Does Humor Belong In Music?

Released: January 1986


  1. Zoot Allures
  2. Tinsel-Town Rebellion
  3. Trouble Every Day
  4. Penguin In Bondage
  5. Hot-Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel
  6. What’s New In Baltimore?
  7. Cock-Sucker’s Ball
  8. WPLJ
  9. Let’s Move To Cleveland
  10. Whippin’ Post

Frank Zappa (lead guitar & vocal), Ike Willis (rhythm guitar & vocal), Bobby Martin (keyboards, sax, vocal), Alan Zavod (keyboard solo on “Cleveland”), Scott Thunes (bass), Chad Wackerman (drums solo on “Cleveland”), Dweezil Zappa (guitar solo on “Whippin’ Post”)

11 thoughts on “Does Humor Belong In Music?”

  1. A good compilation of live performances by the 1984 band. The Rykodisc remix is a little brighter sounding to my ears than the earlier import only ( in the USA) EMI version. I like the new cartoon cover poster better than the rather bland cover with the old EMI disc.

  2. I can’t stand the tinny, freeze-dried stuff from the Eighties. I’d recommend avoiding it only for “Zoot Allures”.

  3. I had the video first, it was borrowed and never returned.
    I bought a cd, It was borrowed and never returned.
    I have another cd of it…Hot Plate and What’s new are awesome…
    though it’s a cheesy band…but i like cheese.
    Apparently the Tinny updates( alot of the remasters have
    some strange eq on the high end) are due to hearing loss in the
    remastering process…Take care of your ears…The new stuff
    (dub room,Quaudio etc..) are better eq’ed in this respect.

  4. Yes, well, this one is from the ’84 tour. And there is something about the 1984 tour stuff that makes it a little less enjoyable than, let’s say music from the ’81/82 tour or the ’88 tour. But why? (yeah, man, tell us!!!) Right, well, it’s not the musicians. They are all pretty good musicians. And ah… it’s not the arrangements. A lot of songs (all songs?) on this tour got new and really fine arrangements. The repertoire then? No, no! That’s not it too… It’s the sound of the 1984 band. I don’t really like the ’84 sound! It’s a little weak and there is this annoying keyboard sound used throughout the whole ’84 tour that was possibly considered to be ‘modern’ at the time, but it just sounds too cheesy and childish to my ears. It did then, it does now. But, there is some
    good news: remarkably enough this annoying keyboard sound can hardly be heard on the ‘humor’ album. It’s as if donovan himself, I mean Zappa himself didn’t like that same keyboard sound all that much himself too also!! Just like me!!! Consequently FZ kept it down in the final mix for the album. Hurraah! So, what we have here is a fine record by a fine modern music ensemble. A good Frank Zappa record. It’s not in my top 10, but it is in my top 20.

  5. great album…i enjoy the funky feel of the songs though there is always a great load of funk waiting to kick through in franks groups…when they hit their stride they are as funky as ‘parliament’

  6. This was my least favorite Zappa band.
    I saw them several times and enjoyed them, but the recordings (aside from THAT EVIL PRINCE from YCDTOSA) are pretty sterile overall.

    I have figured out why. Alan Zavod. He looked like Jim Ignatowski from Taxi. Reverend Jim could play the shit out of the piano, though.

    They did a funny version of Tinseltown where Frank
    throws grenades at the 80s bands…HA!!!!! That still cracks me up. Frank was great.

  7. I don’t have this but having been at the late show on Halloween ’84 at The Felt Forum, I can attest to the frustration others have described. It was a fun show but there was something sort of off the mark.

    My personal take (and no offense to Chad who was a fine drummer in his own right), but I think it was the “novelty” sound of his drums that added a lot to the dated and cartoony nature of the sound.

    It was that same sound most of us hated on Frank’s frankenstein reinvention of WIFTM, LG and RATJs. It was like when you play ‘air drums’ and do a run around the toms, you sing “pitu pitu bitu badu boom.” Thats what the drums always sound like. Maybe it was an early syndrum set up? I’m not exactly sure Bill Bruford had some of those drums in the 81-84 King Crimson but he didn’t over use them (mostly).


  8. Yeah – Chad was using the Simmons SDS pads and the brain for those drums was pretty much what dates the tonality of the drums. And the FM synthesis of the keyboards, which was state of the art at the time. But considering all, a bad FZ show (even in 84) is possibly akin to the best performances of so many other bands…
    There are lots of schools of thought regarding which period was the best – personally I love the 88 ensemble. But I truly appreciate all of FZ’s work – all time fave is OSFA, but take your pick. FZ’s “bad” nights were better than most band’s best.

  9. Interesting album but not brilliant. Love this band’s versions of ‘Trouble Every Day’ and ‘Zoot Allures’ but the sounds are very 80’s with the cheesy synth sounds and the syndrums… and that’s what lets it down.

  10. I originally purchased the old EMI CD of this title back in the late ’80’s and I really loved it and played it a lot. Not only was the sound quality really great for an ’80’s CD, but it also represented the first time I heard “Zoot Allures”, which captivated me. I still think it is one of Frank’s most sublime instrumental compositions.

    I do agree with most who take exception to the use of electronic drums by Chad Wackerman on this particular 1984 tour. I know that Chad resisted using them, but Frank insisted, and I think Frank was wrong. The drum sound became much too “pinball machine” sounding, as though Chad was going to “tilt” any minute, with all the silly claps, cartoon effects and (now dated) Simmons-pads-wanna-be-snare-drum sounds. FZ’s bands always featured a true, kick-ass drummer (especially considering how percussive Frank’s music always was, and considering the fact that Frank started out as a drummer himself), and Chad IS an awesome drummer, but the electrics of the 1984 tour kind of emasculated him and robbed the band of some true beef and kick. That said, the arrangements, the sprit-de corps and the general power of the 1984 band was great, especially in the vocal department: Ray White, Ike Willis and Bobby Martin? C’mon, they were PHENOMENAL singers!!

    Anyhoo, I like that the CD features different music than the video, especially with the extended soloing workouts (“Cleveland”, “Baltimore”, etc…). There was a lot of love, humor and camaraderie with this band (unlike the 1988 meltdown), so one can really hear Frank Z on this release (and Vol. 3 of the “Stage” series) just having a ball with the musicians he trusted and who trusted him. Many witnesses claim that Frank was already getting sick during the 1988 tour, so that is primarily why Scott Thunes was so burdened with the responsibility of music directing the rest of the crew. If this is true, than these 1984 band recordings represent the last time Frank was healthy and free to have a blast making and living his music for his fans without reserve and interruption. “Does Humor…” is a great, completely enjoyable live document. Don’t skip it.

  11. This was the very first Zappa album I purchased. Odd, I know, especially since I own all but maybe two now.

    Here’s my story: one night in college we were sitting around in a dorm room and my friend said, “what would you like to hear – Zeppelin or Zappa?” I had never listened to anything by Zappa in my life. We were listening to disc 2 of YCDTOSA Vol 2 (I did not know that at the time), and it was like someone flipped a switch in my brain – this was what I had been searching for my entire life. I particularly fell in love with the lengthy bass/drum exchange and subsequent keyboard solo in Dupree’s Paradise. Anyway, my friend eventually had to leave and I did not get the name of the CD at the time.

    So I marched down to the local Coconut’s store (this is 1995 mind you) and found they had only 2 or 3 Zappa choices (stuffed between the Yes albums and the compilation stuff). DHBIM? was one of them and the only one with a lengthy track listed (Let’s Move to Cleveland). I bought it simply because I liked that long tune I had heard but could not recognize by name. Getting home, I enjoyed what I heard, but realized this was a completely different animal than the YCDOSTA Vol 2. First, it was the music I fell in love with, but here, it was the humor (and the beginning of “What’s New in Baltimore?”) I was intrigued and set out for more. The second purchase was Hot Rats, which was like striking gold. Then it was Zappa in New York (more humor) and finally, when I found a store other than Coconut’s that carried it, YCDOSTA Vol 2.

    Long story short – I have listened to DHBIM? so many times that the CD is scratched all over. It is not the greatest band, but still great. They are not the best songs, but still good. Alan Zavod’s keyboarding does not light a candle to the skills of George Duke, but it’s better than 99% of what I have heard elsewhere.

    But this was my virgin Zappa purchase – it brings back so many fond memories. It sold me on Zappa once and for all and pushed me to explore his catalog further. That of course led me to other musicians. The point is, if this ‘sub-average’ Zappa release can change my musical world forever, it can’t be that bad.

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