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Frank Zappa/Mothers Of Invention
"Playground Psychotics"

© Ryko

June 04 - 10, 2017

Year of Release: 1992
Disc One:
A Typical Day On The Road Part 1
  • Here Comes The Gear Lads
  • The Living Garbage Truck
  • A Typical Sound Check
  • This Is Neat
  • The Motel Lobby
  • Getting Stewed
  • The Motel Room
  • Don't Take Me Down
  • The Dressing Room
  • Learning Penis Dimension
  • You There With The Hard On
  • Zanti Serenade
  • Divan
  • Sleeping In A Jar
  • Don't Eat There
  • Brixton Still Life
  • Super Grease
  • Wonderful Wino
  • Sharleena
  • Cruisin' For Burgers
  • Diptheria Blues
  • Well
  • Say Please
  • Aaawk
  • Scumbag
  • A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono
    Disc Two: A TYpical Day On The Road Part 2
  • Beer Shampoo
  • Champagne Lecture
  • Childish Perversions
  • Playground Psychotics
  • The Mudshark Interview
  • There's No Lust In Jazz
  • Botulism On The Hoof
  • You Got Your Armies
  • The Spew King
  • I'm Doomed
  • Status Back Baby
  • The London Cab Tape
  • Concentration Moon Part One
  • The Sanzini Brothers
  • It's A Good Thing We Got Paid To Do This
  • Concentration Moon Part Two
  • Mom And Dad
  • Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra
  • Billy The Mountain
    The True Story Of 200 Motels
  • He's Watching Us
  • If You're Not A Professional Actor
  • He's Right
  • Going For The Money
  • Jeff Quits
  • A Bunch Of Adventures
  • Martin Lickert's Story
  • A Great Guy
  • Bad Acting
  • The Worst Reviews
  • A Version Of Himself
  • I Could Be A Star Now

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    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
    This is not your typical Frank Zappa album, nor it is not your typical all-live Zappa album... Playground Psychotics is a look at Zappa's concert footage. True, it is a somewhat live album, but there's more added, which you don't hear on any regular live release.

    Think of it as a "behind the scenes" look at concert footage. What goes on and behind the concert stage. This album is a 2-cd set. Each cd represents "A Typical Day On The Road" -- Part 1 (CD 1) and 2 (CD2). There are many short segments of spoken dialogue, as to what was happening at the time. Where most Zappa fans would most likely want to hear his music, they would probably skip the dialogue routines.

    Disc One: A Typical Day On The Road, Part 1 The first 3 tracks are mostly dialogue. (Yet for any musician who has taken the stage, track 3, "A Typical Sound Check should bring good or bad memories to those musicians. Yet some of the spoken dialogue may (or may not) be understandable to hear, the liner notes explains them. "Here Comes The Gear, Lads": As we depart for the first date of the tour, Dunbar's accused of sound like one of the voices from the Beatles TV cartoon series. "The Living Garbage Truck": When we arrive, an industrious Reprise Records promo man has arranged for us to have a group photo taken in a garbage truck parked on the airport tarmac. "A Typical Sound Check": Our wretched equipment was always falling apart, our monitor system was almost non-existent, and the P.A. was always distorted.

    More dialogue on tracks 4, 5 and 6: "This Is Neat": We rented station wagons for ground transportation and various members took turns driving them. "The Motel Lobby": The main conversation here is between Dick Barber (aka "The Gnorler," aka "Foon," aka "THe Pomona Polaris") Our road manager, (eventually seen as the industrial vacuum cleaner in 200 Motels), and Howard Kaylan. "Getting Stewed": Enjoying a refreshing beverage in a warm friendly atmosphere.

    "Goofin' around" sets the scene, on tracks 7 through 10: "The Motel Room": Getting ready to go to work. "Don't Take Me Down": Arrivng at the concert while the warm-up band is still on. "The Dressing Room": Wasting away until it's our turn. "Learning Penis Dimension" Rehearsing the monologue to this controversial song is premiere.

    Music starts to get into gear, with the experimental "You There, With The Hard On": Our special relationship with the audience. Then there's the next track, where it gets very experimental, with sound effects -- "Zanti Serenade" This was the opening vamp for the ill-fated Rainbow Theater show. One week earlier, all of our gear was destroyed in a fire at the Montreux Casino. We cancelled a week's worth of dates, went shopping for new gear, and were still trying to make it all work correctly as the show began. What purports to be some sort of avant garde extravaganza was really just a sound check with the audience in attendance.

    Frank Zappa's music has been called "strange," "weird" "weird psychedelia." "Strange" seems to fit for "Divan": This recording from the Pauley Pavillion is all that remains of a larger piece which included "Sofa" and other material. Your typical Zappa styled "Sleeping In A Jar": Album(s) in which song was appeared: Uncle Meat. More of the "avant garde" as described on Zanti Serenade" on "Don't Eat There"," and more dialogue.

    "Brixton Still Life" is a good Zappa rock track. Strange and experimental gets "Super Grease." "Wonderful Wino" is another rock track, yet novelty'ish; Album(s) in which song was appeared: Zoot Allures. Zappa Rock (with an exclamation point !) on Sharleena"; Album(s) in which song was appeared: Uncle Meat. The same explanation point on the next track, "Cruisin' For Burgers; Album(s) in which song appeared: Uncle Meat.

    "Diptheria Blues" is "strange zappa"; From a Florida dressing room. While Dunbar keeps time and bottle of scotch whisky and a wooden table, Howard relates the tale of the San Antonio diptheria epidemic which we had just escaped.

    John Lennon and Yoko Ono accompanies Zappa and his crew for the four tracks, as Lennon and Yoko were co-writers of each with Frank Zappa. "Well": This song would be penned by Walter Ward, and it definitely has a Lennon'ish style. "Say Please," "Aaawk," "Scum Bag" and "A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono": Some of you might have heard another version of this material on the John & Yoko album "Some Time In New York City" when they sat in with us that night. We were in the process of recording the Live At The Fillmore East, June 1971 album, and all of this insanity was captured on tape. After the show, John and I agreed we would each put out our own version of the performance, and I gave him a copy of the 16 track master tape. Here is our version -- a substantidlly different mix from what they released.

    Disc Two: A Typical Day On The Road, Part 2: Track 1 is dialogue -- "Beer Shampoo": An argument in Ohio regarding beer being poured on Howard during the show. Track 2, "Champagne Lecure" i more novelty; Somewhere in the midwest the intimate details of our adventures in Jacksonville are revealed.

    More and more dialogue, tracks 3 through 10: "Childish Perversions": More arguments about wetness. "Playground Psychotics": Compare this plane interior conversation from the middle of the tour with the one that begins on the first disc. When Simmons blurts out "Playground Psychotics!" We experience a small revelation. "The Mudshark Interview": An actual interview with the front office manager concerning unorthodox seafood usage. "There's No Lust In Jazz": Use your imagination. "Botulism On The Hoof" Howard experiences scheduling problems. "You Got Your Armies": Simmons offers an opinion to a Dutch TV journalist. "The Spew King": Howard attempts to initate Ian into the mysteries of spew bonding. "I'm Doomed": Howard at breakfast.

    Returning back to "Zappa Rock" -- "Status Back Baby": Album(s) which song has appeared: Absolutely Free. An unreleased cut from the Fillmore East 1971 recording. Dialogue on "The London Cabtape": Dunbar and I were hanging out one night after the gig in my motel room. Mark knocked on the door and offered to play a cassette recording he had made of Howard Simmons, and Underwood, riding in a London cab. Planning to have some sort of confrontation with me. As he played the tape, I turned on my Uher. This is a recording of the three of us listening to Mark's very own anthroplogical field recording.

    Another word for Zappa's music is "unusual," and this fits "Concentration Moon, Part 1": Album(s) in which song has appeared: We're Only In It For The Money". More on the unusual, there's unusual stage dialogue on the next two tracks: "The Sanzini Brothers": Back to the Fillmore East for a moment. The audience used to enjoy the Sanzini Brothers sodomy trick... whatever it was. I can't remember what they were actually doing, except that it sometimes involved an over-sized drum stick. "It's A Good Thing We Get Paid To Do This": Another piece of tape supplied by Mark. By this time, he always had a Uher, and on this occasion, the first script reading for 200 Motels, had it hidden in a canvas bag on a chair next to him.

    As the first part -- unusual: "Concentration Moon, Part 2": Album(s) in which song appeared: We're Only In It For The Money. More "unusual" -- "Mom And Dad": Album(s) in which song appeared: We're Only In It For The Money. Experimental, yet pleasant, on "Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra": Album(s) in which song appeared: Studio Tan.

    Then there's the basic live Zappa Rock ensemble, as this track is a half-hour long: "Billy The Mountain": Album(s) in which song appeared: Just Another Band From L.A.. References to "Little Carl" pertain to a small inflatable penguin (purchased at Stuckey's) which used to get launched through a flaming hoop (two twisted coat hangers with burning toilet paper wrapped around it) every once in a while on stage.

    The rest of the album is dialogue, entitled The True Story Of 200 Motels: "He's Watching Us": More tape from Mark... Later in the script reading session. "If You're Not A Professional Actor": From the soundtrack of the Honker home video "The True Story Of 200 Motels." If your local dealer doesn't carry it, you can get it by calling: 818 Pumpkin (818 786-7546). "He's Right": More tape from Mark... Later in the script reading session. "Going For The Money": From "The True Story Of 200 Motels." "Jeff Quits": More tape from Mark... The following evening of the second script reading. Jeff, as advised by his wife, quits the group and bails out of the movie.

    "A Bunch of Adventures," "Martin Lickert's Story," "A Great Guy," "Bad Acting," "The Worst Reviews," "A Version Of Himself," "I Could Be A Star Now": All above selections from the dialogue track of "The True Story Of 200 Motels." Strange yet true.

    Playground Psychotics is more of a novelty/comedy album, especially focused on the spoken dialogue, throughout the entire album. There really aren't any music tracks, as most of what people remember of Zappa.

    The best reading of this album is from here. Zam BZ says: This album basically consists of segments of music, and segments of dialog recorded mostly by Zappa on a portable tape recorder, featuring the Mothers’ line-up of 1970-71 (as seen on 200 Motels).

    The dialog sections follow the band on the road: travelling to the next gig, arriving, setting up, sound-check, checking into the motel, getting drunk, doing the gig. There are some hilarious moments here, eg the first read through of the 200 Motels script, or Howard Kaylan getting annoyed about having beer poured on him on stage.

    The musical sections are fun (in particular Billy the Mountain), although the sound quality isn’t so good, and the band isn’t as tight as the later Zappa bands became.

    All in all, I’d say this album is more for the Zappa enthusiast. If you’re new to his music, perhaps check out some of the other albums by this particular Mothers’ line-up first.

    kzdarwin says: The music segments are great, but I often find myself programing out the dialogue segments, although some of them are funny and/or revealing. Alot of the material, specificly “Billy The Mountain” and the John Lennon Jam were, I believe, originally intended for a second disc of “Fillmore East, June 1971”. (A different mix/edit of the John Lennon jam has been available on his “Sometime In New York” album since 1972). If you liked “Fillmore East”, “Just Another Band From L.A.” and ” 200 Motels”, then you’ll like this because it is more of that same band, but this is more of an album for true fans and not for casual listeners and is not a good place to start.

    More reviews are shown on this page, but the above mentioned sums it up. It's not your typical Zappa album, but it does have the "uniqueness" of how Zappa was in his career, and in his prime with the Mothers of Invention. All in all, it's Frank Zappa, doing what he does best, in his own unique way and Zappa style. More of a "what goes on, behind the scenes while touring" -- A Typical Day On The Road is the appropriate title, and a look at another album of his, 200 Motels, a 1971 American-British musical surrealist film cowritten and directed by Frank Zappa and Tony Palmer and starring The Mothers of Invention, Theodore Bikel and Ringo Starr. A soundtrack album was released in the same year, with a slightly different selection of music. The film attempts to portray the craziness of life on the road as a rock musician, and as such consists of a series of unconnected nonsense vignettes interspersed with concert footage of the Mothers of Invention.

    A Typical Day On The Road, yes... But not your typical Frank Zappa album of music.

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