Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Crux of the Biscuit - Frank Zappa

This is an album I probably shouldn't be reviewing but I do have a few things to say about it so why not. Plus I might actually review all the Zappa albums released in a year, during that year. Something that was to be possible, until the announcement of Meat Light, Chicago '78 and Little Dots all on the same day. That day being this upcoming Friday. I might be able to do Chicago '78 but not sure about the others before December. This was released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apostrophe (') , which dropped on March 22nd, 1974. Now this on the other hand was released the same day as Frank Zappa for President, June 15th 2016. So they are a bit late, but whatever, that's not the sort of frustrating part. After all it took some 40 years to release Roxy the Movie. The part that seems to be bothering people, along a bit with me, is this is the third release this year from Frank Zappa (the first being Road Tapes, Venue #3). Now so far they have all kind of been pointless, and just seem to be released to make some money off of the fans. Now I really know that's shitty, but let's delve into this album and just talk about it, I don't want to get off on the whole money aspect.
  1. Cosmik Debris: This is a part of the four tracks under the "FZ Early Sequence for Apostrophe' Side 1, Dated 6/30/73". The next 3 tracks are also a part of this. Now this is a very disappointing thing, yes I know its how it was to be set up originally but still you know. How would you like it if your handed something and basically it starts off with a track and the only difference is there's like a spoken word intro or something. It's like the alternate mix of Movin' Out on Pandora's Box. The difference is the intro plays like three times instead of two. How's that different. Now does that take away from the original, not really, but it adds nothing either. So far not off to a good start. To prove my point this version sits are 4:21, the original album version sits at 4:13. So 8 extra seconds we get people, 8 fucking extra seconds.
  2. Uncle Remus (Mix Outtake): Okay, in going to be honest this track is one of three reasons I reviewed this album. This is a great song on both versions but there are some slight differences. For one, the Ikettes are more pronounced in this mix and some vocal "commentary", for lack of a better word, only heard in this mix. The commentary being like in Dinah-Moe Humm or Cosmik Debris. When they actually are a part of the world in the song and reply rather than just doing backing harmonies and vocals. Kinda like breaking the fourth wall a bit I guess. Or made there's an aside in the song, kind of breaking out of that. Like a peanut gallery within the song. Plus I like the guitar solo, which probably is the same, but I guess I like it more here. It seems different to me, but I could be remembering wrong. These stupid little things kind of refreshed my interest in a track that I loved, but had grown tired of. Not that it's bad, I just heard it so many times, this alternate mix kind of was a fresh breathe of air to me. You know, and it made me laugh. 
  3. Down in de Dew (Alternate Mix): This track is, as the title states, an alternate mix of Down in de Dew. I also wanna point out this was released as a Record Store Day vinyl a few years back, and was included on the AAAFNRAA 2014 Bundle. Like the exact same version of the song, which is just a different mix/edit of the version of Lather. I recently got back from a wedding, three hour drive, where I listened to that album in it's entirety and it's really fucking great. Worth the three hours, but that's besides the point. This is a song that is pretty rewarding, and I enjoy but I don't really think it's anything that you can't hear else where. I do like this but I don't know, I don't know how to feel when the next track uses a lot of the same stuff in it.
  4. Apostrophe' (Mix Outtake): This is the full length version of the Apostrophe' title track. The only real comment is its like an extended version of the album version. I do think the segue into this track works well, even thought it is the same basic track as the last with different overdubs. I do enjoy this, don't get me wrong, but only on the occasional listen. I know this would grow old if I listened to this and this album from to back.
  5. The Story of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast": This is part of an interview where in Zappa mentions, the idea kinda came from. It's a beat little thing to have before the suite in the next track. 
  6. Don't Eat the Yellow Snow/St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast (Live): This is reason two for my review. This was taken from the June 24th 1973 show in Sydney where I wanna say they premiere the suite. I love this, and I loved the Australian Yellow Snow off One Shot Deal, recorded the next day but that kind of feels a bit pointless now since we have this whole things. Sadly the only part we didn't get was the Farther Oblivion, but you can hear that on Imaginary Diseases, Pipuantique, and Road Tapes, Venue #2. I love this though, and I love the little ad-libs and what not and him commenting to the audience. This is the fun Zappa that 1979 live recording that pooped up (intended spelling) on You Can't Do That On Sage Anymore 1. That stands at 20 minutes and this is far superior in it's ability to keep you interested in the track. Once I actually mixed bootlegs and the Australian Yellow Snow track together and the Farther Oblivion together to make the full suite. It was like 40 minutes long and I must have listened to that a dozen or so times. So this is nice that there actually is a version released, though not "all" of it. This is good enough though. This is also a bit more laid back in nature than the album version. I really like this track, though because of it's length I won't listen to it all that often, and the fact I've heard it already so many times. I do like the Father O'Blivion track, thought I prefer the fast and exciting one more but this ain't half bad. Thought that did show they could play it fast later on.
  7. Excentrifugal Forz (Mix Outtake): I do enjoy the album version of this track, its pretty solid.  But this is basically the same thing, and I feel like it's there to segue into the next track. And also the different lyrics. But it's okay.
  8. Energy Frontier (Take 4): Okay, this is probably the hardest part of the album to get through. The next three tracks vary, but not all that much. This has a flute in it quite prevalent, played by either Tom Malone or Earle Dumler. There also is Jack Bruce on bass, Dave Parlato on acoustic bass, Jim Gordon on drums, Tony Duran on rhythm guitar and Frank on lead. This doesn't have the same power or confidence the others have. It feels like a rehearsal more than the actually moving instrument it would become.
  9. Energy Frontier (Take 6 with OD's): This is Apostrophe, but with a flute. I really like the flute on this and it is an interesting little addition. There's some nice bass overdubs and it's only four minutes long. This is from the same session that the prior track was from, this time it features overdubs from Zappa, cutting out Dave's acoustic bass and overdubbing bass himself. I do like this, again, but I feel the flute takes away from the punch of the song.
  10. Energy Frontier (Bridge): Now this is interesting, this is the original un-overdubbed version of Apostrophe' (Mix Outtake) which is the full version of the album version of the track (just the album version is shorter).Does that make any sense? Hopefully it does because it's kind of confusing a bit, but there isn't terrible much different here than there other than overdubs. But it's basically the same thing, same drum track and same changes. So it's kinda like hear a stripped mix.... kinda. There isn't the same punch the other one has, or the fuzz. This sounds a lot more open and not filing up the track.
  11. Cosmik Debris (Basic Tracks - Take 3): So basically an instrumental version of the album version with different solos. There isn't really much more than that. Because of that it kinda of makes it far less enjoyable. I mean it's neat to hear everything, but still. Also this is the best you'll hear the Hendrix quote.
  12. Don't Eat the Yellow Snow  (Basic Tracks -  Alternate Take): This has vocals, but feels so bare. Where's the atmosphere, this is kinda lame without it. The double time drums don't come in until right before the track ends.
  13. Nanook Rubs It  (Basic Tracks - Outtake): This again has not the same atmosphere.
  14. Nanook Rubs It  (Session Outtake): This a 48 second snippet of the album version, but instead they goof or something. 
  15. Frank's Last Words.....: I guess it's a nice touch, but really it's not needed. It's sixteen seconds long and has the man saying they got the take, then I think George Duke laughs and Frank laughs and says stop the tape. That's literally it. Oh also there's some marimba in the background playing part of St Alfonso. 
Overall is this really worth a release..... I don't know. I mean I think it's a solid release, but that's because I love the album this is acting as a deluxe edition of. I would almost be happier if they just pulled a 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions or The Cutting Edge: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 where they literally release the entire tapes from the sessions for the album. This kind of feels like the Raw version (2 disc) set of The Basement Tapes. Like just give us the full fucking thing, that'd be a much better gift for a celebration right. I know about the oxidation and the tape and what not and the problems with the vault, but I mean I'd honestly be fine waiting for the 50th to get the full session tapes vs this. But on that note I still love stuff like this, and I really do like how this works... but I hate my fucking self for that. I think this is best to give you a taste of the other options and things he did while making this, but as far as the audio documentaries this is probably the weakest, though Greasy Love Songs should have more material. (I'll just keep this kind of dated back before the announcement of Chicago '78, Meat Light, Little Dots and the absolutely pointless - like no really there's no reason at fucking all for this to exist it's fucking retarded - Zappatite.) I hate myself for doing this but I do really enjoy the entire thing, while it does drag a bit I love the original so much that this is kinda of fucking awesome. I wish there was more, I wish there was a bit different, it wasn't really necessary but I do like it and don't get bored. 8/10.

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