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[*] posted on 8-12-2009 at 18:27


Uncle Meat CD:
His mother said he was a serious boy. He liked to pull down the blinds when he helped with the dishes.

Played through all of Uncle Meat today, another relative late addition that due to length never really got that much play-time.

Especially the first disk has much great material: Golden Arches, Industrial Pollution, Dog Breath, Louie Louie on the Royal Albert Hall Organ, Pound for a Brown... In comparison, CD2 has half an hour of Uncle Meat excerpts, which can be a bit much to listen to. It also has Tengo Na Minchia Tanta, which I believe is a much later recording. At least sonically it doesn't tie in with the rest, although it does link to the Italian language course at the end of the first chunk of the excerpts.

A fresh discovery that I have often missed is Project X, a gorgeous little soundscape that sounds so delightfully Zappa...




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[*] posted on 8-12-2009 at 21:23


Just Another Band From LA (1972, Zappa Records CD)
Ethel... we're going... on... va...ca...tion....

One of the cheapest Zappa-records in my collection, and on top of that one that got a lot of play! Before I got it, I knew and adored the rocky Dog Breath thanks to Larry LaLonde's Zappa picks and I played the song many times. I also love Magdalena, but after a while the tempo of it really starts to unnerve me and I end the track.
This time I just played it in full, and... oh baby! It may be live, so tracks like Billy the Mountain and Call Any Vegetable will not have the same repetitive appeal as Dog Breath, but it's still a great listen! With a top sound quality, every note on the album has been enjoyed by yours truly... although the references are occasionally a little obscure for me.




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[*] posted on 8-12-2009 at 22:05


I have a completely different perspective on the Fillmore album Bonny, because it was the first Zappa album I ever heard all the way through and I'd already heard it many times before I eventually became a full on FZ fan. So it's the Zappa album that's the most deeply embedded in my memory. Hence my dismay when I first got the CD and there was no Willie The Pimp Part 2. I love the Little House on there, that's the arrangement I've transcribed to play, and the Willie The Pimp on there has always been one of my favourite solos.



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[*] posted on 9-12-2009 at 04:54


Quote:
Originally posted by BBP
Burnt Weenie Sandwich (Ryko 1995 CD)

One of my first Zappa albums (I believe my order was Son Of Cheep Thrills, Have I Offended Someone, Ship, Apostrophe, Francesco, Burnt Weenie). I gave this one a LOT of play-time! Surely it was very short compared to the price I paid, but as I sat behind my desk drawing, listening to that gorgeous violin solo... I knew Zappa was to stay.
Before BWS I already knew WPLJ, as it's the first track on Son Of Cheep Thrills. I had that for a few months before my second purchase, and it kicks off with the same song. It's very odd if you're so used to one compilation... you just expect to hear 20 Small Cigars afterwards.
I adore WPLJ! It's a very cheerful 12-bar blues that is encouraging to sing along.
The album continues with the gentle notes in Igor's Boogie and Holiday In Berlin, right up to the beautiful Aybe Sea (oh did it take me long to get that joke!)

Little House is one of my favourite Zappa tracks ever. Before Zappa I never really could listen to anything longer than five minutes. But often I'd just pull out Weenie and play Little House... sometimes even in the middle of the night if somehow I had another Britney Spears medley playing in my head (that's why I really hate her: when you finally get one song of hers out of your head, another one rolls in, thus robbing me of my sleep. The only solution was to crawl out of bed and play some music)
After the strange, unnerving piano intro by Ian, the album progresses with another cheerful little tune... and then... the glorious Sugarcane Harris solo...

All closed with the wonderful arm-link song Valarie, with Zappa at the end, professionally dealing with the drunk concert asshole, when he says almost sweetly: "You'll hurt your throat, stop it!"
One thing every devout FZ listener deserves to hear is the original vinyl LP version of "Little Umbrellas" because it entirely lacks that "chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp" overdubbed keyboard found on every other version of it. My crappy vinyl is still just within the still listenable zone of recordings and that fucking keyboard goes a long way to distracting your away from the instrumental subtleties of the original. I really hate hearing that thing "chomping" its way through "Little Umbrellas" and wonder to this day why it was ever put there, but I'm left to assume it was Frank and wonder why the hell he ever did it.

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[*] posted on 9-12-2009 at 10:24


200 Motels (1971, Ryko 2cd)

Kevin Courrier described this release as a gem, with its thorough and well-illustrated 56-page booklet, a poster, 4 radio promo spots and enhanced trailer. And, as it came reasonable early in my collection, I gave it much airtime. That is, only the second CD. I only rarely played the first.
Before I got this copy from my dad, I already knew Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. It was used in a very cheesy Volkswagen Golf commercial.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw42AcLNL-o

Many people at Zappa.com don't really like 200 Motels, but it's one of my favourite Zappa albums. It's surprising I don't listen to the first CD more: Zappa appeared to have really... like he had what he wanted in a massive orchestra and a fantastic choreographer (Gillian Lynne worked for the Muppet Show and Cats) and famous cast members and a great lead soprano (Phyllis Bryn-Julson, I knew her beforehand because she sang on my first Varèse-album).

With such hard-to-grab music, it's hard to differentiate the songs while listening focused on the music. For instance, I tend to see tracks 9 to 14 on disk two as one continuous track, even if there are words to hang on to. It's a little like Lumpy Gravy.

Highlights for me are the Seduction of a Bored Violinist (creepy), the What Will This Evening canon, of course Magic Fingers and Strictly Genteel, but one particular favourite is A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes. Just TRY to clap along, I dare you!




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[*] posted on 9-12-2009 at 16:39


Waka/Jawaka (1972, Ryko 1995 CD)
One of Zappa's wheelchair outputs, and a nice cheerful jazz/rock/country one at that! It's surprising to hear Frank turn to the Country spectrum of music without being sarcastic.

One Shot Deal is on Son Of Cheep Thrills and thus was one of the first songs I knew, and particularly because I was a fresh little music listener with little ear for instrumental rock, it was one of the few songs I could really catch.

Interestingly the first track is entitled Big Swifty. It was created around the same time as Greggery Peccary (who works at Big Swifty and Associates, trendmongers), but musically the two have little musical common ground.

Otherwise, nothing genuinely jumps out of Waka/Jawaka. It's a very nice album that is easy to listen to, it has great music, but that's pretty much it: no solos or themes that jump out and yell at you.




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[*] posted on 9-12-2009 at 19:01


The Grand Wazoo (1972, Zappa Records 1990 CD)

The Grand Wazoo is one album I could listen to with completely fresh ears, not knowing any of the songs on it. And I loved it from the start! From the jazzrock of The Grand Wazoo through the link-arm harmony of For Calvin to the funny vocal work on Cleetus.

And then came the most amazing thing. One of the sexiest riffs Zappa ever made, one I hurt my neck on when headbanging to it at the ZPZ VIP concert, one I desperately try to play and fail (did I mention what a great job you did Poly?). Eat That Question is one of those tunes you'd drop everything out of your hands for, proceed to turn to the record player and turn it extra loud, getting carried away by the jerking of the theme. ETQ ROCKS!

Blessed Relief is indeed a nice laid-back jazzy tune, adorable.

Grand Wazoo is one of the albums I'd most likely play to newbies. It's easy to listen to and strong enough to remember well!




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[*] posted on 9-12-2009 at 21:37


Quote:
Originally posted by BBP: ... did I mention what a great job you did Poly? [on] Eat That Question
You're too kind, it's still a bit rough. What I'm aiming at doing is taking the odd snapshot as I go along hoping to notice that I'm making progress. I've been playing it every day since I got it and it's coming up to the end of the fourth week now and I aim to keep that up.



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[*] posted on 10-12-2009 at 11:08


Well Poly, on ETQ I just have problems squeezing in all the notes at the nasty little triplets (I'd look up the proper name, I'll get back on it). You do play them all.

Yesterday evening it was time for:
Over-nite Sensation
Yes, that delightful album of which I always fold the cover booklet in such a way that the section of the volume knob is showing. I love that. It's so abstract!

Before I got this album, I already knew Montana off YCDTOSA vol 4, which I prefer (the Yippie-Ya-Yo-Ta-Yay sounds so much better!), and Dinah-Moe Humm off YCDTOSA vol 6, but primarily off Have I Offended Someone? I prefer this last version overall. The Ikettes sound so much better at the Gotta Get Into It section!
I also knew Camarillo Brillo thanks to Zappa Picks by Larry LaLonde.

The album is indeed a little classic!
Starting off with the relaxed Camarillo... I love the trumpet lines on it. Some of them sound very similar to the ones on Our House by Madness.
I'm The Slime is a cute little favourite, thanks to the ever-truthfulness of the lyrics and its beautiful deep sound. On this album (and several others from this era, check (') and Zoot), Zappa takes a turn for the low sonority. To me that's a delightful deepness, very moving and sexy. On OS, it's not as clear as on (') though.
Dirty Love is always very fun to listen to! I'll never forget the time they played it on a talkshow to accompany someone who told us all about flirting.
Lancelotti's vocals are definitely not for everyone. I took a lot of time to learn to stomach it, but on Fifty-Fifty it's very much rewarded; with the gorgeous violin solo by Ponty.
Interestingly I have a game with a MIDI-background music that sounds a lot like the low keyboards on the Lancelotti verse of Zomby Woof. I'll see if I can upload it. It's on this PC, so it should be easy.

Dinah-Moe is a great song! It's so nice and cheerful, and it's got the great Ikette section that I'll never tire of. It's a shame it's been played to death by Zappa, simply because the audience loved it. I definitely prefer the HIOS? version of it. Not much difference, but it sounds a little better.

And then there's Montana... I did hear it too much on the first ZPZ concert (three times: at the VIP concert, the intro Roxy vid, and the concert itself), but I'm over that now. I like this type of rock: laid-back, but not a ballad. Not cheesy, but fun. There should be much more like it.
And there is, but that is for the next post!




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[*] posted on 10-12-2009 at 11:20


Apostrophe (') (1974, 1995 Ryko CD)

Ahh, Apostrophe. It was only the second non-comp Zappa album I acquired. I bought it while I was travelling to Utrecht for the rehearsals of the play I was in (with Christian the Louie The Turkey Reincarnation). I had an unfathomable delay the day before (three hours) and back in those days I'd give myself a little present whenever that happened.
I chose ' based on the article on FZ in the Dutch pop music encyclopedia, which said it was an often overlooked, but extremely good album. I also had TRFZB by then and had read that Frank recorded it while little baby Ahmet was in the hospital. And I also had Automatic. I guess I knew where I was heading.

And what an album! Previously, Ship had been nestling itself firmly into my record player, but now... While my other Zappa albums had all taken time to get used to in some respect, I loved Apostrophe instantly. The deepness, the sonority... the great songs...

Cosmik Debris was my favourite song back then. And it still is! The delightful blues/jazz/rock that is so fun and so relaxing, to shouting "Take THAT asshole!" when the tempo picks up.
But I also adored the Snow/Nanook and Alfonzo/Father tandems, and of course StinkFoot which taught me a word I intend to use more often in everyday conversation.
And of course Forz, Remus and the title track... This album is one tingling sensation to listen to!

Apostrophe got a little snowed under as my collection grew, but whenever I listen to it, I just know it: it's one of the best!




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[*] posted on 10-12-2009 at 11:37


Roxy & Elsewhere
God is that a cheap bubble machine
While we're still waiting for the Roxy-DVD to see Brenda (clutching FZ on the cover) in full glory, we still have one of the finest, and probably the best-sounding, live albums. With the classics Penguin, Pygmy, Village, Echidna, That Thing, Cheepnis and Son Of Orange County, there's so much to enjoy!
Not to give Be-bop Tango no credit. It's a hilarious performance of which I'd love to know what it looks like, with terrific music that's delightfully hard to catch, and some of the most quotable Zappa lines. It's one of those tracks of which I'm careful not to over-play them because I don't want it to lose its magic. (much like, say, Private Eye on Dog Fashion Disco's Adultery).

That's not likely to happen to one of my fave Zappa instrumentals: Echidna. I've often played that when in need of a quick Zappa fix before I had to leave.




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[*] posted on 10-12-2009 at 17:17


One Size Fits All (1995 Ryko)
Although OSFA was a relative early addition to my collection, it took me a very long time to get into it. Sure, I loved Inca Roads and Andy was instantly my favourite track, but the other songs were hard on me.

I didn't get into Sofa until I heard ZPZ play it at the Amsterdam concert, when Dweezil was crying. It was so sad, and so sweet. When he wept again at the Brussels show, I just wanted to rush up stage and give him a big hug.

On listening it again, I really got into the album! The great soloing on Inca and Pojama People, the bluesjazzrock of San Berdino and Shoes... and the sweetness of Sofa.
Inca appears like an intricate mosaic of beautiful little melodies, carefully pasted together to build this classic. It's so rich and full of detail...

Apostrophe, Roxy, OSFA, Zoot coming up... today is a great day for Zappadan!




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[*] posted on 10-12-2009 at 19:07


Zoot Allures (1995 Ryko)
A relatively early album in my collection. Prior to hearing it, I knew Gas Station through Zappa Picks By Larry LaLonde.

And I knew Disco Boy. I knew Disco Boy very well.
When I first got Son Of Cheep Thrills, I played it over the headphones while I was solving a jigsaw. After it ended, I thought: "Hey, is it over already?" and played it again. It ended, and I played it for the third time.
I went to bed a few hours later. I tried to recall what I had just been listening to...
I really couldn't. It was all a bit of a blur. So I tried really hard, and suddenly I remembered the yelp "DISCO BOOOO-HOOOY!" I played the record again, this time straight to track 7. And then I played the song again. And a little Zappa fan slowly emerged.

It was the Baby Snakes version of the song, which is nice and up-tempo. The song was also on my second Zappa-album Have I Offended Someone? But I didn't like that version as much as the one on SOCT.

Hearing Disco Boy in context of this album, all the pieces seemed to fit into place. The relaxed tempo and the low sonority is exactly why I have loved this record for so long.

Nothing could prepare me though for the incredible experience when I first heard the album. After Wind Up and another track I didn't pay much attention to back then, came this gorrrgeous bassy tune I didn't yet know. Aside from the screams (prude & bashful BB, thinking they were screams of torture. "Cor, how badly acted," I thought) it was a pure gem, simple, the occasional guitar statement, but above all the laid-back drums, the beautiful simple bass patterns, the piano to fill in just a little void in the darkness, and that deep slow Zappa voice...
I've heard all the other Torture versions, with the extra little high flute melodies after each line. But I think, like writing, music can be the art of leaving out. Torture doesn't need the added tunes, or the Evil Prince jive.
Listening to it today, I think that at some point he used that hideous sound that your fingers make when you rub them against a snare, as actual part of the music. Interesting! Works well too!

Bonny the Prude comes in on more places. It took me months to realize what FZ meant by the lyrics of Ms Pinky. "I've got a girl with a little rubber head"... hmmm...
And after that I spent weeks wondering what position 95 could be. :rolleyes:

Find Her Finer has minorly offensive lyrics to women. I guess FZ was perhaps mildly upset about being ditched by a girl for his intellect when he wrote this... all I have to do is look at my bf to know it's not true. Remember that kids!

Possibly the finest and funkiest intro in the Zappa collection is that of Friendly Little Finger. And it has great soloing too!

Wino Man is another fun track. I like how Frank hums.

And then... the Two, out of the three tracks FZ only wanted Dweezil to play after his (FZ's) demise, two are on Zoot Allures. And I never really noticed either one until this was pointed out, with Black Napkins so cutely and tightly between Gas Station and Torture, and with Zoot right before Disco Boy...
But both have very beautiful lyrical themes, and intricate solo patterns...

Did anyone discover what that one ugly chord in bar 10 was, the one the guy from Guitar World couldn't transcribe?




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[*] posted on 11-12-2009 at 10:30


Bongo Fury (Ryko 1995)
The music was thud-like...

To be honest I don't care much for Beefheart's solo work, but this album is always a lot of fun to listen to!
Another late addition that got way too little air-time. I usually have trouble spotting Advance Romance or Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy: I can sing along but until the verse comes I don't know what it's called.
Both songs are terrific chanters, though. Just like Muffin Man, the beautiful theme and the gorgeous solo, and the intro that always cracks me up. ("Some people like cupcakes better... I, for one, care less for them.") Zappa is quite the actor!




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[*] posted on 11-12-2009 at 14:40


Zappa in New York (1995 Ryko)

Unfortunately my copy of this has suffered much light damage: the cover is discoloured, except for two narrow bars where you'd normally find the CD rack. Shame, because I love the artwork. I like how you can see a cheeky Gail popping up in the mirror with Terry Bozzio and the Punky photo.

NY is another late album, so I already knew Titties & Beer (off HIOS, the same version but the section of the pickle is cut out), Honey Don't You etc (off YCDTOSA 3, which I prefer), Slime, Pound For A Brown, Big Leg Emma, Sofa and Torture.

With all the gold in Titties and Beer (one of the first Zappa-tracks I got hooked to), the sex in Punky's Whips and Illinois Enema Bandit, it's easy to overlook the two instrumental gems Cruisin' For Burgers and I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth. Both are totally gorgeous.

Don Pardo is an amazing addition. I'd never heard of him, but he does a wonderful job on narrating IEB with his delightfully dramatic voice.
More great work comes from Terry Bozzio, whose voice work I always adored on Titties and whose drumming is hair-raising as always. I need to watch his work on Baby Snakes again.




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[*] posted on 11-12-2009 at 16:42


Studio Tan (1991 Zappa Records CD)

As a purchase this one comes somewhere in the middle of my collection. I already had the CD by Ensemble Modern with GP and RMFGALBO on it. I don't recall hearing latter before I first heard Studio Tan. But I do remember how much I loved the EM version of Greggery. Nowadays I think the acting's way too overdone.
Absolutely no Zappa-work at all IMO could possibly top the complicated structure, the humour, the great instrumentals of Greggery Peccary. It's Frank's masterpiece. A thrill to listen to for more than 20 minutes, it is one of the stranger works. It is outstanding in the fact that no other studio recording by Zappa matches this one in length: Little House, Billy The Mountain etc are all at least partly live. Nor does Greggery have any solos. There does not seem to be much improvisation either.

Revised Music is another firm favourite. Although it starts off not too fantastically, the 6/8 section that drops in at around 5 minutes makes me grab my arm with tension. It's so beautiful!

Let Me Take You To The Beach may not be a classic, but it's a very fun song that breaks the longer instrumentals around it.

RDNZL, like Revised Music, may not start off too fantastically. But I love the quirky theme and the piano solo at around 5 minutes.

While ZINY made me a little tired, Studio Tan put me full of energy! I needed that because I had to move all my other Zappa vinyls (Them or Us, Guitar, Sleep Dirt and Sheik Yerbouti) from their dreadful storage places: the spare bedroom which is now filled with DED's tape decks and speaker boxes. Grrr...




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[*] posted on 11-12-2009 at 16:55


Quote:
Originally posted by BBP: Well Poly, on ETQ I just have problems squeezing in all the notes at the nasty little triplets (I'd look up the proper name, I'll get back on it). You do play them all.
There aren't any triplets, the first fast figure is just four semiquavers on a beat and the second one is four semiquavers followed by 2 semiquavers and a quaver across two beats.

Would you like me to post the melody here?

[Edited on 11-12-09 by polydigm]




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[*] posted on 11-12-2009 at 18:26


No you don't have to... I can hear the notes but my fingers can't keep up with them. Maybe I could play it on keyboard, but not on guitar. Because I can't play with pick, I can't get the speed on that little figure right.

Sleep Dirt (1979 DiscReet vinyl)
I bought the vinyl at the legendary Deventer bookmarket, the largest in Europe. I only went there once; Dad and I spent a full 6 hours there. We were both collectors, but at the end of the day we were just too spiritually tired from browsing all those books.
Fortunately I found Sleep Dirt on the very first stall. It was the only Zappa-related item I found that day. I paid 7 euros.

This vinyl represents two interesting themes.
One is the CD-release of the album, with added vocals. A lot of people disapprove of the new vocals. I, however, don't have the CD, so I can't elaborate on that.
The other is that it's one of the three albums Warner released without Zappa's authorization. This has lead to the not-so-attractive artwork by Gary Panter (I believe Frank only re-used them because of recognizability), to a lack of information on the album cover (only track titles and copyright info).

I've never played Sleep Dirt much either, because of the format. Dad recorded it onto CD for me, but I didn't like the sound of it, so I played that once and gave it away to another Zappa-nut.

I very much enjoyed playing it, it was like listening to a new Zappa album! Highlights for me were the last half of Filthy Habits, the piano intro of Flambay, the beautiful melody of Regyprion Strut, the lovely guitar in Sleep Dirt, and the great guitar solo in Ocean.




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[*] posted on 12-12-2009 at 22:25


Orchestral Favourites (CD-R Poly made me, see below)

I bought OF at a CD fair. It was the only thing I bought there, it was quite a long travel that turned out not to be worth it: my CD was too damaged to play properly. :(

For this reason I never played it until Polydigm was so sweet to burn me a working copy. Thanks Poly!

Orchestral Favourites is a very pleasant listen! Strictly Genteel is magnificent as always. I vow I'll never mix up Pedro's Dowry with Dupree's Paradise again. Bogus Pomp is gorgeous!

My favourite melody Duke of Prunes however, did not turn out that nice. Partly because the 4th note of the melody lasts longer (making the 5th one short) than on the AF version, but also because with this instrumentation it just really doesn't work too well. I much prefer the orchestral version on Mystery Disk, which moved me to tears.




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Mood: Cheerful yet relaxed

[*] posted on 13-12-2009 at 18:11


Well, with the Efteling still in my legs, Zappadan will be a bit slow right now...

Sheik Yerbouti (1979 CBS vinyl)
Everybody twist!

Sheik was one of my earlier purchases. I bought it in the summer of 2002 for 10 euros at a record fair. At that, it was also my first Zappa vinyl.
I gave Sheik a lot of playtime! At least I often played the cassette I recorded it on. Side A has the LP sides 1 and 4 (since they're on the same disc), and side B has sides 2 and 3. Because the tape wasn't long enough and I wasn't always quick with flipping the record, the tracks Yo Mama and Dancin' Fool were cut off early. Jewish Princess wasn't on it.

I was OK with missing Jewish Princess: it's on HIOS, so I knew it well. I loved it too!
I also knew Bobby Brown. It was the third track on my sister's Cheep Thrills, that we listened to together on the bus to my mother when she just got it, even before I got SOCT. We had loved the first two tracks (I Could Have Been A Star Now and Catholic Girls), but we didn't like Bobby.
Bobby is also on HIOS. I didn't like that one either, but after months of listening, I was pretty OK with that track. It's also the first track I learnt to play on piano, more or less.

Today may well have been the first time I listened to Sheik properly: that is, start to finish in the right order.
And it was brilliant! I love Sheik to bits, it has a great balance between catchy songs and gorgeous instrumentals. It has re-synchronization, and it has the first 2 of Zappa's Grammy nomination tracks (for Dancin' Fool and Rat Tomago).
Special songs to me will always be Chin and Tiny Lights.
Chin was the first track of the album I really got into. I loved Bozzio's vocals, but also and especially the 7 cute little descending notes you can hear the keyboards play softly in the background (eg after "and I wish I was dead").

At the summer 2002 funfair of Eindhoven, Park Hilaria, there was this magnificent ride named Booster. A type of Ferris wheel, but a simple one. A 50m high pole that turns at 12 RPM. The booths would twist in the same way as on a Ferris wheel, IF the machine would spin slowly. I'd been saving up all my courage for it (and quite some money too!). I really wanted to have Chin in my head while spinning, so that I'd think of the Booster every time I heard it. But somehow, as the arm lifted and I had the most magnificent fiew imaginable - the sky was dark purple, no moon or stars, ahead of me were the grey silhouettes of the Eindhoven office buildings, and below me was a festivity of little lights - all I could think was "City of Tiny Lights..."
Ever since, whenever I hear City, I can just picture being spun around at great speed, feeling my blood rush to my feet, feeling heavy, and watching the ground come at me time after time.
(Afterwards, things didn't go too well for the Booster. In 2007, in Saint-Germain-En-Laie (France), one of the booths broke off in the middle of the ride, killing 2 and injuring 2, and letting the people in the other booth stuck in mid-air for six hours.)

Hearing Yo Mama in full while focused was quite an amazing experience as well. The solo is amazing!
I also very much love the bass solo from Rubber Shirt, Jones Crusher and Broken Hearts Are For Assholes.

[Edited on 13-12-09 by BBP]




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