Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #47 The Perfect Stranger

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The Perfect Stranger is a 1984 album featuring the music of Frank Zappa and conducted in part by French conductor and composer, Pierre Boulez. Boulez conducts three tracks (The Perfect Stranger, Naval Aviation In Art? and Dupree’s Paradise) which are performed by Boulez’s Ensemble InterContemporain. The title track was also commissioned by Boulez, and contains references to Zappa’s 1971 film, 200 Motels. The remaining four tracks are credited to ‘The Barking Pumpkin Digital Gratification Consort’—in fact, Zappa’s Synclavier.

Although it’s pretty low on my list of Zappa albums, The Perfect Stranger is a pretty decent orchestral Zappa disc that’s only let down by the synclavier pieces. The title track has the usual Zappa musical motifs with many nods to Stravinsky and Varese along the way, and whilst I enjoy Dupree’s Paradise I do prefer the ’73 band’s version of this song. Boulez and his small ensamble do Frank’s compositions justice and it’s one of the better orchestral recordings out there. However, I’m still not sold on Frank’s synclavier work; Outside Now Again, a synclavier performance based on a transcription of Zappa’s guitar solo in Outside Now from the Joe’s Garage album, lacks the warmth and humanity of the original and other than the atmospheric The Girl In The Magnesium Dress I could do without hearing from the synclavier tracks. The album’s worth listening to if only for the orchestral works. 2/5

Pierre-Laurent Aimard – Piano
Guy Arnaud – Clarinet (Bass)
Lawrence Beauregard – Flute
Pierre Boulez – Conductor, Direction
Daniel Ciampolini – Percussion
Antoine Curé – Trumpet
Ensemble InterContemporain – Orchestra
Péter Eötvös – Musical Director
Jacques Ghestem – Violin
Marie-Claire Jamet – Harp
The London Symphony Orchestra
Paul Meyer – Clarinet
Jérôme Naulais – Trombone
David Ocker – Programming
Frank Zappa – Synclavier, Producer, Liner Notes

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Published by labarbaazul8067

I'm just a creature from the heap so excuse my savage ignorance.

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