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Rob Greaves

Cream of The Crate - Record #16

Rating: 11 votes, 5.00 average.

0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
"I love monster movies, I simply adore monster movies, and the cheaper they are, the better they are." [Frank Zappa]

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This is number sixteen in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my collection, that I believe have significant musical value and are being post reviewed under the banner of "Cream of The Crate".

Album #16 is what might be termed, an album by an artist that is either loved or disliked. There is almost no room for a middle path. The artist is Frank Zappa and whilst not officially
identified as being the Mothers of Invention, many of the musicians contributing to this album have been part of ‘Mothers” combinations.

Released on the Diskreet label – 2DS-2202 (MX 173510), it is another beautiful gate fold cover with double vinyl albums inside.

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The album was released was released in 1974 and to quote from the cover, “Most of the material in this double set was recorded December 10, 11 & 12, 1973 at the Roxy, Hollywood. Other portions were extracted from road tapes . . . of Show #2, Mothers day 1974 at the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, and the recent gymnasium extravaganza at Edinboro State College, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, May 8th, 1974.”

So, with some magnificent Zappa albums which would have to include, Hot Rats, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Zoot Allures and We’re Only In It For The Money, and the list could go on – why this album?

Frank has produced some magnificent studio work! His attention to detail and his demands upon his musicians is legendary and the end result is music that is tight in it’s playing, yet to the untested ear, can sound like one huge jam.

Yet I believe the live performances captured on this album both demonstrate that attention to detail, and the control the maestro has over his band, while retaining sufficient flexibility and humor to provide and all round double album that entertains, educates (yes, educates), a
nd causes your feet to beat uncontrollably.

There are fourteen tracks (ten music tracks) over the four sides, and they represent a myriad of styles from (one suspects) the personal tale of “Penguin in Bondage (Boy)”, the comical and clever dig at the College education system in “Dummy Up”, the clever composition of “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing”, the 1950’s comedy send up of “Cheepnis”, through to the amazing Be Bop Jazz piece of “Be Bop Tango (Of The Old Jazzmen’s Church)”! Don’t make the mistake of thinking Frank Zappa has no time f
or Jazz when he declares, “Jazz is not dead, it just smells that way”. This is an incredibly well constructed piece of Jazz/Be Bop music that sets Zappa the composer, way ahead of the pack.

Son of Orange County

Zappa was notorious for being almost ‘anal’ about his music, every note was correct, every piece of timing was correct, and yet as alluded to earlier, to any listener not familiar with Frank Zappa’s composing and playing, it would often sound like it was often random key changes and timing changes, but in fact as this album attests, it is quite the work of a brilliant composer, player and conductor.

He always assembled around him the very best available musicians and when you look at the list further on, it is a veritable who’s
who of musicians. I feel compelled to make mention of some of them, because I have a personal high level of appreciation, and certainly respect, for their amazing talents.

Napoleon Murphy Brock, when not setting a wailing sound on his wind and brass instruments (especially the sax), he was singing up a storm. He is in fact the ‘main man’ after Zappa when it comes to not just ‘singing’, but really entertaining. His voice in terms of his ability to hit his notes is exemplary, but it is also his amazing character, which comes across on many of the tracks, such as on Dummy Up (which he co-wrote).

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Dummy Up

The other male voice featured on this album, is that of George Duke, who also plays a multitude of keyboards and features on Be-bop Tango. An amazingly accomplished Jazz / Funk musician, his credits are lengthy, and the people he has collaborated with are at the top of the tree, artists such as Jean-Luc Ponty and Miles Davis.

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Ruth Underwood on Percussion is simply brilliant. With Frank Zappa, the percussion is not just to supplement the rhythms and beat set up by the drummer, but to often provide the most brilliant counter-points to the driving beats, and to accentuate and twist the rhythms through her use of the broadest range of percussion instruments. The bizarre timing changes in “Echidna’s Arf” would flummox many professional percussionists, but not Ruth!

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Echidna's Arf (For You)

was pleased with what was going on with the material on this album, and considered the material the band had to play the hardest repertoire he had composed so far. Indeed "Echidna's arf", "Don't you ever wash that thing" and "The Be-bop tango" is by rock band standards, extremely complex pieces to play live.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. Preamble 1:24
2. "Penguin in Bondage" 5;24
3. "Pygmy Twylyte" 3:22
4. "Dummy Up" 5:03

Side two

1. “Preamble” 0:54
2. "Village of the Sun" 3:24
3. "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" 3:54
4. "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" 9:47

Side three

1. “Preamble” 2:10
2. "Cheepnis" 4:22
3. "Son of Orange County" 5:55
4. "More Trouble Every Day" 6:08

Side four
1. “Preamble” 1:25
2. "Be-Bop Tango (Of the Old Jazzmen's Church)" 15:23


Having named three of his genius band, it’s almost a crime not to mention the others because they are all so good – Frank would not have had it any other way!


  • Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals, producer
  • Napoleon Murphy Brock – flute, tenor saxophone, vocals
  • Robert "Frog" Camarena – backing vocals ("Cheepnis")
  • Debbie – backing vocals ("Cheepnis")
  • Lynn – backing vocals ("Cheepnis")
  • Ruben Ladron de Guevara – backing vocals ("Cheepnis")
  • George Duke – synthesizer, keyboards, vocals
  • Bruce Fowler – trombone, dancer
  • Tom Fowler – bass guitar
  • Walt Fowler – trumpet, bass trumpet
  • Ralph Humphrey – drums
  • Don Preston – synthesizer
  • Jeff Simmons – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Chester Thompson – drums
  • Ruth Underwood – percussion

The album is now released on CD and retails around $20.00 plus postage Australian, and the only vinyl album I could find on Ebay was around $70.00 which included postage from the USA although, some searching on-line found copies for about half that price.

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Village of the Sun

If you have read this review, the odds are that you are already a fan of Frank Zappa and I hope at the very least this post-review of this fabulous album meets your approval. If however, you are still discovering Frank and his music, then you have a plethora of material to choose from and you wouldn’t be making a mistake by purchasing this album as part of a starter of a collection of Frank Zappa (and the Mothers of Invention).

Here are two video's directly related to this album. To view just click on the image.

The first fantastic video collage to go with the track Cheepnis.
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The second is a wonderful advert created to promote Roxy, by Zappa.
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Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

#1 – Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2 – Otis Redding: Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Sings Soul

#3 – Dr John The Night Tripper: Gris Gris

#4 – Spectrum: ROYGBIV

#5 – Son House: The Real Delta Blues

#6 – Cruisin ‘61

#7 – Live At The Station Hotel

#8 – Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Déjà Vu

#9 – Moon Mullican: Rock it to the Moon

#10 – Billy Thorpe: Time Traveller

#11 – Bobby and Laurie: Cum Sum Ambulant (Hitch Hiker)

#12 – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

#13 – The Beatles: The Beatles Collection

#14 – Johnny O’Keefe: 20th Anniversary Album

#15 – Jimmy Cliff (and others): The harder They Come (The Soundtrack from the movie by the same name)

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Updated 8th April 2013 at 08:35 PM by Mick Pacholli

Rob Greaves , The Cream of The Crate


  1. Mick Pacholli's Avatar
    My mate Keith was/is a big Zappa fan, I never really got then, although I did own Waca jawaka or woteva, that was cool

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