The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAA Birthday Bundle

Released as a digital download on iTunes 21st December 2010.

Tracklist:

  1. Willie The Pimp by DMC, Talib Kweli, MMM & Ahmet Zappa
  2. Bobby Brown by Ahmet Zappa
  3. Treacherous Cretins by Frank Zappa
  4. The Deathless Horsie by Dweezil Zappa & ZPZ
  5. City Of Tiny Lites by Frank Zappa
  6. Your Mouth by Macy Gray
  7. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama by Frank Zappa
  8. Jumbo Go Away by Frank Zappa
  9. Peaches En Regalia by Dweezil Zappa, ZPZ with Napoleon Murphy Brock & Steve Vai
  10. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance by Holland Greco
  11. The Torture Never Stops by Chloe & Robert Trujillo
  12. Stairway To Heaven by Frank Zappa

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One Response to “The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAA Birthday Bundle”

  1. epistrophy says:

    This is definitely the best of the bundles released so far on iTunes, in fact something that might actually encourage someone new to Zappa’s music to hunt down the ‘proper’albums. I personally would have no hesitation in putting this on if I wanted to hear some quality Zappa, as opposed to some curios, which is what the other bundles largely consist of.

    Five of the songs are performed by FZ’s live bands, dating from 1978 to 1988, and they are all in top form here.

    Treacherous Cretins (1979) features a superb FZ guitar solo in 11/8 (as opposed to the more familiar 4/4 version on Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar). Zappa really displays his inventiveness here, and his ‘mangle it, strangle it’ approach is in full flow. This could easily be a left over from one of the previous guitar albums, and is of a similar standard.

    City Of Tiny Lites (1978) seems to have been left off the Hammersmith Odeon album in favour of another version: I haven’t really listened to that album yet, but it’s hard to see what was wrong with this. The band are scorching hot – with Terry Bozzio playing some really unusual and quite stupendous fills (listen to the fill after the first “tiny heat” line: breathtaking), and Frank once again using the same approach as above, to great effect. In fact part of the success of this version is that the solo does not go on for too long.

    My Guitar is from the 1988 tour, with FZ’s solo yet again being the highlight.

    I’ve never really cared for the bootleg versions I’ve heard of the 1979 tour version of Jumbo Go Away, but this performance was mixed by FZ himself and is subsequently transformed. Most of the attention seems to have been given to Tommy Mars’ keyboards, and it really helps. The difficult middle section features truly awe-inspiring playing from the band.

    The final FZ-performed track is Stairway To Heaven, which differs greatly from the version released on The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life. It is from the U.S. leg of the ’88 tour, and is closer in arrangement to the original Led Zeppelin recording. However, during this performance FZ seems to have 2 agendas: 1. to make Ike Willis laugh by interjecting samples from the synclavier and 2. to play another blistering guitar solo. I never fail to laugh out loud when I listen to this recording, and prefer it way above the previously available version. Also you really get a sense of the sheer volume and power of the ’88 band, which I find not always immediately apparent on the albums released that document that tour.

    And now to the ZFT-era seemingly obligatory negative comments:
    Why include a bunch of truly dreadful cover versions by some other folks?
    Why release this wonderful material only via iTunes? Mp4s only? You’re kidding?
    Why have very irritating rapid fade-outs for most of the songs?
    Why force us to buy the whole album in order to hear Stairway To Heaven?
    (I guess the answer to that last one would be “We didn’t force you: it’s the world’s finest optional entertainment”).

    Well, it’s cheaper than a night in the pub, and the after-effects stay with you a lot longer. I try not to dwell on the negative stuff, and just listen to this wonderful music.

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