In an ongoing exploration of various musical styles, I've run across Frank Zappa's Grand Wazoo. It's been a long time since I listened to Zappa, and I found the Grand Wazoo to be entertaining. What recommendations do you have for Zappa's works? What should be avoided?

As an aside, what album contains the line "help, I'm a rock..."?

I would explore, in no particular order:
Hot Rats, Mothers live at the Fillmore (w/Flo & Eddie), Over Night Sensation and Apostrophe.
There are plenty of other great FZ records especially the older Mothers efforts; Freak Out, Absolutely Free , We're Only In it For The Money, etc.
I sorta lost interest after Joe's Garage, But lots of people love the Shut up and Play your Guitar era stuff...

Good luck, Just have fun, If you get Frank, there is nothing better!

"Help I'm a rock" I believe is on Absolutely Free But I'd have to go back and check to be certain.

just remember "we are the people that your mother warned you about"

One of my favorite concert memories was sitting on the floor in front of Frank Zappa at the Park Center (think small)in Charlotte NC and watching his band, with the full horn section preform 'the Grand Wazoo'. Amazing.
Zappa kinda lost me with his later stuff, but I always loved him. From the first time I heard 'Freak Out' as a little kid, I was fascinated by him and his music. My personal faves are mostly from before and including 'Overnight Sensation'. After that I kinda got burnt, a lot of the music seemed redundant, incredibly sophisticated background for his spoken word social commentary. A lot of people I know are mostly familiar with his later stuff, so thats just me I guess. Oh yes, plenty of awesome guitar jam. I would say 'Waka Jawaka Hot Rats' (totally separate album from 'Hot Rats')is the closest musically to "Grand Wazoo'. Go to his official website, maybe there are samples. Zappas influence on music and on guitar playing can not be overestimated. Have fun.

Overnight Sensation is my favorite Zappa - particularly Dynamo Hum. simply hilarious!
"Help I'm a rock" comes from Freak Out!, which is also home to the wonderful diddy "It can't happen here." Not sure if that's the exact title but this album is a strong argument against drug abuse because if you listen to it while high (particularly the last couple of tracks) you will laugh so hard that you will probably wind up in the hospital.

There's something of merit in just about everything the guy did, but my personal favorite is (drum roll)...


Silly, sublime and everything in between with plenty of blistering solos from FZ. Enjoy!
John, 'Help I'm A Rock' is on the album 'Freak Out'.
Another vote for "Hot Rats" as the #1 "must have" Zappa record. Followed by "Joe's Garage".
Live at Roxy and elsewhere.
"Joe's Garage" is a masterpiece in my book. The songs, the musicianship, the production, I'm always in the mood to hear it.
Thanks for the suggestions!! I also recall listening to Freak Out (repeatedly) as a kid on my brother's stereo (Couldn't recall the album name until remined by this thread).

As always, the best part of Audiogon (IMHO) are the threads about music.

There are so many I really couldn't pick just one. I guess if I had to pick one it would be UNCLE JOE'S GARAGE. Why because of the sound and it's length.
the best zappa music ive ever heard is the zappa's universe concert,the entire concert was an after death tribute from a ton of former band member's,every time i watch that show im amazed at how adept frank was at blending a full symphony orchestra with a rock & roll band without either style overwhelming the other & without relagating the orchestra to the typical gun's n rose's back ground crap that is the norm,the orchestra is 'the symphony of our time'& they play several smoking hot peice's,the video cover's music from the start of the mother's of invention to the final zappa band & feature's a bunch of special guest performer's.

the best part of watching that concert video is that you get a huge insight into what went into alot of fz's music instead of just hearing the silly lyric's that most people associate with fz while they miss out on some seriously fantastic musician's playing the most complicated rock music ever,take my word on this & order the video it will blow you away,it did me & i own the entire fz catalog & most of the bootleg's too.

my personal favorite fz album is 'thing fish', it's kinda along the line's of goe's garage but instead of being narrated by the central scrutinizer(fz) its narrated by the thing fish(ike willis) & is based on government test's to try to get rid of aid's & durring testing on convict's they accidently create 'the mammy nun's,the narration is done in the funniest butchered english amos & andy type voice ive ever heard.

some other note worthy zappa album's that have not been mentioned yet.







freak out....absolutely free(help i'm a rock)....were only in it for the rats...fillmore 72...get the rykodisc imports...spectacular
***** Freak Out! and
***** We're Only in It for the Money, pretty much set the pace for the Mothers. They were the genesis of something new...

****1/2 Over-Nite Sensation was his first gold record and refined the work that the 60's started.

****1/2 Apostrophe (') was classic.

****1/2 Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar (3 Disc) Is instrumental and showcases the fact that Frank was a highly underrated guitar player in any genre.

If you have a taste for Frank it's hard to find a bad album, there were few dogs. He made so many of strong content and composed of absolute instrumental mastery. The only thing with Frank is he's lyrically a satirist, as you’ve probably gathered and not for the weak at heart. Enjoy and Happy Listening!

Read what allmusic had to say:
I can't say I'm a Zappa fan. I'm more like a Zappa enthusiast; I appreciate and enjoy his work, but don't have a craving to own everything he has recorded. I just recently discovered Yellow Shark. Its Mr. Frank's contribution to his "classical music" interest. His compositions are performed by the Ensemble Modern. After listening to this CD, I now want to own everything Zappa has recorded. Some of the compositions on Yellow Shark just blow me away; its just sheer brilliance. I know that this recording may not be what you are looking for. And, there are probably just as many Zappa fans who wouldn't touch his classical work with a ten foot pole as there are fans who will tell you that these recordings are a "must have" for the Zappaphile. All I can say is that this album is one of the most remarkable ablums I have heard in a long time (not to mention the audio quality is fantastic) and one would be remiss not to give it a listen at the very least.
I must agree with many of the above.

My brother was a huge collector of Zappa in the 80's, and I bet to this day he still has original pressing LP's that have never been opened of all the first 20 LP's.

I LOVE Joe's Garage, and Sheilk Yer Bootie (SP) is another fave of the moder FZ.

So much of the original stuff is good, much is excellent. I'd love to be more specific, but having only listened to Zappa a few times in the last decade or so, I am a little far off to comment.

I can say that FZ at the Felt Forum in NYC on Halloween night of the shut up and play yer guitar was amazing!

I'm 44 so I didn't see Frank live enough times, total of seven shows all told. To this day a standard to which all live bands should be held to (Steely Dan comes close though).

I'd strongly suggest you buy every record Zappa released, but that's just me. My favourite studio record is Tinseltown Rebellion (Zoot Alure, Joe's Garage, and Sheik Yerbouti are all close seconds). Must haves for any Zappa fan are the live albums "Does Humor Belong in Music" and "Live in New York". I'd also recommend you check out Boulez Conducts Zappa, the London Philharmonic release, and of course Jazz From Hell. Absolutely brilliant musician, I doubt there'll be another in my lifetime close to FZ. He was a genius.
Still have a special affinity for "We're Only In It For the Money" after all these years. Don't have "Joe's Garage" but will soon.
Johnrob, you're right when you say music threads are the best part of Audiogon.
Don't think anyone mentioned another of Frank's earlier albums, Uncle Meat. I'd rate this double LP with his best efforts. I saw the Mothers perform this live, and also saw Frank and the Mothers with Flo & Eddie on their Live at the Fillmore, 1971 tour. That was some gig. I can't forget Frank's ranting about getting busted for porn while performing the same material in Miami. Suppose the mores in Vermont differed from Miami!
From the older albums, 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich' and 'Chunga's Revenge' are very nice too !
Saw the band live on the Joe's Garage (1) tour. He played the whole album, then encored with Black Napkins.

Other great's that I enjoy are:
One Size Fits All
OverNight Sensation

So, by group consensus, I guess you should buy them all. :-)
I'll start with Joe's Garage and One Size Fits All (seemingly the most enthuastic choices), and Yellow Shark (the classical influence seems interesting.
Peter mentions "Chungas Revenge", an album that seems to mark a transition of sorts (there were many), one of my favorites. The dirty wawa blues licks on "Road Ladies" stopped my buddy in his tracks when I played it for him. He was a Jimmie Page fanatic, but suddenly he took FZ seriously as a player, something he had not considered.
You might think about trying some earlier FZ first just to see where he was coming from. Whatever you do, dont forget his early stuff, even the silliest songs are great. Also anyone notice that "Burnt Weenie Sandwich" shows up on the "Filmore" and in "200 Motels" among other albums in various forms?
Guaranteed, if you buy enough Zappa, you'll be offended and/or disappointed, he was all over the place, from do-wop, fusion, classical, jazz and in between.
My favorite is Hot Rats, terrific fusion-y without much vocals.
2nd choice is where they put two of his albums on one cd - Overnite Sensation and One Size Fits All which is in his rock with humor style.
FZ's output covers a prodigeous amount of sq. footage. Hot Rats 2, (Waka Jawaka) is about as close to Grand Wazoo as yer gonna get. Both measure real high on the spiff o meter. Like other posters have said, nearly every Zappa record has something great on it.
i was sittin here re reading the post's & listening to fz 'the legend of the illinois enema bandit'when it hit me that most new zappa fan's arent hip to all of the talent that was in fz's band's.

most people think of fz as a drug crazed mad man or just a weird hippy who made silly funny music & never realize that there were juliard trained musician's in some of his band's & other musician's that were part of the miles davis line up who later went on to form & play in some of the best band's ever like king crimson & return to forever.

a smoking hot jazz album to check out is 'jean-luc-ponty plays the music of frank zappa,king kong'if you like fusion jazz king kong will not dissapoint you.

I grew up on FZ & saw him 5 times. Saw some of the greats he had in his band..Napolean Murphy Brock, Captain Beefheart...

It's a crime he died so young. It's also a shame that his "hits" that went commercial painted him differently in the public's eyes than he really was. Personally I think he'll stand the test of time with some of the great composers of the past. A girlfriend I had many years ago had never heard of FZ (she grew up in a rather sheltered world) and happened to be a classical pianist...she's since played in the UK for the Queen and a number of other similar venues in EU & China...also placed very well in Van Cliburn's competition.

I played some FZ for her a couple times and even though the music seemed very far from her world she perked up as soon as she heard it..."WHO IS this guy?" She thought he was pretty incredible.

If you're into FZ-once removed you might want to look into the Omibus Wind Ensemble's recordings of FZ compositions...very nice.

I'd also put in a vote for Chunga's Revenge, Zoot Allures, I don't think Bongo Fury has been mentioned(excellent), Hot Rats, One Size Fits All, Joe's Garage..., Roxy & Elewhere..others..
Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Burnt Weenie Sandwich and Chunga's Revenge are three you should definitely check out. If I could have only one Zappa album It would have to be "Were Only in it for the Money".
The Yellow Shark is EASILY his definitive and best work. Nothing even come remotely close.
As long as we're setting the record straight about what Frank was and about what Frank was not, I thought to drop this little tidbit in for good measure. Zappa dispelled the "Mr. Green Genes rumor" on p. 13 of his autobiography, "The Real Frank Zappa Book":

"Because I recorded a song called 'Son of Mr. Green Genes" on the 'Hot Rats' album in 1969, people have believed for years that the character with that name on the 'Captain Kangaroo' TV show (played by Lumpy Brannum) was my 'real' Dad. No, he was not."

Sorry, fans. Happy Listening!
pick up 'the fugs-electromagnetic steamboat' too. the anti-zappa
IMO Zappa was a master composer and a brilliant guitarist. Some of the finest Jazz musicians eagerly played for Frank...not to mention his work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Symphony. These are my favorite Zappa albums:
Waka Jawaka
Grand Wazoo
The Yellow Shark (his last and most complex)
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Chunga's Revenge
Hot Rats
Burnt Weeny Sandwich
Uncle Meat
Shut Up and Play Your Guitar
Jazz From Hell
Dang, am I the only one here who LOVES "Orchestral Favorites"?

I picked up a copy (LP) at the thrift store for $.99 and boy was I grinnin.