Frank Zappa
200 Motels


3.0
good

Review

by Joao (a with tilde) USER (38 Reviews)
May 23rd, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Touring makes you crazy" and so this double album.

Frank Zappa's soundtrack to his 200 Motels, a surrealist music documentary about the crazy life on the road as a rock musician featuring Ringo Starr, Theodore Bikel and Keith Moon, was mostly composed in motel rooms while on tour with The Mothers of Invention, although some of it was later written. The album, like the film, covers a loose storyline about The Mothers of Invention going crazy in the small town Centerville ("a real nice place to raise your kids up"), with a slightly different selection of music.

Just like the cult film, this hour and a half soundtrack combines some very challenging orchestral work (played by London Philharmonic Orchestra) with humorous spoken word parts from the film and some song-based material with the new Mothers lineup fronted by Flo & Eddie vocal duo (recorded live during the filming, later overdubbed in studio).
The orchestral experiments are interesting but difficult to get into and at some moments quoting Igor Stravinsky and Edgard Varese. However, there are some great moments. The "Sealed Tuna Sandwich" theme and "Penis Dimension" are funny and wonderful. The concert favorite "Strictly Genteel", that ends the album, is a classic, although this version is way too long.
As for the songs, they're standard rock music with the sophomoric humor of the Flo & Eddie. "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" and "Magic Fingers" are great songs with some experimental qualities. "Mystery Roach" is decent, but the other pointlessly offensive and sexist material just isn't especially memorable.

All in all, 200 Motels is the closest thing to average that Zappa ever was, from all 39 tracks, only a dozen are really good. However, it's an intriguing glimpse to Zappa's catalogue, and it does have some funny moments. As for the orchestral music, The Yellow Shark, Boulez Conducts Zappa, or even the two LSO volumes are not only more interesting than this soundtrack and showcase a better standard of performance compared to some tracks present here.



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user ratings (50)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
May 23rd 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Watched this film again. So weird.

To be more accurate, this album is something like a 2.8







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Doctuses
May 23rd 2018


1546 Comments


never was a huge zappa fan tbqh

Zig
May 23rd 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Doc,

If you’re into modern classical, you may enjoy Zappa’s Yellow Shark. By far, his best classical work.

Veldin
May 23rd 2018


3322 Comments


Pos'd. Is there where "Penis Dimension" and "Strictly Genteel" originate?

Zig
May 24th 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, Veldin!

I do think so.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2018


11093 Comments


Good review, pos.

Back in the '90s as a young teen, I read a review for this one with a rating of 9.5/10 and thought it was one of his better efforts so when I actually checked it I was shocked to say the least. Haven't jammed it in years though so I might give it a spin.

wham49
May 24th 2018


3988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

3 is being generous, as much as I like Zappa, this why sometimes why he needs to be defended

Zig
May 26th 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, manosg. Must say, even Frank acknowledged the failure on this album. Good luck with that, a long hour and a half would be.

Zig
May 26th 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wham49, it deserves a 3 because the artwork is awesome.

wham49
May 26th 2018


3988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

true dat

the movie is at least worth one watch as well

MrHarrison
June 29th 2018


157 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anyone else feel like this should be listed as an LP rather than a comp? I mean, if Thing-Fish is...

Zig
June 30th 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Maybe, Mr. Harrison. Tbh, I think this should be listed as a Mothers album.



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