200 Motels

Released: October 1971



  1. Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture
  2. Mystery Roach
  3. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers
  4. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (prologue)
  5. Tuna Fish Promenade
  6. Dance Of The Just Plain Folks
  7. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (reprise)
  8. The Sealed Tuna Bolero
  9. Lonesome Cowboy Burt
  10. Touring Can Make You Crazy
  11. Would You Like A Snack?
  12. Redneck Eats
  13. Centerville
  14. She Painted Up Her Face
  15. Janet’s Big Dance Number
  16. Half A Dozen Provocative Squats
  17. Mysterioso
  18. Shove It Right In
  19. Lucy’s Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude


  1. I’m Stealing The Towels
  2. Dental Hygiene Dilemma
  3. Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?
  4. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
  5. Penis Dimension
  6. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning
  7. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old boxes
  8. Magic Fingers
  9. Motorhead’s Midnight Ranch
  10. Dew On The Newts We Got
  11. The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts
  12. The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth
  13. The Girl’s Dream
  14. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce
  15. Strictly Genteel (the finale)


  • “Coming Soon!…”
  • “The Wide Screen Erupts…”
  • “Coming Soon!…”
  • Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels…”
  • Magic Fingers (Single Edit)

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Elgar Howarth
The Mothers on this particular occasion: Frank Zappa (guitar & bass), Mark Volman (vocals & special material), Howard Kaylan (vocals & special material), Ian Underwood (keyboards & winds), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), George Duke (keyboards & trombone), Martin Lickert (bass), Jimmy Carl Black (vocal on “Lonesome Cowboy Burt”), Ruth Underwood (orchestra drum set), Jim Pons (voice of the “Bad Conscience”)
The Top Score Singers conducted by David Van Asch
Phyllis Bryn-Julson (soprano)
Classical Guitar Ensemble supervised by John Williams
Narrated by Theodore Bikel

8 thoughts on “200 Motels”

  1. Music from the movie which actually holds together better than the movie. There are some sort of boring “soundtrack” moments, but mostly the music is pretty interesting. The collage effect that occurs on many of FZ’s cut and paste pieces isn’t as dissorienting here as on some other Zappa releases. The intercutting of rock band and orchestra, especially on the “She Painted Up Her Face…Shove It Right In” sequence, is very effective.

  2. Another of the reasons Frank was/is so excellent. This man was always expending so much creativity. The soundtrack and film are essential pieces to my appreciation and revere of him.

  3. This album (in its entirity) can only truly be appreciated by true Zappa/Mothers fans, although there are crowd pleasers, such as ‘Mistory Roach’ and ‘Magic Fingers’, the orchestral stuff would send a psychologically fragile person into a frothing mess.
    If you’ve seen the 200 Motels movie then you will understand that this album, like the movie,
    is a trip but a hard one to make sense of.
    Its great.

  4. OK, “200 Motels”. I think that I first heard this soundtrack on a reel-to-reel 1/4″ tape in a college music library in the late ’80’s. What amazes me about “200 Motels” is the constant musical clash of loose, jamming “Flo and Eddie” Mothers slammed right into the VERY 20th century intricate symphonic works that Frank was doodling while on the road. In that sense, the orchestral pieces in “200 Motels” are RELATED to the concept of the work, but you still have to be one open-minded musical individual to keep making the shifts. And the orchestral pieces aren’t exactly “easy” listening by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s take for example the aggressively atonal “Pleated Gizelle” sequence, with the constant choral clusters and the soprano shrieking “Hot Broth?” and all that. To say that Zappa approached this project with absolutely no willingness to compromise ANYTHING he wanted to throw in there would be a huge understatement. I still think that the soundtrack recording isn’t the best (even after CD remastering) because the whole thing wasn’t exactly RECORDED that well in the first place (everything live inside a big London soundstage). You can really hear the barn-like acoustics of that place on both the symphonic and band tracks. Zappologist Ben Watson has devoted TONS of print analyzing “200 Motels” and praising it as a perfect example of Frank forcing us to embrace trash and “low” art that really is just as complex, challenging and valid as “high” or lofty pieces. That may be true, but does it all “work”, considering that Frank was under an unbelievably tight budget, and openly admits that equal amounts of script story as well as pieces of important music never got recorded or filmed. Is “200 Motels” just the best of a “work in progress” that Frank could SALVAGE at the time, or is it EXACTLY produced the way he conceived it? I don’t know if we’ll ever get the answer, but if you love the “Flo and Eddie” Mothers completely mixed in with some of Frank’s most atonal and challenging 20th Century Symphonic stuff, then “200 Motels” is for you. Oh yeah, it is really interesting to see how Frank still found time to fit some of the older, original Mothers themes and characters into the film, like Don Preston reprising his “Monster” role that took up so much of the “Uncle Meat” movie. To me, “200 Motels” is a huge mess, even if it is filled with important, and occasionally essential Zappa themes and motifs. As of this writing, I still don’t know what to definitively make of it all, and I have listened to the soundtrack and watched the original movie (along with Frank’s later “The True Story of ‘200 Motels'”) tons of times. I dunno. Has anyone else out there figured it all out?

  5. If you had heard the 200 Motels orchestral live performance in Holland in the year 2000 you would know: this is a true masterpiece – sadly overlooked and underrated even by the fans. Rating: 10 out of 10.


  6. Amazing, touches of Zappa’s orchestral brilliance and ‘Magic Fingers’. Never seen the movie, but this soundtrack makes me want to see it.

  7. grand classique zappa mothers dommage que zappa n ai pas eu le temps de revenir techniquement sur ces collages; un disque interessant neglige par nous, sautons sur oncle-viande meme decenie archives nombreuses zxistantes!!!

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