Frank Zappa

The Adventures of Greggery Peccary

Song Review by

"The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" is Frank Zappa's masterpiece, the culmination of years of writing, the summary of all aspects of his work, from comedy rock to contemporary music. The piece, a studio-only affair, features tons of layers of music, synchronized sped-up voices for the spoken and sung parts, a hilarious plot, and enough music material to fill a double LP -- all boiled down to 20 minutes.

The plot: Greggery Peccary is a cartoon pig, a young dynamic executive, working for a big corporation, "Big Swifty Associates/trend mongers." Looking for a new trend, he discovers the calendar (greggery = Gregorian). This invention does not please some "slowly aging very hip young people" who now have a way to determine how old they really are. They chase his car after work, forcing the swine to take the nearest exit (the one for the "Short Forest," one of many references to other Zappa songs) and seek cover inside a cave, which turns out to be the very mouth of "Billy the Mountain." Brown clouds appear when the mountain laughs, prompting the pig to question a philosopher about the phenomenon. The expert brings a new perspective to the fact that time, after all, is money.

Zappa started to write "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" as early as 1970. The song (at least the idea and probably most of the plot) is contemporaneous to the big suites and story lines he wrote for the Flo & Eddie lineup of the Mothers of Invention: "Billy the Mountain," the "Groupie Routine," "Sofa." Musical bits were also written and rehearsed during the Grand Wazoo sessions (the "New brown clouds" section appears in "For Calvin [And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers]") and performed at the 1975 orchestral concerts that yielded the material for Orchestral Favorites. In the end, Zappa decided to keep the piece in the studio, patiently working on it from 1972 to 1976. He wanted to use it as the closing number to the mammoth four-LP set Läther -- after all, he had put all of his tricks into this basket. When the project was rejected by Warner Bros. he decided to put it on side one of Studio Tan, released in September 1978. The LP and CD versions are not exactly the same, having a couple of seconds more here and less there.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Studio Tan 1978 Hip-O / Zappa Records 20:54
Läther 1996 Rykodisc 20:59