At the time of Frank Zappa's passing in late 1993, he left a number of projects in varying stages of completeness. Some of these had gotten no further than the so-called "build-reel" stage. It was at this preliminary phase that the artist had done little more than set aside various and sundry audio on the back-burner in his Utility Muffin Research Kitchen home studio. One Shot Deal (2008) is a single-CD compilation taken from a number of disparate sources -- including a pair of tunes from Zappa's "build reels." As the set's co-producer Gail Zappa explains in her inimitable style in the brief liner notes essay "...the guitar was the main element for me...." With that as an unofficial mandate, the 5-plus minutes -- which cover the meaty nine-year span of 1972 to 1981 -- is undeniably fret-centric. The opening "Bathtub Man" -- featuring the early to mid-'70s George Duke (keyboards/vocals) and Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals) lineup -- seems to be an instrumental improvisational extension that was nicked from "Cosmik Debris." Not only does it reveal a bit of insight into what is presumably a transvestite tale from the road, but musically it displays both Duke and Zappa's criminally underrated chops as incendiary interpreters of the blues. The brief yet frenetic "Space Boogers" is another sonic matchup between Duke and Zappa that presents their unique interaction in a very different -- yet no less inspired -- context. Presumably with baton in hand, the percussive "Hermitage" is an extract from a rare performance of "Sink Trap" (aka "Gypsy Airs") by the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra from a show at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA in mid-September 1975. While several portions of the nearly ten-minute suite have surfaced -- most notably during the Tinseltown Rebellion (1981) version of "Easy Meat" and as "Lumpy Gravy" on the DVD-A QuAUDIOPHILIAc (2004) -- the entire work has yet to be issued. The spacy and jazz fusion-filled "Trudgin' Across the Tundra" is a sampling of the "Petite (as opposed to Grand) Wazoo" combo with Gary Barone (trumpet) wailing à la Miles Davis during the "Bitches Brew" era. Another of One Shot Deal's heartier endeavors is the nine-plus minute "Occam's Razor" -- which consists of Zappa's guitar solo from the song "Inca Roads" during a concert at the Rhein-Neckarhalle in Eppelheim, Germany on March 21, 1979. Keen-eared Zappa-philes might recognize portions from the Joe's Garage (1979) tune "Toad-O Line" and even a few riffs of the Toto pop hit "Hold the Line," which is quoted fairly blatantly. "Heidelberg" continues with a twist as the heart of "Yo' Mama" is torn out at the same venue Rhein-Neckarhalle in Eppelheim, Germany -- from 11 months earlier on February 24, 1978. From the '80s is "The Illinois Enema Bandit" circa Halloween 1981 -- the visuals of which can be found on the Torture Never Stops (2008) DVD. The lengthy "Australian Yellow Snow" is a real delicacy for enthusiasts of Zappa's incorrigible sense of humor and singular storytelling. The seminal installments of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," " Nanook Rubs It," and "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" are excellent as is the extended "Mar-Juh-Rene" rap. Bringing One Shot Deal to a fitting conclusion is the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra's rendering of "Rollo" from the Royce Hall gig that yielded "Hermitage." By the way, curious parties are encouraged to check out the highly recommended and significantly lengthier take of the song as heard on the aforementioned DVD-A QuAUDIOPHILIAc(2004).
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer