Broadway The Hard Way

Released: November 1988


  1. Elvis Has Just Left The Building
  2. Planet Of The Baritone Women
  3. Any Kind Of Pain
  4. Dickie’s Such An Asshole
  5. When The Lie’s So Big
  6. Rhymin’ Man
  7. Promiscuous
  8. The Untouchables
  9. Why Don’t You Like Me
  10. Bacon Fat
  11. Stolen Moments
  12. Murder By Numbers
  13. Jezebel Boy
  14. Outside Now
  15. Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel
  16. What Kind Of Girl?
  17. Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk

Frank Zappa (lead guitar, vocal), Ike Willis (guitar, vocal), Mike Keneally (guitar, synth, vocal), Bobby Martin (keyboards, vocal), Ed Mann (percussion), Walt Fowler (trumpet), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Paul Carman (alto sax), Albert Wing (tenor sax), Kurt McGettrick (baritone sax), Scott Thunes (bass), Chad Wackerman (drums), Eric Buxton (guest vocalist)

14 thoughts on “Broadway The Hard Way”

  1. A great set from the last tour! I really liked this album at the time, but the political commentary dates it somewhat now.

  2. Oh Frank, Frank, where have you gone?
    I really can’t agree that the political tracks date this album. On the contrary, I listen to it every week and wonder what gems we might have got if Frank realized that most of his targets from the 80s – born-again Christian fundamentalistrs, thuggish Republicans and leftovers from the Reagan era – are all still around, making money and talking nonsense left and right. The mind boggles at the thought of what a defender of individual rights like Frank would have made of Ol’ Holy John Ashcroft!
    Excellent, pointed playing and lyrics. In any case, if you’re not so heavily into the politics you should go for “The Best Band …” or “Make a Jazz Noise Here”, which are also from the same tour.

  3. I agree that FZ’s insightful commentaries were greatly missed throughout the Clinton years, and the neo-Orwellian Bush II administration, which makes “Slick Willy” Clinton look like sandpaper, and his “born again”neoconservative chickenhawk cronies and fellow travelers are making his (and my) greatest fears come true.
    Some of the names (but not all) have changed since 1988, but situation has only gotten worse. Now they are really in control. So just sit back and listen to the imaginary guitar solos and trip out. Frank saw it coming, too bad he left before it got here for real.

  4. This is one of the BEST live albums to listen to for perfect Zappa guitar solos. “Any Kinda Pain from Me” is lyricaly timeless, and has one of the most melodic Zappa solos ever recorded. “Outside Now” has some very passionate guitar playing taboot. Funny, funny, stuff all over the album. If you’re over the age of 14 the direct political references won’t bother you. Shit hasn’t changed so it is easy to relate to all of “Broadways” lyrics.

  5. I think it’s the one of the best Zappa album, it was the breakthrough for me. It’s eclectic, it’s funny and serious, the vocals are fine, the brass section is wonderful.
    This album can be the first for everybody who want to hear Zappa first time.

  6. In all hoesty, I did not believe Zappa put his best foot forward on this record. I found it to be too politically biased. Real Satire should be fair and balanced. The one bright spot is “Rhymin’ Man”, the cowboy song about Jesse Jackson. These are just my personal thoughts, make of them what you will, and keep the music alive.

  7. on the album: really tight-horns, excellently adjusted band. Sounds really good. The tracks are clean, tasty. Frank proves again, that humour IS a part of intelligence, IS a part of music.
    on th political comments: if frank was here, he’d have material for some 40 records more…

  8. I’ve had this album for a couple of years, but really only listened to it carefully the last couple of days on my MP3 player. It’s quite entertaining and almost all of the political stuff is relevant today – including the take on Michael Jackson. The fact that nobody likes Michael, or he doesn’t think they do is self-prophecized.

    Anyhow, again Zappa and his band proves they can blow anyone away, especially since their version of “Murder by Numbers” is better than any Sting band could provide including the Blue Turtle line-up.

    The interesting thing is how conventional most of his music became towards the end of his career. I’m not sure if it’s maturity or homogeny, but like Tinseltown Rebellion (another good snatch of later live Zappa), it’s fairly mainstream for Frank.

    The vocals of the entire band on this album are probably the best and most upfront of any of his live bands since Flo & Eddie.

    I give it an eight as far as ‘live’ recordings and probably a seven for originality. Definitely a good addition to the collection and better than most of the discombulated YCDTOS compilations as a whole.

  9. Good but not great. Too bad there wasn’t more guitar cause what’s there is quite tasty. I’ve got em all and I would rate this an average. Or as Frank said on Dance Fever…”it’s got a good beat I’ll givem a 10″.

  10. This is arguably the last truly great original new song based album Frank ever released in his lifetime. By Frank standards, it is downright straight-ahead and accessible. One might even consider it “listener friendly” (with all the narrow-minded music classifications that phrase implies). My fiancee occasionally can’t take my steady diet of Zappa listening, because she says that Frank’s music can tend to “anger the blood”, even though she loves 2/3rds of it. I absolutely know exactly what she means by that phrase, and I think that is also what gives Frank’s music its timeless edge and forces the listener to get involved somehow.

    So I will use my fiancee Stacy’s phrase: “Broadway the Hard Way” does not “anger the blood”. It is musically kick-ass, but it does not contain excessive amounts of dissonance by Zappa standards.

    “Broadway the Hard Way” is also the last of Zappa’s great political satire albums, and since all the tracks were played from live dates by the gorgeous 1988 band, there are tons of delights in store.

    The horn section is amazing, the finest horn section Zappa ever played with live. Period. Check out the “Best Band You Never….” and “Make a Jazz Noise Here” for more orgasms……

    The political statements and satire are so on the money, it is simutaneously chilling and touching. When has Frank’s social commentary ever NOT been spot on?

    Moments in this release actually bring me to tears (in the embarassing old Romantic sense). When Frank reaches the very diatonic section of music late in “Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk” (the section that has the lyrics …”maybe I have failed somehow…”, I get so moved, I am shamlessly suckered. I think that it is the honesty of this satire, the damn genuineness of it all that is truly moving (not that Frank decided to use mushy chords for once). As with the PMRC, Frank’s subjects of satire and “calling out” not only deserved it, but the act of doing it meant that Frank was trying to scream at everyone to wake up and keep a real close eye on what segments of our society are doing on a day-to-day basis, and most importantly, how those segments are working hard to keep their real business cloaked in the American Flag and the Bible. As far as my opinion is concerned, we still haven’t even begun to wake up and ask the hard questions, much less do anything about it.

    So every song is a gem, the covers are revelatory, this is one of Zappa’s masterpieces, just like “…Money”, “One Size Fits…”, “You Are What You Is” and “Phaze III”. It represents Frank’s final desperate plea to the world to register to vote, get involved in making sure you have any right to free speech left or respected, and to do whatever we can to keep everything from falling into the crapper before it is too late. It is an ESSENTIAL work, and one that I know represents why Frank Zappa deserves such deep, analytical and fawning attention in multiple areas. An amazing finale to Frank’s songwriting career. Listen, and don’t forget to register to vote.

  11. I Agree with the above review. This is one of my favorites I never get sick of it. OLIVER NELSONS’s STOLEN MOMENTS > MURDER BY NUMBRES w/ STING!!!!! enough said.

  12. when i hear about the cheney impeachment proceedings, the politicization of the intelligence system, of the church, republican style election fraud, “when the lies so big” is the only song that comes to mind, nails it. same political machine, 19 years later, exact same damn lie. thanks frank for speaking up.

    “people wake up!
    figure it out!”

  13. first zappa album i ever heard and a pretty good one to start with (well it worked for me) – the band on here is super slick, pratically dripping grease, which perfectly suits the songs on offer here. sounds like a massive musical at times, satiring the politics of the time, which i knew nothing about until i heard this – and i think it was worth learning about, despite the fact i was six at the time of the events discussed….
    i got to give a special mention to the AIDS conspiracy theory song ‘promiscous’ which is a hilarious parody of 80s rap. sounds like run DMC gone wrong. the only mediocre moment is sting’s random guest appearance – but even that’s quite amusing.

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