Great Rock Albums of 1986: Frank Zappa- Does Humor Belong In Music?


By 1986, video recordings of concerts to own were becoming a thing. So, when I finally got a VCR and saw that a video of Frank Zappa playing live was for sale, I bought it. Then I discovered that there was an album for the concert available on CD, although there were bootleg editions of it on vinyl. Now normally, if I have something on one form of media, I don’t buy the other because I think, “What’s the point of having two items with exactly the same songs on it?” However, there are songs that are on the video which don’t appear on the album and vice versa.

My minor complaint about the album was that some of the songs that don’t appear on it from the video are some of my favourites. “Bobby Brown,” definitely in my top five of favourite Zappa tunes, “Be In My Video” and “Honey Don’t You Want a Man Like Me” from the live “Zappa in New York” album are on the video but not the album. But that doesn’t stop me from liking the album because the songs which replace them are pretty cool too.

Both medias start with the instrumental, “Zoot Allures” and explode into another Zappa favourite of mine, “Tinseltown Rebellion.” What’s good is that they even keep the little extras from the song from the video in the album version. “Trouble Every Day” is also on both and I forgot how Frank wails on the guitar on that track. “Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel” also appears on both but only fragments of the song are on the video so, it’s probably a good idea to have the album for the full version of that. What’s best about both is that they close with a cover of an Allman Brothers song, “Whipping Post.” Keyboards player Bobby Martin delivers the vocals on it and man, what a great musician he is. Not just on “Whipping Post” but on the entire album. How he doesn’t get mentioned in musical circles is beyond me. There is one difference between album and video on the song. Frank nails the guitar solo on the video but the album version has son Dweezil wailing away on the guitar and I learned then that he could play like his father.

As mentioned, the songs which are on the album are very good, very Frank Zappa. “Penguin in Bondage,” “What’s New in Baltimore” and my choice for hidden gem because the title gives me childish amusement, “Cock-Suckers Ball,” are all great Zappa tunes. The album version also gives you a second instrumental, the sixteen minute long “Let’s Move to Cleveland.” Like with Zappa instrumentals, the musicianship is so complex, there is a drum solo from Chris Wackerman and keyboards solo from Alan Zavod, that you don’t realize the song is that long. These songs make the album version worth getting.

Track Listing:

  1. Zoot Allures
  2. Tinseltown Rebellion
  3. Trouble Every Day
  4. Penguin in Bondage
  5. Hot Plate Heaven at the Green Hotel
  6. What’s New in Baltimore
  7. Cock-Suckers Ball
  8. WPLJ
  9. Let’s Move to Cleveland
  10. Whipping Post

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa- lead guitar, vocals

Ray White- rhythm guitar, vocals

Ike Willis- rhythm guitar, vocals

Bobby Martin- keyboards, saxophone, french horn, lead vocal on “Whipping Post”

Alan Zavod- keyboards

Scott Thunes- bass

Chris Wackerman- drums

Dweezil Zappa- lead guitar on “Whipping Post”

While I prefer the video only because it has some of my favourite Zappa tunes, the album version of “Does Humor Belong in Music?” is exceptional too. Frank was always a perfectionist and it shows very clearly on both.

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8 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Frank Zappa- Does Humor Belong In Music?”

  1. I don’t know any Frank Z music, but I definitely believe humour can have a place in music. Some of my favourite songs are tongue in cheek satirical pokes at the world. Why does everything have to be so serious all the time?

    Liked by 1 person

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