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Frank Zappa - Imaginary Diseases CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.98 | 71 ratings

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3 stars Prior to his death, Zappa spent a good deal of time compiling and remastering material that didn't get released until many years later. This album is one of those releases, and it covers an era of Zappa's history that hadn't previously gotten adequate coverage: his "Petite Wazoo" band, a ten-person band that Zappa used live in the aftermath of Waka Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo. As expected, this release has as its foundation the kind of big band jazz fusion that made up those albums, yet it stretches decently beyond that, and I prefer this to either of those albums.

The album starts off a little slowly, and I actually thought at first this would be a somewhat tedious listen. After a pointless introduction in "Oddients," we get an early version of "Rollo," which was later featured in live performances of the Apostrophe suite, and it's just kinda ok. "Been to Kansas City in A Minor" is a fun blues/jazz workout, but it's a little overlong, and while the 16-minute "Farther Oblivion" contains a lot of differences from its near-namesake on Apostrophe (with a lot of features that would later make it into other songs), it's not great enough to justify its length.

The rest of the album is really great, though. "D.C. Boogie" starts off as a totally enthralling fusion piece, with an almost psychedelic air about it and guitar soloing that's largely atypical of Zappa, and if it stopped after five minutes it would already be a sure lock for the album's best song. Instead, Zappa unexpectedly stops the song in the middle (with the band underpinning him as he addresses the audience), takes a poll of the audience as to how they'd like the song to end, and he has the band close out with a fun boogie that features great guitar interplay. It's definitely one of the most fun things I've ever heard Zappa do, and the combination of the two halves of the song are enough to make this one of my favorite Zappa live tracks.

The album finishes with a pair of great jams in the title track (with great interplay between the guitars and the brass and woodwinds) and "Montreal" (which is basically an extended guitar solo, but a top-tier Zappa extended guitar solo, so it's great). Both tracks are well over nine minutes in length, but they fly by, and it's a real pleasure to lose myself in the sounds of these numbers. Gosh, why did there have to be two live albums from the Flo & Eddie era, but this is the only material we got from this era?

This may be a posthumous release, and it may not be impeccable from start to finish, but I'd hate to imagine a 70's Zappa fan not having heard the best stuff on here. It actually kinda makes me wonder what would have happened had Zappa pursued this path more thoroughly, instead of changing things up again ...

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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