UG’s Semi-Orchestral Low Budget Memorial Barbecue

This month I have put together a special mixtape for Zappa/Mothers Die-Hards with many of my favorite instrumental, semi-orchestral, and orchestral Zappa works – many of which I’m mixing here for the first time – from some of the best of Zappa‘s individual bands to the Petit Wazoo Band to his Grand Wazoo Orchestra to The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Orchestra to the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra to the Ensemble Modern to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to The Orchestra of Our Time to Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest & Cappella Amsterdam – punctuated with interviews by and about Zappa from Kent Nagano and David Ocker and Studs Terkel.

Of this mixtape’s 200 plus tracks, the first 30 or so have lyrics, and of those the selection is primarily from the final concert in the “Zappa’s Universe” series from the New York Ritz Theatre on November 10th, 1991 [a far, far superior collection, in my opinion, than that dinky 1993 PolyGram release recorded on the 7th and the 8th].

This mixtape is entitled, “Urbangraffito’s Semi-Orchestral Low Budget Memorial Barbecue”. To listen to mixtape click here.

A wonderful segue, I think, into next month’s mix…which I’ve been saving for a very long time – ¬†Zappa and Halloween in New York…

Warning: this mix is very contagious. It should only be heard by Zappa/Mother Die-Hards, or in their company, as it can lead to the contraction of a certain audio virus, known to those of us infected, as FZ+ (which leads to compulsive FZ listening and a behavior known as FZ completism). Be Warned.

20 Responses to “UG’s Semi-Orchestral Low Budget Memorial Barbecue”

  1. Dark Clothes says:

    I think you mixed up the titles for Rat Tomago and The Sheik Yerbouti tango from Deutschlandhalle 1978 – The so-called SYT is really Rat Tomago, isnt it? And on the evidence on the first few bars, the ensuing track sounds like something out of City of Tiny Lites, not Rat Omelette. Other than that, this looks like a great mix, again. I’ve just enjoyed Persona Non Grata, the greatest Zappa song that still hasn’t seen an official release, and am looking so forward to hearing the orchestral Sinister Footwear! I would have downloaded it from Beat the Boots on Amazon, but in my country that’s not possible, due to some inexplicable geographical restrictions. Thanks, Urban Graffitto!

  2. Dark Clothes says:

    This is an exceptional mix, which should attract a large global audience! In an ideal world, it would…

    The Petit Wazoo Duke of Prunes and the MoI chamber music tracks are definitely worth hearing, but for me the pieces from Berkeley 1984 are the most essential.

    I understand why Zappa didn’t want to release the Berkeley performance of Sinister Footwear, though. It is far from perfect. Perhaps some day an orchestra will be able to pull off this incredibly demanding piece. It’s certainly worth the try.

    The commentators from the Berkeley broadcast are suave and on to Zappa’s music. A fine example of public American intelligence. The interviews with Zappa and David Ocker are all the more illuminating, because you sense a common understanding between the participants in the discussion.

    Mo n’ Herbs Vacation and Zappa’s enthusiastic introduction to Sinister Footwear are further highlights from Berkeley.

    It’s also interesting to hear Beat the Reaper and Waffenspiele from the Yellow Shark concerts, although more from a historical point of view than a musical one, because those stage versions are really a matter of running the CPIII tapes for the audience, with some added live music.

    Finally I have to mention the performance of Black Napkins from 1976, with incredible solos by Bianca, Eddie and Frank. This is undoubtedly the best version I’ve heard of this song with the Bianca band. Beautiful!

  3. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I think you mixed up the titles for Rat Tomago and The Sheik Yerbouti tango from Deutschlandhalle 1978 – The so-called SYT is really Rat Tomago, isnt it? And on the evidence on the first few bars, the ensuing track sounds like something out of City of Tiny Lites, not Rat Omelette. Other than that, this looks like a great mix, again. I’ve just enjoyed Persona Non Grata, the greatest Zappa song that still hasn’t seen an official release, and am looking so forward to hearing the orchestral Sinister Footwear! I would have downloaded it from Beat the Boots on Amazon, but in my country that’s not possible, due to some inexplicable geographical restrictions. Thanks, Urban Graffitto!

    Thanks for catching the error in my track editing, Dark Clothes. Actually, “The Sheik Yerbouti Tango” had been wrongly uploaded in the first place with a guitar solo from “City of Tiny Lights” (excellent ears!). Can’t slip anything past a Zappa/Mothers freak, I tell you! These folks listen to every note! As you no doubt have already noticed, “The Sheik Yerbouti Tango” appears twice in this mix – once within “Little House I Used To Live In” from Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany, 15 Feb 1978, and a second time in an edited form as “The Sheik Yerbouti Tango (original unedited version)”. I thought it would make an interesting comparison with the version that eventually appeared on Sheik Yerbouti.

    Indeed, in an ideal world Frank Zappa’s music would see wide release, warts and all. Even an orchestra’s attempts at performing Zappa’s complex scores are well worth listening to, and well worth paying for, too.

    Putting this mix together, I especially enjoyed listening to the Petit Wazoo and Grand Wazoo Orchestra in depth again, listening to the scores which would eventually become those polished versions we all know and love so well. And many of those early jams and medleys which would eventually be released as “Handsome Cabin Boy”, “Wedding Dress” “KC Blues”, “Been To Kansas In A Minor”, “Rollo”, “Imaginary Diseases”, “Blues For A Minute”, and “Regyptian Strut”.

    As a life long fan of Zappa and the Mothers, I know it’s pretty unrealistic to expect any kind of release that would be up to FZ’s standards. After his huge catalogue of official releases, what is realistic, though, are releases which analyze the maestro’s development over a lifetime of making music. For the most part, the ZFT have, and are accomplishing this. My only wish would be that they would do much, much more of it than they do. There really is a lot about this amazing musician, bandleader, and composer to celebrate.

  4. Jake St. Vitus says:

    Right now “UG” stands for “Unbelievably Grateful”…in the sense that I am UG that you made this mix available. Thanks!

  5. Thinman says:

    Good to hear something from the 200 Motels performances in Holland again. I was there and think this was one of the best performances of his orchestral works ever.

    Th.

  6. matt says:

    An amazing collection!

    Do you have any more info on the Tommy Mars piano track – it’s stunning. Was this an FZ recorded demo or something Tommy did himself? Those tunes work really well together.

    Matt.

  7. Dark Clothes says:

    The tracks from Royce Hall 1975 show show again what an event that was. It’s refreshing to hear The Duke of Orchestral Prunes without the guitar overdubs, and the Royce Hall Black Napkins is also totally accomplished.

    That Abnuceeals Emuukha Electric Orchestra is a serious contender with the Ensemble Modern as the most succesful interpreter of Zappa’s music for small symphomonic orchestras, I think.

    I remember giving the Yellow Shark CD to an older friend when it came out. He was a musician and a seasoned Zappa freak, who had even met Frank privately after a concert in Oslo in the Seventies. Well, he did like the Yellow Shark, but said that it lacked something, spontaneity, feeling or whatever. As much as I love the Ensemble Modern, I can understand what he was thinking about when I hear these tracks from Royce Hall.

    Perhaps the musicians’ experience from sessions with all sorts of pop, rock and jazz artists gave them a better understanding of some of Zappa’s musical background. That is definitely the case with the musicians on Lumpy Gravy and probably here also. I don’t want to take anything away from the Ensemble Modern, but there’s a certain falvour in these recordings that is unique to the Abnuceeals Emuukha Electric Orchestra.

  8. jonnybutter says: