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Published: 2013/03/30
by Jeff Tamarkin

Frank Zappa
The Lost Episodes


First released in 1996, The Lost Episodes was and remains one of the most fascinating documents in the Frank Zappa discography, if not always the most vital artistically. A collection of 30 slices of ephemera, it would seem to have the greatest appeal to those who are already well steeped in Zappa lore and who harbor an inordinate degree of interest in absorbing every loose end that emanated from their man. Much of the material collected here is historically important, including several pieces recorded with the young Don Van Vliet—Captain Beefheart to the rest of us.

Among those is “Lost in a Whirlpool,” a rockin’ little ditty from back around 1958-59 that would never have stood a chance on the pop charts with lyrics like “He ain’t got no eyes/ How could that motherfucker possibly see.” Other early entries include a two-and- a-half-minute excerpt from an early Zappa semi-classical improvisation from L.A.’s Mount St. Mary’s College, from May 1964. A snazzy, jazzy early take on “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance,” which later appeared on We’re Only in It for the Money, is also notable, as are the 1963 versions of “Any Way the Wind Blows” and “Fountain Of Love.”

As the years progress, the enthrallment level isn’t always as high: “The Grand Wazoo,” which welds a 1969 Beefheart vocal to a ‘92 Zappa synclavier, should be more rewarding musically than it is, and some of the ‘70s tracks featuring pros like George Duke and Jean-Luc Ponty don’t offer as much insight into Zappa’s development or process as the early odds and ends do.

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