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The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (Live)

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Album Review

This two-CD set is the second of three albums of material Frank Zappa compiled from the 1988 tour. While Broadway the Hard Way (released in 1988) mostly presented the new songs performed during that tour, this set focuses on older songs (Make a Jazz Noise Here would contain mostly instrumental pieces). This is the best band you never heard in your life because the 12-piece group disintegrated after only four months of touring through the U.S. East Coast and Europe. These shows took place during the Jimmy Swaggart scandal, when the televangelist was caught with a prostitute. Thus, many of the songs' lyrics were rewritten to refer to this situation (the whole 1988 tour was strongly anti-preacher oriented). There are a lot of strong performances of old favorites and obscurities, all rearranged to include the horn section, and a few improbable covers. Highlights include Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" (hilarious), the unexpected "Who Needs the Peace Corps?," "Mr. Green Genes," and "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue," and an extended rendition of "The Torture Never Stops" that includes the theme from the TV show Bonanza and a Swaggart version of "Lonesome Cowboy Burt." To top it all off, the group performs a very entertaining reggae version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." This band was incredibly talented and professional, and the selection of songs spans Zappa's entire career. In short, this is one of the man's best live albums. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Customer Reviews

No, really, the best band ever.

Taken from sound checks and live performances of the '88/'89 tour, this really is the best touring big band performance likely ever. The musicianship is just off the charts and demonstrates Zappa's incredibly composition abilities and band leader skills (though the band did implode halfway through the tour).

Not enough can be said...

...about how great this man was a composing, playing, performing, and leading a group of great musicians to play wonderful music. Saw him at a Chrismas show in NYC in late 70s. Wish I could have made it to more shows.
We miss you Frank.

It really is...

This was the second offering of Frank's 1988 touring band. (The others being Make A Jazz Noise Here and Broadway The Hardway.)
This 28 song two CD set features more on Franks older stuff with vocals and some covers versions ("Purple Haze", "Sunshine Of Your Love", "Bolero", "Stairway To Heaven", and "Ring Of Fire.")

Once again it showcases what a crack touring outfit the '88 band was. Played demanding compositions and arrangements with the beauty and ease of the true talented musicians they were.

If you did not get a chance to see this band live, you owe it to yourself to get all three of these CD's but especially this and Make A Jazz Noise Here.
Pure delight and genius from start to finish.


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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