The early Zappa albums were treasured by the few and totally misunderstood by the majority. The brilliant SGT. PEPPER satire of the cover should have garnered extra sales, but no. Zappa's scathing wit homed in on modern middle-class America and West Coast hippies. The album offered 19 vignettes incorporating avant garde, doo-wop, some relatively conventional pop music and a lot of hilarious dialogue that was so hip it has never dated.
By the closing months of 1981 Frank Zappa had already released five albums during that productive year. Three of these records were his instrumental guitar collections - Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar Some More, and The Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar - initially sold via mail order but later released through CBS. There was also the live double Tinseltown Rebellion and the 2-LP studio set You Are What You Is, released in September. Zappa also hit the road in September 81, performing a largely domestic tour that criss-crossed the US and took in a couple of shows in Canada between September and Christmas. On board for the tour were Frank s latest touring band, comprising Chad Wackerman on drums, Ed Mann on percussion, Tommy Mars on keyboards, Scott Thunes on bass, with Steve Vai and Ray White on guitar.