The Man From Utopia

Released: March 1983


  1. Cocaine Decisions
  2. SEX
  3. Tink Walks Amok
  4. The Radio Is Broken
  5. We Are Not Alone
  6. The Dangerous Kitchen
  7. The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou
  8. Stick Together
  9. The Jazz Discharge Party Hats
  10. Luigi & the Wise Guys
  11. Moggio

Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals, ARP 2600, Lynn Drum Machine), Steve Vai (impossible guitar parts on strat and acoustic), Ray White (guitar, vocals), Roy Estrada (pachuco falsettos etc), Bob Harris (boy soprano), Ike Willis (bionic baritone), Bobby Martin (keyboards, sax, vocals), Tommy Mars (keyboards), Arthur “Tink” Barrow (keyboards, bass, micro-bass, rhythm guitar), Ed Mann (percussion), Scott Thunes (bass), Chad Wackerman (drums), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums on “Dangerous Kitchen”), Dick Fegy (mandolin), Marty Krystall (sax)

21 thoughts on “The Man From Utopia”

  1. I love this album. I could listen to Moggio for ever. It’s a pitty Zappa changed the program on the new cd issue, I used to love the way Moggio came in right after The Radio Is Broken.

  2. This album has some favorites on, but also 2 songs, that I just can’t stand: SEX and Luigi… They’re terrible… I made a copy for myself without them. Moggio, The Dangerous Kitchen: they’re REALLY great. But my favorite from this album is We Are Not Alone! That’s a good song to show to beginners, too.

  3. Very good stuff. I like it. Stick together and Luigi are sometimes boring, but I like Cocaine Decisions, SEX, & The Radio Is Broken. SEX is good, Cocaine is god. But the best is Moggio.

  4. This is another record that FZ “revised” when releasing it on compact disc. In this case I don’t think it really made much difference, the added track “Luigi and the Wise Guys” is one of FZ’s Jazz-Rap improvisations and doesn’t really detract from the rest of the album, although it is a weaker cut than the others. I think I do prefer the sequencing on the original vinyl, but that’s probably what I was used to listening to all the time.

  5. I assume you’ve listened to “Man from Utopia” and liked it if you are asking this, no? I’d suggest next You Are What You Is, Zoot Allures, Joe’s Garage, Them Or Us, One Size Fits All. Is not that they are “similar”, but i think you’d like them…

  6. Let me disagree with many of you, but I think “Luigi” is as great an homage to doo-wop as much stuff from the “Cruising with Ruben & The Jets” abum from the late 60’s. It’s a great parody! Besides, it’s the tune I enjoy the most from this album, along with “We Are Not Alone”.

  7. Frank Zappa’s music has changed over the years with different bands and different time periods. We had the early Mothers period with the 1966-1969 sound, we had the Flo and Eddie period from 1970-1971, we had the big band jazz period in 1972, the Overnight sensation and Apostrophe periods in 1973 and 1974. In 1975, for one year Captain Beefheart joined. In 1976 Zappa stopped using the name Mothers of invention and went on to record 15 albums or so between 1976 and 1979. Then the 80’s started. The 80’s was a time period when many Zappa fans began discriminating some of his albums, claiming that there were specific condemned albums that needed to be avoided, among these were Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch in 1982, Man from Utopia in 1983, Thing-fish in 1984, and sometimes Them or us also in 1984. The man from Utopia isn’t neccessarily an album that needs to be avoided for there is some wonderful material on here, but rather watched closely because there are also a few lesser songs on the album. Any Zappa veteran would appreciate this album. Personally I like Cocaine decisions although I hardly recognize it as a blues riff. SEX really isn’t as bad as people say, sure the lyrics are crude and offensive but the message of the song is that little tiny skinny girls often get that way in order to please men in bed, I love the chorus. Tink walks amok is one of the highest points on the album, the bass line is truly incredible, this is a very melodic instrumental and is very fun to play to. The radio is broken is kind of a funny little number, most of it is improvisation, this becomes obvious when Frank bellows “The blobulant suit!”
    We are not alone is another incredible instrumental, good use of marimba and saxophone, don’t let reviews about how good the sax playing is if you dont like brass instruments because the lead intrument is really the percussion. The dangerous kitchen is another spoken aloud number, nothing speacial but still funny. The man from Utopia meets Mary Lou is a combination of two 50’s songs, these are good covers because they sound very Zappafied. Stick together is kind of a Zappa reggea tune, not similar to the reggea most people know, that’s because it’s Zappa reggea. The jazz discharge party hats is probably the best spoken aloud song on the album, mainly because the instruments are more presnt, especially Steve Vai’s guitar playing. Luigi and the wise guys is a silly little doo-op song, never did much for me but isn’t as awful as people say it is. Moggio is the best end for the album, I wish this song was longer because it is really a beautiful instrumental. One reviewer asked what albums were similar to Man from Utopia, I would have to say Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch, Thing-fish, Them or us, Does humor belong in music, You are what you is, and Tinseltown rebellion.

  8. With every Zappa album I like to ask myself the question: why is this album necessary in my complete collection. What does this album add to the sonic pile?
    I really don’t like Cocaine Decisions, SEX, The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou, The Dangerous Kitchen and Stick Together. There are so many better Zappa songs to play, more interesting, more humorous. Listening to these is a waste of time.
    The instrumentals are great though.
    And I think Luigi and The Radio is Broken are two songs that I cannot compare to other songs in Zappa’s catalogue. Those two are, to me, the rationale for having this album.
    Oh f@#$, I don’t need a rationale, I need Zappa!!

  9. I am not and was never crazy about the vocal songs on this album. Some are OK (Cocaine; SEX), and some are just boring (Man/Mary Lou). But the instrumentals are really good. I notice ‘Moggio’ is pretty severely re-mixed in the CD version. It’s a great song, but the remix makes it sound…I dunno..tinny or something. Maybe it’s all the reverb (which wasn’t there originally). I was lucky enough to have a 45 rpm *12 inch* sampler – which had Moggio on it – at the time of the original release, which was extremely Hi Fi, so maybe that spoiled me. I think Frank had an imaginary ‘completist’ fan in mind when he remixed and changed stuff – if you knew the original, the newer versions were just another ‘wrinkle’. It worked out for me, because I was a fanatic for Zappa music in ‘real time’; but it’s sort of too bad for the fans which came later, who might only get to hear the later, tweezed versions. A good example is ‘Hot Rats’. With some exceptions, the CD version of that album sounds quite a bit worse than the original. Frank put back in a some stuff on ‘Little Umbrellas’ which he wisely had left out in the original, for instance. It’s interesting to hear if you know the original, but it craps up the track, IMO.

    One of the fun things about being a Zappa fan is that subtle details keep unpacking themselves years after the albums are released. This album has a great one.

    You notice that Frank didn’t re-sequence Tink Walks Amok and The Radio is Broken? It’s because they are a pair, in a motivic sense. ‘Tink’ – I LOVE that song – can be thought of as a ‘deconstruction’ of the ‘My Sharona’ lick (listen to it again!). And then that same Sharona lick comes up in the musical interlude in ‘The Radio’. Frank was not only really funny, he was also *witty*.

  10. At this moment – after almost 6 years of listening to FZ with devotion and increasing curiosity and surprise – I am able to love Zappa’s worst rabbish (em em), ’cause I simply love him. Long long story: he is one of the few forms of true joy in my boring life. God!: parody, post-modernism, quotationism, grotesque – all in a natural way of viewing the world – you know it better than me.. His music is himself, hi music is a world apart..

    Also those riffs or songs I feel are not so good (SEX, Cocaine), have a particular place in my sick-teenager heart, because FZ is a world by itself.
    ‘Tink Walks Amok’ is amazing and so cerebral, but funny too. ‘We Are Not Alone’ is so kitsch I really adore it, with those winds! ‘The Dangerous Kitchen’ is great too (Sprechgega-something, isn’t it?). ‘Stick Together’ is a good song, but I prefer the version on YCDTOSA vol.4. ‘The Jazz Discharge Party Hats’ has a great incipit, even if it becomes a little boring. ‘Moggio’ is a true epic piece. Great cover from Tanino Liberatore, of the FRIGIDAIRE staff.
    *The ocean is the ultimate solution!*
    Ps: forgive me for my pidgin english, but I am italian (Cefalù – Sicily)

  11. Back nearly twenty years ago playing in a kinda weird RnB band I was amazed that my new saxophonist was completely switched onto this album…….whilst most tracks were beyond us as a band, we had great affection for ‘We Are Not Alone’…..a great tune to triple lead the main melody line with sax, synth and guitar…..we used to take this thru about five harmonic changes such was our fun with this……..never fail to enjoy this track….the rest are fine pieces too……but as interesting as Dangerous Kitchen is, it used to disappoint me as it followed this quirky riff and wailing sax tune……..

  12. Same comments as I made on SATLTSADW. Could have been great, but the songs are just , … “eh”, where the instrumentals and guitar solos are ridiculously entertaining and exciting due to Steve Vai’s transcriptions and Frank having band members follow along and overdub unison “impossible” parts. Brilliant idea. I’d love to know how many such instrumentals he did and never released.

    You hear that, Dweezil?? We want an album of unstrumentals like that; NOT just live guitar solos, but instrumentals with all those extra parts!

  13. Wow! I’m truly surprised at the volume of reviews for “The Man From Utopia”. As I stated concerning “Ship Arriving Too Late…”, this album seems part-and-parcel of that work, and I believe that there used to be an earlier CD two-fer edition released long ago…

    Concerning the album, I’m about as mixed as the previous one. I feel that “Ship Arriving…” and “Man From Utopia” do not represent the strongest musical period in Frank Zappa’s career. That said, ANY Frank Zappa work is worth your precious time FAR MORE than almost anything else out there, so my lukewarm review should be viewed through that filter. I love the two spoken, atonal free-form pieces “The Dangerous Kitchen” and “Jazz Discharge Party Hats”. I think they might just be the most original things on this release. I do think that the fidelity of this album is much better than “Ship Arriving..”. Just listen to any version of this CD, and the low end is stunning, some of the best EQ frequency range since “One Size Fits All”. But still, somehow, one begins to feel Frank is coasting and searching for something more…umm…cohesive….as always, Zappa finds it and the aesthetic “sun comes out of the clouds”…Oh, yeah, I do agree with the prior reviewer “Jamez”: “Moggio” is outstanding and amazing. Frank commented on a radio interview that “The Radio Is Broken” was one of the pieces he was most proud of, mainly because of all the “inside”/”Cheepnis”-style culture references. Conceptual Continuity always continues…..

  14. Pour cet album, profondément déçu lors de son achat en 83.
    Difficile pour un petit Français de comprendre la démarche de Frank Zappa, ni pour son goût dodécaphonique, versant son énergie dans un jazz rock contemporain .
    Ce n’est que peu être qu’aujourd’hui, que j’entrevoie le message , la puissante rigueur du style. J’adore la détermination de cet album, son décalage et l ‘empreinte de sa musique sérielle.
    C’est un des albums que j’écoute le plus , ce qui conditionne mon attitude musicale pour une approche tridimensionnelle.

  15. OK, I know that I am being excessive and redundant, but I had to do a post-script to my previous review of Zappa’s album “The Man From Utopia”. I gave it another spin right after I wrote the above review, and I felt man enough to clarify: this is a far better album than “Ship Arriving Too Late…”, whereas in the first review, I sort-of suggested that the two were at the same artistic level. Sorry, I was wrong. “Man From Utopia” is a far more focused, varied and well-sequenced album, containing far more differing moods” than its predecessor contained. There also seems to be far more true humor and levity in this release than present in the former. It is so refreshing to hear Frank actually breaking-up (laughing wise) a la “Muffin Man”….ya know, “He Poots Forth…”

  16. In 1983 I was into Cabaret Voltaire,This Heat, Throbbing Gristle, along with Captain Beefheart and the “early, experimental” Zappa of the MoI era. I didn’t even buy The Man From Utopia then. Well, last year I finally caved in and bought the LP, which is of course much better than I had ever thought. Now I have the CD as well, which is as good as the LP, or perhaps even better, IMO. The sound of the LP is thicker and more natural, but I feel that the tinnier sound of the CD makes it a more cohesive album. The sequencing is certainly better on the CD. Moggio is the best possible finale of the album. And the bonus track, Luigi and The Wise Guys, gives away what the album is all about – an experimental ,hilarious and mindblown take on Zappa’s deep roots in the Fifties. Roy Estrada’s pachuco falsetto links this late zaniness to the lighter side of the Mothers of Invention. Dwarf Nebula!

Comments are closed.