Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart – Bongo Fury

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  • This classic Zappa & Beefheart album boasts STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • This pressing is head and shoulders above the pack, with the kind of big, punchy, full-bodied sound this music absolutely demands
  • Muffin Man is obviously the high point here – it’s one of my All-Time Favorite songs and never fails to bring a smile
  • “This is the last album to feature the highly technical jazz fusion of Mothers of Invention, whose roots can be traced back to 1973 circa Over-Nite Sensation.”

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl notwithstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


Both sides here are big, bold and lively with strong vocal presence and a big bottom end. Many copies have a tendency to get a bit gritty and grainy up top, but just listen to how smooth and sweet the cymbals sound here. Some of its other strengths are that it’s full-bodied, and tonally correct from top to bottom. The bass is meaty and punchy, and the top end is wonderfully extended. You can hear lots of ambience the cymbals and hi-hats. There’s really nothing between you and the music.

Some of this album is recorded live and some of it is studio material. The live tracks offer some of the best live Frank Zappa sound you will EVER hear.

The album is just plain wacky fun. You get the maximum entertainment value with this one. Muffin Man is obviously the high point — it’s one of my personal favorite Zappa tracks. This, in my opinion, is the last record Zappa made that’s any good.

What the best sides of Bongo Fury have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1975
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional recording space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

This vintage DiscReet pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are listening live to the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What We’re Listening For on Bongo Fury

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Debra Kadabra [live]
Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy [live]
Sam With the Showing Scalp Flat Top [live]
Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead [live]
200 Years Old

Side Two

Cucamonga
Advance Romance [live]
Man With the Woman Head [live]
Muffin Man [live]

AMG Review

Bongo Fury captures Captain Beefheart aka Don Van Vliet with Frank Zappa during their brief reunion for a series of shows in the spring of 1975. This album is a pastiche of both live performances — taken from two evenings at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, TX — and studio recordings that were almost a year-and-a-half old.

This is the last album to feature the highly technical jazz fusion of Mothers of Invention, whose roots can be traced back to 1973 circa Over-Nite Sensation. The live portions are highlighted by the latest addition to the band — frenetic percussionist extraordinaire Terry “Ted” Bozzio, who would stay with Zappa for a majority of the ’70s. Most Zappa enthusiasts either love or hate Bongo Fury. [We love it.]