Classic Rock

Frank Zappa

Orchestral Favorites

- david Stubbs

Zappa reCordS/umC

Three-disc deluxe edition of ’79 album featuring previously unreleased concert material.

The original release of Orchestral Favourites, on Zappa’s old label, was a shoddy affair, and was publicly criticised by Zappa. This new edition is presented in higher audiophile quality as well as featuring recordings from the 1975 concert at UCLA where the original tracks were recorded, with extensive introducti­ons from Zappa.

One often felt with Zappa that he felt himself superior to pop and mistakenly brandished his virtuosity as a stick with which to beat its banality. However, he didn’t quite have what it takes to be a ‘serious’ composer, not least seriousnes­s. Some of the works here, such as Pedro’s Dowry, are influenced – to the point of pastiche – by his idol Edgard Varèse. Versions of old Mothers Of Invention standards like Duke Of Prunes lack the satirical sting of the originals. Others, such as Revised Music For Low Budget Symphony Orchestra are more successful, full of cartoonish witty hops, zigzagging between Stravinsky and Raymond Scott, genuinely beautiful in places. Zappa always had a reputation as someone who had a tight ship, but there’s an almost shambolic feel at times about the 37-piece orchestra he assembled here, while his longwinded self-deprecatin­g intros capture the essential sense of fun of these recordings. ■■■■■■■■■■

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