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3CD deluxe 40th anniversary edition of 1979’s Orchestral Favorites, featuring the original album remastered from the master tapes, a recording of a previously unreleased two hour concert, extensive liner notes, and new artwork.
When Frank Zappa’s Orchestral Favorites was eventually released in 1979 as part of fulfilling his contract with his former label, the album was dumped into the world along with several other titles without the legendary musician’s permission or quality control. It did not include liner notes or credits and the artwork and audio wasn’t approved by Zappa who publicly criticized it as not being up to his standards. As a result of not receiving any promotion, it was quickly relegated to the bargain bin shortly after its release.
Four decades later, in celebration of the long-beleaguered album’s 40th anniversary, the Zappa Family Trust is righting this wrong and presenting Orchestral Favorites with the audiophile detail and respect it deserves to commemorate the historical event that took place at UCLA’s Royce Hall in September 1975 where the compositions were recorded.
Produced by Ahmet Zappa and Joe Travers. After extensive searches in the Vault, the elusive master tone reel, the essential component that contains the alignment tones that help set up the playback of the master tapes that Zappa reportedly did not provide when he turned in the album, was found, allowing the Zappa Family Trust to present the audio as originally intended. Coupled with new hi-res transfers from the original tapes and mastering by Bob Ludwig, the music sounds the best it ever has.
In September 1975, in between trying out new band members and preparing for tour, Zappa scheduled an event at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Using his own budget with funds from the surprise hit single “
Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, he hired a roughly 37-piece orchestra with the intention to hear his orchestral music played. As Travers details in the liner notes, “Frank supervised everything, hired sound and lights, mixed the front of house sound at times, conducted the orchestra on occasion, and played guitar with them. The program repertoire consisted of complex and challenging music that originates from all time frames of FZ’s career. Older themes that predate the original Mothers Of Invention, to brand new pieces hot off the pen, mixed in with some good ol’ FZ directed improvisation.”
The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Michael Zearott and made up of various live and studio musicians, most of which who had previously worked with Zappa on one of his many projects. They were assembled with the help of Mike Altschul and Earle Dumler who played on The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka albums. Other familiar names included: Bruce Fowler, Dave Parlato, Ian Underwood, Malcom McNab and Terry Bozzio. Zappa and the orchestra rehearsed for several days, had an afternoon recording session and performed two shows in two nights.
The original album was derived from recording sessions in the afternoon without an audience which was then meticulously edited together by Zappa using a razorblade. Highlights from the record include Strictly Genteel, part of the finale piece from 200 Motels, the new composition Pedro’s Dowry, a song Zappa wrote instead of going on vacation and famously exclaimed upon completion, “That’s the best vacation I ever went on,” and the first appearance of the megacomposition Bogus Pomp. The bonus content on the deluxe edition is filled with nearly two hours of previously unreleased material and contains the entire evening performance from September 18, 1975 complete with Zappa’s song introductions and stories. Some of the many standouts include an off-the-cuff version of the classic Black Napkins, an on-the-fly attempt of The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, and the kind of exciting improvisations that became one of Zappa’s trademarks.
Zappa re-worked Orchestral Favorites for CD in 1991 and it has subsequently been reissued several times after his death but with the new master finally matched to the project tone reel, this is the first time the album has ever been presented how the late, great artist intended. Sounding better than it ever has, fans can enjoy this special and historical event in Zappa history in a new way, with the Royce Hall performances sounding as fresh as they did 44 years ago.
Disc 1 - Original Album
1. Strictly Genteel
2. Pedro’s Dowry
3. Naval Aviation In Art?
4. Duke Of Prunes
5. Bogus Pomp
6. Strictly Genteel (Keyboard OD Version)
Disc 2 – Performance From September 18, 1975
1. Show Star/Bogus Pomp Explained
2. Bogus Pomp
3. Revised Music For Low-Budge Symphony Orchestra
4. The Story Of Pedro’s Dowry
5. Pedro’s Dowry
6. The Story Of Rollo
Disc 2 – Performance From September 18, 1975 (continued)
1. Black Napkins Instructions
2. Black Napkins
4. The Players
5. Naval Aviation In Art?
6. “Another Weirdo Number”
7. Lumpy Gravy (Extract)/Improvisation
8. Evening At The Hermitage
9. “A Special Guest Artist”
10. Duke Of Prunes
11. “Absolutely Disgusting”
12. The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary
13. Strictly Genteel