Friday, January 16, 2015

Frank Zappa 24: Studio Tan

The next album either released against Frank’s will or sequenced as heard, Studio Tan presented a sophisticated program of music primarily recorded roughly four years earlier, during several sessions involving large ensembles, one of which was credited the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, a name last heard on Lumpy Gravy. (For those who like conceptual continuity, this album consists of sides eight and three, respectively, of Läther. For those who don’t know what this means, we’ll try to explain it in due time.)
“The Adventures Of Greggary Peccary” is something of a sequel to “Billy The Mountain”, and not just because it mentions that character or even because it takes up a whole side. No, Greggary is an actual peccary (look it up) who runs a company with a stenographer pool and invents the calendar. The story is distracting enough, given Frank’s own smug narration alternating with his voice sped up to play Greggary’s part. Musically, it’s reminiscent of parts of Waka Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, and covers all kinds of themes that had been worked on over the years. It’s certainly designed to tell a story, even if the story itself defeats its own purpose.
“Lemme Take You To The Beach” is dominated by another sped-up voice, returning to the teen spoofs of the old days over a surf parody, featuring none other than Grand Funk Railroad’s Don Brewer on bongos. Thankfully, the vocals end there. “Revised Music For Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra” is a shorter version of a piece originally heard way back on the Jean-Luc Ponty album. Finally, “RDNZL” (think a cross between “redundant” and “Rapunzel”) begins with some intricacy, before developing into another two-chord vamp over which Frank can play his guitar. Ruth Underwood shines on the vibes, as always, and George Duke gets to take a tasty solo.
Studio Tan is not the best place to start with Zappa, and even the cover art (not commissioned by him, but eventually approved) should be an indication that this is something different. It likely makes more sense in a different context.

Frank Zappa Studio Tan (1978)—

No comments:

Post a Comment