A new two-CD release showcases the live performance of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels (The Suites) by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and L.A. Master Chorale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on 23 October 2013…
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted this complete orchestral recital of Zappa’s 200 Motels to launch the L.A. Philharmonic’s tenth anniversary season in the venue. The occasion echoed the first public performance of the songs by the same orchestra way back in May 1970, then conducted by Zubin Mehta at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
The music was written mostly in motel rooms while Zappa and his backing band The Mothers Invention were on tour, and a selection of the ‘suites’ were then used as the soundtrack to the surrealist 1971 musical movie 200 Motels, co-written and directed by Frank Zappa and Tony Palmer, which depicted rock musicians’ high-jinks on the road and starred Zappa himself (and Ringo Starr, among others).
The new two-CD set takes the listener back to sold-out show in October 2013 and with suites boasting such magical names as This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich, The Pleated Gazelle and Penis Dimension, what’s not to like?
The audio is complemented by photos from the evening and essays by, amongst others, the show and recording’s producers, Zappa’s widow Gail Zappa and Frank Filipetti and performers including Diva Zappa and Michael Des Barres.
Written to be played by a rock band with a full orchestra, chorale and 15 soloists, Gail Zappa said in the build-up to the show that the score had been adapted to give the orchestral elements due prominence. It seemed to go down well. ‘Esa-Pekka Salonen – who led a large L.A. Phil enhanced with rock musicians and the Los Angeles Master Chorale – was cheered like a rock star,’ reported the Los Angeles Times correspondent in attendance on the night.
The release of this set has been given added poignancy with Gail Zappa’s passing last month. “This marks the 101st Frank Zappa album release and the last record Gail creatively worked on, as well,” comments Frank and Gail’s son, Ahmet Zappa. “It was an incredibly important project for her and a real labour of love to see it through to completion. It was an amazing night of music – the performances were extraordinary and the maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen was phenomenal. This is an especially emotional release for my family and I know both Gail and Frank are smiling down with pride at this record. Enjoy!”
200 Motels (The Suites) is released on 20 November 2015.
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- 1. Overture [2:17]
- 2. Went On The Road [1:41]
- 3. Centerville [2:24]
- 4. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich [10:15]
- 5. The Restaurant Scene [4:23]
- 6. Touring Can Make You Crazy [2:06]
- 7. What’s The Name Of Your Group? [11:46]
- 8. Can I Help You With This Dummy? [2:33]
- 9. The Pleated Gazelle [21:00]
- 1. I’m Stealing The Room [13:44]
- 2. Shove It Right In [7:26]
- 3. Penis Dimension [9:58]
- 4. Strictly Genteel [11:14]