Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention: The Grand Wazoo Song by Song Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Musicman1998, May 12, 2018.

  1. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 That Wannabe Music Critic Thread Starter

    Location:
    Georgia
    Now that my Electric Ladyland thread is coming to an end, let’s go from one genius to another! This is....
    Frank Zappa, The Grand Wazoo
    [​IMG]

    The Grand Wazoo
    is a 1972 Jazz fusion album by Frank Zappa and The Mothers. It was written and recorded during Zappa's period of convalescence following his assault in London.
    This album, along with its predecessor, Waka/Jawaka, represent Zappa's foray into big band music, the logical progression from Hot Rats (1969), which used a much smaller lineup. This was the last release on Zappa's own Bizarre Records label.

    Recording and productionEdit
    This was the third Zappa album released in a period where he was forced to use a wheelchair. Zappa was unable to tour after being assaulted and pushed offstage into an orchestra pit during a London concert.[2]

    The compositions are arranged for a large ensemble which was conceived as a studio recording vehicle, rather than a live touring band.[citation needed] The album is mostly made up of instrumental pieces, similar in style to those of three previous albums: Hot Rats(1969), Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970), and Waka/Jawaka (July 1972).

    Zappa was also producer and principal composer for Jean-Luc Ponty's album King Kong (1970) during this period.

    Track listingEdit
    All songs written, composed and arranged by Frank Zappa.

    Side one
    No.
    Title Length
    1. "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)" 7:15
    2. "The Grand Wazoo" 13:24
    Side two
    No.
    Title Length
    3. "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" 2:57
    4. "Eat That Question" 6:42
    5. "Blessed Relief" 8:00
    1995 Ryko remaster
    No.
    Title Length
    1. "The Grand Wazoo" 13:20
    2. "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)" 6:06
    3. "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus" 2:57
    4. "Eat That Question" 6:43
    5. "Blessed Relief" 7:59

    Personnel

    MusiciansEdit
    "The Grand Wazoo" and "For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)"
    "Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus"
    • Mike Altschul - woodwind
    • "Chunky" (Lauren Wood) - vocals
    • George Duke - keyboards, vocals
    • Erroneous (Alex Dmochowski) - bass
    • Aynsley Dunbar - drums
    • Sal Marquez - brass
    • Ken Shroyer - trombones
    • Frank Zappa - vocals, guitar
    with:

    "Eat That Question"
    • Mike Altschul - woodwind
    • George Duke - keyboards
    • Aynsley Dunbar - drums
    • Erroneous (Alex Dmochowski) - bass
    • Sal Marquez - "multiple toots" (brass)
    • Joel Peskin - woodwind
    • Frank Zappa - guitar, percussion
    with:

    • Lee Clement - gong
    "Blessed Relief"
    • Mike Altschul - woodwind
    • George Duke - keyboards
    • Aynsley Dunbar - drums
    • Tony Duran - rhythm guitar
    • Erroneous (Alex Dmochowski) - bass
    • Sal Marquez - brass
    • Joel Peskin - woodwind
    • Frank Zappa - lead guitar
    ProductionEdit
    • Producer: Frank Zappa
    • Engineer: Kerry McNabb
    • Arranger: Frank Zappa
    • Special assistance: Paul Hof
    • Photography: Ed Caraeff, Tony Esparza, Barry Feinstein
    • Cover illustration: Cal Schenkel
    • Art direction: Frank Zappa
    • Spiritual advisor: Kenny Shroyer
    • Contractor: Kenny Shroyer
    • Burritos: Ernie's Taco House
    • Pizza: two guys from Italy
    • Barbecue desiccated chicken: Hollywood Ranch Market
    First, Guidelines:
    1. Please stick to the song at hand or songs already discussed so as to not disrupt the flow of the thread.
    2. Please elaborate beyond "This rocks" or "This sucks" as this leads to more fruitful discussions.

    How I Discovered Frank Zappa/This Album
    To be honest there is no one moment to pinpoint, I just knew of Frank for as long as I was into music, because people always talked about him. The first album I heard was We’re Only In It For the Money, Which had good stuff but a lot of stuff I didnt get. And then I heard You Are What You Is when binging on Beavis and Butthead and I really liked it, then heard the Eskimo Suite, and just gradually “got” Frank and now I gladly proclaim him a genius. And he’s partially responsible for Little Feat, one of my favorite bands, so he gets that as well. This album, this is one of the last seventies albums I heard, and what I think of it? Well, let’s now move onto the album....

    For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers:

    And now we open the album with an ode to Cal Schenkel, Who did a lot of graphic work for Frank and the Mothers, this song being inspired by an encounter he had with hitchhikers one time on the way to work.
    The track starts with kind of a slow burning guitar backed by Aynsley’s drumming. He eally provides a strong backbeat to the track, and Janet Neville-Ferguson's vocals add kind of a dark undertone to the track, with Sal Marquez's vocals provide a nice counterpoint. I love Don Preston's little minimoog solo on here, in addition to the horn players' work on here, complimented by all sorts of off-kilter percussion, all building up to a climax. The track goes into a new section around the four minute mark, this being very horn-driven, with Aynsley doing some really awesome drumming in addition to a strong bass by Erroneous.
    While not my favorite on here, still a strong track nontheless.
     
  2. machinestool

    machinestool Forum Resident

    Location:
    Crawfordville, FL
    I really love this album. My vinyl copy of this sounds absolutely wonderful to my ears.
     
  3. 93curr

    93curr Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    For many years I assumed this one came before 'Waka/Jawaka' just because of their catalog numbers. I'm still not quite sure what happened there. I also kept moivng it from "Mothers" to "Zappa" and back again. Why WAS it issued under the Mothers name, anyway?? I'm also kind of annoyed that I got fooled by believing that the 95 Rykodisc was actually a remaster when it really just fiddled with the EQ of the prior edition.

    But desite all those issues, it's still an album I pull out with some regularity. And I still think 'For Calvin' is a great way to open the proceedings. Wish it was like that on the current actual remaster.
     
  4. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    FZ recorded both albums at the same time. Warners must have assigned catalog numbers at an early stage but for whatever reason he (or they) decided to release Waka first.
     
    wavethatflag, 93curr and Musicman1998 like this.
  5. SurrealCereal

    SurrealCereal Forum Resident

    I don’t remember how I first discovered Frank Zappa. If I had to guess, I’d say that I probably read about him a lot and decided to give his music a try. What I can say for sure is that it was definitely an acquired taste. The wierd, vulgar nature of albums like Apostrophe and Joe’s Garage really threw me off. The late 60’s/early 70’s jazz fusion albums were much easier for me to get into, and are still my favorites to this day. I like Hot Rats the best by far, but I still like all three.

    I’ll post about the songs after I get a chance to give the album a listen. It’s been a while and I don’t remember it well enough to say anything.
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  6. Ignatius

    Ignatius Forum Resident

    It's absolutely perfect.
     
  7. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, Ca
    Yeah I don't like that change either. Calvin is a wonderful way to start the album. Frank was in a really surly mood when he was preparing these for Ryko but then again he was actually dying. I still only have the Ryko, is there that much actual difference between this and the ‘12’s? Dont point me to the FAQ I've read it throughly I’m still not convinced. @pbuzby ?
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  8. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    I still think of Grand Wazoo preceding Waka Jawaka, dunno why. And while I'm sometimes a stickler for, uhhh, sticking to the original release, I'm plenty OK with this album starting with the title track. It's all one big note, right?

    Meanwhile, the other opener is a gem. Calvin begins with the then-established munchkin vocals, and then wanders off into a strange atmosphere dotted with Gregory Peccary motifs. Sonically comfortable, yet mentally challenging and/or disturbing. Back in the day, I expected the unexpected from Frank, and I got it with TGW. As usual, it took a number of spins to unravel what it actually was I think I 'got'.
     
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  9. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    No idea.
     
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  10. Jeff Kent

    Jeff Kent Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mt. Kisco, NY
    Waka Jawaka was really the first Zappa that I sunk my teeth into, so it was natural for Grand Wazoo to follow. I love to play Grand Wazoo after coming home from work. I know it gets dismissed a lot, but this is probably my favorite era of FZ.
     
    rufus t firefly and Musicman1998 like this.
  11. danner

    danner Forum Resident

    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Heh, I heard the CD first, so "Calvin" will always sound like a weird opener to me.
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  12. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    In my experience as a Zappa fan, Grand Wazoo (and this era of FZ) doesn't get dismissed a lot.
     
  13. Instant Dharma

    Instant Dharma Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, Ca
    The 80’s Ryko used the original sequence.
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  14. Musicman1998

    Musicman1998 That Wannabe Music Critic Thread Starter

    Location:
    Georgia
    That’s my experience too.
     
  15. Jeff Kent

    Jeff Kent Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mt. Kisco, NY
    Not among Zappa fans I guess, but in the mainstream.
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  16. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    This might just be me....
    I'm not the biggest 'sports-ball'-guy, but, I remember hearing NFL Films "Week in Football' having music that sounded a bit like 'Wazoo'-era Frank....
    anybody else feel the same way?
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  17. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    Zappa did say that these albums didn't sell well. Unfortunate but not a surprise given the musical style.
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  18. Denim Chicken

    Denim Chicken Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bakersfield, CA
    Of course you start a song by song thread to my favorite Zappa album the Sunday before my finals haha
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  19. mcchocchoc

    mcchocchoc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Excellent album! One of many favorites from FZ. I grew up spinning this on vinyl and Calvin is a perfect opener. It really sets the mood. The music is pretty spacey and the vocals creepy in a good way. Great solo bit from Don. Ansley kills it on this and Waka Jawaka. What an incredible pair of albums. I also enjoy the bass playing of Erroneous.

    I have two original LPs and three cd versions of this one. Just pulled out a white label promo to spin (sounds great!) . . . crappy cell phone pic! >

    [​IMG]

    I also have two excellent prints of the front and back covers that I got from Calvin that hang in our living room . . (another crappy cell pic!)

    [​IMG]
     
  20. kanakaris

    kanakaris Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belgium
    Not a weak track on this masterpiece. Now and then i let jazz fans listen to this album and every time i get the same response : ' Amazing , this is Zappa ?'...
     
  21. jwoverho

    jwoverho Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mobile, AL USA
    Definitely! Nice to hear Don on this, and WAZOO and JAWAKA are great showcases for Dunbar, who for me has all the best aspects of drummers like Moon, Bonham and Bruford.
     
    plentyofjamjars67 and mcchocchoc like this.
  22. Sequenzer

    Sequenzer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, England.
    I always preferred the vinyl track order with For Calvin first too. One of My favourite FZ albums

    [​IMG]
     
    Jazzmonkie, warewolf95 and mcchocchoc like this.
  23. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    zappa is an acquired taste ... and thankfully i acquired it.
    In my first band the bass player was madly into zappa. He loaned me sheik yerbouti and i could hear it was different and weird and all that, but it didn't click at first, like you say "i didn't get it" ... he then loaned me one size fits all and i got into it a little more ... and then over a period of time i don't remember, i started getting sheik yerbouti tunes in my head and one size fits all tunes in my head and then i heard joes garage and the damage was done, i was a zappa convert. zappa eccentricities probably set me up for a journey i would never have taken through all sorts of music that didn't fit my rock/hard rock m.o. and i am thankful for it. i have most of his stuff and this album is in there.
    as with most of zappa's stuff there are inside stories that he tells via his music. there is brilliant writing. there is weirdness, that is still brilliant writing and there are a bunch of amazing musicians putting their 5 cents in.
    one of my favourite interviews with zappa, the interviewer says something along the lines of "it seems you put little bits and pieces into your music to sabotage it" ... zappa's reply "i put those in to make sure you're still listening" or something along those lines ... same interview "you could easily write hits, why don't you?" ... Zappa "who wants to go through life with a tiny nose and one white glove"
    Love me some zappa. keep it rolling mr musicman.
     
  24. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    Never saw that upper-right Ryko before.... was that from the '95-6 re-issues?
     
    Musicman1998 likes this.
  25. mcchocchoc

    mcchocchoc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I think that version/pressing if from this set . . .
    [​IMG]
     

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