Frank Zappa Alan Niester - Essay

Alan Niester

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Roxy & Elsewhere is about as close to a traditional musical form as the Mothers are ever likely to come. There's bound to be lots of strangeness—long, spoken raps (preambles), Zappa's own weird form of humor, post-acid fairy tale lyrics and a lot of just plain wasted vinyl—on any double album from the Mothers. But in between there is actually lots of solid and inventive jazz-rock.

Alan Niester, "Records: 'Roxy & Elsewhere'," in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1975; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 177, January 2, 1975, p. 68.

Zappa for the life of him can't seem to get the turkey shit out of his head. And the latest live double album Roxy & Elsewhere … strongly indicates that the mother of invention is not about to clean house. Take the orchestral suite consisting of Village of the Sun, Echidna's Arf (of You) and Don't You Ever Wash That Thing? The trite lyrics of Village are so obviously geared to sell the purely instrumental sections of the composition to his audience of juvenile enfants terribles that the sales pitch needlessly commercializes and discredits the music itself. As do the lyrics of Penguin in Bondage, Son of Orange County, and Pygmy Twylyte. On the other hand, Cheepnis is a truly hilarious oratorio about TV science-fiction monsters that shows real insight into media psychology. Yet by side three, Zappa's artistic credibility is so low, even devoted fans must doubt whether the song contains anything more than the usual antiestablishment kitsch.

"Recordings: 'Roxy & Elsewhere'," in Playboy (copyright © 1975 by Playboy; all rights reserved), Vol. 22, No. 2, February, 1975, p. 30.