Official Release #101. On the evening of October 23, 2013, Walt Disney Concert Hall was the place to be in Los Angeles, as Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale in a spectacular, sold-out orchestral performance of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (The Suites). Recorded for posterity, the acclaimed, one-night-only 13-suite performance of Zappa's 1971 masterwork will be released worldwide on November 20 by Zappa Records/UMe. This 2CD release's expertly recorded audio brings the listener back to Walt Disney Concert Hall to experience the exciting 200 Motels (The Suites) spectacle, complemented by photos from the evening and essays by the show and recording's producers, Gail Zappa and Frank Filipetti, the evening's director James Darrah, 'Scoremeister' Kurt Morgan, and performers including Diva Zappa, Michael Des Barres, special guest 'Rock' rhythm section drummer Joe Travers, and former Zappa band member Scott Thunes. Essays by some notable members of the audience, including Steve Vai and Peter Asher, are also included.
Yes!! Finally, here it is: "200 Motels" in all its glory. We've all seen this movie as it got released on VHS video years and years ago. And now, here's the high quality DVD version. "200 Motels" got shot in 1971 and featured Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention plus Ringo Starr and Keith Moon, to drop just two names. Now that I think of it, Zappa always had this thing for drummers… Anyway, "200 Motels" is a milestone in Zappa's career. I'm not too big a fan of the vaudeville aspect and the on-the-road stories, as you cannot keep on laughing with it, but the music is fabulous. It's Zappa at his best.
"Touring makes you crazy," Frank Zappa says, explaining that the idea for this film came to him while the Mothers of Invention were touring. The story, interspersed with performances by the Mothers and the Royal Symphony Orchestra, is a tale of life on the road. The band members' main concerns are the search for groupies and the desire to get paid.
The soundtrack to Frank Zappa's strange early-'70s film 200 Motels was always doomed to be a peripheral entry in his discography. The movie's story was not easy to follow, and neither is the record (not that plot was ever a big focus of the production). It's typically wacky Zappa of the era, with unpredictable sharp turns between crunchy rock bombast, orchestration, and jazz/classical influences, as well as interjections of wacky spoken dialogue. Those who like his late-'60s/early-'70s work – not as song-oriented as his first albums, in other words, but not as "serious" or as silly as his later records – will probably like this fine, although it's not up to the level of Uncle Meat.
This live record was recorded with the Flo & Eddie incarnation of the ever-changing Mothers line-up. The vocal duo, which had considerable chart success as the Turtles, parodied their success as "rock stars" here, and Zappa utilized their soul and doo-wop-style vocals for maximum comedic effect. The set works as a comedy record as much as anything else. They perform their huge hit "Happy Together," but it's done as a goof. Zappa and Flo & Eddie talk over the backbeat like standup comics.