Monday, December 17, 2012

DVD Review-Overnite Sensation/Apostrophe

Throughout his career, Frank Zappa thumbed his nose at commercialism. He never let the marketplace dictate his direction, and his instincts (and taste) almost always ran contrary to whatever was `popular'. In fact, if Frank liked what you were doing, it was a sure sign that you would suffer commercially; just ask Captain Beefheart, or Wild Man Fisher, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, or Alice Cooper in his early days. The name `Frank Zappa' may now be copyrighted and a household name, but few people really ever knew his music. His albums were tailored to appeal to those who were outside of society, so what went wrong with "Apostrophe (`)" and "Over-Nite Sensation" that allowed them to become hugely famous?

For a short period of time in the early seventies, Frank Zappa and the counterculture experienced something akin to acceptance by the media. Perhaps this was due to the huge success of FM radio, or maybe it was the zeitgeist that enveloped the globe after the late-sixties meltdown of hippie culture. Either way, Zappa's music was at a creative peak, and the world was willing to pay attention. "Apostrophe" and "Over-Nite Sensation" followed one another within a year's time, and each of them featured pretty much the same line-up of musicians. They represent his most accessible work, and this `album documentary' tells the story of how they got made.

If you are familiar with Frank Zappa's work, then I highly recommend this DVD. If you are not familiar with Zappa's work, buy each of these albums and then buy this DVD. The information contained herein is invaluable to any fan. I've seen many, many of these `album documentaries', but none come close to the authoritative entertainment of this package. The fun facts alone are outstanding. Did you know that Zappa rehearsed his band six hours a day, five days a week? Show me another band with that type of work ethic. Did you know that the backup vocals were by the Ikettes (with Tina Turner)? Did you know that Zappa has a library of recordings that could rival the Grateful Dead in its breadth?

The editing between live performance (including a killer version of "Montana") and studio analysis is brilliant. Son Dweezil takes us deep into recording analysis, sitting at a mixing board and moving the faders while making insightful observations. The documentary is relatively short - only one hour - but there's another hour of extras that convey just as much information, while focusing on all aspects of Zappa's music, including its topicality, its technique, and its humor. Frank Zappa was a thoroughly unique character, incapable of being categorized or lumped into a box. If you know these albums, you may think you already understand how his mind worked. See this documentary and you'll understand why. In a word, it's astounding.

Friday, December 14, 2012

DVD Review- Zappa in Barcelona

Zappa In Barcelona European Tour May 1988
It's not an official legal Zappa release. You can get it for free on torrent sites, possibly a better copy. It's a good quality video taken from a TV special. It's great, but you shouldnt pay 30 dollars for it. For an unrelated reason, maybe, visit It's an awesome 1988 concert with Bruce Fowler, Walt Fowler, Ike Willis, Ed Mann, Bobby Martin, Scott Tunes, Chad Wakerman, Mike Kenelly, and I forget the other horn players. Some of the songs are The Black Page, Big Swifty, Black Napkins, Sofa, a cover of I Am The Walrus, Strictly Genteel and many more great songs. By the way, that IS Strictly Genteel at the end and not a Sofa variation as another reviewer said, Sofa is played in the middle of the show. I'm a musician, I know and play both pieces quite well, I am very familiar with the different arrangments of both over the years, and I can tell you without a doubt that the concert ends with a great performance of Strictly Genteel.
When I saw this under "Today's Deals", I got excited. I thought maybe this was finally being released officially.
As soon as I got to the product page, I could tell right away it is indeed a bootleg. For starters, the label is "101 Distribution." Have you ever heard of it? I haven't.
Second, the cover art....neither the stage nor the large picture of Frank is from 1988. Not even close.There has been an "unofficial" fan copy of this in circulation for years, and the quality is better than this one (re-dubbed audio and relevant artwork). Best of all, it's for FREE trade, not selling. You just have to know where to look.
Until such time that they release an official version of this made from the master recording, I wouldn't recommend anyone spend a dime on this. Save your money and find a better copy elsewhere.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DVD review -Torture Never Stops

The torture never stops DVD
Frank Zappa's New York Halloween 1981 concerts were filmed Live at The Palladium. This 'thing' entitled "The Torture Never Stops was created in its entirety by FZ from the original concert production and intended by theArtist as one of 3 Television Specials. This is the longest version of the three - the others, "You Are What You Is" and "Dumb All Over", having actually aired. Halloween was Frank Zappa s favorite holiday, and New York was the site of Frank Zappa Halloween concerts for years! The billion and a half airings by MTV of the concerts
(non-edited) followed on closely from the release of the double album You Are What You Is in September of that year on Frank Zappa s own recently founded and thoroughly independent label, Barking Pumpkin. Much of the set list is drawn from that work. All Frank Zappa shows were unique experiences with Zappa on guitar and baton, leading his band on flights of improvisation and drawing ever more intense performances from them. The Torture Never Stops cements Zappa s reputation as one of the most innovative and challenging composers and performers of the 20th century.
Line-up: Frank Zappa (guitar, vocal); Ray White (vocal, guitar); Tommy Mars (keyboards, vocal); Scott Thunes (bass, vocal); Chad Wackerman (drums); Ed Mann (percussion, vocal); Bobby Martin (keyboard, sax, vocal),  Steve Vai (guitar, vocal)

1) Black Napkins
2) Montana
3) Easy Meat
4) Beauty Knows No Pain
5) Charlie s Enormous Mouth
6) Fine Girl
7) Teen-Age Wind
8) Harder Than Your Husband
9) Bamboozled By Love
10) We re Turning Again
11) Alien Orifice
12) Flakes
13) Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
14) You Are What You Is
15) Mudd Club
16) The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing
17) Dumb All Over
18) Heavenly Bank Account
19) Suicide Chump
20) Jumbo Go Away
21) Stevie s Spanking
22) The Torture Never Stops
23) Strictly Genteel
24) The Illinois Enema Bandit

 was a little bummed the first few times I watched this. I was kicking back during "Montana" anticipating the killer guitar solo in that song, but the solo was not there! I know Frank liked to rearrange, change tempo's, and omit parts of songs during live performances, but to leave out the blistering solo during "Montana" just bummed me out. However, after several viewings this DVD is killer and a must for Zappa fans.

The concert footage comes from a 1981 show and runs 1 hour 55 minutes. The video and audio (stereo only) are very good. The set list includes lots of songs from "You Are What You Is", so if you want Frank's early stuff you may be disappointed. Most of the time, the band is incredible... there are a few vocals out of pitch and some of Vai's leads are really sloppy, but when they play "Alien Orifice" my jaw hits the floor. Is anyone writing cool music like this anymore?

Extras include two bonus tracks - "Teen-Age Prostitute" and "City of Tiny Lights", the video of "You Are What You Is", a photo gallery, a discography, a DVDography, and liner notes from Scott Thunes.

Overall, this is a treat for fans and I hope more releases like this are planned for the future.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Frank Zappa Touring Bands

Here is a good link to a site that lists the varius touring bands that frank had, at the bottom of the page on that site, is a exhaustive list of personal. Good site

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Frank Zappa Quotes

Frank Zappa Quotes

  • On a personal level, Freaking Out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricting standards of thinking, dress, and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole.
    • Liner notes for the album Freak Out! (27 June 1966)
  • My solos are speech-influenced rhythmically; and harmonically, the're either pentatonic, or poly-scale oriented. And there's the mixolydian mode that I also use a lot...But I'm more interested in melodic things I think the biggest challenge when you go to play a solo is trying to invent a melody on the spot.
  • Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute.
    • Liner notes for the album Freak Out! (27 June 1966)
  • Scientology, how about that? You hold on to the tin cans and then this guy asks you a bunch of questions, and if you pay enough money you get to join the master race. How's that for a religion?
    • Concert address to audience at the Rockpile, Toronto (May 1969)
  • I consider that the building materials are exactly the same as what anybody else makes the thing out of. It's just the way they look at those materials is perhaps a narrower perspective. Time and those waves are at the disposal of anyone who wants to use them.
    • As quoted in No Commercial Potential : The Saga of Frank Zappa (1972) by David Walley, p. 3
  • I think it's really tragic when people get serious about stuff. It's such an absurdity to take anything really seriously ... I make an honest attempt not to take anything seriously: I worked that attitude out about the time I was eighteen, I mean, what does it all mean when you get right down to it, what's the story here? Being alive is so weird.
    • As quoted in No Commercial Potential : The Saga of Frank Zappa (1972) by David Walley, p. 4
  • Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best…
  • I think that if a person doesn't feel cynical then they're out of phase with the 20th century. Being cynical is the only way to deal with modern civilization, you can't just swallow it whole.
  • Being interviewed is one of the most abnormal things that you can do to somebody else. It's two steps removed from the Inquisition.
  • I'm probably more famous for sitting on the toilet than for anything else that I do.
    • Interview on Nationwide (1 July 1983)
  • I'll tell you what classical music is, for those of you who don't know. Classical music is this music that was written by a bunch of dead people a long time ago. And it's formula music, the same as top forty music is formula music. In order to have a piece be classical, it has to conform to academic standards that were the current norms of that day and age ... I think that people are entitled to be amused, and entertained. If they see deviations from this classical norm, it's probably good for their mental health.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Zappa Full Discography

Every Listing has a review  on this blog, look for the links on the right.

Frank Zappa Official albums

Released Title 

Year  Month  Title

1966 Jun  Freak Out! 

1967 Apr  Absolutely Free 

Aug  Lumpy Gravy 

1968 Mar  We're Only in It for the Money 

Nov  Cruising with Ruben & the Jets 

1969 Mar  Uncle Meat 


Oct  Hot Rats 

1970 Feb  Burnt Weeny Sandwich 

Aug  Weasels Ripped My Flesh 

Oct  Chunga's Revenge 

1971 Aug  Fillmore East – June 1971 

Oct  200 Motels 

1972 Mar  Just Another Band from L.A. 

Jul  Waka/Jawaka 

Nov  The Grand Wazoo 

1973 Sep  Over-Nite Sensation 

1974 Mar  Apostrophe (') 

Jul  Roxy & Elsewhere 

1975 Jun  One Size Fits All 

Oct  Bongo Fury 

1976 Oct  Zoot Allures 

1978 Mar  Zappa in New York 

Sep  Studio Tan 

1979 Jan  Sleep Dirt 

Mar  Sheik Yerbouti 

May  Orchestral Favorites 

Sep  Joe's Garage Act I 

Nov  Joe's Garage Acts II & III 

1981 May  Tinsel Town Rebellion 

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar 

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More 

Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar 

Sep  You Are What You Is 

1982 May  Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch 

1983 Mar  The Man from Utopia 

Baby Snakes 

Jun  London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I 

1984 Aug  Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger 

Oct  Them or Us 

Nov  Thing-Fish 

Francesco Zappa 

The Old Masters, Box I 

1985 Nov  Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention 

1986 Jan  Does Humor Belong in Music? 

Nov  The Old Masters, Box II 

Jazz from Hell 

1987 Jun  London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II 

Dec  The Old Masters, Box III 

1988 Apr  Guitar 

May  You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 

Oct  You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 

Broadway the Hard Way 

1989 Nov  You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 

1991 Apr  The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life 

Jun  Make a Jazz Noise Here 

You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 

1992 Jul  You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5 

—  You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 

Nov  Playground Psychotics 

1993 Mar  Ahead of Their Time 

Oct  The Yellow Shark 

Posthumous albums

1994 Dec  Civilization Phaze III 

1996 Feb  The Lost Episodes 

Sep  L├Ąther 

Oct  Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute 

1997 May  Have I Offended Someone? 

1998 Sep  Mystery Disc 

1999 Dec  Everything Is Healing Nicely 

2002 Aug  FZ:OZ 

2003 Feb  Halloween 

2004 May  Joe's Corsage 

Oct  Joe's Domage 


2005 Dec  Joe's XMASage 

2006 Jan  Imaginary Diseases 

Dec  The MOFO Project/Object (2-CD set) 

—  The MOFO Project/Object (4-CD set) 

Oct  Trance-Fusion 

2007 Apr  Buffalo 

Aug  The Dub Room Special! 

Oct  Wazoo 

2008 Jun  One Shot Deal 

Sep  Joe's Menage 

2009 Jan  Lumpy Money 

Dec  Philly '76 

2010 Apr  Greasy Love Songs 

Sep  Congress Shall Make No Law... 

Nov  Hammersmith Odeon 

2011 Sep  Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison 

Oct  Carnegie Hall 


1982 May  Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar (Box Set) 

1987 May  Joe's Garage Acts I, II & III 

1991 Jul  Beat the Boots 

1992 Jun  Beat the Boots II 

1995 Apr  London Symphony Orchestra, Volumes I & II 

2009 Jan  Beat the Boots III 

Compilation albums


Year  Month 

1968 Oct  The **** of the Mothers 

1970 Jul  The Mothers of Invention 

1971 Mar  Worst of the Mothers 

1987 Jun  The Guitar World According to Frank Zappa 

1995 Aug  Strictly Commercial 

1997 May  Strictly Genteel 

1998 Feb  Cucamonga 

Apr  Cheap Thrills 

1999 Apr  Son of Cheep Thrills 

2006 Dec  The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAA Birthday Bundle 2006 

2008 Dec  The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAA Birthday Bundle 2008 

2010 Dec  The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAA Birthday Bundle 2010 

2011 Dec  The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAAAM Birthday Bundle 2011

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Frank Zappa- The playboy interview

The playboy interview

Frank Zappa

Interview in Playboy
May 2, 1993

A candid conversation with the most original mind in rock music about world affairs, jewish princesses, fighting cancer and life beyond the fringe
Few would doubt that Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright-turned-politician, and Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," make an odd pair. Yet in separate interviews, when asked which person had the greatest influence on their lives, both came up with the same name: Frank Zappa. "Who else?" wondered Groening. "I listened to the music, I dissected the lyrics and it transformed me."
Havel and Groening are not alone. In this years Playboy Music Poll, our readers chose Zappa as the 43rd inductee into the Playboy Music Hall of Fame, where he joins the likes of Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. But even before the votes had been counted, Playboy's editors had Zappa on their minds and had invited him to sit for the "Playboy Interview." The result is an unusual coincidence: For the first time in the magazine's history, an issue of Playboy both announces the Hall of Fame winner and features him in the interview.
What makes this occurrence even more unusual is that Frank Zappa is no mainstream musician. While he is lionized in Europe, his avant-garde compositions and pointed, satirical lyrics are seldom heard on America radio. As he admits, people are often confused and angered by his work. As the leader of the Mothers of Invention, one of the weirdest - and most brilliant - experimental bands ever, Zappa earned a prominent place in rock lore. He didn't do drugs, he fought censorship and he distributed a poster of himself sealed nude on a toilet, calling it "Phi Zappa Krappa." It's no wonder that the first chapter of his autobiography is tilled "How Weird Am I, Anyway?"
Over the course of his career, few were left unscathed by Zappa's wicked satire set to music. A Randy Newman with fangs, Zappa went after fashion, hypocrisy and stereotypes, managing to offend an amazing array of people. Women were incensed over the song "Titties and Beer," parents were horrified by such lyrics as "Watch out where the huskies go/and don't you eat that yellow snow" and gays were furious over "He's So Gay." The Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith denounced "Jewish Princess" ("with overworked gums, she squeaks when she comes") and demanded an apology. As always, Zappa refused.
Like his fans, his enemies could take some consolation in the fact that they weren't alone. Zappa's attacks crossed political and ideological lines; he skewered Jesse Jackson, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, rednecks and televangelists.
His music confounded his fans, too. His range often seemed limitless, as he jumped successfully from rock to jazz to classical. He has released more than 50 albums, including "Freak Out," "Sheik Yerbouti," "Apostrophe," "200 Motels" (also the name of a film, now a cult classic) and "Jazz from Hell." His classical music has been lauded in stuffy circles, and he has released albums of his work performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. in Frankfurt, Germany, his soon-to-be-released "The Yellow Shark" was the highlight of a festival last fall, and earlier this year the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York presented "The Music of Frank Zappa" as part of its Great Performers series.
Zappa was able to make enemies even when he wasn't making music. He took on Tipper Gore and Susan Baker, wife of former Secretary of State James Baker, when they demanded that records be rated according to content - the same way movies are. Zappa testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, calling Gore, Baker and their committee "a group of bored Washington housewives" who wanted to "housebreak all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few." He lost the crusade but remained a vigorous advocate of First Amendment rights.
He has also campaigned to encourage his audiences to vote. Voter registration booths were set up in the lobbies of the concert halls in which he performed. In his "Video from Hell" (the companion to "Jazz from Hell"), he included a note that read, "Register to vote and read the Constitution before it's void where prohibited by law. " His frustrations with government led him to consider being part of it: In 1991 he announced that he was running for president.
After some bad experiences in the record business (in the song "Brown Shoes Don't Make It," he memorialized the businessmen who screwed him), Zappa and his wife (and manager), Gail, formed their own record labels and merchandising operation. (There's even a Zappa hotline: 1-818-PUMPKIN.) His broad insight into economics and politics inspired the Financial News Network to ask him to guest-host a talk show. That gig took him to Czechoslovakia to meet with Havel, then the president, before the country split into two republics.
Zappa's music had been smuggled behind the iron curtain since the Sixties, and he had become a hero to the Czech people. His song "Plastic People" was an underground anthem. When he visited Prague, students told him that he had been considered one of the worst enemies of the Communist state. One student told of being arrested by the secret police, jailed and beaten. "We are going to beat the Zappa music out of your head," the officer screamed. Upon meeting Zappa, the boy said, "Our dream has come true today.
Havel was so enamored of him that he made Zappa the country's special ambassador to the West on trade, culture and tourism. Zappa had big plans to help bridge cultural and economic barriers with the West. The appointment, however, was derailed by Secretary of State Baker. Columnist Jack Anderson reported that Baker was "carrying an old grudge" from Zappa's dismissal of Susan Baker as a "bored housewife." "When [Baker] arrived in Prague," Anderson wrote, "he had his surrogates convey his displeasure to Havel." Havel succumbed to the pressure and canceled the appointment.
Zappa came far to have such high-placed enemies. A song called "Son of Mr. Green Genes" made people think his father was the character on "Captain Kangaroo," but in truth, he is the son of a meteorologist who did research on poison gases for the military. Gas masks hung on a wall of the family's home in case of an accident with the chemical weapons his father studied.
The family moved frequently before ending up in Lancaster, California, where Frank played drums in the school marching band. His musical taste, however, was eclectic; while his classmates swooned over Elvis, he listened to composers such as Edgard Varese and Anton Webern.
In Lancaster, Zappa formed his first garage band, the Black-Outs (so named after the night some of his bandmates drank too much peppermint schnapps and blacked out). He later joined the Soul Giants, which became the Mothers of Invention. With Zappa as their guitar-wielding leader, the Mothers were known for their excellent and innovative music - "Uncle Meat," "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and "The Grand Wazoo" are classic albums - and for their antics. One of the more colorful rock legends maintains that Zappa and Alice Cooper had a gross-out contest onstage: After Cooper allegedly squashed some live baby chicks, Zappa supposedly picked up a plastic spoon and ate a plate of steaming feces. Although Zappa denies it, he's been haunted by the story for years.
While his reputation for weirdness is his trademark, his private life seems eminently sane. Now 52, he has been married to Gail for 25 years and is a devoted father to his four children - Moon Unit, 25 (she was the voice of the obnoxious "Valley Girl" in his 1982 hit song), Dweezil, 23, Ahmet, 18, and Diva, 13. It was Moon and Dweezil who shocked their father's fans in November 1991 when they announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The illness forced him to drop his planned presidential campaign, and both work and travel have been disrupted. His "Playboy Interview," was conducted by Contributing Editor David Sheff, who most recently chatted with Steve Martin for the January 1993 interview. Sheff reports:
"The Zappa home is a mock-Tudor Pee-wee's Playhouse in fast-forward mode. In one room, a state-of-the-art recording studio, engineers work on computers and recording equipment, and in another room, editors pore over frames of videotape. Various assistants dash through halls decorated with memorabilia such as gold records and Zappa license plates. On one wall is a poster of Ronald Reagan as Adolf Hitler.
"I waited for Zappa in a wood-paneled room on a comfortable old couch opposite a redbrick fireplace. When Frank came in, he attempted to sit comfortably in a large purple leather chair. But comfort was impossible - Zappa explained that the pain had invaded his lower back.
"The interview was interrupted briefly by assistants bringing coffee or Frank's dinner, a bagel and cream cheese. Gail sleepily stopped in to say hello; she was exhausted after an all-night flight from Tokyo, where she had gone with Diva and Moon Unit to see Dweezil play guitar with a Japanese pop star. Later, Diva came in, flopped on her dad's lap and gave him a big kiss, telling him how much she had missed him.
"Zappa, with his trademark mustache and sideburns, chain-smoked while he spoke with unmistakable passion, and urgency, about his music, his politics, his family and his illness. Occasionally, pain overcame him and he stopped speaking. I asked if he wanted to take a break and resume later. degrees No,' he said, degrees let's keep going.'
"We finished after seven straight hours and as we wound up, I fell both inspired and deeply saddened. I thanked him and told him it was a good interview. He said, degrees As long as it goes beyond the fringe.'"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Saarbrucken 1978

Saarbrucken 1978
An amazing album, this is the best bootleg around. There was magic that night, and the band was just on FIRE. The Nanook suite is absolutely stunning, with more energy, virtuoso playing, and humor than FZ's ever managed before or since. "Magic Fingers" gets elevated from standard Zappa jazz-rocker to a tear-the-roof-off masterpiece with an unforgettable riff. At least half a dozen others are just as good; on another note, playing this would be the perfect way to get someone into 70's Zappa.

Sound quality is excellent for a boot; sure, there are no illusions that this is the studio, but it IS a soundboard recording, and that shows up in the good mix (everything's audible and pretty balanced).

As live Zappa goes, this is definitely in the top tier and one of the first few I'd buy, along with (as your taste in Zappa's various periods runs) Bongo Fury, Make a Jazz Noise Here, and maybe Tinseltown Rebellion.

Captain Beefheart-Lick my decals off baby

Lick My decals off baby
Coming off of the liberating heels of 1970's "Trout Mask Replica", Don Van Vliet first changed the name of his band from "His Magic Band" to "The Magic Band" and proceeded to record another tight, vigorous, arrhythmic sonic landscape. Though this album doesn't have quite the free form feeling of its precedessor (which included tape recorder chants, false starts, off microphone chatter, and lots of interesting other random tidbits), it stretches the boundaries of rock music in much the same manner. "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" includes 15 autonomous and amazingly crafted songs. Almost as if someone took the "Trout Mask" sessions, applied a razor to the inbetweens and said "THERE! Those are the songs! Now stop it with all that other nonsense!" In this way "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" sounds like an "organized" and only slightly less spontaneous "Trout Mask". This more structured arrangement may have emerged from Van Vliet's alleged desire to actually start making money from The Magic Band. Apparently the previous drummer left after "Trout Mask" and was lured back by a promise of potential cash. In some ways Van Vliet succeeded. The album climbed to number 20 on the UK charts.

Regardless of its commercial status, this album remains one of the band's true masterpieces. The angular and staccato rhythms of "Trout Mask" clank and crunge here with an equal intensity. The title track finds Van Vliet squacking fervently about removing the labels that society affixes to us distracted folk. Apparently many in the early 1970s read the title saliciously (and lines such as "She stuck out her tongue 'n the fun begun" probably didn't help). But some claim that an executive dubbed the title "obscene" just to avoid having to play the album's surreal promotional film (the original of which now belongs to a museum) on the air. "Woe-is-uh-Me-Bop" provides one of the best examples of Van Vliet's fusion of free jazz and blues. The hilarious world play in "I Wanna Find a Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go" approaches a psychic toungue-twisting level. And "The Smithsonian Institute Blues" continues Van Vliet's theme of humanity's impending downfall - unless we change our ways: "The new dinosaur is walkin' in the old one's shoes" and "All you new dinosaurs / Now it's up t'you t'choose / 'fore your feet hit the tar, you better kick off them old shoes". "The Clouds Are Full of Wine" features Van Vliet's vocals floating rather pleasantly over a layer of cacophony like a bird soaring over a bomb site. And "Flash Gordon's Ape" pulls out all of the stops. A literal typhoon of sound rises up and mercilessly attacks. Somehow it still manages to hold together as a song, incredible as that seems. It definitely leaves an impression at the album's closing.

"Lick My Decals Off, Baby" marks the end of The Magic Band's early extrusions into the avant garde. Beefheart's next four albums gradually toned down his trademark cacophony and angularity. Some fans even accused him of "going commercial". Not until 1978's "Shiny Beast" did Beefheart once again begin to re-explore the musical terrain he left behind here. Why the shift occurred remains open to speculation. And Van Vliet continued to give vague cryptic answers as to why. Regardless, he left behind a string of masterpieces upon his "retirement" in 1982. "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" remains one of them.

Lastly, at the time of the writing this album still langours unjustly with an "out of print" status. Non-bootlegged fresh copies thus fetch treasure trove prices. Which is too bad for those who want to hear this masterwork. Hopefully someone will take a brave stand and make this incredible work readily available again.