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Album Review

First of all, it must be understood that Playground Psychotics is intended for fans only: fans of Frank Zappa, of course, but most of all fans of the Flo & Eddie era of the Mothers of Invention (1970-1971); fans of the man's comedy rock; fans of his obsession with "life on the road" and its chronicling; and, finally, fans of the movie 200 Motels. This two-CD set contains live material and dialogues among band members (recorded with or without their knowledge). The "anthropological field recordings" (as Zappa liked to call them) get most of the attention. Each disc begins with a collage of dressing room and hotel room tapes. Touring can make you crazy and Zappa has proof. The second disc also ends with a sequence titled "The True Story of 200 Motels," where excerpts from the video by the same title are interspersed with previously unavailable tape recordings, all pertaining to the script-reading sessions in preparation for the movie shooting. The live tracks have average sound but present some very good moments, including old Mothers songs of which no live version with this particular lineup (including the vocal prowess of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) was yet available; "Sleeping in a Jar" and "Mom and Dad" are highlights. An early version of "Wonderful Wino" and a complete alternate rendition of "Billy the Mountain" are also quite enjoyable. Disc one ends with the famous live session featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono, here released with a different mix than on Lennon's Sometime in New York City. Aficionados of this particular period will find most of this album amusing; others will get profoundly bored. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: December 21, 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 not...
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