With “The Chop House,” we explore classic performances from bands with — you know — “chops.” Genres like progressive rock, art-rock, jazz-fusion — they’re nearly extinct in our current music culture. These days, we live (and consume art) impatiently, favoring a quick fix over a challenge. But here at Hidden Track, we refuse to let the dazzling, confrontational spirit of these wonderful bands die.
Frank Zappa is a master musician on many levels: his innovative guitar playing, his idiosyncratic approach to arrangement and instrumentation, and his often outlandish approach to infusing humor in his songs. But arguably Zappa’s greatest strength was his musical magnetism — acting brilliantly weird groups of players and finding a way to make their strengths congeal.
Zappa’s never had a consistent “band” for more than a few years at a time. From the raw, freaky Mothers era to the heroic, fusion-based mid-70s line-up (with drummer Chester Thompson and saxophonist/dancer-supreme Napoleon Murphy Brock), Zappa’s backing bands are as unique as the songs they played.
The maestro’s 1973 line-up certainly ranks among his finest, featuring the talents of Ralph Humphrey (drums), Ian Underwood (sax, keyboards), George Duke (keyboards), Tom Fowler (bass), Bruce Fowler (trombone), and Jean Luc Ponty (violin), and loyal percussionist Ruth Underwood. In this featured concert (August 21st, 1973 in Stockholm, Sweden), Zappa steers his well-oiled band through a maze of goofy blues-rock (“Cosmik Debris”), nimble guitar workouts (“Montana”), and mind-melting jazz-fusion epics (the 24-minute spectacle “Dupree’s Paradise”). It’s classic Zappa greatness — as confounding as it is mind-blowing.
1. Cosmik Debris
2. Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue
3. Kung Fu
4. Penguin In Bondage
7. Dupree’s Paradise
8. Join The March And Eat My Starch
9. Farther Oblivion