Frank Zappa

Fred Zappelin

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This bootleg two-record set featuring excerpts of Frank Zappa live during two separate 1980 tours is extremely frustrating, because the first nine tracks seem to come from a clean broadcast or soundboard tape from a 1980 in Cologne, Germany, while the remaining songs all come from rather lousy audience tapes. Zappa's guitar playing is at a high point on the very rapidly played "A Pound for a Brown on the Bus" and a hard rocking take of "Pick Me, I'm Clean." Also included are Zappa's mini-hit "Dancin' Fool" (spoofing the disco scene), the ubiquitous "Bobby Brown," and the sidesplitting "Ms. Pinky," which wraps the Cologne tracks. The first two sides overlap so no music is missed -- a nice production touch -- since Zappa was playing continuous music without stopping until breaking for encores at this point in his career. The rest of the music is a major disappointment, even though many of the songs were obviously included at the time this set was issued because they had not yet been officially released by Zappa. Not only is the fidelity very dismal during all seven of the excerpted concerts (with lots of reverberation, compressed sound, and too much audience noise), but some of the material is still not fully formed. "Truck Driver Divorce" is not one of Zappa's better compositions, but this early version is very labored. Even worse is "You're a Dork," which he evidently abandoned fairly quickly after this performance. "Outside Now" is a great song with a strong vocal by Ray White and a blistering Zappa guitar solo; "Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously?" ridicules the pompous behavior of German concert promoter Fritz Rau; but they are compromised by the low quality of the source tapes. Although Fred Zappelin is better than many Frank Zappa bootlegs, collectors should not pay a premium price for this long-unavailable album.

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