FRANK ZAPPA -- The Lost Episodes (Rykodisc)

One of the last projects Frank Zappa worked on before he died was a collection of his favorite rarities and outtakes. The Lost Episodes is a new collection of unreleased material, personally selected by Zappa himself. Frank spent 18 months sporadically working on the track lineup for the CD. After several rejected attempts, the new CD contains 30 tracks that met with his approval.

Zappa fans are in for a real treat with The Lost Episodes. Besides the 52-page booklet, the CD contains material dating back to the late 1950's when Frank played drums in The Blackouts. On one of the earlier tracks, "Lost in a Whirlpool", you hear a young Zappa on lead guitar (he'd only been playing the instrument for about six months), along with his brother Bobby on rhythm. The song also features the vocal debut of the yet-to-be-christened Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet.

The CD includes FZ's first orchestral performance at Mt. St. Mary's College in 1963, and several rare tracks from Pal Studios (later purchased by Zappa and named "Studio Z"). Some of the most interesting (and often humorous) cuts on the CD are the studio banter recorded over the years. "The Dick Kunk Story" is classic. Anyone who's ever heard Spike Jones will appreciate "The Big Squeeze", originally the music to a 1967 Luden's cough drop commercial.

The Lost Episodes isn't just all fun and games though. One of the many musical highlights is a version of "Wonderful Wino" left over from the Over-Nite Sensation / Apostrophe(') sessions, with manic vocals by Ricky Lancelotti. "RDNZL" (presented here in its original form) features a fierce solo from Jean-Luc Ponty. There is an instrumental version of "Inca Roads", predating its release on One Size Fits All by three years. It proves that even before vocals were added, Zappa's compositions could stand on their own as instrumental pieces.

Also included on the CD is the pre-single mix of "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted". Possibly the most interesting thing on The Lost Episodes is the final track, the first recorded version of Sharleena. The 12-minute version of the song features vocals and an incredible violin solo by Don "Sugar Cane" Harris, and a lengthy and intense solo by Zappa himself. The Lost Episodes is a tribute to the musicians he's worked with over the years, and the many people who influenced his life.

© 1996 Steve Marshall