I finished my core workout (thank Christ!) and now I’m back in the EZ-Boy, hopefully, in the words of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air:
Where I’ll spend most of my day.
Okay, so I took a little creative liberty there. Sue me.
Anyway, my new Frank Zappa indulgence is actually the first Zappa album I ever owned even prior to that stack of albums I got for a buck, the ‘Roxy & Elsewhere‘ album.
After his affair with jazz fusion (‘Waka/Jawaka‘ and ‘The Grand Wazoo‘, both released in 1972), Frank Zappa came back in late 1973 with an album of simple rock songs, ‘Over-Nite Sensation‘. But the temptation for more challenging material was not long to resurface and, after a transitional LP (‘Apostrophe‘, early 1974), he unleashed a double LP of his most complex music, creating a bridge between his comedy rock stylings and Canterbury-style progressive rock.
Three-quarters of the album was recorded live at the Roxy in Hollywood and extensively overdubbed in the studio later. Only three tracks (‘Dummy Up‘, ‘Son of Orange County‘, and ‘More Trouble Every Day‘), taken from other concerts, are 100 percent live. The band is comprised of George Duke (keyboards) – who steals the show on several tracks – Tom Fowler (bass), Ruth Underwood (percussion), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Walt Fowler (trumpet), Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals), and Chester Thompson (drums) – drummer Ralph Humphrey, keyboardist Don Preston, and guitarist Jeff Simmons appear on the non-Roxy material.
The sequence ‘Echidna’s Arf (Of You)‘/’Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?‘ stands as Zappa’s most difficult rock music and provides quite a showcase for Underwood. Other highlights include ‘Penguin in Bondage‘ and ‘Cheepnis‘, a horror movie tribute. And let’s not forget the souped-up funk of ‘Pygmy Twylyte‘. In other words, all the pieces here were premiere recordings and mark highlights of the Mothers performances through the early 70’s, making this album a “must have” for most Zappa fanatics. Actually, this might well be Frank’s greatest live album, and he has more live albums than most groups have albums.
That’s probably why I purchased it way back when because I was into live albums and this came highly recommended…and rightly so. Having said that, this is about as much Zappa as I can handle in a single day.
Time for some good ‘ol fashioned soul-sucking, mind-rotting television.