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Frank Zappa - Roxy By Proxy CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.58 | 38 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I've got eleven live Zappa albums so far and this is without question my favourite. More on why that is later. The songs here are taken from the Roxy shows in LA on December 9th and 10th and unlike the "Roxy And Elsewhere" live record there is no "elsewhere" on this one. These shows happened after a year long World tour by Zappa and his mates. Jean-Luc Ponty left in the summer of 1973 while Ian Underwood left in November. Enter Chester Thompson and Napoleon Murphy Brock to help fill out the lineup. I should mention that these particular live versions haven't been released until here on this recording. What is the appeal for me here? Well for one it's the jovial mood of the concerts. Frank is so into this and in great humour. He seems to be having so much fun along with the rest of the band. The audience is also very much into this as we can here them react many times throughout this recording to what is going on. Also the music itself for my tastes is perfect. I kept thinking how uplifting the music is, and how I just feel so good everytime I put this album on. It takes me back to a much different time in my life even though I wasn't there(I was 12).

"Carved In The Rock" opens with Zappa saying "Hello folks!" Then he introduces the band before telling the story behind the song "Inca Roads". He mentions Chariots Of Fire and Extraterrestrials as these high pitched spacey synths sounding like theremin play in the background. This is what consists of track one, no music yet. "Inca Roads" wasn't officially released until the 1975's "One Size Fits All" album so here we get an early look at it and it is quite different from the studio version as it is slowed down here, especially early on. George Duke is on vocals and it's pretty funny when he laughs in the middle of singing. These guys were having too much fun. The pace does pick up 2 minutes in and we get lots of percussion as well. It's freaking amazing 3 1/2 minutes in with the keyboards as the the vocals have stopped. Check out the bass as well. A horn solo after 5 minutes then the fast paced vocals return 6 1/2 minutes in. When the song ends Frank talks about how great it is living in Hollywood because of all the perverts. He says perverts make ordinary people look good. This is an intro of course for "Penguins In Bondage". Man this is good with those funny lyrics and "lights out" playing while Frank almost speaks the lyrics. Nice guitar solo 2 minutes in that is the start of a killer instrumental section. Man! The vocals are back 4 minutes in.

"T'Mershi Duween" is a "bongo number" as Zappa describes it. Other instruments join in around 30 seconds. A cool but short tune. "Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat" has such a feel-good vibe to it throughout. Lots of percussion and the crowd roars it's approval before 2 minutes. "RDNZL" has so much going on and the horns remind me of CHICAGO. The guitar arrives just before a minute and solos. Nice. Listen to the avant horns 3 minutes in and i'd call the vocals avant as well(haha). Some crazy keyboards too. "Village Of The Sun" is dedicated to John and Nelly Wilson and it's another feel good song. "Echidna's Arf(Of You)" features honking horns, percussion and so much more as the guitar comes and goes. "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing" is incredible with the turn on a dime instrumental work on display here. A trombone solo after 1 1/2 minutes and it ends with Frank saying "Watch Ruth all during our program". And he goes on about it for a while. Check out the electric piano 4 1/2 minutes in then the drum solo a minute later as this song blends into "Cheepnis-Percussion" with the talents of Thompson, Humphrey and Underwood. Huge applause when it ends then Zappa explains that that was actually "Cheepnis" then they play the full band version next with vocals. It gets pretty crazy late.

"Dupree's Paradise" is fantastic and the band is having so much fun. It kicks into a solid groove before 5 1/2 minutes. Nice flute solo after 7 minutes then a bass solo follows. Awesome stuff. Check out the drum fills here as well. Frank solo 10 1/2 minutes in and i'm feeling really good. Horns are back 14 minutes in. After the song ends Frank introduces the band once more as they leave the stage. They come back out and Zappa says "Alright we're going to play "King Kong" for ya, it's also hooked up to "Chunga's Revenge" and the ending of "Mr. Green Genes". He then tells Ruth to hurry up and she says "no" as they banter. Man this is such an impressive instrumental. Some excellent guitar starting before 5 minutes and I love the prominant bass as well.

So while many will call this inferior to "Roxy And Eleswhere" I will have to strongly disagree. But then there's no accounting for taste is there?

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |


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