As a self-taught composer and performer, Zappa’s diverse musical influences led him to create music that was sometimes difficult to categorize. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century classical modernism, African-American rhythm and blues, and doo-wop music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands, later switching to electric guitar. He was interested in sounds for their own sake, particularly the sounds of drums and other percussion instruments. By age 12, he had obtained a snare drum and began learning the basics of orchestral percussion. Zappa’s interest in composing and arranging flourished in his last high-school years. By his final year, he was writing, arranging and conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school orchestra. Zappa’s earliest professional recordings, two soundtracks for the low-budget films The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962) and Run Home Slow (1965). The former score was commissioned by actor and producer Timothy Carey and recorded in 1961. It contains many themes that appeared on later Zappa records. The latter soundtrack was recorded in 1963 after the film was completed, but it was commissioned by one of Zappa’s former high school teachers in 1959 and Zappa may have worked on it before the film was shot. Excerpts from the soundtrack can be heard on the posthumous album The Lost Episodes (1996).- wikipedia
London Symphony Orchestra is an album series by Frank Zappa, released in two parts as London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I in 1983 and London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II, in 1987. They were recorded at the same sessions, in January 1983. The two albums were later combined, and re-released on a Rykodisc CD as London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II (1995).
Frank’s orchestral work never took much of a hold on me, to be honest I often struggle with orchestral pieces in general. He has always classed himself as a composer and has been frustrated when trying to bring his orchestral compositions to life (see The Real Frank Zappa Book for details) and was one of the main reasons why he embraced the Synclavier so heartily. When he incorporates his orchestral bent with a rock and roll band (Orchestral Favourites is a good one for that or the early Mothers’ use of Stravinsky) or in his ‘big band’ phase of the early seventies, I can better appreciate his ‘air molecule movements’. These two albums are OK, there’s a lot of Zappa musical-motifs in here and some of the songs do sound good when performed by his rock groups (Strictly Genteel springs to mind). Vol.2 is the better of the two but again, unless you enjoy classical or orchestral music, these are not really that essential.
Vol. 1 1/5 and Vol. 2. 1.5/5
The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano
David Ocker – clarinet
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion
2 thoughts on “Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #53 & #52”
What an incredible artist Frank Zappa was! So ahead of his time. He died so young, it would have been amazing to see where else talent would have taken him. Fabulous post with nuggets of knowledge! 💕
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Yeah, I think he would have fully embraced new musical technology. Thanks for the kind words. 🤘
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