Frank Zappa-The Lost Episodes

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A 30-track compilation of rarities, spanning much of his career, but in the main confined to the 1960s and early ’70s (some date from as early as the late ’50s!). Much of it’s previously unreleased, or extremely hard to locate. It’s not just a collection of fan-oriented odds and ends, though. The material, for one thing, is extremely diverse, ranging from collaborations with Captain Beefheart and primitive teenage garage recordings to comic dialog to progressive instrumentals and orchestral pieces. The pre-Freak Out stuff in particular is revelatory, in the sense that it finds Zappa’s sophisticated compositional and arrangement skills in full bloom years before he made his proper debut. There’s also good old rock and roll, in an early version of “Any Way the Wind Blows,” and an early ’60s take of “Fountain of Love” with explosive fuzz bass. The cuts range in duration from 11 seconds to 11 minutes, often connected by amusing bits of spoken patter or nifty instrumental links. The effect is somewhat like Uncle Meat or Lumpy Gravy, meaning that those who appreciate that period of Zappa’s evolution will find an immediate affinity with this anthology.

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