Dick’s Picks: Frank Zappa ‘A Memorial Tribute’


Dick’s Picks: This week ‘da vinyl boss has chosen a subject dear to his heart; throwing a spotlight on a lesser known work in the Zappa oeuvre; the 1996  ‘A Memorial Tribute’ CD…..


This CD is kind of sad, kind of scary & kind of amazing, all in one. It’s certainly the fluffiest CD I own, sporting a full moustache & imperial.

Released as a tribute to the last true Genius of Rock & Roll, herein is a selection of three of his signature guitar solos with [almost] the album versions and the earliest recordings of the same, nicely sandwiching a previously unreleased knockabout blues number.

‘Watermelon In Easter Hay’, ‘Black Napkins’ & ‘Zoot Allures’ will need no introduction. In fact, like many people, ‘Watermelon’ was the thing I played on the day Frank went to the great gig in the sky, being a soulful melody of great beauty.

This CD has versions of ‘Black Napkins’ recorded in Ljubliana on November 22nd 1975, along with the album version from Osaka on February 3rd 1976. Anyone doubting Frank’s talents as composer and second-to-none on the spot improviser, check this out then get back to me.

‘Zoot Allures’ comes in a fifteen minute version recorded in Tokyo on February 5th 1976 as well as the album version, also from Osaka on February 3rd 1976.


‘Watermelon In Easter Hay’, apart from seriously making your eyes want to leak, is represented here by the 1979 Joe’s Garage album version [almost] and a live version from Eppelheim on February 24th 1978.

This was released by the ZFT as a tribute to the man and it certainly does the job. Many people have written many words about Frank, most have put it better than I can, but if you ever saw any of those majestic tour bands or have even come to find Frank’s music without having seen a live performance, then this is a fitting tribute and well worth a listen.

With a recording career spanning three decades, those tour bands were nurseries for some of the biggest names in modern music. Frank was to Rock what Miles Davis was to Jazz. He took someone into the band, saw what they could do, then pushed them further than even they thought was possible. That said, I guess Frank was similar to me in that I see only two types of music, the stuff I like & the stuff I don’t. He was never afraid to mix styles, genres, time signatures & instruments on his albums, often in the same song!

I suppose you either see it as I do, a rich tapestry to be wondered at and appreciated, or as ‘too many notes for two ears’ that you shut out without being brave enough to dig deeper and discover the treasure within those notes that is always there.

That really is your loss.

“Hello Frank Zappa” …..

You can find the full info on this CD at eil.com here

You can find more rare vinyl, CDs and more from Frank Zappa at eil.com here



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