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Zappa: London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I & II

Frank Zappa & London Symphony Orchestra

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Album Review

When Frank Zappa teamed up with renowned conductor Kent Nagano and the London Symphony Orchestra for three days in January 1983, he was expecting to walk away with a set of stellar performances of some of his most challenging contemporary classical pieces, as done by one of the world's top symphonic ensembles. What he got instead were bad attitudes, terrible work habits, unforgiving union stipulations and a hard lesson in preconceived notions — showing him that working with unschooled but enthusiastic rock musicians also had its advantages, and giving rise to his well-documented love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with symphony orchestras thereafter. According to Zappa, the LSO crew were hardly expecting a hard day's toil from the works of a ‘rocker,' resulting in so many screw-ups that much of the material had to be heavily edited after the fact in the studio. This 1995 edition combines the two London Symphony Orchestra volumes released on vinyl in the mid-80's into a single 2-CD set, even re-sequencing the material to reflect Frank Zappa's original, idealized performance order — all of it made possible by the wonders of compact disc technology. Therefore, for fans of Zappa's so called ‘serious' music (i.e. not rock-based), London Symphony Orchestra Vol. I & II offers both premier ("Sad Jane," "Bob in Dacron") and re-arranged compositions taken from his massive past oeuvre ("Pedro's Dowry," "Bogus Pomp"). Though not as fulfilling as 1993's fantastic The Yellow Shark, this set will still has plenty going for it in the eyes of committed fans.

Biography

Born: 21 December 1940 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Composer, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Frank Zappa was a singular musical figure during a performing and recording career that lasted from the 1960s to the '90s. His disparate influences included doo wop music and avant-garde classical music; although he led groups that could be called rock & roll bands for much of his career, he used them to create a hybrid style that bordered on jazz and complicated, modern serious music, sometimes inducing orchestras to play along. As if his music were...
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Zappa: London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I & II, Frank Zappa
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