Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #35 Broadway The Hard Way

I started a pessimism jar – kind of like a swear jar where you put money in if you have negative thoughts. It’s already half empty.

Broadway the Hard Way is a live album recorded at various performances from Zappa’s troubled final 1988 world tour. It was first released as a 9-track vinyl album through Barking Pumpkin Records in October 1988, and subsequently as a 17-track CD through Rykodisc in 1989.
The album features a lot of songs that are satirical of prominent contemporary figures, chiefly in the political sphere, and of current social and political trends and it was probably one of Zappa’s most political album and tours, on the U.S. legs at least, for a while. Some of his songs hit their target: Dickie’s Such An Asshole (originally written in 1973) references both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk (the album’s highlight for me) deals with notorious TV evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson and the rise of the evangelical Christians’ influence on the Republican Party (Robertson was rumoured to be running as a candidate in the ’88 election); other tracks like the cod-country RhyminMan (a song about Democrat candidate Jesse Jackson) and Promiscuous, an ill-advised ‘rap’ ‘song’ that talks about surgeon general C. Everett Koop and the AIDS virus (and is actually the worst piece of music Zappa’s ever written) miss the mark in spectacular fashion. There’s some good moments on here: Stolen Moments is a lovely little jazz number enhanced by the 5 piece horn section and leads nicely into an appearance by Sting and a cover of his Murder By Numbers song; album opener Elvis Has Just Left The Building is fun as is Why Don’t You Like Me-a reworked Tell Me You Love Me with lyrics about Michael Jackson but like other mid to late 80’s Zappa releases it’s another non-essential record that does not have that it factor to induce repeated listenings. 3/5

Personnel
Frank Zappa – guitar, producer, main performer, vocals
Eric Buxton (an audience member) – spoken narrative during middle 8 on “Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk”
Sting – lead vocal on “Murder by Numbers”
Ike Willis – guitar, vocals
Mike Keneally – synthesizer, vocals, guitar
Robert Martin – keyboards, vocals
Scott Thunes – bass guitar
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion
Paul Carman – alto saxophone
Albert Wing – tenor saxophone
Kurt McGettrick – baritone saxophone
Walt Fowler – trumpet
Bruce Fowler – trombone
References

Published by labarbaazul8067

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

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