It’s, like, so bitchin’
It’s kind of unfortunate that this compilation album includes “The Best of Frank Zappa” on its cover because it was never intended to be that. It was always intended to be what the title says: a collection of Zappa’s most accessible, commercially viable work. Back when my Zappa project was going to include only seven albums, I tacked this one on as a way to kind of get a broad overview of a lot of the stuff I wasn’t going to be listening to. Now that I’m listening to TWENTY-ONE Zappa records, instead of seven, this is less necessary, but it’s still worth reviewing this compilation because it really is just so damn good. It includes the single versions of some songs, like brutally truncated Montana, a stripped down Joe’s Garage & an edited together version of part of the Yellow Snow suite. It includes nineteen songs, very nearly a full eighty minutes and it’s got a lot of really, really great stuff here. It opens with Peaches en Regalia and then goes through Dancin’ Fool, San Ber’dino, I’m the Slime, Disco Boy, Trouble Every Day . . . one thing this will teach you is that even when being “commercial,” Zappa sprawled all over the places. Peaches, Disco Boy, Trouble Every Day, I’m the Slime; you don’t hear those four songs and then guess that one guy did them all. The sound quality is fantastic, though the album does feature some different mixes of a few songs which may throw a few superfans. There are a few hiccups here. Let’s Make the Water Turn Black is surely not “commercial” in any sense of the word and we’ll all have our choices for songs that should be here but aren’t. But I liked a few of the tracks I didn’t know anything about as well; Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is one of my favorites, a genuinely epic guitar-driven instrumental, and I’d never heard of that one. Also, just a word for Valley Girl; God, that is still just so good. I know it’s a novelty tune of a sort and a lot of “serious” Zappa fans find it cringe-inducing, but I think it’s great. It’s the kind of song that would typically make me cringe, but Moon’s vocal performance is just brilliant. Anyway, great sound quality; solid song selection; a great introduction to Zappa. Also just a good time even if you’ve heard all of these songs elsewhere; as Zappa mixtapes go, it’s high-energy, raucous fun. 4 stars.
tl;dr – Zappa compilation focuses on more accessible material & the result is a super-bitchin’ party mix of Zappa’s more mainstream material; no compilation is perfect, but this one is a joy. 4 stars.