[Review] Zappa/Mothers: Roxy & Elsewhere (1974)

A sensational selection of new songs recorded live on double elpee and featuring the funny and furiously fast Zappa we all love.

Kronomyth 18.0: Sex & Drugs & Roxy & Roll.

If you enjoyed Over-Nite Sensation and Apostrophe, that’s good; it means you’re not dead. It also means you’re going to enjoy Roxy & Elsewhere a whole lot. But isn’t this a live record, you ask, and don’t all live records secretly sort of suck it? Well, yeah, the ones that don’t have strippers, bubble machines, trombone solos, jaw-dropping xylophone monologues and molten lava guitar licks probably do. Fortunately, Roxy & Elsewhere has all that plus immaculate sound (the credits confess to overdubbing) and two elpees of great, new songs such as “Village of the Sun,” “Cheepnis” and “Son of Orange County.”

Where most live albums tend to paraphrase a specific period of time, Frank Zappa‘s live albums are the exclamation points to those periods: Fillmore East, Zappa In New York, Tinsel Town Rebellion. Roxy captures what’s best about the Over-Nite Sensation->One Size Fits All period of Zappa without regurgitating it and includes some of his best songs over a long and amazing career. Released as a double album, Roxy plays up the live format by beginning each side with a preamble from Frank plus the usual audience engagement. From there, you’ve got your tasteful sexual innuendo (“Penguin In Bondage”), social criticism (“More Trouble Every Day”), a Firesign Theatre full of strange voices and at least two bands’ worth of brilliant soloing.

Although the classical jazz phase was awesome (Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Hot Rats), the 1972-1975 albums managed to best wed Frank’s sense of humor, jazz-inspired genius and rock guitar chops, and in many ways they represent the quintessential Frank Zappa sound. If you were hoping for live versions of “Zomby Woof” or “Montana,” too bad; you’ll need to fast-forward to the Stage series to get your fix. Roxy is, rather, one of those live albums you shouldn’t try to live without because, truly, your world is probably at least one radioactive poodle song shy of perfection.

Original 2LP Version

A1. Preamble (1:24)
A2. Penguin In Bondage (5:24)
A3. Pygmy Twylyte (3:22)
A4. Dummy Up (Frank Zappa/Jeff Simmons/Napoleon Murphy Brock) (5:03)
B1. Preamble (0:54)
B2. Village of the Sun (3:24)
B3. Echidna’s Arf (of You) (3:54)
B4. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? (9:47)
C1. Preamble (2:10)
C2. Cheepnis (4:22)
C3. Son of Orange County (5:55)
C4. More Trouble Every Day (6:08)
D1. Preamble (1:25)
D2. Be-Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen’s Church) (15:23)

All selections written by Frank Zappa unless noted.

The Players

Frank Zappa (lead guitar, vocals), Napoleon Murphy Brock (tenor sax, flute, lead vocals), George Duke (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals), Bruce Fowler (trombone, dancing?), Tom Fowler (bass), Walt Fowler (trumpet), Ralph Humphrey (drums), Don Preston (synthesizer), Jeff Simmons (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chester Thompson (drums), Ruth Underwood (percussion) with Debby, Lynn, Ruben, George & Froggy (additional back-up vocals on C2). Produced by Frank Zappa; engineering and re-mix by Kerry McNabb; road tapes engineered by Bill Hennigh.

The Pictures

Design & graphics by Cal Schenkel. Cover photography by Sherwin Tilton. Liner photography by Sherwin Tilton, Coy Featherston, Steve Magedoff.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP on September 10, 1974 in the US and Canada (Discreet, 2DS 2202), the UK and France (Discreet, K69201) and Germany (Discreet, 89 200) with gatefold cover; reached #24 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1991 in the US (Barking Pumpkin, 74241).
  2. Re-issued on 2LP and compact disc in 1992 in the UK (Zappa, ZAPPA-39) and Japan (Music Scene, MSI 80039).
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc and cassette on May 2, 1995 in the US (Rykodisc, RCD/RAC 10520).
  4. Re-issued on limited edition compact disc in 2001 in Japan (Video Arts, VACK-1219).
  5. Re-released on 180g vinyl 2LP in 2013 in Germany (Universal/Zappa, ZR-3652 R).

1 thought on “[Review] Zappa/Mothers: Roxy & Elsewhere (1974)

  1. Detail – besides the usual editing, the album features plenty of obvious overdubbing (e.g Bruce Fowler replaced both his solos). Raw material can be found in the Roxy Performances and Zappa Erie boxed sets.

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