How immense was Frank Zappa’s “electric orchestra” experimentation circa 1972? The first track on a vintage live recording takes a mind-numbing three minutes and 47 seconds to introduce the band.
The 20-piece symphony bore little resemblance to previous incarnations of traditional rock acts. Maybe it was the euphonium and contrabass sarrusophone? Zappa, then 31, is credited on guitar and white stick with cork handle.
The new two-disc “Wazoo” live recording celebrates the 35th anniversary of Zappa’s “The Grand Wazoo” album, which came out during his big-band fusion tangent when noodling progressive rock was commonplace. As evidenced by this fine audio document, he aspired to create a group “capable of performing intricate compositions at the same sound-intensity levels normally associated with other forms of pop music.”
The experimentation didn’t end onstage. The cover of this archival release pays homage to Salvador Dal