Search - Frank Zappa :: London Symphony Orchestra, Vols. I &II

London Symphony Orchestra, Vols. I &II
Frank Zappa
London Symphony Orchestra, Vols. I &II
Genres: Alternative Rock, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #2

Japanese reissue of 1995 album, packaged in 2 miniature LP sleeves. Videoarts. 2002.


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CD Details

All Artists: Frank Zappa
Title: London Symphony Orchestra, Vols. I &II
Members Wishing: 7
Total Copies: 0
Label: Zappa Records
Release Date: 4/18/1995
Album Type: Original recording remastered, Live
Genres: Alternative Rock, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Progressive, Progressive Rock, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 014431054020


Album Description
Japanese reissue of 1995 album, packaged in 2 miniature LP sleeves. Videoarts. 2002.

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CD Reviews

D. Jack Elliot | Omaha, Nebraska | 10/03/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"First I should offer the disclaimer that I am not a Frank Zappa fan (though I do have Joe's Garage, and I really like it). Most of the people who buy this album will be fans, so it's important to recognize that I don't have an insider's perspective here. So, with that said...

These compositions demonstrate a considerable compositional virtuosity. Zappa had real skill. He combines the coloristic approach of his major classical music influence, Edgard Varese, with a rhythmic vitality and momentum that I would call Stravinskian if it were coming from anyone else; in Zappa's case, it probably comes more from his interest in rock music. Zappa has a good range and a lot to say... this is captivating, interesting music.

But it's also entirely free-form, freely atonal and dissonant (except for the aptly-named Strictly Genteel, which uses an extended tertian, dance-band sort of vocabulary harmonically), and not easy to follow. This is not a failure on Zappa's part, it's what he intended (why else would Pierre Boulez have been interested in his work?). Zappa's ethos here is aggressively Modernist; accordingly, the music is deliberately confusing and difficult to comprehend at the first hearing.

John Cage wrote an essay entitled, "Who Cares if You Listen?" Milton Babbit flatly dismissed audience comprehension as even a minor priority of the modern composer, and said, "I'm not running a restaurant here." It may also have been Babbit who asserted that modern composers must necessarily go as far over the head of the average person as modern physicists, or theoretical mathematicians.

Zappa doesn't take things quite to those extremes, but still, all of that is representative of his aesthetic ethos. So especially if you aren't a fan, this sort of music is difficult for most people to enjoy."
Frank Zappa ,London Symphony Orchestra
D. Carroll | New South Wales Australia | 11/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a must have for Frank Zappa fans.His style shows through the complex arrangments that were done on a tight schedule with very little rehersal.It must have been a challenge for the LSO.This recording is different from what most people think of as Zappa's music,a great work from a legend.Music is the best."
The most underrated of Zappa's orchestral albums....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 10/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I recently upgraded this album to CD, and I like it a lot more than I did when I first bought it. Zappa himself had mixed feelings about it, calling it "high class demos of what actually resides in the scores" (from The Real Frank Zappa Book), but I think it's very good, and it's the most underrated of Zappa's orchestral recordings. It was originally released on 2 vinyl albums, one in 1983, and one in 1987 (even though both were recorded in 1983, more on that later). I remember reading a review of Vol. 1 of this album by Stereo Review's Mark Peel. I liked the fact that a rock star was doing orchestra work (Peel's review was mixed and had some factual errors. He called Zappa's orchestral work "funny and scary, but it has absolutely no warmth", which was wrong, and he also said the material from Vol. 1 had appeared elsewhere, in works like 200 Motels. For the record, NONE of the material from the first volume appeared originally from 200 Motels). I like the CD configuration better. It's sequenced differently than the original vinyl releases, compositions like Sad Jane and Bob in Dacron are split into their respective movements (on the vinyl release, they were released as one continuous track) and it's been remixed and sounds a lot better. It's still a little flat, resulting mainly from where they recorded it. Zappa said the orchestral hall they recorded at had "completely dead acoustics", and you can hear it here.

The first composition, Bob in Dacron, is very good and is actually funny (despite no narration or vocals). Sad Jane is one of the more beautiful pieces here, showing some warmth and depth. It's quite gentle at times, and shows Zappa did have some heart, so to speak. Mo and Herb's Vacation is a great epic, scary, funny, strange, and moving all at the same time. Envelopes is haunting and sad, and the LSO version is far superior to the rock version on Ship Arriving... Pedro's Dowry (which first appeared on Orchestral Favorites) is better here. It's longer, and there's a really good violin solo in the middle. Bogus Pomp is twice as long as the original version (the original was on Orchestral Favorites), adding more pomp to it.

The only real bad composition here is Strictly Genteel. It was recorded on the last hour of the last session of the last day, and the LSO does a very sloppy version of it. The trumpet section decided to go on a bit of a drinking binge before the recording, and they arrived 15 minutes late. Since it was the final night, there was no way Zappa could afford to pay the LSO overtime (Zappa funded this project out of his own money). So they recorded it anyway, and it has tons of out of tune notes. This is why there is a 4 year interim between the 2 original vinyl releases. Frank sat on the 2nd volume for 4 years, hoping that technology would allow him to hide the shoddy playing, but technology only allowed him a little tweaking, so he released the material anyway. It's really off key. If you want a good version of Strictly Genteel, buy 200 Motels or Orchestral Favorites. I prefer the instrumental version on Orchestral Favorites myself.

The LSO album is a very good album. It's not as good as The Yellow Shark (Zappa's greatest orchestral album), but it's still a lot better than its reputation suggests."