DVD-Audio may not be your preferred format, but here's a release that actually needs its special capabilities. There have been a number of high-profile albums that have been remixed to take advantage of Surround Sound, a case of retooling the recordings to take advantage of a new consumer format. Music consumers who began their music purchases during the digital era may not be aware that an attempt was made at "more than stereo" recordings back in the '70s, utilizing a four-channel system known as quadraphonic.
At the time of Frank Zappa's passing in late 1993, he left a number of projects in varying stages of completeness. Some of these had gotten no further than the so-called "build-reel" stage. It was at this preliminary phase that the artist had done little more than set aside various and sundry audio on the back-burner in his Utility Muffin Research Kitchen home studio. One Shot Deal (2008) is a single-CD compilation taken from a number of disparate sources – including a pair of tunes from Zappa's "build reels." As the set's co-producer Gail Zappa explains in her inimitable style in the brief liner notes essay "…the guitar was the main element for me…." With that as an unofficial mandate, the 5-plus minutes – which cover the meaty nine-year span of 1972 to 1981 – is undeniably fret-centric.
Official Release #109. Original Recordings And Mixes Produced By Frank Zappa. Little Dots contains more recordings of the under-documented Petit Wazoo Ensemble, which toured at the end of 1972 (previously heard officially on Imaginary Diseases). Again, the sound isn't pristine here, but it's quite listenable. The show starts with a very early version of "Cosmik Debris," but other than that and "Rollo" the material is all new (mostly due to being largely improvised). "Little Dots, Pt. 1" is a previously unreleased piece that features bassist Dave Parlato and drummer Jim Gordon in dialogue, joined by FZ on guitar about halfway though. "Little Dots, Pt. 2" kicks off with a Tony Duran slide solo, and heads into a trombone solo followed by another FZ guitar solo.
Official Release #94. Finer Moments is a curious but mostly excellent compilation of (mostly) instrumental odds and ends put together by FZ in 1972 that went (mostly) unreleased until 2012. Disc one concentrates on the 1968-1969 Mothers. The first four tracks are from a 1969 Royal Albert Hall show that was partially documented in the film Uncle Meat. "Sleazette" is a great guitar solo, but the Mozart piece loses quite a bit without the "ballet" visuals. "The Wailing Zombie Music" sounds part-composed/part-conducted improvisation. "The Old Curiosity Shoppe" is a nice jam from 1971 featuring some nice wah-wah alto sax from Ian Underwood and wicked soloing from FZ.
Official Release #82. This concert was recorded live at Boston Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts on 24 September 1972. The leaves were gold. FZ was just 31 years of age. Absurdly, this is our third Vaulternative live concert recording (see/hear FZ:OZ, BUFFALO). The medium was ¼” 2-track tape (Scotch), at 7 ½ ips. These stereo masters were digitally transferred from FZ’s Ampex ATR 100 deck into Nuendo at 96 K 24 bit by Joe Travers using Euphonix AM 713 Converters – in April, 2007.
Official Release #106. In his trailblazing and incredibly prolific career, artist, composer and all-around musical pioneer Frank Zappa released more than 60 albums in his lifetime, as a solo artist and with his bands the Mothers of Invention and the Mothers. Coupled with more than 40 posthumous releases since his death in 1993 at 52, figuring out where to start in Zappa’s vast, genre-leaping catalog can be daunting. ZAPPAtite – Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks, out now on Zappa Records/UMe, collects some of Zappa’s best known and beloved compositions, from his early psychedelic rock beginnings to his avant-garde experimentation, jazz-rock explorations, symphonic suites and satirical send-ups, compiling them into one easily digestible collection and offering key entryways into the many musical worlds of the visionary musician.