the sounds of doowop groups from the 50s. Apparently the first pressing had no reference to Zappa and the Mothers so some Radio stations, convinced of its authenticity and rarity, gave the album considerable airplay. When subsequent pressings bearing the date and ‘Zappa’ were released, broadcast decreased. On Anything the combination of simple arpeggios, Ray Collins’ lead vocals and one fine breathy sax solo are irresistible..
St Etienne 1982
This is a guitar solo from the grammy award winning Jazz from Hell album, 1986; the same year his 16 year old son dweezil was also nominated for Having a bad day. St etienne sits incongruously near the end of the album as the only guitar track. The rest are synclavier works (Night school, Gspot tornado among them). It’s a Live solo from a show in Saint Etienne 1982, which the video gives us a tantalizingly short view of before we are shown some footage of a French street performer. To me it’s a perfect guitar solo. A journey. No superfluous nonsense which occasionally arises with frank. Its a steady escalation of ferocity which culminates, quite rightly, in an eruption of plank spanking.
Jazz Discharge Party Hats. Live 1983
A good example of Zappa’s sprechgesang vocal approach and guitar/vocal unison. Lyrically, the filthier end of the spectrum. From the Album Man from Utopia. See also The Dangerous Kitchen. An exposition of the traumas therein.
The melody from Amnerika first appeared as ‘That Evil Prince’ on the album thing fish (1984); a broadway musical that never came to be, involving an evil, racist prince/theater critic who creates a disease intended to eradicate African Americans and homosexuals. Musically Thing Fish is a disappointment because it heavily features pre-released material with Ike Willis spraffing on top. Not entrance level stuff. But the track appears again here on FZ’s enigmatic last and under celebrated album, Civilisation Phaze III as a chamber orchestral piece. While the melody remains a solid unit, What’s most pleasing is the accompaniment and the distribution of notes therein. It’s a scattered affair with instrumental plinks plonks stabs and farts reminiscent of Pierre Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître, only tonal; or even the slow movement in John Adams’ Son of Chamber Orchestra. Could it be a post apocalyptic rubble ridden world where a rabbit scampers, searching for food? Sounds like it to me. RZ
Some Live videos
A Pound for a Brown, Sleeping in a Jar, Octandre (Varese)
New York 1978