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Classic Album Review: Frank Zappa | Threesome No. 1 / Threesome No. 2

Six of the singer-guitarist's classic albums get collected into two new box sets.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


There are two kinds of Frank Zappa fans: Those who have everything he released and those who don’t — yet.

The second group can get in the game with Threesome No. 1 and Threesome No. 2, two new mid-priced box sets that re-introduce a sextet of early titles from FZ’s voluminous and varied back catalog. Threesome No. 1 contains the first albums from the singer-guitarist and his dementedly brilliant musical cohorts The Mothers of Invention: Their 1966 debut Freak Out!, the ’67 followup Absolutely Free and 1968’s We’re Only in it for the Money. Each is a bona fide ’60s rock classic, dripping with absurd humour (Help I’m a Rock) and scathing social satire (Who Are the Brain Police?) set to a magnificent mish-mash of doo-wop, go-go rock and 12-tone orchestral manouevres. Threesome No. 2 jumps ahead (chronologically and musically) to his jam-based jazz-rock period with 1969’s Hot Rats (featuring Captain Beefheart on the indispensible Willie the Pimp), 72’s Waka/Jawaka and 73’s Grand Wazoo. Their drawing cards include Zappa’s increasingly complex compositions and the stellar performances of performers like guitarist Shuggie Otis, keyboardist George Duke, drummer Aynsley Dunbar and violinist Don (Sugarcane) Harris. Neither set has any new goodies — but they’ll definitely help fill those holes in your collection.