MUSiC: Waka/Wazoo, Zappa, 50th Anniv. Set

Interesting, but…

I do love Zappa: iconoclast, relentless hard worker, experimenter, ribald irreverent wit, obsessive archivalist. I also love the breadth and depth, dependent upon that last facet of his work, of his recorded legacy.

But sometimes, and this might be a case in point, what’s happening with his bequest to history starts to seem like nothing so much as barrel scraping for financial gain.

Let’s take the video above, which gives a taster of this recent multi-disc set, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Waka/Wazoo mini electric big band era/experiment.

It basically sounds like the rhythm section backing track, sans horns, or big band brass overdubs. I actually really like hearing the music like this. But at the same time, if lots of the tracks here are simply rhythm section run throughs or alt takes, without the ‘topping’, it’s hardly a celebration of the big band idea!

I’ve read quite a few reviews of this set that express dissatisfaction or disappointment due to the original album tracks – which most buying this set (me included, should I buy it) will already own – only being on the fifth disc, which is Blu-Ray. Many, once again myself included, won’t have a Blu-Ray player, potentially making this crucial portion of the set redundant.

The group on tour…

Here’s a complete rundown of the contents of the discs:

CD1 - Paramount Studios Recording Session Alternates and Outtakes

1. Your Mouth (Take 1)
2. Big Swifty (Alternate Take)
3. Minimal Art (Eat That Question – Version 1, Take 2)
4. Blessed Relief (Outtake Version)
5. Think It Over (The Grand Wazoo) (Outtake Version)
6. For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers) (Outtake Version)
7. Waka/Jawaka (Outtake Version)

CD2 - Paramount Studios Recording Session Alternates and Outtakes, continued

1. Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus (Alternate Take)
2. Eat That Question (Version 2, Alternate Take)
3. Big Swifty (Alternate Mix)
4. For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers) (Alternate Mix)
5. It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal (Alternate Mix)
6. Waka/Jawaka (Alternate Mix)
7. Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus (Alternate Mix)
8. Eat That Question (Alternate Mix)

CD3 - George Duke Demos – The Master Versions

1. For Love (I Come Your Friend)
2. Psychosomatic Dung
3. Uncle Remus (Instrumental)
4. Love

George Duke Session Outtakes

5. For Love (I Come Your Friend) (Basic Track, Take 1)
6. Psychosomatic Dung (Basic Track, Take 2)
7. Love (Basic Track, Take 1)

The Grand Wazoo – Live

8. Approximate (Live – FZ Record Plant Mix)
10-Piece/Petite Wazoo – Live / Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
9. Winterland ’72 Opening And Band Introductions
10. Little Dots

CD4 - 10-Piece/Petite Wazoo – Live, continued (Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco)

1. America Drinks
2. Montana
3. Farther O’Blivion
4. Cosmik Debris
5. Chunga’s Revenge


Waka/Jawaka Blue-ray Audio
1. Big Swifty
2. Your Mouth
3. It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal
4. Waka / Jawaka

The Grand Wazoo
1. The Grand Wazoo
2. For Calvin (And His Next Two Hitch-Hikers)
3. Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus
4. Eat That Question
5. Blessed Relief
A fan’s archival compilation of this era.

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