Labels We Love – Bizarre

Frank Zappa – Chunga’s Revenge – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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Chunga’s Revenge

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Bizarre Blue Label LP plays about as quietly as they ever do. Zappa in this period provides a musical wild ride on record like no other artist of his day. For those of you who appreciate his music this album is guaranteed to provide plenty of entertainment and will surely reward repeated plays. I listened to it hundreds of times in my high school days; to this day it holds a special place in my collection.

Like many Zappa records from the period, especially the two releases that immediately preceded this one, Weasils and Burnt Weeny, the sound is all over the place. The most you can hope for is that the best sounding tracks sound right, and here they definitely do. Play Twenty Small Cigars on side one, or The Clap on side two to hear that there is good sound on both sides. (more…)

Frank Zappa – Weasels Ripped My Flesh

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Weasels Ripped My Flesh

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  • This lively Zappa pressing boasts two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides – one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout!  
  • All Analog Tubey Magical sound from 1970, with a spacious, three-dimensional soundstage and a big bottom end
  • Clear, high-rez sound, crucial to making sense of this complex music – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • “Zappa’s anything-goes approach and the distance between his extremes are what make Weasels Ripped My Flesh ultimately invigorating.”

The sound is big and bold throughout with excellent clarity, presence, and wonderful transparency.

If you’re not already a Zappa fan, be warned that experimental song structures, feedback, dirty lyrics, avant-garde jazz freakouts and gas mask solos (yes, you read that right) all figure into the mix here. I don’t know of anyone other than Frank Zappa who could shape that all into one amazing, fairly cohesive LP. (more…)

Frank Zappa – Apostrophe (‘)

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  • An outstanding copy, earning seriously good grades of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is super big and full-bodied with super present vocals, a big bottom end, and lots of energy/li>
  • Guaranteed to beat your old copy and the recent reissue or your money back (of course)
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic and Zappa’s only album to crack the Top Ten

An excellent copy of Zappa’s legendary Apostrophe, one of his most commercially successful albums and, more importantly to folks like us, one of his best sounding. We’ve been picking up this album for years in the hope that we could find one with the kind of sound we’ve been hearing on the best copies of Waka/Jawaka and Hot Rats, but it took us until 2015 to get one up on the site.

Why is that? Well for starters, this is the only Zappa album to ever hit the Top Ten. More copies pressed equals more mediocre copies pressed, and most of them we’ve picked up over the years certainly have qualified for that designation.

The best copies really delivered, with superb clarity and transparency that were missing from most of the pressings we’ve played. The sound is bigger, richer and smoother than we’ve come to expect for this album. The bottom end is strong and there’s lots of space and separation between the various parts.

One of Zappa’s last good studio albums in our opinion, with great songs like Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, Uncle Remus and the title track. (more…)

Frank Zappa’s The Grand Wazoo Is Crazy Tubey Magical

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  • KILLER sound from start to finish: Triple Plus on side two, nearly that good (A++ to A+++) on side one 
  • DEMO DISC QUALITY – full-bodied, rich, spacious, BIG and PRESENT, with practically zero smear on the horns (nice!
  • The Tubey Magical keyboards found on the title cut are really something to hear, especially on this copy
  • The Grand Wazoo now gets my vote as the best sounding record Zappa ever made (along with Absolutely Free)

Wow – big, present and clear, with lots of lovely studio space, yet full-bodied. These sides about as right as any we’ve ever heard.

As noted above, the Tubey Magical keyboards at the start of The Grand Wazoo are amazing sounding here. How Zappa ever decided to go digital when he managed to record so well in analog (from time to time, let’s be honest) is beyond me. (more…)

Frank Zappa – Cruising With Ruben & The Jets

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  • An excellent copy with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or better
  • Both sides here are killing it — big, full and solid with a big bottom end and tons of energy 
  • It’s a classic of twisted Doo-Wop that belongs in your collection. At least we think you should give it a chance anyway; hearing it sound this good might just make a believer out of you
  • The new CD – with its modernized sound and wrong-headed re-recorded rhythm tracks – is a bad joke next to the top early pressings

Is the thought bubble on the cover the real story behind the album?

Is this the Mothers of Invention recording under a different name in a last ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?

This was one of the best copies we heard in our most recent shootout, our first since 2013! At this rate you should expect the next top copies to show up on the site sometime in 2021, a thought that should give everyone (including us) pause to say the least. (more…)

The Grand Wazoo and Its Prodigious Amounts of Tubey Magic

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More The Grand Wazoo

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  • KILLER sound from start to finish: Triple Plus on side two, nearly that good (A++ to A+++) on side one 
  • DEMO DISC QUALITY – full-bodied, rich, spacious, BIG and PRESENT, with practically zero smear on the horns (nice!
  • The Tubey Magical keyboards found on the title cut are really something to hear, especially on this copy
  • The Grand Wazoo now gets my vote as the best sounding record Zappa ever made (along with Absolutely Free)

Wow – big, present and clear, with lots of lovely studio space, yet full-bodied. These sides about as right as any we’ve ever heard.

As noted above, the Tubey Magical keyboards at the start of The Grand Wazoo are amazing sounding here. How Zappa ever decided to go digital when he managed to record so well in analog (from time to time, let’s be honest) is beyond me. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Frank’s Hot Rats

Hot Stamper Pressings in Stock

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series., now 85 strong!

Side One

Peaches En Regalia

This track tends to be a bit dull and could use a little sweetening on the top end on almost any copy you find. 1 or 2 dB at 10k might just be what the doctor ordered.

Willie the Pimp (more…)

Frank Zappa’s Big Band Jazz Fusion Masterpiece

Waka/Jawaka

 

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  • This copy is an absolute KNOCKOUT, with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • A Top 100 Title, and deservedly so: the sound is HUGE – big, rich, punchy, lively and clear
  • The size and power of a big band, Zappa style, with White Hot Stamper sound? There is (almost*) nothing like it
  • Rolling Stone raved that it’s “…some of the best material he’s done in years.”

(*Other than The Grand Wazoo, which can have sound every bit as good but is not the equal of Waka/Jawaka musically.)

What an incredible album. I know of no other music like it in the world. It’s not big band, it’s not rock, it’s not jazz, it’s a unique amalgamation of all three with an overlay of some of Zappa’s idiosyncratic compositional predilections (say that three times fast) thrown in for good measure.

In our opinion it’s nothing less than Zappa’s MASTERPIECE, the summation of his talents, and a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophile’s collection. (We say that about a lot of records audiophiles don’t know well, but we’ve been doing it for most of our 27 [32 as of 2019] years in this business and don’t see much reason to stop now.) (more…)