Finally released on a pair of CDs in 1997 (26 years after it's initial release on vinyl), 200 MOTELS is the soundtrack to Frank Zappa's wacky 1971 motion picture of the same name, which starred Ringo Starr and Keith Moon, among others. Although it enjoyed success as a "midnight movie" in the '70s/early '80s, 200 MOTELS is a difficult movie to comprehend, since the storyline is very abstract (some have hinted that it was made up on the spot!). But even when his music is difficult to understand, Zappa includes many interesting twists and turns, and the soundtrack for 200 MOTELS is no different.
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.
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.
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.
Official Release #91. In October 1971, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention played two shows in one night at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The album, Carnegie Hall, celebrates that night's marathon – two shows (7:30 and 11:30 p.m.) with ticket prices ranging from $3.50 to $6 – featuring Zappa (lead guitar, vocals) with Mark Volman (vocals, percussion), Howard Kaylan (vocals), Ian Underwood (keyboards, alto sax), Don Preston (keyboards, gong), Jim Pons (bass, vocals) and Aynsley Dunbar (drums).
Official Release #59. The last volume of the series You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore is one of the strongest, especially for those who prefer Frank Zappa's sex-oriented songs. There is not much complex material or instrumental pieces in this collection, but catchy humorous songs abound, along with more of that stage craziness the series tried to capture. Live incarnations of Zappa's band from 1970 up to 1988 are represented (the original Mothers had a whole disc devoted to them on Vol. 5).
Official Release #60. First of all, it must be understood that Playground Psychotics is intended for fans only: fans of Frank Zappa, of course, but most of all fans of the Flo & Eddie era of the Mothers of Invention (1970-1971); fans of the man's comedy rock; fans of his obsession with "life on the road" and its chronicling; and, finally, fans of the movie 200 Motels. This two-CD set contains live material and dialogues among band members (recorded with or without their knowledge). The "anthropological field recordings" (as Zappa liked to call them) get most of the attention. Each disc begins with a collage of dressing room and hotel room tapes.
Having recorded some works with a large orchestra in January 1983, in January 1984, Frank Zappa arranged for some of his chamber works to be performed by Pierre Boulez's Ensemble InterContemporain, a 16-piece group. "The Perfect Stranger," "Naval Aviation In Art?," and "Dupree's Paradise" were given this treatment, and the four remaining tracks are the product of Zappa's music synthesizer, the Synclavier. As usual, Zappa's "serious" works are rhythmically interesting and make for challenging listening.
ORCHESTRAL FAVORITES contains five symphonic works written by Frank Zappa, performed by Zappa himself and his mid-'70s rhythm section with a full orchestra. Recorded at the Royce Hall in Los Angeles in 1975, ORCHESTRAL FAVORITES is similar to Zappa's other symphonic works (parts of BURNT WEENY SANDWICH, 200 MOTELS, etc.). The album was not released until four years later however, due to a skirmish with Warner Bros. Zappa wanted to release a three-record set entitled LATHER, which was to include material from ORCHESTRAL FAVORITES plus the other late-'70s releases SLEEP DIRT and STUDIO TAN. But Warner Bros. forced him to release the complete work as separate albums (LATHER did finally appear as a three- disc set in 1996).