The Wide Screen Erupts [Cut 2][*][Take] - Frank Zappa,
Coming Soon! [Cut 3][*][Take] - Frank Zappa,
Magic Fingers [Single Edit][*]
Searching for this missing piece of the Frank Zappa catalog helped Rykodisc secure the rights to the United Artists and post-1985 MGM film libraries. But 200 Motels also serves as a good introduction to the late rock icon/... more »avant-garde composer's absurd view of his world; i.e., the pop music business. Essentially a filmed dadaist opera (the bulk of the music is performed live as the video cameras rolled, 200 Motels incorporates sporadic patches of Mothers of Inventions rock into the atonal, largely European, musical framework that Zappa was clearly more interested in. He shrewdly used contemporary pop merely as a marketing shill for the complex, often difficult, music that drove him. (For a taste of the film's uniquely skewed artistic sense, Ryko has included the original 200 Motels theatrical trailer as part of this set's enhanced-CD bonus material). As always, the Zappa of 200 Motels sometimes confuses the profound with the obscene, but with every passing year, he seems more likely to take his place alongside the great American modernist Charles Ives, another composer whose work was every bit as commercially troubled and artistically misunderstood. --Jerry McCulley« less
Searching for this missing piece of the Frank Zappa catalog helped Rykodisc secure the rights to the United Artists and post-1985 MGM film libraries. But 200 Motels also serves as a good introduction to the late rock icon/avant-garde composer's absurd view of his world; i.e., the pop music business. Essentially a filmed dadaist opera (the bulk of the music is performed live as the video cameras rolled, 200 Motels incorporates sporadic patches of Mothers of Inventions rock into the atonal, largely European, musical framework that Zappa was clearly more interested in. He shrewdly used contemporary pop merely as a marketing shill for the complex, often difficult, music that drove him. (For a taste of the film's uniquely skewed artistic sense, Ryko has included the original 200 Motels theatrical trailer as part of this set's enhanced-CD bonus material). As always, the Zappa of 200 Motels sometimes confuses the profound with the obscene, but with every passing year, he seems more likely to take his place alongside the great American modernist Charles Ives, another composer whose work was every bit as commercially troubled and artistically misunderstood. --Jerry McCulley
""The wide-screen erupts with absurdities! Explodes with spine-tingling psychological terror! The mere human mind boggles at the philosophical implications, as Frank Zappa's 200 Motels is unleashed in the totality of it's Pagan splendor! Its primordial fury! Star-studded cast! And everything..."After a long battle with the defunct MGM, Rykodisc finally obtained the Holy Grail of Zappa, 200 Motels. They lost money in the deal, apparently, but they dutifully released this mammoth classic on CD for a new generation of fans before it promptly went out of print. You're probably thinking: "Great, another Zappa album. I already own [insert absurd number] FZ albums, why should I shell out 30+ bucks for this out-of-print double album?" Well, I'll tell you why you should.200 Motels is the center piece of the Flo & Eddie era -- in fact, the raison d'etre for the band. Its not surprising, then, that this era is looked down upon, since this masterwork has had such a troubled past. The people at Rykodisc are absolute saints for ressurrecting this lost opus from the eternal dust bin of recordome. Obtaining this album means getting the skeleton key for a whole era of Zappa's music. Afterall, Chunga's Revenge and the Fillmore album were pretty much made from scraps of 200 Motels. In short: this album is essential to any Zappa collection.The album is a mixture of avant-garde classical, operreta, and rockin' teenage combo. As usual, Zappa performs a miracle by blending these elements seamlessly. The first disc starts off with a SEMI-FRAUDULENT/DIRECT FROM HOLLYWOOD OVERTURE (an orchestral version of "Holiday in Berlin") before launching into the raucous madness of MYSTERY ROACH. The 11 minute Tuna-Fish interlude that follows is a surreal glance at the Mothers arriving in a town, where interviewers and "ordinary" folk dance around to the tune of Zappa's classical pieces, while Flo and Eddie sing about the tuna-fish town. Don't ask.Jimmie Carl Black breaks the spell, as the Mothers run into his film-persona, the denizen of the town LONESOME COWBOY BURT. This song, as hilarious as it is awful, is of course a Zappa classic. This version, with JCB's incomparable vocals, is the best, before slipping into another atonal interlude, and WOULD YOU LIKE A SNACK? (Holiday in Berlin with the lyrics!). REDNECK EATS is a bizarre band/orchestra avante garde composition, so-titled because it ends with the befuddled Cowboy Burt saying: "Hey, Twerp! Play me something I kin enjoy!" The suite that follows is the "Shove it Right In" suite as it appears on YCDToSA6, intermingled with atonal pieces like "Mysterioso" -- a beautiful piece of dissonance that reminds me (or maybe its mocking...) Penderecki. Chamber theatre, LUCY'S SEDUCTION OF A BORED VIOLINIST & POSTLUDE is a brilliant finish.The second disc, however, is where the real action is. The first three tracks are sort of a (Brilliant!) cartoon suite, accompanied by a rather excited orchestra. Jeff Simmons, the bassist, becomes intoxicated by inscents and rancid towels ("the same extoic scent as what the Beatles get off on!") and is tormented by his conscience as he decides whether or not to leave Zappa's "comedy group" and make it big on his own. (For audio documentary on this real-life event, see the Playground Psychotics album). This slips into some criminally catchy Flo & Eddie numbers, like DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, and the vocal assault of WHAT WILL THIS EVENING BRING ME THIS MORNING (with a great introductory track -- see listing above), followed by the "Tell-Me You Love Me" styled rocker, the hit single with a Bullet, MAGIC FINGERS. These were originally part of the groupie routine.The film, and music, slips into madness here. What follows is 6 minutes of brilliant operetta, about Motorhead's ranch, Newts, and Dog Breath Broth. MOTORHEAD'S RANCH, one of my favorite songs on the album, sounds like something found on a Charles Ives record. The grand finale, STRICTLY GENTILE, may not be as beautiful here as it is on the LSO album, but with the lyrics and the mad blues-rock ending, it ties the album together perfectly.This album has given me a new perspective on the Flo & Eddie era. Painstackingly packaged by Rykodisc, with a poster, a huge detailed booklet, and an Enhanced CD with the trailer of the film, this is worth every penny you pay for it. The bonus tracks are actually appreciated (unlike the penalty tracks on Uncle Meat). About 2 1/2 minutes of hilarious radio spots for the film, and the single version of MAGIC FINGERS.The one sticking point is the sound quality. Apparently the master tapes were never handled very well, and despite the noble efforts of Ryko's remastering, the sound is still slightly stale (I've heard the vinyl is ten times worse). Still, considering that the sound on the Fillmore album isn't spectacular either, this shouldn't prevent anyone from enjoying this masterpiece.Get it while you can. You won't be disappointed."
A Lost Treasure Rediscovered
Mark Brumfield | St. Louis MO USA | 11/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has been many years since Zappa was my main musical passion. Time went by and I developed other musical interests but Zappa's music still found its way onto my stereo from time to time. Due to various circumstances I lost my vinyl collection among which "200 Motels" was one of my prized possesions. I had despaired of ever finding it on CD until most recently when I went online. Wonder od wonders there were actually copies available and I lost no time in securing a used CD copy of this long sought after musical memory.
My memory served me well and I was not disappointed.
From the opening notes of the Overture to the brilliant "Strictly Genteel" I was transported to a place where I re-discovered just what an immense pleasure and revelation listening to Frank Zappa's music was.
The orchestral pieces are still a treat and surprise even after some years of being exposed to Ives, Stockhausen and other modern masters. The rock and more conventional pieces still hold up to the high standards of what ardent Zappaphiles have grown to expect. Listening to "Strictly Genteel" is still an uplifting experience and "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" and "Penis Dimension" are still some of the funniest things that Zappa has ever recorded.
All in all a most pleasant journey back to a time when I was still cutting my musical teeth. This is a must-have for any devoted Zappa fan and a good introduction to the unconverted who still think of Zappa in terms of "Valley Girl" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"."
Dan Swan | Lincoln City, Oregon United States | 02/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of the more than 60 releases by Frank Zappa; none encompass the total breadth and scope of this twentith century master. That said; 200 motels (and "Lather") comes as close as any. There's the complex yet lyrical classical work. The satirical comedy. The raw outlandish rock and roll, and his dissonant percussive madness. Even the rare appearance of opera can be found in this brilliant master work. If you want to completely immerse yourself into the world of Frank Zappa; you will find it on 200 Motels. Sex, touring, rednecks, groupies, middle america, dental hygiene, and YES, even the size of YOUR organ, are covered in this irreverent and beautiful work. The disc contains all the original artwork; as well as the original movie poster. The booklet also features some added insight into the making of the movie, and the music. Rykodisc has done an impeccable job restoring the original material here, and included Cal Schenkel (the original artist) in the re-packaging process. As an added bonus; the disc contains an enhanced CD track with the original theatrical trailor. This; the last of the original titles to be re-released; 200 motels proves once again; the genius that was Frank Zappa. If you only buy one Zappa disc, make it 200 Motels. Frank Zappa was a true american original, and 200 Motels is a MASTERPIECE!"
Frank Zappa - '200 Motels' (Rykodisc)
Mike Reed | USA | 12/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 2-CD box set has to be the first Zappa release I've had in YEARS.I remember when this movie and lp first came out.Several Zappa fans told me as to how it was an obscure look at the world and it's funky people through Zappa's eyes.The most memorable tunes are "Lonesome Cowboy Burt",the kick-ass "She Painted Up Her Face","Half A Dozen Provocative Squats","Shove It Right In" and the finale "Strictly Genteel".I could maybe do another review of '200 Motels' six months down the line and come up with something totally different.The REALLY odd sounding tracks are "Does This Kind Of Life","Daddy,Daddy,Daddy" and "A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes".There's also five different versions of the movie's trailer,a poster and a 56-page booklet of photos with inside info along with a complete Zappa back catalog listing.If you're a true Zappa fan,you'll flip over this title."
This album is a sealed tuna sandwich (in a good way!)
Craig Wilkinson | Houston, Texas | 12/19/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember when I finally found this album after a couple of years of searching. It was in the early 80's, and 200 Motels had already been out of print for a long while. The album was more of a legend, like Bigfoot or the Lochness Monster to me then, but I knew it actually existed so I pressed on. When I saw it hanging on a used record store wall it was like I'd found the Holy Grail! I bought it for $60 which was a lot of money for this college student at the time, but I would have paid twice that. Nothing I'd heard or read about 200 Motels quite prepared me for that first listen. I had to try to keep my jaw from constantly dropping open. The combination of Anton Webern meets Fillmore East still blows me away. This album is experimental even for Frank, so I can't really recommend this for the uninitiated. It might scare you away from one of the musical geniuses of our time. But for Zappa fanatics, this is an important and previously rare piece of the conceptual continuity."