FRANK ZAPPA -- Have I Offended Someone? (Rykodisc)

The US Constitution states the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

From as far back as the 60's, Frank Zappa was always a proponent for the right to free speech. If the lyrics to these songs were printed in a book, no one would blink an eye. Yet for some reason, once they're heard in a musical context, people get upset. Considered by many to be some of his best material, this politically incorrect collection of songs is sure to please the legions of Zappa fans out there. Naturally, when you try to create a 'best of' album, there are always things that have to be left off--especially with the wealth of material that Zappa released over the years. In 1995, Rykodisc released the excellent Strictly Commercial, a collection of classic material suitable for radio play. As great as this CD was, there were other songs that, because of the intended format, could not be included. Those songs, or at least some of them, appear on the new disc.

Have I Offended Someone was one of the last things Frank produced before he died. Although Zappa didn't provide any type of notes with the master tape, this compilation is probably closer to his idea of a greatest hits album. These are the songs that got people up in arms. Songs like "Bobby Brown Goes Down," "Titties and Beer" and "Dinah Moe Humm" are just a few of the many tracks that attract fans to his music. While this is an excellent primer for the uninitiated, the people who will benefit most from this CD are the ones who already have the original CDs. Most of the tracks have been remixed and/or reconstructed by FZ himself.

"Bobby Brown Goes Down" is the first track on the CD; and features new background vocals, as well as a new mix. "Disco Boy," "Goblin Girl," "In France," "He's So Gay" and "We're Turning Again" have all been remixed, and "Goblin Girl" is a bit slower now. Zappa created yet another edit for "Titties and Beer"; and reworked "Dinah Moe Humm" to include a few lines from "Montana" (both tracks originally appeared on the 1974 classic, Over-Nite Sensation). Other highlights include previously unreleased live versions of "Tinseltown Rebellion" (this tune was always better when performed on stage) and "Dumb All Over." The latter includes the only FZ guitar solo on the disc.

There are three tunes that should have been left off in favor of better ones: "Goblin Girl" (what's so offensive about this one?), "SEX," and "Yo Cats." Aside from those three tunes, this is a great disc. The two live tracks are worth the price of the CD by themselves--everything else is a bonus. Can you say Volume 2?

© 1997 Steve Marshall