Frank Zappa "Studio Tan"

By Tom Byrne

The Lumberjack, October 12, 1978

"Studio Tan," Frank Zappa's 24th album, borrows heavily from some of its predecessors, and the result is the best album Zappa has made since 1974's top-ten contender, "Apostrophe."

Side one consists of the twenty-minute " Greggery Peccary," a funny story in the Zappa tradition about a young peccary "on his way up in the world," and his job at "Big Swifty and Associates." The song is a lighthearted look at how people place their lives in the hands of the clock, or in this case, the calendar. The dialogue is intermingled with melodies and characters from several of Zappa's earlier works, including "The Grand Wazoo" and ''Waka-Jawaka.''

The humor continues with "Let Me Take You to the Beach," a Beach Boys parody which discusses the banality of teen-age love affairs "Eat a candy/ you are dandy/Can I kiss you/Maybe I'll just hold your hand-y.")

"Beach" is followed by two instrumentals, which have always been Zappa's forte. "Revised Music for Guitar and Low-Budget Orchestra," a ten-year-old composition originally recorded by Jean-Luc Ponty, is performed here with a precision that only Zappa could play, and is definitely better than the Ponty version. This one contains a few new melodies, which add to the song's overall flow.

"Redunzl," an eight minute jam of tight, entertaining jazz-rock that is anything but what the name of the song implies.

This album certainly makes up for Zappa's unforgiveable "Zappa in New York" album of last April, and it makes the hard-core Zappa fan long for the days of old. With any luck, Frank Zappa may have his second top-ten album on his hands.

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